And Just Like That Life Changes

I’m homeschooling again. It was a hard decision to make, but the results have been good. We’ve been at it for 3 weeks now and already the stress levels have gone way down. It has been a complete life overhaul to go back to it, though. At least we found a curriculum that is working for us.

We had a lot of craziness dealing with the rat, but we’ve got 6 live kits being raised by Luna Blue. It was touch and go there for a while. I had to feed the brown kit for a few days as it was not getting enough milk. It was weak, but just catching it up with an extra couple of feedings a day and it is now the same size as the red kit. They are both smaller than the white kits, but they are younger, too, so that is to be expected.

This is the method I used to feed the kit:

And this is how the litter is doing now:

The red doe kit we did not butcher because she was acting pregnant and had been in with her brother (we had thought they were both boys). But it has been 34 days so it is clear she is not pregnant. She is now 5 months old. We have named her Bonfire. We were going back and forth between that and Firecracker, since she was born on the 4th of July. But she is more of a Bonfire and we are calling her Bonnie. She is out of Firefly and Wildfire.

I am uncertain of whether or not we will keep her or sell her. Right now she is developing very well, has a gorgeous red coat color, and is starting to be more friendly and less skittish. Her body type is very good for a meat doe and she looks like she would make an excellent breeder. She is friendlier than Firefly who doesn’t want to be touched.

I had thought I was going to keep one of Cinnabun’s kits, but the one with the coloring I liked appears to be a boy. I say appears, because it wouldn’t be the first time one looked like something at 8 weeks old, but by 14 weeks old looked like the opposite. Such as Bonnie. And Felix before that. I may keep it anyway, as Alexander appears to have gone sterile and Leo has fur mites yet again despite keeping him and his cage very clean. So right now we can only breed with Starbuck and Wildfire.

On Tuesday I will be breeding Firefly and Serena. I am debating which doe to breed with Starbuck and which one to breed with Wildfire. Normally I breed Serena with Alex, but she’s missed with him the last two times (and he’s missed with 2 other does, so I know it is him) even though they’ve had successful litters in the past. I am not sure I want to put Serena with Starbuck since he is her uncle, but Wildfire is a lot bigger than her so I don’t know about that, either. I’ll have to make a decision soon enough.

I think Cinnabun is going blind. At first it just seemed like she was keeping her inner eyelids closed a lot. (Rabbits have 3 eyelids). But now it is all milky looking and she doesn’t appear to see my hand when I go to pet her. She jumps at my touch, like she didn’t see it. I have been treating her with Vetermycin eye drops, but am not seeing an improvement. She is still a good mother and doesn’t seem to have any problem raising kits. But if this isn’t an infection, if she is blind for no reason, it might be congenital and then I wouldn’t want to keep any of her offspring. I just wish I knew what the problem was. But I’m not going to take a $35 rabbit to a $150 vet who admittedly does not know anything much about rabbits to begin with. And blind or not, she can still raise babies. And very well, too.

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Quick Update

I’ve been sick for quite some time and so haven’t really been taking the time to keep up with the blog. I do post on the youtube channel a lot, because that just requires me to talk with a camera and not sit down and actually formulate thoughts. Despite this long illness, I’ve managed to get quite a lot accomplished between now and the last few months of summer.

I’ve filled 3 bookcases that are six feet high with food that I’ve canned, most rows are double stacked and 3 jars deep. I’ve got two more shelves filled with winter squashes and one more shelf filled with home canned food on a 4th bookcase. I feel really good about what I was able to grow this year and more than made my money back on the garden investment.

The rabbits are doing well and I should have 4 does kindling this weekend. I will get some solid reds this time as I did a red doe/red buck pairing. I’ll also get two sets of solid whites and then one set of mixed kits from a red/white pairing. Assuming they all are pregnant. All 4 are nesting like mad, but Luna nested like mad the last two times she missed and Serena did the last time she missed as well. Kalia and Ruby are both showing other signs of impending motherhood as well, though, so I’m pretty sure we’ll at least get the mixed litter and the red litter.

The ducks are finishing up their molt and looking really pretty again. I got 2 eggs today after going a few weeks only getting 1.

My tom turkey George finished his molt and looks gorgeous. My hen turkey Gina is all bedraggled and in the middle of a molt, yet she is still laying. Not sure how that happens as it was my understanding that they don’t lay while badly in molt. Mabye that is just chickens and ducks?

The 3 new pullets started laying couple of weeks ago and now their eggs are up to size. Both Auracanas and the other leghorn are laying, too.

The garden is winding down, but I am still getting herbs, sorrel, kale, chard, celery, and lettuce to harvest. I have broccoli with heads on it growing. I have managed to plant 50 cloves of garlic, though I’d like to triple that. We haven’t had a frost yet, so we still could get the garlic in. I need to clip and transplant my strawberry runners. I do have frost blankets ready to save some things.

I want to build a small hoop house over one of the garden beds and maybe grow a few things over the winter.

We may be taking our son out of high school to home school. We’ll make that decision by weeks’ end. He’s not learning well there. Some of the classes are out of control. He’s frustrated.

Anyway that’s the quick version of what I’ve been up to.

Burrrrrr

Burrrrrr

I know it’s not as cold as some places, but 29 F is pretty darn cold for this part of the country. If you were to just look out the window and see the sun shining brightly you would think spring is on the way, but the moment you step out that door and get whipped by the wind, it feels anything but. Last night got down to 22 so we put the heater back in the rabbit shed. The night before we had just used the two heat lamps, but last night we used both and the heater is still on today. Even with the heater going in the shed the temp is around 35. Enough to keep the water bottles from freezing, but only just.

Sweetie Belle is off her feed. She hasn’t eaten her fodder in two days. She is not eating much in the way of pellets. She is eating hay and drinking water, which is keeping me from totally freaking out. Usually she throws herself at the cage door when I come out with fodder, but she has stopped that. She is also being very docile when I pet her. Her eyes don’t seem as bright, either. I hope she isn’t sick. There is plenty of urine and manure in the dropping pan and it looks normal. The rest of the rabbits seem fine. They are all pouncing on the fodder like usual. I am going to try giving her a carrot tonight instead and see if that doesn’t help perk her up a bit.

It is supposed to get down to 16 F tonight. I hope the rabbits will be okay, though I am more worried about the chickens and frostbite. Right now they are digging down in the compost pile and cuddling in to keep warm. 2 of them went right back into the coop for the day after a brief foray outside. The ground is frozen solid.

Both kids have been to the doctor now. My daughter has both ears infected and all four sinuses infected. My son has “just” the sinuses infected. He is pretty miserable. After 2 days on antibiotics my daughter is doing better.

We made a big decision. It was mostly my daughter’s decision, but we support it completely. We have withdrawn her from public high school. A lot of people might think this is crazy one semester shy of graduation, but things have been building up with her between the illnesses, a psychotic teacher, and some bullying she’s born the brunt of. She literally had a nervous breakdown. It was a rough few weeks. So we are homeschooling and investigating other programs. The change in her has been remarkable. It’s like the weight of the world has been lifted from her shoulders. I wanted her to homeschool from the start of high school, but she wanted the experience. Well, she got it in spades.

Right now we are investigating a couple of accredited distance learning high schools as well as an alternative work at your own pace high school. She really only needs one more math class and one more English class. Everything else was electives. Filler classes. So we will get her enrolled in something in a couple of weeks after we’ve done a bit more research. Meanwhile she’s going to do a course on Coursera to keep her mind in the game.

None of us really care about when she graduates. She would have been graduating at 17 if she’d stayed in public high school, so regardless of what we end up doing she’ll still graduate when she’s 18, which puts her at the same place as almost everyone else in the country.

