And the only animal worse for wear is this poor little 3 week old and his eye. He is improving and he’s getting used to being handled, but still doesn’t like it. We have been working on trying to keep things clean, but it is tough going when the outside water is frozen. We’ve been hauling out a bucket of hot, soapy water and a sponge and cleaning two cages a day as best we can in situ. Two cages is about all we can handle in these temps. I don’t want to use bleach in the rabbit shed, especially with the windows almost completely blocked off due to the cold. I switched out the nesting box with a clean one and we’ve been changing the bedding in it daily. None of the other kits are showing sign of nest box eye.
Yesterday (the 9th, actually, since I am writing after midnight) we scrubbed down the cages of Phoebe and Andromeda. I had taken two nest boxes and two sets of urine guards inside the house and scrubbed them out in the spare bathtub with hot, soapy water, then rinsed, then wiped them down with bleach, then rinsed again and let dry. Then we filled them with 2 inches of kiln-dried pine shavings, 2 inches of fresh, clean straw, and finished filling it with lovely hay. We installed the urine guards and then gave each rabbit a nesting box. They are due on the 16th.
Phoebe has been nesting for a week, digging in the cage corner and hopping around with a full on hay mustache. Andromeda has been off and on, but as soon as she got the nesting box she hopped in and dug a burrow. Hopefully she will be just like Sweetie Belle and have her babies in the nesting box her first time. Phoebe had made a burrow by this morning. She has spent a lot of time sitting in the box, but not pooping in it at all. Sometimes they do that when you give them a little early.
We will get a couple more cages cleaned tomorrow. The weather seems to be breaking with temps above freezing forecast for the rest of the week and rain. I am really looking forward to Sunday though, because not only is it supposed to be warmer, but it is supposed to be sunny, too. Here’s hoping, so we can get the outside water going and spray and scrub and bleach the dropping pans and as many of the cages as we possibly can. That’ll be too late for Andromeda and Phoebe, they will have their kits or be about to and I won’t disturb them like that. They should be set anyway after the thorough scrub out. We’ll just make sure they get another one when the kits are 10 days to 2 weeks old.
I have, at least, managed to clean all the water bottles. With them going in the house so many times to be thawed they got scrubbed up pretty good. We haven’t had them freeze in a couple days, since we got the heater. It’s hard to tell they got clean though, the way a couple of the rabbits like to spray. We don’t have enough urine guards. Every cage we buy in the future will have them, you can be sure. The outside water for the chickens has been freezing so I have been hauling a jug from the house for them, too. But hopefully that will soon change as the forecast is low 40’s for the rest of the week. I am grateful that the kits will be born after the cold snap has ended. I was hating to think of them being born in such icy temps. But no more teens or twenties this week and the nights are now supposed to be between 36 and 39! Happy news.
I need to cut a 2 inch strip of baby saver wire to put along the front of Andromeda’s cage still. Because of where the feeder hole is cut I can’t put a urine guard on that side. So I will attach a strip of the 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch across that section. If I can find the j-clips and the j-clip pliers I will do it with that. At the moment all I can locate is the wire cutters, the wire, and some zip ties. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve used zip ties. I just have to remember to have the tail be sticking out of the cage or clip it off.
My fodder system has now caught up so I can start giving the rabbits fodder daily. They were really happy to see some today. It smells really good when I cut through the root mat. Like fresh cucumbers. Which seems really weird since there is no relation between barley, which is a grain and cucumber, which is a cucurbit. But that is what it smells like. I am still putting a bit too much barley seed in, because when I cut up the root mat some seeds on the bottom had not sprouted. I decided to scrape those off and they will go to the chickens. Waste not, want not.
I have made the decision that I don’t want to go into the cold part of fall/winter with so many young rabbits ever again. So I will stop breeding at the start of September. That way if a bitter cold hits again at the end of November, any kits around will be out of the danger stage of freezing to death. I will also make sure that there are not so many litters. Ideally for the very coldest of weather we will only have the 8 adult rabbits and maybe 2 litters of kits growing out.
We have too many adults I think, but I don’t much like the idea of giving up any of them. Lola we never meant to keep, but she has turned out to be a fantastic mother. Andromeda we kept because of her size, how big she got so fast, which was what we want in meat rabbit kits. Phoebe is so laid back and such a good mother. Piper is a dream, but she is getting older and her litter sizes will start to drop and her ease of getting pregnant will drop off as well in about 9 months. And Sweetie Belle and Serenity are from a different blood line and have turned out to be great moms who have calmed down and become quite gentle.
I suppose, though, if I am only going to breed from the end of February to the beginning of September, we will need all those females to have enough kits to pack our freezer and canning jars with to see us through the whole year. It would be better if we had more space. Or an easier way to clean cages and dropping pans during the cold times of the year.
We took 4 of Sweetie Belle’s kits away from her, the biggest ones and put them in another cage we bought a few days ago. She still has five kits in with her, but the massive overcrowding has been relieved. I may take two more and put them in a Wabbitat, although I should really do that with Piper’s 2 biggest kits. At least until the husband gets home and we can get the 13th oldest kits dispatched.
I keep trying to push myself to get everything done, but it is hard as I am trying not to cough up my lungs, but my lungs are not cooperating. I suppose it is time for me to go back to the doctor. Even if it’s not anything that needs antibiotics, I am out of the good cough syrup and would like some more. Not to mention tell him I want to go back on the other BP med I was on before my new insurance company got uppity about the cost of it. I have felt cruddy all over since changing BP meds. I will pay for it out of pocket if I have to. $140 a month is worth it to me to not feel like the walking dead all the time or to be susceptible to every little bug that comes along because my BP is wonked on the new meds.