Category Archives: Rabbits

1 Rabbit Run Down, 1 To Go

Building the split run has been a huge project this Summer (male buck on one side, female doe on the other). It’s been dragging along due to all the excessive heat we’ve had… we simply cannot build in 95-100 degree temps or extreme high humidity. Because of the delay, our buck, Forest, has had to endure a longer time in his small hutch until it’s completed. It ate at us, and we felt terribly for him since he was growing so much. Finally, today, the door on his side was built, attached and latched. He has about 9′ x 5′ to hop around now. He’s officially a very happy bunny! He really deserves it because he’s such a sweetheart. He loves humans, and follows us around the yard like a dog. Here’s the door:

Daniel & Prasad showing off the new gate

Prasad admiring his bunny's side of the run

..and here's a peek at Forest resting behind his hutch. Bunnies love to hide and curl up. We let them hop all over the yard every day, but after 10-15 minutes they always end up going back into their hutches

Now, on to Meadow’s door. They’ll both be able to see each other through the rabbit wire soon. Most of all, we’ll have fun watching them hop around from the sun room windows.

 

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Filed under Home Projects, Rabbits, River Living, Urban Farmsteading

The Boys’ Bunny Business

Sky Bear & Prasad playing "veterinarian" together

Heat, heat, heat! This has been the hottest Kansas Summer of my lifetime. It’s been over 100 degrees on so many days this Summer, so they have to check on the bunnies often. They cool down by lying against large, frozen water bottles, and staying in the shade.

little rabbit run in process

Prasad's big boy, Forest (Flemish Giant)

It’s been a struggle finding time to bear the extremely hot temps. I finally got the bunny run framed, and most of the wire on. The floor is lined with chicken wire to prevent burrowing by both bunnies and predators. The wall between the two bunnies is heavy rabbit wire (the kids keep saying they’ll be able to give each other kisses through it). The roof will be the final touch, but due to the heat we’re not planning to have it done right away. Until that’s completed, the bunnies will use the run by day, and be locked up at night. It won’t actually be a roof, but a wood framed wire lid that folds open so we can stand up inside and clean easily. Prasad and Sky Bear are responsible for 100% of the cleaning, care and feeding, and they’ve both been doing a great job.

Both bunnies get 2x a day of free hopping time all over the yard (15-20 minutes at a time). What I love most about them is the fact that they follow me everywhere. They like to keep track of humans, and stay by our feet. Sometimes I forget Forest is hopping around, and I’m suddenly started by something against my leg. Very sweet animals who happen to produce the world’s greatest fertilizer pellets!

Sky Bear holding his 3 month old baby, Meadow

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Filed under Chicken & Rabbit Gardening, Do-It-Yourself, Kids, Kids Pictures, Rabbits, River Living, Seasons

Flemish Giant: Baby Forest

Big boy, Forest!

We got Sky’s beautiful bunny, Meadow, yesterday, but I wanted to post an updated pic of Forest before posting about her. He’s 13 weeks old and is already ginormous compared to the average rabbit. Whenever I open his hutch, he comes to me, wanting love and attention. We give him free-hopping time in the yard 2-3 times/day and it’s so much fun to watch. I’ll be posting more about our two very joyful bunnies soon.

 

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Farmy Foto Friday, Part II

These pictures were meant to be included in the last post, but I accidentally hit “post” before they were added.

Sorin's Black Australorp, Broom Hilda on the right (14 weeks). She's super sweet, friendly, and enjoys a gentle petting

I love this boy! Our male Indian Runner, Mortimer, is such a gentleman and always looks out for the flock's safety

Mortimer bowing to his sweetheart, Phoebe. She's been an egg machine this week- 7 eggs the last 7 days, mmmm!

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

 

free-ranging, handsome Forest, our growing Flemish Giant baby. He enjoys hopping all over the grass while we follow him. His doe companion, Meadow, will be home in two weeks. He's 11 weeks old

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Filed under Chickens, Ducks, Eggs, Rabbits, Urban Farmsteading

Farmstead Harmony

Today I’m feeling especially struck by the perfectly harmonious relationship we have with our animals. I was pulling weeds around the roses this morning (which have their first blooms of the season and the fragrance is to-die for) and threw all the weeds into the chicken run. It was a large pile, but they were all devoured in less than thirty minutes by both the ducks and chickens. Instead of tossing them into the garbage or compost heap, they disappeared into a perfect cycle… we’ll basically be consuming the weeds through our eggs. There is something primal and beautiful in having that symbiotic type of relationship with other living beings.