My son had already decided a few weeks ago that he wants to continue to homeschool for high school next school year, so now we will be able to get away from being tied down to the public school schedule completely starting next September. We will be switching from the state run WAVA program to a distance learning, work at your own pace high school. My son is much more interested in doing one or two subjects at a time and working all the way through them than doing every subject every day. With these accredited distance learning high schools you can do that. With the state run program you can’t.

So life is going to change quite a bit for us, but for the better. It will be weird to have 2 kids homeschooling again, but we’ve done it before and life was always much easier and laid back when we did. I already feel my own stress levels lifting since these decisions were made. We are all going to be happier and hopefully healthier now, too.

New Zealand White Kit Weights at 11 Weeks, 7 Weeks, and 3 Weeks Old

Above is Phoebe’s 3rd Litter at 3 Weeks Old, waiting to be weighed. They really have grown so much since the last time I posted a photo of them. They are round little fluffers now full of personality and determination. One of her bunnies had to be cleaned. It looked like it had had the runs. It is the one with the lowest weight. It did not like handling, but we got it into a comfortable enough position for me to use some warm water and a paper towel to get it cleaned up. Then we held it in front of the heater for a bit to dry. Heater’s only on 60 so it wouldn’t overheat the bun, but I didn’t want to leave it still wet. We will keep an eye on it and make sure it stays clean. At least as the runt, it is easy to pick out. I am wondering if the transition from milk to solid food is just a little rough for him because of his size.

I have decided that even though I weigh the rabbits on their appropriate day of the week they were born, that I am only going to post kit weights once a week. Since they were all born on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, this post will likely be on Monday nights or Tuesday. That way I won’t be cluttering the blog up with as many weight posts, but all the weights will still be posted. I will post final and dress out weights separately, still.

It has been so cold outside that the cooler full of rabbit meat and ice water on the porch froze solid. We brought it into the house last night to help it thaw out. It has thawed enough now to get the rabbit meat out, so we will be cutting it up and making sausage and stir-fry meat. Also, the son has put in a request for Rabbit Cheeseburgers again, so we will save out enough to have those for dinner tonight. It also has been so cold that we have put the heater back in the rabbit shed. You can still see your breath out there, but they seem comfortable. At least it is only the cold and there is no snow to accompany it like some people have right now.

The chickens are doing well despite the cold. One benefit of the cold is that they are laying in the nesting boxes instead of hiding their eggs in secret nests like they sometimes do when it is warmer. We got 6 eggs yesterday. We’ve been averaging about 4 a day lately from 11 hens. We have to check the coop often though because the eggs will freeze in this weather. Their biggest joy right now is when I bring out a tote full of rabbit manure and hay for the compost pile. They make a beeline for it and scratch happily. It is about the only place thawed enough to do so. They find a lot of barley seeds that have fallen through the wire from the fodder into the dropping pans and also I throw any unsprouted seeds in the compost for them to dig through and eat.

We started homeschooling back up yesterday with our son. It went surprisingly well. Usually when we’ve been away from it for a while he is reluctant to get started. We’re starting a unit on Ancient Greece, which he knows backwards and forwards from two years ago so it is easy for him. I don’t know why they repeat history so much in school. Science was a snap, if a bit long. Literature was half a short story so that went pretty fast. The other half will be today. Grammar went well, as did Math. I like it when it is easy.

The daughter went back to high school Monday as well. I think she was really glad to go since she barely saw her friends over the holidays. She said half the kids wore their new pajamas. I shake my head every time I hear that. Things have sure changed a lot since I went to school. Though I suppose warm PJ pants would be nicer than jeans right now.

The fodder system is still coming along nicely, although I do think the barley in the see through containers grows faster than the barley in the white containers. Getting barley seems to be the highlight of their day. They certainly all rush the doors for it. They are all still eating some pellets and of course hay, which they still need for roughage. But I’d say 3/4 of their daily diet is on fodder. I am letting Sweetie Belle and Piper have as many pellets as they want for the next week so they can get their weights back up, before we switch them to a non-pregnant or lactating portion.

Last night we finally separated the rest of the 11 week old kits from Sweetie Belle and Piper. We also took one of the bunnies who had been in a cage with 3 rabbits and put it with the 2 from Sweetie Belle’s cage. We watched for a while to make sure there would be no fighting, but they seemed to recognize their former litter mate and it wasn’t long until they’d all curled up into a heap. Now the older kits are all 3 to a cage. As for weights, 5 of Piper’s kits have hit slaughter weight and 7 of Sweetie Belle’s have so we will likely put Kalia in with those two and let them get closer to weight after we process those 12. With Kalia’s smaller size we shouldn’t have any problems figuring out who is who.

Alright, without further ado, kit weights:

Piper’s (x Starbuck) Fifth Litter at 11 Weeks Old:

Kit 1: 4 lb 5 oz (Kalia, runt)
Kit 2: 5 lb 9.3 oz
Kit 3: 5 lb 11 oz
Kit 4: 5 lb 13.3 oz
Kit 5: 5 lb 13.7 oz
Kit 6: 5 lb 8.9 oz

Total Litter Weight: 33 lb 13.2 oz

Amount Gained: 3 lb 8.8 oz

Sweetie Belle’s (x Leo) First Litter at 11 Weeks Old:

Kit 1: 5 lb 1.9 oz
Kit 2: 5 lb 8.1 oz
Kit 3: 5 lb 15.6 oz
Kit 4: 4 lb 14.2 oz
Kit 5: 5 lb 6.6 oz
Kit 6: 5 lb 14.2 oz
Kit 7: 5 lb 0.4 oz
Kit 8: 5 lb 8.2 oz
Kit 9: 4 lb 12.7 oz

Total Litter Weight: 48 lb 1.9 oz

Amount Gained: 5 lb 8.2 oz

Lola’s (x Starbuck) 2nd Litter at 7 Weeks Old:

Kit 1: 2 lb 14.9 oz
Kit 2: 3 lb 4.4 oz
Kit 3: 3 lb 2.7 oz
Kit 4: 3 lb 6 oz
Kit 5: 2 lb 11 oz
Kit 6: 3 lb 6 oz
Kit 7: 3 lb 4.2 oz

Total Litter Weight: 22 lb 1.2 oz

Amount Gained: 3 lb 12.7 oz

Serenity’s (x Leo) 1st Litter:

Kit 1: 2 lb 0.5 oz
Kit 2: 3 lb 5.6 oz
Kit 3: 2 lb 15.4 oz
Kit 4: 3 lb 1.5 oz
Kit 5: 3 lb 2.7 oz
Kit 6: 3 lb 1.6 oz
Kit 7: 3 lb 7.3 oz

Total Litter Weight: 22 lb 2.6 oz

Amount Gained: 4 lb 14 oz

Phoebe’s (x Leo) 3rd Litter:

Kit 1: 12.5 oz
Kit 2: 13.1 oz
Kit 3: 13.5 oz
Kit 4: 15.2 oz
Kit 5: 8.6 oz (runt)
Kit 6: 11.2 oz
Kit 7: 11.5 oz

Total Litter Weight: 5 lb 5.6 oz

Phoebe birthed 9 kits, 2 were fostered to Andromeda, one of which did not survive.

Andromeda’s (x Starbuck) 1st Litter:

Kit 1: 14.5 oz
Kit 2: 15.1 oz
Kit 3: 12.1 oz
Kit 4: 12.8 oz
Kit 5: 13 oz

Total Litter Weight: 5 lb 0 oz

Everyone seems on track for growth except for Phoebe’s runt and Kalia, which is to be expected.

Final Kindle Until Spring is Complete

First time mother Andromeda has given birth and judging from the pristine whiteness of her coat she must have done it last night after we left the rabbit shed. She cleaned herself up well and there is no sign of blood or placentas so she ate those up properly. You can just see over her shoulder the cave she made and the pile of fur blocking the entrance. She let me reach back and put my hand in it and I felt a bunch of knobby little bodies. They were warm. I did not wake them up, just lightly touched. There are at least four, but there might be more further back. It was hard reaching past her when she was nibbling on the underside of my arm.

