All posts by Niele

Two weeks and a day

Stellar bunny day today!  Grandma came to visit!  Gomie’s mum dropped by to visit with her grandbunnies.

Grandbunny mum admiring the little white bunny
Grandbunny mum

The babies were thrilled to meet their grandma and one of the little black ones learned about ear scritches.  Total bliss!  Grandma brought Auntie, too, so there were enough hands for all the necessary pettings.   Poor Gomie had to share.

bunny bliss ear rubs

He just shut his eyes, relaxed and smiled.  Now he wants more ear rubs all the time, Grandma spoils the grandbunnies really quick!

tiny black baby bunny nibbling on grasses
first nibbles on grasses

It’s a little early, but they took from experimental nibbles on the grasses.  In a week or two, they’ll be eating grass right along with mum bunny.

black doe with a mouth full of wool in her nest box
Gayle building a nest

Gayle has gathered up all the wool that she’d tossed out of the nest area and is building a nest with it now.  I’ll give her some more nesting materials tomorrow and see what she does with it.   She’s awfully early for nest building, she’s not due until June 6th.

very red leaf lettuce

red leaf lettuceIt’s easy to weed red lettuce!  This is some of the reddest lettuce I’ve ever had in the garden.  Hopefully soon we will be able to make some salads.

 

Two Weeks old

It’s not all bunnies, sometimes we go to the beach, too

Hapuna beach

It was a beauty beach day although there weren’t any waves to play in.  There were almost waves, but not big enough to surf.  It was graduation day for the local high school, too, so there weren’t many people on the beach in the early afternoon, I think they were all at the graduation since we saw a huge line of traffic on our way home and there wasn’t anything else to make traffic other than graduation being finished.

little white bunny walking around
Two weeks old going walkabout

Today is Saturday so the bunnies are two weeks old today.  It’s also yard sale day, but there weren’t very many of those since everyone was at the school graduation.  We did find one and we now have a dozen concrete blocks so there is a start on the next garden.  Yay!  By the time we get enough bricks, hopefully we will have enough bunny berries from feed that hasn’t been tainted by herbicide to fertilize the new garden.

baby bunny going into the nest
Into the nest

They are still small enough to fit under the slots at the base of the nest so they can go in and out of the nest on three sides.  They’re getting enough fur on them now that they can stay out for quite some time without getting chilled.  They can also get in and out on their own so when they get cold, they go back inside the nest.

little white bunny looking out of the nest
2 weeks old today

There’s four other baby bunnies in there hiding under all that fluff.  Every once in awhile, there will be ears popping up in the back or little noses hiding in the wool.

There has been a significant increase in baby bunny sizes today.  Each one of them gained at least half an ounce if not more.  The Ruby Eyed White gained .8 ounce to 7.8 ounces.  The next biggest black went from 6.9 to 7.3 followed by the third largest from 6.4 to 6.7, next to smallest went from 5.6 to 6.6 and the smallest from 4.8 to 6.2.  Which is a lot of weight gain for the smallest, I may have weighed somebunny twice.  They keep wiggling around, it’s hard to keep them sorted.  .8 + .4 + .3 + 1 + 1.4.  If these numbers are correct, then collectively they gained 3.9 ounces.  That’s gotta be a lot of work for Cheiri and it’s just going to continue for another week and a half.  She will start weaning them at just under four weeks old, so they’re halfway there.

Twelve days old and wandering all over

The little ones can wander in and out of the nest so it’s hard to weigh them properly.  Before they were so mobile, one would get weighed and put back in the nest and they’d pretty much stay put.  Now, they scoot all over the place and it’s hard to figure out which black one is which.

little black bunny wandering out of the nest
12 days old

The Ruby Eyed White is still the biggest one, by .01 ounce.   The REW is 7 ounces, the next biggest black is 6.9 ounces.  Followed by 6.4 ounces, 5.6 ounces and 4.8 ounces.  That’s quite a bit of difference between the largest and the smallest.  I think it will even out some when they start eating solid foods.

13 Day Old Baby Bunnies

They’re getting close to two weeks old.

They’re walking around better today, less like little drunken sailors and more coordinated.  With the dropped nesting areas, they can pop in and out of the nest easily so they’ve been exploring.

little white bunny out of the nest
Out of the nest

They burrow around the nest more, too.  Instead of staying in a neat and tidy pile near the front, they are burrowing through everywhere and it was hard to weigh them today.  I think one got weighed three times since it was hard to keep the ones who had been weighed separate from the ones who had.

baby bunnies in nest with ears up
Eyes and ears everywhere

Pretty soon mom bun will be hiding on top of the nesting box since the little ones are now able to crawl out of the nest and find her if she’s on the lower level of the hutch.

She’s maintaining condition although the next ten days will be the hardest ones on her.  The babies are all growing really fast so she has to provide a lot of nutrition for them.  Once they start nibbling on feed, then it won’t be as hard on her.  I gave them a bit of grass today to see if they’d be interested in it, but it’s too soon for them to nibble grass.  Cheiri liked it, though.

young garden with veggies sprouting
3 weeks & 5 days

The garden is doing well considering it’s only powered by bunny manure.  It’s about time to thin the romaine.  Between saving seeds and using bunny manure for fertilizer, there shouldn’t be any more expenses for this garden now that it’s all set up.  Although, we didn’t buy anything specific for the garden, it was put together out of stuff we already had laying about the place.

Day Twelve Baby Bunnies

Woot!  The first baby out of the nest!

First baby out of the nest - 12 days old
First baby out of the nest – 12 days old

A little black one out looking for mum.  He slid out from under the nest box on one of the side slots, walked over to mum and snuggled under for a drink.  Mum bun was busy chowing on the treat mix so she wasn’t paying attention to baby.

12 day old little bunny noses in nest, almost starting to open their eyes
Day 12, starting to see eyes opening

There are the beginnings of eyeballs opening up and they’re staying on top of the nest wool now somewhat.  They still burrow in, but they’ve got their noses out most of the time now.  They can kinda walk around although they still walk like a drunken sailor.

First weeding of the garden

With a raised bed garden, it’s easy enough to pick out the weeds when they’re still very small.

raised bed garden with lettuces half grown
Three and a half weeks since seeding

The tomato has flowers starting on it, although that wasn’t started from seed in the garden but was put in as a seedling.  The beets are doing well, three of the five types of lettuce are thriving with the other two AWOL.  The beans are doing well, at least, the ones that sprouted pointing up.  That one that was curled down into the soil never got itself straightened up.  It will probably be time to thin the lettuces pretty soon, I’m sure the bunnies will help with getting rid of the ones thinned out.

garden sprouting
three and a half weeks

Joey’s tomato is being covered by Good Mother Stallard beans.  There’s one Hanby’s watermelon in front of the beans.  Some all green sugar beets in the back on the right, some other beets with the red stem in front, some carrots and the lightest color of lettuce.  Pretty fast for three and a half weeks, I think?  No fertilizer, just bunny manure.

Day Eleven Baby Bunnies

They’re getting bigger, all but one are now over five ounces.   No wonder Cheiri is eating like a little piglet, she’s feeding bigger babies now.  For the next two and a half to three weeks is probably the most stress on the mom bun.  As the babies get bigger, she has to feed them more.  However, they’ll start nibbling on solid food in about two weeks or so.

baby bunnies in nest
11 Days Old

The little white one is now 5.6 ounces although one of the black ones is now bigger at 5.8 ounces.  If we were picking bunnies to keep at this stage, those two would be at the top of the list.  But, it’s still very early to see how they’ll be when grown up.

black angora bunny
Cheiri is a good mom bun

Cheiri could use a bit of grooming, but at this stage, we’re just letting her do nothing other than feed babies.  In another three weeks when the babies are more or less weaned, then we will give Cheiri a good grooming since she won’t be all that stressed out anymore.

Day Ten Baby Bunnies

They are all there and they are ten days old.  Most likely they will all survive at this point.  Baby bunnies are very delicate and we lose them to being stepped on by the mum bun, being eaten by rats or ants, getting out of the nest or even off by themselves at the other side of the nest and getting chilled and dying, etc. etc.  However, at ten days old, they’re becoming much less delicate.  They still rely on mum bun for all of their sustenance at this point.   Given another week, if they should lose mum, they’d have a chance of surviving but at this time they rely almost entirely on mum.

bunnies in a nest with the white one's nose pointing up
Ten days old English angora baby bunnies

They’re getting better at moving themselves around and they mostly sleep upright now.  They almost have their eyes starting to open, but they aren’t quite open yet.  They have little itty bitty teeth although I think they have them almost from birth.

It was a rainy day today so we didn’t get out to visit with the bunnies much.  Hopefully tomorrow we will get more pictures and visit with the little ones some more.   The babies get picked up and scritched behind the ears, a little belly rub, etc.  Being handled now keeps them pretty mellow as adults since they’re used to humans from the very beginning.

We did figure out how to get a countdown calendar for the upcoming litters added to the bottom of the webpage.  Now instead of having to count on the calendar, we can just look at the bottom of the page.  The Google page had a calendar that would keep counting past the event, but I think this one will just go to the event and then stop.  Having one that keeps counting past the time makes it easy to see how old the babies are, maybe one like that will show up at some point.  I’m still learning how to manage the website.

Day Nine Baby Bunnies

Didn’t get out to the bunny hutch until just before dark, so we have a late Daily Bunny picture today.

The littlest black bunny being weighed
The littlest black bunny being weighed

This is the littlest black bunny on the scale.  He’s all of three point seven ounces, so he’s still not very big.  He could be a she, too, for all I know.  It’s very difficult to tell gender until babies are much bigger than nine days old.

The weight gain wasn’t as much as yesterday’s, not sure why or how much variation in gain is normal.  At least, the bigger three didn’t gain weight as fast as the smaller two did.  Isn’t it fun having a program that puts things into graphs?  Kintracks had his handy little ‘Health’ section where their weight can be easily charted.

Hmm, come to think of it, if they gain the same amount of weight each day, it will graph out to a shallower curve overall.  The same amount of weight gain would be a smaller percentage of body weight as they get bigger.

five baby bunnies in a nest
There’s all five of them in there somewhere.

There’s everybunny else all sleeping in the nest.  They’re still at the sleeping in a heap stage.  They eat, they sleep.  Sometimes they’ll pop around when the nest is disturbed, mostly thinking it’s mom bun, I expect.  They make little meeping noises sometimes but not very loudly at all.

Around Day Ten to Twelve we should start seeing little gleams of eyeballs opening up and they start staggering around using their feet around then, too.  Guess it’s kinda better to open the eyes before getting too mobile.

Day Eight Baby Bunnies

8 day old baby bunnies
8 Days Old

The babies are now a week and a day old and they are all still there!  Yay!   The Ruby Eyed White one is almost entirely white now with very little pink left and the black ones are becoming shiny black.  The little REW is still the biggest one at 4.7 ounces.  The smallest one is 3.2 ounces so everyone is growing.

8 day old English Angoras

I’ve never tried putting a video into the bunny blog before, hopefully it will work.  It’s just a short clip of the baby bunnies.  They’re at the ‘popple’ stage where they jump and pop around.

Hmm, it seems to want to let folks download the video instead of opening a new window for it.  Well, if I figure out how to make a video work, then I’ll fix it, otherwise it looks like if you want to see baby bunnies wiggling around you may need to download the file.  Sorry about that!

This being Saturday, it’s been a busy day although we did get time in the afternoon to take baby bunny pictures.  They’re not getting posted until late at night, but oh well.  We can always hope to do better tomorrow.

Day Seven Baby Bunnies

six days old English angora bunny sleeping while getting weighed
seven days old English angora bunny sleeping while getting weighed

The little Ruby Eyed White is now the biggest baby.  He/she is 4.3 ounces while the next largest black one is 3.8 ounces.  They’d been tied for the past several days but now the REW is solidly ahead.  We will see if that changes in the upcoming days.   The little REW started at 2.3 ounces so there’s been an increase of almost double the starting weight.  This one will be a keeper.

Six days old and sleeping with their feet in the air
Seven days old and sleeping with their feet in the air

There’s everybunny in their nest, sound asleep with their little feet in the air and all in a heap.  The REW is now pretty much solid white with undertones of pink instead of bright pink all over.  The blacks area also starting to grow in their coat, but it’s not as obvious.

Seems every day something strange can happen in Bunny Land.  Sydney and Gomez live in a hutch off to the side that isn’t connected to the automatic water system.  They’re the only two who have water bottles which if the whole herd was on water bottles would take a long time to fill twice a day.  Anyway, so I get their water bottle, unscrew the cap and start filling it up at the water spigot at the end of the hutch.  And a house gecko pops out of the water bottle!  How did he get in there?  He’s not the biggest house gecko I’ve ever seen, but he’s no baby, either.

gecko who was in the water bottle
gecko who was in the water bottle

It’s been dry lately, so probably the gecko was looking for water and pushed up past the steel ball at the end of the water spout?

Spout and gecko, guess he'd fit
Spout and gecko, guess he’d fit

The spout is closer to the camera so it looks pretty large in relationship to the gecko but I think the gecko could get his head in the spout.  Not sure how he managed to get himself past the steel ball that’s in the spout, though.  I put him in the garden, the house already has a lot of the newer green geckos that are pretty aggressive towards the brown ones.

I think it's been about twenty days since the garden was seeded. It's starting to begin to look like a garden.
I think it’s been about twenty days since the garden was seeded. It’s starting to begin to look like a garden.

The raised bed garden has started taking off and is beginning to look like a garden.  I think it’s been about twenty days since it was seeded.  I did have to replant two of the lettuce varieties and some of the hull less oats although the oats was because a chicken got in and ate the seeds the day after they were sown.

We have roller to make rolled oats (oatmeal) we just need oats that don’t have hulls on them to use it.  It will be interesting to see if these oats will be able to be grown and  used for oatmeal.  The bunnies will like the leaves, I’ll get the oatmeal, although they can have some too.  At the moment, it’s just being grown to increase the seed and not grown for consumption just yet.

orchids growing by the bunny hutch
orchids growing by the bunny hutch

Gratuitous flower picture.  This is the orchid growing in front of the bunny hutch so it gets quite a bit of bunny manure washed down onto it.  It’s an ‘oncidium’  orchid and fairly common in Hawaii.  Folks call them ‘dancing lady’ orchids (partly because that’s a LOT easier to spell AND pronounce than ‘oncidium’) because the flowers look like little dancing ladies.  This version doesn’t have a scent, although the purple and white version smells like chocolate.

Day Six Plump Babies

six day old baby bunnies
Plump babies at Day Six

Day Six and all the babies are still there!  Excellent work Cheiri!  They are nice and plump and warm in their nest.

rabbit nest set into floor of hutch
Dropped Nest Box

Cheiri is quite the chow hound these days.  She gets her special mom bun mix in her green dish and is usually waiting in the morning for her first morning snack.  She has all the organic alfalfa pellets she wants as well as ti leaves, but she’d rather chow on the calf manna, whole wheat and black oil sunflower seeds.

You can see the babies’ nest there at the front of the dropped nest box.  There’s holes under the edges of the box so they can get back in on three sides.  Cheiri will also be able to get away from the babies in about three weeks when she wants to start weaning them since she will be able to jump up to the top of the box and they won’t.

raised bed garden sprouting since planted 19 days ago
new sprouts

The new raised bed garden is sprouting well.  Back in the left corner there are Good Mother Stallard beans around Joey’s tomato.  The beans add nitrogen to the soil which the tomato should appreciate.  Most things seem to be sprouting well, if they show up.   We have two varieties of leaf lettuce which seem to be AWOL and a lot of the hull less oats seem to have been eaten by chickens.  It was just a small patch for seed so we didn’t lose much, but now that the chickens are fenced out, I’ll replant.

Planted five types of lettuce only three showed up
Missing two lettuces

This raised bed is right outside the kitchen door so it’s a salad garden, hopefully.  Well, except for that small patch of the oats.  There’s five types of leaf lettuces and they were planted starting with the bright green on one side and goes to the darkest red on the side the most sun will be on.  Red lettuces handle sun better than green ones.

The five types are a bright green leafy head lettuce called Gentilina, I’m pretty sure that was the first one and it seems to have showed up.  The next one, I think was Crisp Mint which is a green romaine, it doesn’t seem to have sprouted more than one seed.  Then the middle one is Cimmaron which is a reddish romaine.  That one showed up really well.  Then the Beleah Rose doesn’t seem to be there at all, it’s a red leaf type.  The Garnet Rose red romaine is showing up well.

It’s been nineteen days since the garden was planted and I can suspect the chickens ate a lot of the oats, but I doubt they would selectively eat lettuce seeds?  I’ll replant the seeds and see what happens.   These are all Baker Creek seed packed for 2017 so they should be good, I’ll try again and see what happens.  Maybe those two varieties take longer to sprout?

 

Five at Five

Five day old baby bunnies from Cheiri & Gomez
Five day old baby bunnies from Cheiri & Gomez

Five baby bunnies five days old.  Yay!  They’re getting bigger!

Let’s see, the little white was first weighed when it was on Day 2.  He/she weighed 2.2 ounces.  Then on Day 3 it was 2.5 ounces, on Day 4 it was 2.8 ounces and now on Day 5 it’s 3.2 ounces.

The biggest black one and the Ruby Eyed White one are still tied for ‘biggest baby’.  The smallest black one which started out at 1.4 ounces is now up to 2.0 ounces, so it has grown, too.

We still don’t know if Tootsie should go meet up with Gomez or not.  He’s still got Suzie visiting with him, maybe he’d like a change of girl bunnies?  Suzie has been with Gomez for two days now, maybe Tootsie would like to visit now?  Hard to say.  Although, at the moment since Cheiri is still using one nest box area for her babies, that does lower the available nest areas by one,

There’s only five nesting areas, three of which are the dropped nest type and one is in use, so that’s four nesting places left.  We have Sirocco, Jessie, Gayle and Suzie who will hopefully want them so probably no more does should be bred at this time.  Guess Tootsie can go back into the big hutch with the rest of the girls and wait for next round.

There will hopefully be a lot of new baby bunnies this year.  We have the three official nest sites which have a dropped area in the center of the floor plate.  This makes a nest that baby bunnies can get back into by themselves if they are dragged out of or get out of their nest.

The mom bun only goes into the nest several times a day for a short period to feed the babies so they kinda make like little vacuums and suck onto mom.  If she hops out of the nest while they’re still drinking, it’s possible for them to be pulled out of the nest.   After they are about a week old, they’re old enough to walk around a bit or at least scoot  themselves around and sometimes with a traditional nest box they get out by themselves, too.  Especially if a lot of the nesting material is pushed up against the inside of the lip of the box.

With a traditional nest box with a raised lip if they get pulled out, they can’t get back in.  Mom bun can’t pick them up with her mouth like a cat can so they will frequently chill and usually die unless they’re found soon after getting out of the nest.  However, with the dropped nest areas, if they get dragged out, they can squirm back into the nest on their own.  We’ve not lost any babies to getting out of the nest since we’ve had the dropped floor nests.  So it’s best to use those for the new litters if possible.

We only have three of the dropped nest areas and two of the traditional nest boxes, but after the litters are about ten days to two weeks old, then the babies are big enough to get back into a traditional nest box if that’s all that is available.  So, if the other four does have litters on June 6th to 8th, then Cheiri’s babies will be old enough to be shifted to a traditional nest box and that would leave only one litter at risk of getting out and getting chilled.  Although, it’s also going into summer so it’s not as cold so that will help, too.

Day Four and Everybunny is still here

Cheiri & Gomez' babies Day Four
Cheiri & Gomez’ babies Day Four

We’re up to Day Four already and the baby bunnies are still doing well.  Cheiri is a good mom and seems to be feeding them well.   The little white one was 2.2 ounces at the beginning and is now up to 2.8 ounces.  That’s a pretty hefty percentage of it’s overall weight to be gained in a mere four days.  Still a tiny thing, though.

Cheiri is being a chow hound, especially on the calf manna, black oil sunflower seeds and whole wheat part of the diet.  She’s been eating the organic alfalfa pellets as well, but she’d much rather eat the other stuff.

Hopefully this has fixed the feed issue, we will see how the next litters go.

We’ve got four more upcoming litters, we hope.

  1.  Sirocco, a chocolate agouti doe, has met up with Gomez, the black buck, who is the sire of the current litter.  She’s been eating the organic pellets since mid April.   Sirocco does a nice clean molt when she molts, hopefully that will breed true.   We now know Gomez has the recessive for albino, but we don’t know if Sirocco has it or not.  We may see only chestnut agouti and solid blacks from this pairing.

  2. We also have Gayle, a black doe, who has met up with Sydney, an agouti buck.  She’s just started on the organic pellets, but Sydney has been eating them since mid-April.  Gayle has the recessives for chocolate and albino, Sydney also has them so there’s a chance of chocolate or white babies in this pairing.

  3. Jessie, also a black doe who has just started eating the organic pellets,  has met up with Phineus Phogge, a lilac buck.  Phin has been eating the organic feed since mid-April.  Phin has color recessives all across the board, we’re not sure if Jessie has any or not.  She’s out of a pair of blacks, so no telling what if any recessives she has.  Phineus is almost entirely recessives, so if she has any recessives, then we may see more than just blacks.

4, A Ruby Eyed White Doe, Suzie, has met up with Gomez, the black buck.  Actually, she’s still hanging out with him, since she didn’t seem to like him yesterday.  I’ll let them hang out together for about three days and then put Suzie into her own space.  We should see half of that litter if it shows up to be white.

We will hopefully see these litters appear on June 6th to June 8th.  Guess there’s more waiting to see what happens now.

 

Feet & Tails, Day Three Baby Bunnies

three day old baby bunnies in nest
Feet & Tails, Day 3

Here’s today’s Baby Bunny photo.

Not sure if that little black one is all that comfortable with his feet in the air that way, but maybe he’s practicing to be a lounge lizard when he grows up.  The little white one has his/her tail in there and is becoming more white as the time goes on.

Cheiri is doing well, loves chowing on the treat mix of calf manna, black oil sunflower seeds and whole wheat.  She also gets the organic alfalfa pellets, although those are just sorta nibbled on and not chowed down on.  There’s also been ti leaves and grasses.  She’s getting as much to eat as she wants, being a new mom and all.

Yesterday the babies were weighed.  The little Ruby Eyed White one weighs all of 2.2 ounces.  Guess I could weigh them in  grams so they’d seem bigger.  The smallest black one weighed 1.4 ounces and the biggest one was 2.3 ounces.  The weights were: 1.4 oz., 1.7 oz., 1.9 oz., 2.2 oz. (REW) & 2.3 oz.  I’ll weigh them again later today and see if they’ve grown.  My database doesn’t do fractions of ounces, though, so they’ve all been listed as either one or two ounces.  Hmpf!

Jessie, a black doe, got groomed.  She’s got some lovely texture on her wool although not quite as silky as Gayle.  She does molt clean, though, like Sirocco does.  I think I’m gonna try to breed for silky soft bunnies that molt clean.  Which means they probably wouldn’t make good show bunnies since they’d blow their coat once it got mature and not hold onto it to get those huge massive ‘show’ coats.  I think it’s better for the bun, though, to not have all that wool on them and less chance of wool block.  Also, if they’re sold to someone who neglects them (we try to only sell them to folks who will value the fiber and not leave it on the bunny, but life happens sometimes and things don’t always work out according to plan) anyway, they will molt the wool off if for some reason someone doesn’t shear it off.

Easier to pluck would provide better fiber.  Plucked fiber is a tiny bit nicer than sheared fiber.  Not enough to take much longer to pluck instead of shear, but if they can be plucked in the same amount of time that shearing would take, that would be a plus.

So, anyway, back to Jessie.  She has met up with Phineus so we are hoping for a litter from those two on June 7th.  We’ve already had Sirocco, the other clean molting doe, meet up with Gomez.  She’s due on June 6th.  Keeping a baby from each of those litters and crossing them may result in some really easy plucking bunnies, we will have to see.

Sydney has met up with Gayle, she’s the one with the really nice silky soft fiber.  Sydney is another soft fiber bunny, although he’s not as silky feeling as she is.  But, between those two, we’re hoping for soft, silky textured fiber.  She’s also due on June 6th.

So, that’s three possible upcoming litters, all from different bucks which will be good for mixing and matching later.  Hopefully, these litters will take.  All the bucks have been on the organic diet since mid April, although Jessie had been eating the Nutrena 18% up until she was bred.  Gayle had also been eating the Nutrena, but Sirocco has been on the organic diet.

There’s still about half a bag of the Nutrena feed, once that’s gone, then the whole herd will go to the organic pellets.  We will see if there’s a difference between these three litters.  We have two does, Jessie & Gayle, who were eating the Nutrena pellets up until the day they were bred.  Cheiri had a litter and she’d been eating them for the first half of the pregnancy, so maybe they will have litters?  Sirocco has been on the organic diet since mid-April, will she have a litter and how big will it be?

It may also be nice to work on the size of the bunnies.  They all got weighed and most of them are around the five and a half pounds stage.  Cocoa is the largest at seven pounds, seven point eight ounces.  Cheiri’s little black baby at 1.4 ounces is the smallest.

 

 

Baby Bunners Day Two

Two day old angora baby bunnies

Cheiri & Gomez’ babies at Day TwoCheiri & Gomez’s babies are nicely plump and not wrinkly anymore so they’ve been fed.  Yay Cheiri!   At this stage, if baby bunnies aren’t fed by the mom they’ve got a very little chance of survival.  Even if they do manage to survive, without the mother’s first milk, they don’t do well as adults.   Had there been more than one litter, baby bunnies can easily be fostered to a different mum, however Cheiri is the only one who made a litter.  Fortunately, they are being fed so that’s a huge relief.

As you can see, the little pink one is less pink today and has a tiny bit of white starting to show.   The blacks also are a little blacker, but it’s harder to notice.  The pink to white is a much more noticeable change.  I should have weighed them yesterday, although it’s hard to tell the black ones apart.  I could weigh the REW each day since that one is easy to tell apart.

Cheiri started with the little Ruby Eyed White one (the pink one) yesterday around 9 am.  The REW (pronounced ‘roo’) was followed by a black one about forty five minutes later.  Then when I checked several hours later (mom buns prefer that you not hover around while they’re doing this sort of thing) three more black ones were there.   So the whole litter size is five baby bunnies!  Yay!  That’s about an average litter size for an English angora.  Four to eight is a usual size, the biggest litter we’ve ever had here has been twelve.

This would indicate that the new diet is helping, perhaps, although they were only on it for the last half of their pregnancy.  I’d thought the Nutrena 18% Performance Rabbit pellets would be a good thing for pregnant mums, but perhaps not if the alfalfa had been sprayed before being harvested.  Nutrena said in reply to an email that they relied on the farmer’s to meet USDA and food safety standards and such.  Basically, they don’t know if the alfalfa had been sprayed or not.  The before harvest spray was made legal in 2011, so there’s been time for the practice to become widespread.  In any case, Cheiri had been bred two days after the others on April 6th so she had two extra days while pregnant on the organic diet.  The bunnies got the organic alfalfa pellets augmented with calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds starting on April 18th.   Cheiri had two more days of organic pellets than the other prospective mums and she had a litter.   This isn’t conclusive evidence, but it’s giving me hope that maybe the lack of babies problem has been solved.

As noted, this isn’t definitive by any means, but  we will continue to observe litter frequency and size on the new diet.   As a further sort of test, two does were bred yesterday.  Gayle,  who has been part of the general herd still eating the last of the Nutrena 18% pellets, has been bred with Sydney, who has been eating the organic diet since April 18th.   Sirocco, who has been on the organic diet since April 18th, has been bred with Gomez, who has never been eating the Nutrena pellets.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account where the alfalfa for the other feed that Gomez is eating has come from.  It’s a Purina feed, but wouldn’t Nutrena and Purina source their alfalfa from whatever the farmers bring them?  Is it also tainted with the before harvest spray? Or do they have their own fields that they harvest?  Maybe some of each?   I don’t know enough about how the feed mills make feed, to even have much of a guess, but if they start making babies on the organic feed, well, then it looks like they will all be getting organic feed.

After we get the baby bunnies appearing again as they should, then perhaps I can look into how feed affects the fiber they produce.  Flamingos are fed special feed so they turn pink, maybe there’s something bunnies can be fed to help them have denser colors to their wool or perhaps more shine or softer fiber?

Fresh baby bunnies!

two baby bunnies in nest
Just born!

Cheiri and Gomez are now parents!  Woot!  This is Cheiri’s second litter and Gomie’s first.

The pink one will hopefully grow up to be an albino bunny – white with ruby eyes which we usually call a ‘REW’ or ‘roo’.  The black one will be a black bunny.   If they survive, there’s all sorts of things that can go wrong when they’re this young.

When this picture was taken, the pink one was about half an hour to forty five minutes old and the black one about four minutes old.   The picture was taken about twenty minutes ago, so there may be more, it’s still early yet.  Not quite sure how long it takes a doe to complete a litter.

I’d gone out early this morning to check on the buns and Cheiri had the little roo baby.  I’d given her some calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds as a treat and she was chowing down on them while I checked her nest.  There was just the one baby at the time and since she was chowing down, I thought perhaps there’d be just one.

Then I went out to take a picture of the baby and she was in the nest so I left her alone and watered the new garden instead.

raised bed garden with new sprouts
New Garden seeded two weeks ago

It doesn’t take too long to water a small garden and when I went back to see if Cheiri wanted some ti and mulberry leaves she was out of the nest area and there was a new baby in the nest.  Yay!