I’m noticing we have the most ideal mulch now. Every month we clean and rake out the entire chicken run. All the old straw and manure goes into the compost pile. Chicken and duck poo breaks down quickly since it’s dry and grainy, so we’re able to stir it around a month or two and see the most ideal mulch appear for our garden beds– rich, organic straw. We laid a heavy layer over our tomato bed, and they’ve been taking off like crazy. (**PLEASE NOTE: The compost we put on the beds was from the Fall/November. Compost should be aged at least 3 months for above ground crops, and 6 months for ground/root crops**) My point- we fed the chickens our scraps, weeds, etc. and they produced fertilizer resulting in mulch that both protects and nourishes our plants while at the same time saving us a lot of money on mulch. Then we’ll  consume the most amazing tomatoes we’ve ever eaten (if all goes well). I’ve been so excited about the mulch, we’ve been putting it everywhere. Note: we have to be sure to use the very broken-down straw compost since it can burn plants if it’s too fresh.

I should add that we have a new type of Dandelion control going on within the yard. We consume it ourselves, but never from our back yard due to the dog waste. Prasad walks around every day picking Dandelion and Violet to feed Forest, our growing Flemish Giant. The Dandelion that was taking over the cellar door is trimmed way down (sometimes he even gets the whole root out), and this week he’ll be pulling out the plants behind the air conditioner. Would Prasad be so willing to weed without his bunny? Probably not. Once again, it’s a sweet example of the natural harmony that takes place when you have the right animals around.

There are so many other examples of this in our lives, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get used to it and take it for granted… it is, after all, the most natural of things.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Chicken & Rabbit Gardening, Chickens, Clean Planet, Collaborative Love, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Order & Balance, Organic Food, Peace, Rabbits, Recycle, River Living, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Wild Food

Latest Happenings: Bunny Gardening

Our little farmstead probably would not feel complete without more animals, right? After adding the ducks to the chicken run, we thought we were done. Worms were all we planned to add this year, and possibly bees next year, but they’re hardly pets. The small ducklings that melted Sky into butter and opened his heart like nothing I’d seen before have gotten too large and high-strung to be held by humans. Being that they’re large birds and predator animals, ducks are naturally that way. Sky doesn’t have the therapeutic and relaxing cuddling any more, and we’ve been saddened by that. So, what’s the solution, more ducklings? No way. Cuddling the Chihuahua? Somehow she doesn’t melt him to butter like the ducks did… she’s higher strung and not so fluffy. More cuddle time with Mama? We do that regularly, but it just isn’t the same as nurturing a cute, helpless creature. After a lot of thought and consideration, we’ve decided to enter the world of Flemish Giant rabbits.

Why rabbits? Well, they’re very easy and inexpensive to care for, and we’re planning to have Prasad and Sky take care of 95% of their needs. This includes weekly hutch cleanings, and daily feeding & watering. It will take a few weeks to get their routines down, but we have no doubt it will be a rewarding learning experience for them. Mainly, it will be one of their biggest lessons in responsibility. I had a guinea pig when I was ten years old, and I recall all the feeding and cleaning. It was very good for me. Unlike my little guinea pig, the rabbits will provide several eco-friendly benefits to our family:

1) Fertilizer- You can use both their recycled paper litter and straw bedding with their droppings in a compost pile, which will then fertilize our garden. Like chicken poo, rabbit droppings contain a large amount of nitrogen and phosphorus which is excellent for flower and fruit production. This is not true for carnivorous pets like cats and dogs. Their waste products are not recommended for compost heaps.

