Kindling Day One

Ella kindled this morning.  She had seven, but one bled out from not getting the umbilical cord nipped right.  That one was white.  All of the others look broken!  Zander, the sire, is my only broken New Zealand rabbit. Now we wait to see whether they will be broken red or broken blacks. With the genetic combinations there I could end up with a lot of things.

Ella is a black, but her mother Ruby is a red and her father Starbuck is a white.  From what I understand for Ella to be black, it means that Starbuck carries black, but it is masked by the albinism gene. Ruby has one black in her line 3 generations back and the rest are reds.  So Ella can carry a gene for black, red, and the albinism gene.

Zander is a broken black but his dam is a broken red and his sire is a white, which means he carries the genes for red and for broken from his mother.  His father must also be black masked by the ablinism gene or he wouldn’t be a broken black.

So if you get a kit with the 2 albinism genes then it’ll be white as that dominates and that must be what happens with the dead ones.  If I were to get a black kit out of this pairing then I would know that Hercules, Zander’s sire, had black under his masking albinism gene.  If I were to get a solid red, I’d know he had red under it.  If I were to get chestnut then I’d know he was agouti.  I think.  Rabbit genetics are complicated.

The guy I bought Zander from said he is lucky if he gets one broken kit per litter with Zander’s dam. So proud of Miss Ella. She did good for a first time mother. I’ll post pictures when the fur starts coming in and I have a better idea of what their coloring is.

Waiting on 3 more rabbits to kindle.  One due today and two due tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, have a gander at our nesting box build.  The does love them.  They are so happy with the higher walls and that they can have deeper nests in the back.

Kindling, Gardening, and Hurt Birds

Kalia kindled yesterday. She had just one kit again, but she’s getting old. Luna Blue was due on the 8th and nothing, so I think she missed. I was hoping she’d have a big enough litter I could give Kalia another kit to raise so hers wouldn’t be alone, but it looks like a no-go. I’m not sure why Luna missed. The only other time she missed was with Alex when it turned out he was sick. She had a litter of 6 last time. I think it might be Starbuck, but the four week old kits were all fathered by him. That was before the abscess on his shoulder showed up, though. So maybe his immune system is not doing well. I’ve read that can lead to low sperm count in rabbits.

It will be a while before Zander is old enough to sire kits. Leo is still out of commission due to illness and may never recover. We may very well be putting him down the next time my husband comes homes. We do have a four month old buck that could father kits in 2 more months if we kept him, which I wasn’t planning on. He’s very sweet tempered though and does have all of the qualifications for a good meat buck.

I need to make the decision soon on Persephone and Serenity. Persephone is still young, she just doesn’t seem to be shaking this. Serenity is getting old, but I really like her personality and she seems like she is actually recovering. But I have two doe kits right now that are coming up beautifully and maybe it is just time to stop trying to nurse them through this (it has been months) and replace them. One of the doe kits is Serenity’s granddaughter, but there is no off spring from Persephone, which would mean Phoebe’s line would end. Still, there is Piper’s line and Serenity’s line. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet.

If Serenity and Persephone go, that leaves Luna Blue, Serena, and Kalia as white does and Ruby, Firefly, Bonfire, and Cinnabun as red does. Kalia is pretty much too old to give good litter sizes anymore, so that leaves just six production does. I have thought of getting a red buck or a broken red buck. We’ll see. I don’t like just having one working buck, but Zander will be big enough soon enough.

On the garden front everything is growing well. Almost everything is planted, I am just waiting on cantaloupe for hotter days. We are having a very warm, very good start to the gardening season and I am already harvesting kale, chard, chives, oregano, sorrel, blood-veined sorrel, pak choi, and three types of lettuce. I should not have to buy any greens until October and November at this rate unless the lettuce bolts. The tomato plants are really taking off. Two of the ones in the house are ready for me to start hardening them off for transplant. I will have one Opalka and one Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom for sure. The basil I cloned is doing well, also. This is the first time I have ever cloned basil, so I am happy it worked.

Gina still has not fully recovered from her injuries. She spends a lot of time resting in the nesting box. She hasn’t laid eggs since she got hurt. Turkey eggs are my favorite, but what are you going to do? Her feathers are finally coming back in along her back. It looks terrible, but not as bad as raw skin looked. At least the hawk has moved on. I think George hurt him pretty bad when he tried to protect Gina.

Wade has a hurt leg, too. We caged him for 3 days to force him to rest, but let him into the coop with the rest of the ducks at night. He is walking better, but still limping and still holding one leg up when he stands. No signs of bumblefoot and it seems more like a leg injury than a foot injury. If it starts getting worse again, I will cage him for a full week. But it is hard on him, being a flock animal. He wants to follow the rest of the ducks around. They do stay with his cage part of the day, but it makes him sad when they go away to other parts of the yard and he can’t follow.

The Good and the Bad of It

Sometimes homesteading really has me in tears. There is so much good, but when the bad comes it breaks your heart. We had kits born on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. On Wednesday we had a rat get in the rabbit shed and attack a kit. It was injured so badly that I had to put it down. This is the first time I’ve had to do that. I know that we butcher animals and that this rabbit only would have lived 12 to 14 weeks, but this was a death without purpose to me, other than alleviating suffering, I mean. It had me in tears.

This was the first time I have killed a rabbit. My husband does the killing at butcher time. I’ve never had to, but he wasn’t home and it needed to be done immediately. I still feel bad 2 days later. I know it was the right thing, but it was just so sad. We had already lost 2 kits the day they were born. So of a total of 9 born, there are six left. One was with Ruby, one was with Kalia, and the other 4 were with Luna. At first I was just going to foster Ruby’s kit to Kalia, but I ended up fostering the two kits to Luna, who had more milk, so she could raise all six. I didn’t think it was warm enough for any kit to be alone.

Ruby and Kalia are both a little sad. They looked for their kits the first day, but have stopped. But I can tell they are sad. I wish I could explain it to them, but I can’t really. I mean, I tell them, but of course they don’t understand. And Serena never kindled. I think Alexander has gone sterile as there have been no kits from his last 3 breedings now.

On a possibly good news note, DH noticed that one of Firefly’s bucks was haystaching. Bucks don’t do that. At least not that I’ve ever seen. So my son and I did a quick sex check and that buck is a doe. And she had been in with her two brothers up until 3 weeks ago. The magical rabbit sex change fairy strikes again. So we quickly transferred her to a baby safe cage and gave her a nesting box. It is possible that she is just reacting to the mama hormones in the air, but she is old enough that she could be pregnant and I didn’t want another Fiona incident on my hands. Fortunately she is big enough that a pregnancy is not detrimental to her health. She jumped right into the nesting box and started digging. As a boy she was on the butcher schedule for this weekend, but I guess she missed that.

If she does have kits we will let her raise the litter and then sell her. We don’t have the cage space to keep 2 new does and I want to save one of the blackish kits from Cinnabun’s latest litter as a breeder if there is a promising girl. They are gorgeous and super soft and very sweetly tempered. My son wants to name her, but that is dangerous. Once they have a name he always wants to keep it. And we just can’t. Unless we sell some other does. And this really isn’t the time of year that people want to buy starter trios.

So as you can see the week has been very up and down. I hope next week is calmer and not so crazy.

On Kindle Watch

I’ve got three rabbits due today, Kalia (bred with Wildfire), Cinnabun (bred with Starbuck), and Serena (bred with Alexander). Kalia and Cinnabun have built elaborate nests. Serena’s nest is not that elaborate, but she’s the only one who has pulled fur. Kalia and Serena are both in that uncomfortable looking stage. Cinnabun looks perfectly fine, but nothing really seems to phase her. My guess is Kalia will have hers first.

I have some more videos I took earlier in the week. The gutter garden is coming along nicely, planted with garlic, green onions (in succession), spinach, and edible violas. Since the video, the foot of radishes I planted have sprouted. I need to plant another foot of radishes. I want them coming about every ten days or so.

Gutter Garden:

I think we will have a lot of fruit this year if all goes well. I have seen some bees pollinating. Mostly bumble bees and mason bees, but there have been a few honey bees. Speaking of honey bees, google “accident on I-5 with bee hives” and watch a few of the videos. They had 448 hives on the semi-truck that flipped. And they were headed for my county, rented to the big blueberry and raspberry farms here. We could see tremendous loss of production in our county this year. They were able to save some, but berries are a huge part of the farm economy here. All the more reason for farmers to keep their own hives, I think.

Fruit Garden:

Out in the vegetable bed that is planted, you can just see a few of the snap peas that I planted starting to burst through the soil. They just started coming up and last night I could see 3 and this morning I could see 8. I am really happy with how everything is growing. The lettuce is getting big. I think I can start taking a leaf off each plant in another couple of days for my salads. The kale is also doing very well, and the snow peas are starting to reach for the trellis. The onions look great. Everything I planted in the window boxes and planters is also doing well. The chamomile, which got yanked out of the planter by a chicken, seems to be recovering.

The chickens that keep hopping the fence will be getting their wings clipped this weekend. They are Mom’s chickens. Mine are well-behaved. I saw baby chicks at the farm store last night when I was buying feeders for the new cages. They are so adorable. I want some. But I think the only babies we will have on the homestead this year are rabbit kits. Though I still would like to raise a couple of turkeys, I just don’t see it happening.

Three New Litters – 19 Kits

It was a long weekend, but all three of my pregnant does (yes, Luna Blue was indeed pregnant) kindled healthy litters. Persephone had six on Saturday. Firefly had seven and Luna Blue had six on Sunday. The litter above is Firefly’s. She had one very tiny runt. You can see it in the middle of the photo in between two of its bigger siblings. I have never had such a tiny rabbit kit. I have had small kits that I thought were runts, but this is a true runt. It is not a peanut. New Zealands do not carry the dwarf gene that causes that.

It is perfectly formed and active and wiggly. It is just teeny. Yesterday it was as long as my pinky finger and as wide as my index finger. For normal comparison a newborn kit is usually about as wide as two fingers and as long as my middle finger. I don’t know if it will survive or not, but we will keep a sharp eye on it and give it some extra nursings, starting today after school when my son will be home to help. It will probably take a couple of weeks longer to grow out if it survives. There are two other smaller kits in Persephone’s litter that may take a couple weeks extra as well, but they are nowhere near this small.

This is the first time Wildfire has fathered more than six kits. I was starting to think that was all he could manage. I am glad to see it is not. It’s still a far cry from the litter of 12 the person I bought him from claims he fathered on his first go. It’s also a far cry from the litter of 10 Firefly came from. But 7 is an improvement, even if one is itty bitty.

Here is Persephone’s litter the day they were born:


And here is Luna Blue’s litter:


Luna’s kits are huge compared to everyone else’s. But then their father is Leo. Like Firefly, Luna is a first time mother. Unlike Firefly, Luna’s mother died when she was 2.5 weeks old and she had to be fed raw, warm goat’s milk from a dropper for a few weeks. I had no foster mother because Piper had died the week before they were both due to deliver. That was a tough month in the rabbitry. But there has been no illness like that in nine months, so I hope that means we are all free and clear.

Since we have 19 kits and 3 will likely take longer to grow out, I decided to hold off until March 11 before I breed the next set of does. But I will breed 3 instead of 2. It’s not too bad, and I will have 2 more grow out cages in a couple of weeks.

I sold 2 dozen duck eggs on Friday, bringing February farm sales to $105. Sales for the year are $122.50.

19 Kits and Counting

I have caught some bug that is just generally making me feel very run down, so that is why I am not blogging much. All three rabbits kindled yesterday. All of the kits were healthy and none died. I took 2 of the kits from Serenity’s litter and gave them to Phoebe to even out litter amounts and give all the kits a better shot at getting milk.

Sadly, the 9 week old black kit of Kalia’s was dead in her cage this morning. When we weighed her last night she hadn’t gained any weight all week, so I don’t think weaning went well for her. I had checked on them all during the week. It just hits so fast sometimes. I am sad as I wanted to grow this one up as a breeder and she was such a sweet little doe kit. I let myself get attached. I try not to do that, but since we were going to keep her, I did.

3 of the 4 Barnevelders are laying eggs now, but the third one has very thin shells we keep putting our fingers through when we go to pick them up. I’m going to put out some extra oyster shell. I’m not sure all of the chickens are finding it in the duck area, even though the chickens hang out there a lot, so I’ll put some closer to the chicken coop.

One of the ducks laid an egg so big today I wouldn’t be surprised to open it in the morning and see a triple yolker. I’ve only had that happen once before, but it was with an egg this big.

There is not that much going on here. I’ve mostly been taking it easy. I will be canning green beans tomorrow, though. And possibly tomatoes, too, since I can use the pressure canner for the first and the water bath canner for the second.