Late November on the Farm

woods with snow
Snowy woods.

We’ve been very busy this month.  In my last post, I said I would get some pictures of snow… well, then it melted.  But on Thanksgiving, which was a couple days ago, we got about 4-5 inches. So we have snow again.

Here is Nova.  We got her about a month ago, from our coworker.  Nova was her son’s dog, when he was in the Air force in Georgia.  Now he moved back to town and is going to college, and couldn’t keep her, and my coworker felt bad that Nova was home alone during the day.  So we took her in.  She gets along great with our other dogs and she is a sweetheart.

nova
Our Nova
three dogs
The three dogs on the back porch. Nova likes to eat snow.
nova 2
Another picture of Nova

The chickens aren’t minding the snow so much.  I have heat lamps in the two rooms of their coop, so they can go in and warm up their feet if they get cold.  Our batch last year (which we still have the hens from) didn’t like to go out in the snow. I’m not sure why they don’t mind this year, but they don’t.

winter coop
The chickens don’t seem to mind the snow at all.
snow chickens
Snow chickens. The dirt spot here is where we took away their old roost that was out there. We had to steal the sawhorses that held it up, for the rabbit hutch, which you will see below.
chickens in snow 2
Yesterday they found the dirt spot, and they were taking dirt baths in it. The ground is not frozen yet, luckily.

Last weekend we went up to my cousin’s to get the original hutch that I got with the rabbits.  We have set it up near our other rabbit hutch, so it’s now Rabbit Row:

bunny row
Rabbit row. On the left are the rabbits in the hutch we built, and on the right is the one that came with the bunnies. We’re getting it set up for the baby bunnies when they get bigger. The garbage bags in the picture are straw and hay – I have them outside, but covered for easy access.
old new hutch
Here is the hutch that came with the rabbits. It had a roof which we removed in order to get it in the back of the truck. We are just planning on using one side for the winter, so we have closed that side in with wood.
hutch inside
The inside of the new (old) hutch. It has a wire bottom, but I will cover it with straw to try to keep the babies’ feet more comfortable. I need to look it up, but I believe it will be a couple more weeks before they go in there. Hopefully we’ll get the snow out of there before then. We brushed what we could out, but it may melt a little too.

And here are the little baby bunnies:

baby bun
They are starting to munch on food – this one is eating hay.
bunnies
Here they are – they are all brown. But some are darker brown, and one has a little lighter fur. I’m assuming they change color as they get older, but I could be wrong. I’m still new at this. The mom is black and the dad is gray, so I don’t know how the brown comes in.
baby bunny pile
They like to pile up on top of each other, outside of the nest box. I think there are 8 of them. I’ve tried to count without taking them all out, and they jump around too much so I have not gotten a good count. I will be able to get an accurate count soon when I need to move them.

The rabbits have been doing ok with the cold so far.  We’re going to add a tarp to the front of the hutches to block wind from the inside. That’s one reason I positioned the hutches into “Rabbit Row.” – I figure it will help block wind somewhat. I’m already planning on a new setup once spring comes – more of a rabbit shed, I think. I’d like to add a run of some sort so they can hang out in the grass also.

We’ve also decided on names for the adults.  They are Earth, Wind, and Fire. (my husband came up with it) – The gray buck is Earth (since he’s on the left), the white doe is Wind, and the black doe is Fire.

white bunny
My husband built nest boxes for the other two rabbits, and they are lined with straw, so they can stay out of the wind when it gets very cold. They like to sit on top of them sometimes, as you can see Wind do here.

The farm is pretty much ready for winter.  It’s a nice time to just cozy up inside – we don’t have a lot of projects we can do outside in winter, except reinforcing animal housing and doing normal feeding chores each morning and night.  I like that it’s kind of a relaxation time.  Of course I’m already planning in my head what we’ll do when spring comes.

 

 

Baby bunnies!

A few days ago, I noticed that my pregnant doe was starting to pull fur from her neck for her nest.  She has a nest box, and I gave her a bunch of straw to put in it, but she moved the straw to just outside the nest box, and mixed her fur into that “nest.”

The next morning, I was feeding the rabbits and heard a squeak.  I then saw that the straw in the nest was moving; she had her babies!  I have been reluctant to check on them, because I was nervous that I may make the mother freak out and kill them;  then today I read that you should check on them right away in case there are any dead babies.  After reading that, I went out and checked.  I believe they are all alive – we have 6-8 babies.  They were pretty squirmy and hairless, but all moving around.  They are all about 3 days old today. It was a bit hard to get a picture because they are so squirmy, but here is one:

You can see a little face peeking out here.
You can see a little face peeking out here.

Here’s mama – she didn’t seem to be too upset that I checked out her babies.

The mother bunny.
The mother bunny.

Here’s the father rabbit:

Here's the dad.
Here’s the dad.

Here is our other doe:

Our white doe.
Our white doe.

We gave the other doe and the buck each a nest box as well, just because we thought it may help them keep warm as our weather gets colder.  It has been cooling down lately.  Yesterday it was very windy and we actually had some snow come down, but the snow melted as it hit the ground.  We’re also planning on putting some tarps up around the hutch to block the wind.  I think I may wait to mate the rabbits anymore till spring.  I don’t think the white doe is pregnant – she was with both the buck and the other doe on the way home, when I was bringing them to my house, but I think they were all too scared to get down to business.  I will wait and see though.

The Rabbits’ Home is Complete!

We started building a hutch last week, and finally finished up this morning.  We moved it into its new home, inside our empty wood shed.  We’ll find it a better home in the spring, but we thought this would be the best place for it for the winter.

We built it with scrap wood and things we found around the house. Here are some pictures of the hutch:

Here is our completed Hutch.  It is on top of some old fish tank stands my dad made.
Here is our completed Hutch. It is on top of some old fish tank stands my dad made.
We have three compartments so each of our rabbits has their own space.  They are divided by hardware cloth.
We have three compartments so each of our rabbits has their own space. They are divided by hardware cloth.
The floors for each compartment are some bread trays (trays that bread came to our store on, when I was a kid).  These were still hanging out in a storage building we own.
The floors for each compartment are some bread trays (trays that bread came to our store on, when I was a kid). These were still hanging out in a storage building we own. They slide out for cleaning. They have holes so that the rabbits’ pee and poo can escape out, but it’s more of a flat floor so it should be more comfortable for their feet than fencing or hardware cloth would be.
Here is one of the fish tank stands we have the hutch on.  There are shelves underneath, in case we need to put something there. We chose them because they were already built, they were tall enough, and very strong.
Here is one of the fish tank stands we have the hutch on. There are shelves underneath, in case we need to put something there. We chose them because they were already built, they were tall enough, and very strong.
Here is the view from our side door - we can just look out and make sure everything is ok at night. We have a dimmed light on all the time, and a motion sensor in case predators come in the yard to check them out. Plus our dogs would bark at anything out there.
Here is the view from our side door – we can just look out and make sure everything is ok at night. We have a dimmed light on all the time, and a motion sensor in case predators come in the yard to check them out. Plus our dogs would bark at anything out there.

Here the bunnies are enjoying their new abode.  Please forgive the fuzziness of the pictures, I thought they would turn out better but the bunnies move a lot.

My buck in his new home.
My buck in his new home.
Here is our white doe in her new spot.
Here is our white doe in her new spot.
Here is our black, already pregnant doe, hopefully getting her nest box ready for the babies (due in the next few days).  Last time I gave her a nest box she used it as a litter box. We will see how she does with it.
Here is our black, already pregnant doe, hopefully getting her nest box ready for the babies (due in the next few days). Last time I gave her a nest box she used it as a litter box. We will see how she does with it.

So far it’s going well. We are going to make some wooden nest boxes for all three of the rabbits, so that they have somewhere to go to get more warm.  The metal nest box I gave to my doe is ok for now, but I worry that it would be too cold in winter.  I have the hutch facing the house so that they won’t get as much wind in their cages, but I plan on putting tarp up or something when we get really windy cold days in the winter.

The Great Rabbit Fiasco of 2015

I had originally planned on getting rabbits this summer for my farm.  Over the last few months, with all the projects and things we had going on, I had given up on it for this year.  I figured next year we’d build a hutch and look for rabbits then.  I occasionally browse the Farm & Garden section of our local Craigslist just to see what is out there, and I hadn’t seen what we were looking for anyway.  My plan was to get 2 females (does) and a male (buck).  Most ads I’ve seen have been for one rabbit, or one rabbit that was only for use as a pet (or like a floppy eared bunny that wasn’t really a meat rabbit anyway). Last Thursday, I saw an ad for exactly what we wanted: 2 does, a buck, and a hutch, for $30.  It was in Marquette which is a couple hours away.  I immediately called, and told the guy I’d take them if he could wait till Saturday for me to come get them.  He agreed.