This afternoon after homeschooling is done, the son and I will go out and count kits. It is easier with backup and he is good at coaxing Andromeda out of her cage. She is one of only two rabbits that likes him better than she likes me, though she is coming around since mine is the hand that feeds her fodder. I did sneak a hand into Phoebe’s nest as well and they were all warm, too. I am curious as to how many we have. If each mother had at least 5 kits, we currently will have 60 rabbits. 13 will be slaughtered this weekend. The husband will be home on Thursday for 4 weeks (which might turn in to three weeks if they call him back early) over the holidays, so there might be some ready to go the weekend before he heads back up.

Homeschooling has been a bit like pulling teeth this month. The boy is being contrary. Gotta love those early teenage years and those bubbling hormones and that lovely authority testing. I am looking forward to having a couple weeks off. We have 5 school days left and the subjects we have left to do are 6 math, 1 composition lesson, 5 grammar, usage, and mechanics lessons, 4 vocabulary, 1 science, 1 art, and 4 history.

We are leaving the math until his dad comes home. This part of algebra (inequalities) is not something I understand well or can fake my way through and he is struggling a bit, so we will wait for the math genius to come home and explain it. So he will need to do 3 math on Thursday and 3 math on Friday. Today’s goal is to get through all of the history and a vocabulary unit assessment. That always includes the Latin stuff, ugh, but the son picks that up easier than I do. And then 1 GUM.

Tomorrow the plan is to do 1 science, 1 art, 3 vocabulary, 1 composition, and finish the writing sample that is due by the end of the week (a short essay on recycling of 1 to 3 paragraphs). Maybe throw in some study island, though he can work on that through the break if he wants. It is just test prep stuff for testing in May so it gets fitted in wherever. But it does give him hours.

The goal for Wednesday is to finish off the GUM and then we will finish off the unit of literature we are in the middle of so we don’t leave it hanging for 2 weeks. He needs the hours anyway. He never gets his hours in with the required work, he almost always does it faster. Then he tends to watch a bunch of documentaries on either history or science to get the chair time in. I do wish our virtual school didn’t count chair time, but you can’t have everything and we really like the program. Plus free, so there you go.

The nice thing about the husband being home for the next several weeks is that when classes start up again in January, if the boy is still having trouble with math, his dad will be around to help him. And maybe they can get in all the required math for the month before he leaves again and then I will focus on the rest.

I’ll check in later today with a count of the new kits as well as a set of weights for the other six litters that we weighed on Thursday and Sunday. For now I’m off to grab a nap. I’m still fighting this illness. I am more than ready for it to be over.

Nothing Better on a Cold Day Than Hot Soup

This was our dinner tonight, a hot, homemade rabbit vegetable noodle soup. It got pretty thick, almost, but not quite, a stew. My original plan was to have 10 quarts of stock to can, but I decided about halfway into making it that I was going to take 2 quarts and make soup tonight. And it turned out so well, really delicious. My particular bowl had 3 ladelfuls in it. It was rich and filling and actually the only thing I ate today besides an orange. Oops.

So I ended up with 8 quarts of stock to can, which I did and now I have 4 very healthy servings of soup leftover for lunch tomorrow. The son will likely eat two of those for lunch, I will have one, and the daughter will have the other after school. I will be making my baked potato soup tomorrow, which is more chowder consistency than soup consistency, and also very filling.

I did not get around to canning potatoes, but the nice thing about them is they will keep until next weekend if that is how long it takes. I hope to do it during the week, but with homeshooling the boy I never know how the day will go. I have a conference with a really bad teacher of my daughter’s and her counselor and the vice principal. The teacher is refusing to provide missed work for legitimately excused absences and is engaging in far worse behavior, so needs to be called on her nonsense. I have never, ever had to deal with a teacher making my daughter (age 17) cry before and this one has done it on many occasions. Fortunately she has been able to wait until she got home to break down or at least into the car after school.