2) Feeding them is fairly inexpensive (a 50 lb. bag of Rabbit Chow at the feed store costs around $10.00-$12.00 and lasts a long time), but you can grow a lot of their food yourself in a backyard garden. They eat practically every green imaginable such as romaine and other dark leaf lettuce, collard greens, kale, parsley, and cilantro, which you can grow in a special home garden vegetable patch just for them. Rabbits also love dandelion greens and flowers, violets and clover; we have an abundance of wild foods in our area, so the kids will enjoy gathering those regularly. And did you know the main ingredient in commercial rabbit food is hay? That’s something we always have an abundance of because of the chickens, and eating it in natural form is far more healthy for rabbits. Providing rabbit food ourselves helps the environment by cutting down on energy consumption and waste production caused by manufacturing, packaging, storing and shipping commercial food.

3) This one is one of my favorite benefits- Rabbits are effective paper shredders. No need to waste money and electricity on an electric shredder- rabbits’ teeth grow continuously, so they need objects to chew on a regular basis. They will happily destroy your sensitive documents, shoe boxes, pizza boxes, chipboard packaging. No need to worry as much about the landfill or even your recycle bin. They’ll reduce our waste production, and it will eventually end up in your garden soil. Gotta love that cycle.

4) Toys- Rabbits’ favorite toys consist of items you would normally throw away or recycle. They love playing with toilet paper rolls, outdated phone books, old towels, boxes, etc. Again, this reduces waste associated with manufacturing, packaging, storing, shipping and advertising commercial pet toys. There are countless commercial ‘toys’ out there marketed to rabbits, but they’ll love these free items much more.

5) Health- Rabbits are very clean animals and, in general, they manage to carry on relatively disease-free lives. I can attest to this because I kept one rabbit as a pet in my early twenties. Like any animal in captivity, as long as they’re given adequate space and weekly cleanings, they’re very clean animals. This means a fewer harmful chemicals and drugs associated with pet shampoos, flea and tick treatments, and other medications. These pollutants cause a several  problems such as drug-resistant bacteria, contamination of waterways, and health concerns for aquatic animals.

6) Size- Rabbits require a minimal amount of space, even less than chickens. When I say that, I’m not referring to their hutch, but their outdoor pen. Gone are the days of keeping rabbits in small  hutches 24/7 for breeding and food consumption. I realize people still do that, but these days more people are giving outdoor bunnies room to hop around, explore, burrow and graze just like they would in their natural habitat. This only requires a 19″ x 6′ of ground area, and can go larger, depending upon your property. Our hutches will have a run that attaches and can move around our property from year to year. It can be beneficial to place the portable run in unused garden beds, then use that same garden next year for veggies since the soil will be rich. Bottom line, rabbits require very little space to be happy and healthy.

6) Our family’s personal benefit- Our kids will love and appreciate animals even more, and develop a sense of pride in caring for them on their own. That was central to our decision. Having small mammals will bring more ‘animal’ energy to our property, which we all love. Having fowl has been great, but there’s something about mammals that we’re also drawn to. The best thing of all is that we’re getting two Flemish Giants, which are known as the largest, most cuddly people-friendly rabbits in the world.

our first bunny

When are the rabbits due to arrive? We’ll get our 6 week old, approximately 6lb.  light grey buck this Saturday. He’s pictured at the left, and will be Prasad’s very own rabbit. He’ll be responsible for all his care and feeding. We’ll wait a month to bring home our doe, Sky’s rabbit. She’s from a separate litter and won’t be weaned until then. They’ll be housed separately, but we do hope to breed them at least once this year, considering they are a very rare and wonderful breed, perfect for families and small farms.

Am I building the hutches? No way. It’s an option (one I prefer).. I wish we could this time around, but we’d rather focus on getting the garden going this year and putting the finishing touches on the chicken run and coop. So, I chose a very simple design for both hutches after pricing them online for several hours. They’re two levels each, 36″ x 36″  with den boxes, and a natural grazing area at the bottom. We’ll attach a longer run later. I have no doubt we’ll be applying extra stain, sealant, better latches and such because manufactured coops/hutches never do as well as hand crafted ones. Now, Prasad needs to come up with a name for his little guy!

UPDATE: As of this evening, Prasad has decided to name his boy “Forest Bubba” or “Forest ‘Big’ Bubba” as he says. and Sky decided on a complimentary earthy name- “Meadow“. I’m guessing she’ll end up being called “Meadow Mama“.

Posted by Jill

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Filed under Chicken & Rabbit Gardening, Clean Planet, Family Happenings, Natural Food, Organic Food, Rabbits, Reduce, River Living, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening