Tag Archives: Flemish Giants

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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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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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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Sky & Forest

cuddle time/bunny therapy

Posted by: Jill

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Update: Forest, our Gentle Giant at 8 Weeks

Hanu: "Good Morning, Forest" Forest: "Well good day to you old chap"

What 20 month old Boxer, Hanuman, is really saying is “Will you play with me, pleeeeeeeeease?!!!” Surprisingly, he doesn’t want to attack, maim or eat our small animals. We’ve learned that on several occasions when baby chicks, chickens, and ducks have landed right in front of his face. Once, Hanu was scared away by a two month old chick because of her squawking. Another time I dropped two baby ducklings on the floor after tripping, and I thought for sure they were goners… nope! He sniffed them, wagged his tail, and launched his rear end into the air (that’s play mode). Another larger chick escaped the run this morning and all Hanu did was run up to it, dodging back and forth as if the chicken would play with him. At most he might accidentally injure an animal, but he’s not smacking his floppy lips for a meal. For that we’re extremely grateful. He’s turning into an excellent, very tolerant urban farm dog.

This picture captures Forest's light grey color. He's a mix of greys and a lot of white.

sweet boy waiting for cuddles (and more Dandelion)

Forest is settling in extremely well, and getting a lot of attention every day. Isn’t he a beauty? Prasad is taking very good care of him, but of course still needs reminders after school. He’s still not used to the idea that he has someone to take care of. When Prasad is reminded, he gets excited about it. Forest is probably about 4 lbs. now. Just a small fraction of his adult weight. Despite that, we keep forgetting he’s a baby…. I mean, look at him, he looks like a full-grown rabbit! No, he’s only 8 weeks old. He’ll be 2 months old on the 16th. He’s such a sweet, docile and gentle fella. Can’t wait for our little doe next month!

Forest’s hutch is just 36″ x 36″, but it will have a long run attached to the front when he gets a little bigger. He will most likely outgrow the upper level, and we’ll remove the partition making it one larger area. Right now, he enjoys running up and down the ramp (he runs fast as lightning). There is a lot we want to do, modification-wise, since we didn’t get to build the hutch ourselves. At least what we have is a good place to start from… I have no doubt we’ll be adding on some square footage!

here is an example of a full-grown Light Grey Flemish Giant

Maybe one day Hanu and Forest will lounge like these two. It would actually be unusual for Hanu to ‘lounge’ outdoors at all. He’s usually up running and bouncing around like a clown, so maybe they’ll ‘hop around’ together.

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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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