This is the first litter we’ve had in about a year and the first since we’ve switched to organic alfalfa pellets.   Although, Cheiri would have been on the old diet for the first week of her pregnancy, but Gomez was always eating a different brand of pellet.  I don’t know yet if this would have happened anyway or if it’s the result of the new diet.

Cheiri had been with Gomez for a few days and had she had a litter from the first day she was with him, it would have been two days ago.  So of the five bred does, she’d have had less time pregnant (by two days) at the time of the switch over to the new organic diet.

It’s so good to see baby bunnies again!  Hopefully these will be fed and turn out well.  Baby bunnies are extremely delicate.  If they do well, we will probably keep both of them unless they’re both bucks, then one buck may go to a new home.

Grass Mustache!

Cheiri with a grass moustache
Cheiri with a grass mustache

This is Cheiri with a grass mustache!  Yay!  When female rabbits are getting ready to build a nest, they gather up grasses to line the nest.  Which gives them a ‘grass mustache’ and is a really good thing if one is hoping for baby bunnies.  She’s actually quite a few days early for this, though, usually a doe will build her nest about four days before having babies and she’s not due until May 4th.

Sandy has been pulling wool, which is another thing prospective bunny moms do.  So hopefully we may have two litters this round.

Both of them were bred to Gomez, a black buck on loan.  He’s been eating a different feed than the Nutrena 18% “Performance” rabbit feed that the rest of the herd has been eating.  Since he brought a half bag of his feed with him, he’s been eating the same feed.  He met up with Cheiri, Sandy, Sirocco and Cocoa Puff, so he was a busy boy.  Two of them, Cheiri and Sandy are making nests so we are really hopeful of some new litters the first week of May.

This is Hillside Sirocco getting fuzzy. She’d molted down to almost nothing earlier

This is Sirocco, who has also been with Gomez, but she hasn’t started building a nest yet.  Still, the other two are days earlier than usual for nest building and some never build a nest at all, so we still don’t know if she will be a mom bunny or not.  However, her coat is growing in as an angora coat.  She’d molted to a very short coat and had a very clean molt, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do when she grew in her new coat.  If she has a litter we will probably keep them all to see if they also will molt cleanly.

Looking back over the database, in the past twelve months, there have been 18 matings.  (This doesn’t include the current five we are waiting to see if there will be a litter.)  Of those 18 matings, only two produced a litter and both of them were a litter of 3.  The first litter was one live birth and two stillborn.  The second litter was three live births but then the dam didn’t make any milk to feed them so we lost all three.  Which means one new bunny in the past twelve months!

According to our database, we had 23 matings in 2012.   Seven of them were unsuccessful, although all but one of the unsuccessful matings were with the same doe.  She never did have a litter so it was probably something wrong with her and not the mating procedure.  So, figure she’s a barren doe for whatever reason, remove the six matings with her, that leaves 17 matings, only one of which didn’t take.  There were 79 offspring in 2012 out of 17 matings.  So that’s an average of about five bunnies per litter.  Using the same average, we should have had about 85 baby bunnies in the past 12 months.

In 2013, there were six matings, four unsuccessful and the two litters were of 4 and 7.    That’s a one out of three average.

In 2014 there were 14 matings and only four of them were successful.   Those were a litter of 10, 8, 6 and then 1.   That’s one litter out of 3.5 matings, a little higher average than 2013.  And a higher litter size of 6.25 average.  Wish I would have kept records of what they were being fed at these times.

In 2015 there were 15 matings and only five were successful.  That’s back to the one litter in three matings ratio.  The results were a litter of 4, 5, 4, 5 and 5.  Average litter size of 4.6, so that’s less than 2014.

In 2016 there were 24 matings and only eight were successful.  Back to the one in three ratio.  The resulting litters were 7, 1, 2, 3, 7, 6, 3 (two stillborn), & 3.  That’s an average litter size of 4 if the still borns are included.

Of the litters that were supposed to be born this  year, the six early January ones didn’t show up.  The four for early April didn’t show up and we are still waiting to see how the ones which are supposed to show up in early May will do.   However, Cheiri with a grass mustache is a good hopeful sign.

 

Bunny Berries!

Another reason for keeping bunnies is so there will be a ready supply of ‘bunny berries’ when setting up a new garden.

picture of a raised bed garden

New garden April 22nd, 2017It may not look like much yet, but hopefully there will be all sorts of things sprouting there really soon.

It’s about eight feet by four feet and 32″ deep at the front.  It’s been dug into the hillside and then lined with weed mat to keep weeds out.  It’s a somewhat appalling amount of work for the size of garden that it is, but once it’s set up  it’s pretty much good for years.  It never gets walked on so it doesn’t get packed down.

There’s a layer of bunny manure, which I like to call ‘bunny berries’ at the top two layers of bricks.  That’s 16″ deep fertilized with bunny manure.  There’s some oyster shell scattered in the lower levels, I should probably put some on the top, too.  We have fairly acidic soil and the oyster shell mellows that out.

I should also dig in ‘bio-char’ which is basically just charcoal.  That traps the nutrients (just like a charcoal filter traps things in a water system) and holds them for the plant roots to find.  We have a lot of rainfall, so nutrients wash out quickly.

Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui
Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui

The first plant in the new garden is a potato leafed tomato plant that was sprouted from seeds that were given to me by Joey on Maui.  He enthused about it and he gets interesting plants so we will see how it does.  It’s supposed to be a really tasty tomato so I’ll grow it out all by itself until I can get some more self pollinated seeds.  Then I may plant another variety of tomato or two and not save seeds from them since they’d cross pollinate.

The fence is around the garden to keep the chickens out.  Once the plants get established, a chicken wandering through isn’t overly terrible.  Not to be encouraged, but not terrible.  At this stage when the seeds are just sowed, a chicken can scratch them all up and cause chaos.

There’s the Joey’s Tomato, Good Mother Hubbard beans, sugar beets, big cylindrical beets, another green bean, kyoto carrots, tendercrisp celery, red curly kale, a red and a white short day length onion, five different types of lettuce and some hulless oats.  Just a little bit of each, some of them – such as the oats – is mostly to produce more seed.

One of the main reasons I’ve been working on setting up this garden has been a place to grow greens for the bunnies.  There have been no litters for the past several breedings and I’ve been suspecting it’s feed related so it seemed a good idea to grow bunny food.  Then I’d know exactly what’s in it.  However, we went past the Waimea feed store and:

picture of a label from a bag of organic alfalfa pellets
ORGANIC alfalfa pellets

ORGANIC alfalfa pellets!  This should be entirely GMO and RoundUP free!  Yay!  We will see if the bunnies start having litters again when fed with organic feed instead of the other feed that we couldn’t find out where it was sourced.

They don’t seem to like these pellets as much as the others, though, they seem to toss a lot of them out of the feeders.  Although that may be because they are also getting some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (usually just called BOSS among folks discussing feed) and calf manna along with the pellets so they dig through the pellets to get the other tasty bits.  Which then wastes the pellets since they fall through the hutch floor.  Sigh!  Guess I need to get some small separate feeders for the little bits of BOSS and calf manna.

Well, it’s a start, we may not see the May 4th bunnies since they’ve just started being fed the new feed, but hopefully the ones after that will show up.  I wonder if counting  your bunnies before they’re born is as bad as counting your chickens before they’re hatched?

Happy Spring!

Not that we pay all that much attention to seasons, but spring is a good time of year.  More sunshine = more happiness!

Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017
Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017

It almost looks like they have lights in their hutch now.  Some new neighbors moved into the deserted house next door and they’ve been cleaning and clearing.  They’ve thinned the mock orange hedge behind the bunny hutch so now light comes through.   The bunnies should have more ventilation and a better view now.

CMU block garden dug into hillside
New really raised bed garden

It being springtime and all, it seems a good time to set up a new garden area.  I’ve found raised bed gardens to be really productive.  Not only is it a smaller area to water and fertilize, but harvesting is much easier when you don’t have to fuss around at ground level.

The wire bunny cage is in there being used as a screen to screen out rocks and roots and such from the soil that was dug out of there to make room for the new garden.   The soil was dug out of the area and weed mat was spread across the bottom and sides of the raised bed.  Makes it ever to much easier to maintain when there’s not weeds moving in from the bottom and sides later.  The new garden area will be the area inside the black liner.  It’s roughly eight and a half by four and a half feet so it’s a pretty small garden, but with enough water and fertilizer, it can grow quite a bit.

The other good thing about these particular raised beds is that they are also terracing the hillside.   We are ‘Hillside Farm’ after all, one would expect some hillside in there somewhere and the gardens are going in pretty much the steepest part of the yard.  This is just the backyard ‘farm’, we did used to have a real farm on a hillside, but the bunnies were the only productive thing on the leased farm land so we gave up the farmland lease and now are backyard bunny micro-farmers.  Much closer to home and easier to take care of and no tractors necessary, although I do miss the backhoe.  Anyway, enough of history and now back to the new garden.

The front of the garden is four layers of bricks.  Each layer is 8″ tall, so that’s 32″ in front.  A lovely height to pick lettuce, don’t you think?  The back of the garden will be one layer high, all of 8″.  Considering the garden is only about three and a half concrete blocks deep, it rises two feet in four and a half feet.  Guess I should put some steps along the sides going up.  There may be another raised garden bed on the hillside behind it.  Either that or a short retaining wall of some sort.  Not sure what the overall rise is up to that mac nut tree, maybe thirty foot rise?

the start of a raised bed garden dug into the side of a hill as a terrace
New Garden April 2017

That’s as high as the front wall of the new garden will be and you can’t see from the photo, but it’s halfway full of soil.  The big pile in the picture is actually behind the new garden.  The new bunny hutch will eventually be up the hill under that dark tree up there.  That’s a macadamia nut tree and makes nice dense shade.  We’ve got a road to up there on the other side of the property and will be building a house up there at some point, but all of this is eventual sorts of stuff.

If the rain would stop today, then more work could be done on the garden, but it may be several days before more gardening gets done.  Fortunately, we don’t have much deadline on when to plant around here.