Yesterday we got the rabbits out on clover for the first time this season. It was finally big enough for them to start eating it. The rabbits had a lot of fun playing and eating. We didn’t keep the youngsters out long as we didn’t want them to eat too much clover and get diarrhea from the sudden change in diet. We will wait a few days before putting the rabbits out again. The weather is mild so I’m not worried about it, and we want to acclimate them to those greens.
I have weaned dropper bunny down to once a day now, just in the evenings. She is doing good and has gained weight steadily, so the sooner I get her off the raw goat’s milk, the better.
Fiona’s kit is touch and go. It is stubborn and wants to live. I am not sure if it will. It’s discolored back paw does not look very good. It is not growing like the other one. Too much loss of circulation that first day. I just hope it doesn’t rot or fall off or otherwise affect the health of the kit. The other discolored areas are growing fine, but the foot is shriveled. If it fails to thrive in the next few days, I think we will have to do a mercy culling. I hate that idea, but sometimes we have to make the hard choices. I will not breed Fiona again until she is 8 months old. This will give her a chance for her body to recover and for her to maybe reach adult weight.
We cleaned out cages yesterday. Not all of them, just the eight that are easy to move. The other 8 that are hard to take in and out will have to wait for when my husband gets home. I still need to clean the transport cage. It is not terribly dirty, but has been sitting out in the elements so it had some debris like blossom petals in it. I will be getting my new little red kit later this week and she is a beauty according to the photos. She is expensive, $55 with papers, but I paid $5 less for Wildfire (unless you count the gas and hotel to go to Portland to get him and his sisters). I won’t be buying any more breeding stock for some time.
I am excited to bring this little girl home. Here are some photos of the new kit that the breeder sent me:
We did some moving of cages, too, putting Fiona and her baby in one of the cages with the doors that open out instead of up. Now all of the mothers with babies are on one side. We finally separated Cinnabun and Sienna, but put them in cages right next to each other. They were both very irritated with us at first, stomping and trying to get back to each other, but they settled down after about 15 minutes and then they both stretched out diagonally across their cages. They love being together, but they are just getting too big, almost full sized, and I need to think about breeding soon with Cinnabun.
With the cages moving around, Kalia is now next to Wildfire. First thing she did was turn her back on him and lift her tail, so I’d say she is more than ready to be bred. Good thing there is six inches between their cages. I will breed Kalia to Wildfire and Serena to Alexander this week. Then in a couple more weeks I will breed Serenity to Leo and Cinnabun to either Starbuck or to Wildfire. I am not sure. I want at least one litter of dark red kits, but if Starbuck doesn’t breed this go around with Cinnabun he will breed first go around with Sienna in July.
I decided not to take the summer off from breeding. After the loses of Piper and Lola, I won’t have enough meat if I do that. But we have the fan system set up to help keep the rabbits cool and none of the mothers are ever on the sunny side of the shed when they have kits. We are also going to build a special hutch in the trees right behind the rabbit shed that will be for emergencies if it gets too hot and we can put expectant mothers there. I am thinking of getting an evaporative cooler for the shed as well. The type made for keeping semi-truck cabs or campers cooled off. You fill it with ice and the fan system runs over the ice, blowing out cool air. And I will bring in nesting boxes if necessary during the day. I do need to purchase some more nesting boxes, though. At least one more. I should probably get 3 more, though.
On the duck front, I have noticed the front feathers on the chests of the four silver phase Welsh Harlequins. Two have a really light brown patterning and the other two are much darker, so I am leaning towards 2 boys and 2 girls on that score, with the gold phase being a definite girl. And I think we have a 3 to 1 ratio of females to male on the Pekins. I am not sure all of the Pekins will go for meat birds now. I want egg layers. Especially since another one of my mother’s chickens, died of a broken leg. I know Pekins aren’t as prolific as Welshies, but I’d like to keep at least 2 of the hens if the ratio on the Welshies turns out correct. That will give me five females for 2 males, which is decent. The Welshies seem bonded to the Pekins, too, so I’m not sure how they will react to losing flockmates. Maybe I can pick up some Blue Swedish duck hens from a local farmer and forget keeping the Pekins. I just don’t want to overwhelm the Welshies we do have with too many drakes. I could still raise more ducklings, but that is a major pain. Much more messy and smelly than raising chicks.
The turkeys and chicks have all learned how to get up to the tallest perch, so I guess DH will not have to install any lower perches after all. It is funny to see them looking out the windows at me,since the windows are all the way up at the top of the coop. First thing on the agenda when DH gets home after fetching my new kit and putting the last few panels of fencing around the straw bale garden so we can keep the chickens out and I can start planting, will be building the turkey yard so they can come outside. They will be close to seven weeks old at that point and we can dispense with the heat lamp. Then we need to build two more rabbit tractors and fix or replace the lids on the broken ones.
We roto-tilled the area by the turkey coop again yesterday and then I raked it. We also tilled the area where the big compost pile used to be. We will be putting dirt down over it today. That is the area where Mom wants us to move the duck coop, too. We need to move it to paint it anyway, and the ducks are big enough now to integrate with the other animals. I doubt they will like us moving their house, because ducks hate change, but they’ll have to learn to live with it. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to herd them into it when they aren’t confined to a smaller area. Also, hopefully the chickens will stay out of their coop. The more adventurous chickens are dead now, so other than Henrietta, I think they just might stay away.