This teacher induced a panic attack that went into an asthma attack and then made comments to the other students about my daughter for using her inhaler. She has gossiped to the school nurse about my daughter, loudly enough to be overheard by someone else who told my daughter about it. She has regularly made other students cry in class and belittled them. Just a real bully case, it sounds like. I’ve got a long list of stuff to go over, but my main concern is the refusal to give the missed work to my daughter when she’s been out sick and then grading that work as a 0. We follow school policy on staying home when sick, but then she gets punished for it by this woman. Makes me furious. My daughter can’t help it if she has a compromised immune system due to medical issues that are none of the school’s business.

I really wish my daughter had wanted to be homeschooled for high school, but she didn’t. Despite her health issues she wanted the experience. Well, the bad comes with the good, and this year she is getting quite a lot of the bad from this teacher. And I can’t help but worry about my son who wants to go to high school next year. This teacher is the only one that teaches one of the required classes for graduation, so I can’t even just say he is not allowed to be in any of her classes. Maybe we’ll be out of this school district by then. I hope so. If the house ever sells we plan to move to a different one.

I did weigh the 3 week old kits on Sunday and today as they hit their respective marks. I will do up a post with that information tomorrow. I am a little scattered tonight. I also gave nesting boxes to Lola and Serenity 2 days ago. The first night Serenity ate all the hay and straw out of hers and pooped in it. We redid the box and she dug a tunnel in it last night and has mostly left it alone otherwise. Lola knows what to do and just made a burrow in hers. Serenity will be a first time mother. Both sets of kits are due this weekend, probably on Sunday, but could be on Saturday or Monday since Serenity is unknown and Lola was bred with a different buck this time.

Or Maybe Not

I don’t even know. I think the rabbits are conspiring against me. Both Lola and Sweetie Belle’s cages looked like the above photo today. Both have nests built in the far corner with some pulled fur (but no babies yet). Both have also built nests in their nesting boxes. Tomorrow is day 32, so hopefully I will know one way or the other, but they certainly are not telling me today! I know they can’t both be pregnant. Have I mentioned before that I am not very good at waiting? Because I am not.

On the bright side, the husband was able to remove the dirty hay from both of their cages today without them going ballistic, probably because he has never tried to take them out of their cages so they don’t equate him with that. He didn’t go anywhere near their nests, but he did get out what they urinated on. Because with so much hay, they are not keeping one corner of their cages free for that like normal. They are spreading excess hay all over, then nest building, then tearing the nests apart and spreading out the hay, then nest building again. With all this nest building somebody better have babies tomorrow!

We’ve received all of our homeschooling materials, so will be starting on that next week. The son claims he will be doing more of his work on his own this year. I hope so. He’s certainly well able to do the 3/4 of the work that is online without my help.

The daughter has received her schedule from the high school and they put her in a couple of classes she did not sign up for or want to take at all for her electives. They weren’t even back up choices. That doesn’t generally happen to a senior. And also they put her in the wrong PE. She can’t do weight training because of an old hand injury. She was supposed to be in Walking for Fitness, but she would take Volleyball/Basketball/Soccer over Weight Training. So she and the husband will be going down to the school tomorrow to try to get that fixed. I told her she should have done her final PE credit last year. Oh, well, she’s the one who will have to live with it.

I am going to try to get another batch of pickles canned tomorrow. I hope to do green beans on Sunday, if we can find enough at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Most of Saturday will be taken up with slaughtering rabbits. Then later next week I want to can some of the rabbit meat. There is also a sale on wild Pacific salmon; if you get a whole one it is cheaper. I’d like to can some salmon at that price. We’ll see how I’m doing by next week. I am fighting a cold or else just having a really bad allergy thing going on. Or both.

I got a new hose for my C-PAP machine on Monday when I went to the sleep doctor. It is about a foot longer than the other one, which means if I turn over it no longer comes off in my sleep. I’ve woken up with it still on for 2 mornings running, so I think that may finally solve the problem of night time removals. I have felt better rested finally. I hope it continues.