As soon as I got off the phone, I realized I had no way to get the rabbit hutch, since our truck is currently not working.  I called the guy back and asked for the dimensions of the hutch.  My car is a station wagon (Toyota Matrix) and the seats fold completely flat.  I can fit large things in my car, IF I can get them in the door.  From the dimensions, it sounded like I could fit the hutch.  I called my cousin who actually lives near the craiglist guy, and he said he could help with his truck, at least to get the hutch, and then we could try to get the hutch into my car at his house.

I drove 2 hours in the pouring rain, to my cousin’s house. From there, we went to get the rabbits.  We got the rabbits in the truck, and the hutch in the bed of the truck. We got back to my cousin’s house, and there was no way we could get the hutch in my car – the opening is not large enough – it was only a couple inches too small, but with the pouring rain, we weren’t going to try to mess with it. So my cousin is holding the hutch for me, for when my truck is fixed.

I stopped at Tractor Supply on the way home, to get the rabbits food and see if they had something I could house them in temporarily, while we build a hutch – the truck will take a little longer, but we can build a hutch this week.  I found 2 cages, and that is where the rabbits are for now;  of course they are inside, because the cages are too flimsy to be out in the weather, with predators about.

Now for the bunnies:

Here are the rabbits in their temporary cages, in my art/livestock room.
Here are the rabbits in their temporary cages, in my art/livestock room.

There is a black female (I guess she is a Rex), a white female, and a big grey buck.  The guy I got them from had the black female together with the male. He said she’s due to have a litter soon (within 2 weeks). We were going to get them settled in before breeding them; so this puts a bit more of a rush on things.

We started building a hutch for them yesterday, it will have 3 compartments so they all have their own cage, and it’s wood on 3 sides, with cage material front doors.  There will be hardware cloth/cage material in between each compartment so they will still be able to see each other. We are using wood on 3 sides to help keep wind and blowing snow/rain off of them. For the floor, we are using some  “bread trays” that I found.  When I was a kid, the downstairs of our house was a store, and the bread came to the store on these large plastic trays. My parents used those as the floors of rabbit hutches when I was a kid, because you can slide them out for easier cleaning. I like that the floor has openings, but it’s smoother than using hardware cloth or cage-material flooring, so it should be nicer for the rabbits to sit/stand/lay on than cage material would be.  We just need to make/attach the doors, and make some legs, and add the roof.  We are using some metal shelving I found for the roof, so they will have a sloped metal roof – the snow will slide off the back of the hutch.   I will do another post with pictures of the hutch soon.

Back to the rabbits…  We have not really named them yet, but since they are our breeding stock we actually are going to allow ourselves to name them.  My son has picked a couple of names for the buck, who is his favorite; He keeps changing his mind on the name though.

Here is the buck:

The big gray buck.  He is the size of our (large) cat.
The big gray buck. He is the size of our (large) cat.

Here’s another one of the buck:

Another big grey pic
Another big grey pic

Here are the ladies:

Here is our black Rex lady.  She has a big scar on her head, with teeth marks. She looks like she got in some kind of rabbit fight at some point.  It's healed up but it looks like possibly a permanent scar
Here is our black Rex doe. She has a big scar on her head, with actual teeth marks. She looks like she got in some kind of rabbit fight at some point. It’s healed up but it looks like possibly a permanent scar. She has extremely soft fur, and I read that Rex rabbits are usually bred for their fur. She feels like a squirmy fur coat when you hold her.
Here is our white doe, she has pink eyes, but she has splashes of grey on her nose and ears.
Here is our white doe, she has pink eyes, but she has splashes of grey on her nose and ears.

Here they are just relaxing in their cages:

Just chillin...
Just chillin…

So, in the end, I now have rabbits for my farm.  I did what I didn’t want to do, and got animals with nowhere to really put them – I do have temporary housing, but that was so not my plan.  It will work out, the hutch will be good, and should be ready in the next few days. I have a nest box that I gave to the ladies, for the black doe to start nesting in, but she used it as a litter box.  Maybe in her permanent home (or closer to her due date) she’ll start pulling her fur out to line the box instead of pooping in it. We are going to put the rabbit hutch in our chicken pen (the rabbits were near a lot of chickens and ducks at their last home), for ease of access this winter.