Stellar bunny day today! Grandma came to visit! Gomie’s mum dropped by to visit with her grandbunnies.
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.
He just shut his eyes, relaxed and smiled. Now he wants more ear rubs all the time, Grandma spoils the grandbunnies really quick!
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.
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.
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.
It’s not all bunnies, sometimes we go to the beach, too
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Didn’t get out to the bunny hutch until just before dark, so we have a late Daily Bunny picture today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 and all the babies are still there! Excellent work Cheiri! They are nice and plump and warm in their nest.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Another reason for keeping bunnies is so there will be a ready supply of ‘bunny berries’ when setting up a new 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.
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:
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?
Not that we pay all that much attention to seasons, but spring is a good time of year. More sunshine = more happiness!
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.
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?
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.
The last baby bunny born here was baby Gayle in a Litter of One.
I just had an interesting conversation. It may have started out ‘before coffee’ but it was worth waking up for. Actually, it wasn’t all that early in the morning, I’d slept in really late. Ooops! So it’s not like folks are calling up while it’s still dark out or anything. But, anyway, I had an interesting chat this morning with another bunny person.
She has several different breeds of bunnies and is hoping for an angora as well sometime soon. Which is partly why she was calling. However, she’d been noticing a lack of litters as well as really small litter sizes among her bunnies. Reliable mum rabbits weren’t having litters at all or instead of eight or ten babies, there’s one or two. Which is the same problems we’ve been having over here, too.
Talking together, we discovered that she’d switched over to the higher protein feed from the same source we use about a year and a half ago. Which was several months before she noticed the decreased litter sizes. We’ve both been using Nutrena’s 18% bunny pellets and we’ve both noticed significantly decreased litter amounts and sizes starting about a year and a half ago. Of course, this isn’t proof by any means, purely anecdotal ‘evidence’ (also known as gossip, I suppose), however, we both noticed the same thing.
I’d been thinking that the alfalfa the feed is made from has probably been sprayed with a herbicide to cut down on weeds. You’d think weed free would be a good thing, and presumably the herbicide is not harmful to the creatures eating it. However, from what we’re experiencing, it may affect fertility. With horses, how many of them are being bred? How many are fed a pure pellet diet? Since the majority of the alfalfa grown would be going to feed horses and cattle (do cattle get fed alfalfa hay and pellets?) or other large animals, I suspect the bunny feed accounts for a very small percentage of the alfalfa crop. Of the people feeding pellets to bunnies, how many of them are breeding the bunnies? Well, if they’re growing bunnies for meat, then almost all of them, but if they have a bunny for a pet, then very few of them. So for the alfalfa growers, decreased fertility among the animals eating the crop probably isn’t a problem.
I’m also suspecting that the folks who make the feed don’t ask the farmers specifically how the alfalfa was grown. If it shows up clean and weed free, they’re gonna be thrilled, I’d expect.
This had also happened about the same time we’d moved to the new house here, so I’d thought maybe it was the change in location having something to do with decreased litter size. Maybe the bucks had overheated since they didn’t have as dense of shade as before? Maybe they didn’t like their new hutches? Maybe the herd was getting older? I’d been looking all over for the answer and when kicking around at some other bunny sites online, someone mentioned herbicide used on the crops made into feed and decreased fertility.
I asked our feed store if they knew the source of the alfalfa in the pellets. They didn’t think even the feed mill would be able to answer that one. If it was a concern, then ‘organic’ feed would probably (not ‘certainly’ notice, just ‘probably’) would be free of any herbicide residue.
Ah, now I remember. I originally found out about this on a gardening web site. They’d said that there was enough herbicide residue in some of the feeds to kill off gardens if you used too much of the manure from animals fed the feed grown with herbicide. I’d originally been concerned because I use the bunny manure as almost my entire source of fertilizer. That wasn’t directly related to lack of litters or litter size at all.
I haven’t noticed that effect on the garden, yet. Perhaps bunny fertility is more sensitive than gardens?
After the conversation, I think I’m gonna have to revise my earlier thinking. I’d thought that the higher protein feed would be less likely to have herbicide grown alfalfa (if the mills even tracked that sort of thing) since it would be fed to the animals more likely to be bred. So, I’d been feeding the breeding herd the 18% and giving the regular feed to the non-breeding herd. After the conversation this morning, she’d said she noticed the lack of fertility from switching to the higher protein feed. Since both the regular and high protein feeds are made by the same mill, I’m guessing both of them are sourced from the same alfalfa crop.
I’ve been feeding the breeding herd a higher percentage of forage, they may have to switch to entirely forage fed. I’ll also have to switch to an entirely different brand of feed, but do different mills use alfalfa grown with herbicides?
If bunnies have been fed herbicide laced alfalfa pellets, does the herbicide eventually work it’s way out of their system? Will they become fertile again on a different diet? Can bunnies be bred to be fertile while eating herbicide laced feed? Baby Gayle is the last bunny born here and she came from a litter of one. If she’s bred will she also have small litters? Will she have any litters at all?
Gayle is five months old now, she’s about old enough to have a litter now. Since Gomez joined the herd and has been fed a different brand of pellets, if Gayle meets up with Gomez, will she have a litter? That would indicate that if the fertility problem is feed based, it’s also a lack of fertility in the males and not the females.
I’ll pick up an entirely different brand of pellets and feed those to the bucks and breeding does along with the increased amount of forage. I’d switched the breeding herd to the higher protein feet, but now I’m thinking an entirely different brand of feed. Although, since we don’t know if they don’t all source their feed from alfalfa grown the same way, we don’t know if it will make a difference.
If anyone else out there has noticed the same sorts of things, it would be interesting to hear from you!
Well, actually, it’d be May 4th, but that’s close enough to May Day that if the litters appear we’d probably have to name them after flowers.
This is Sirocco, an 11 month old chocolate agouti doe. She’s one of the ‘atmospheric conditions’ named bunnies, so she was born last year. She is the cleanest molting angora I’ve ever seen. Usually, they will molt, but the wool gets all tangled into mats and stays clumped on the bunny if it’s not taken off by someone. Sirocco will molt clean with no clumps. Very strange, but kinda nice to not have to worry about getting her coat off in time when she molts. Loses the fiber but doesn’t harm the bunny by having clumps of hair getting them all tangled up.
Sirocco met up with Hillside Gomez. He’s Janet’s brother and came from the People Named Year so he’s two years old. Well, a year and seven months, but he was born in 2015.
This was his first time and he had the most amazed look on his face afterwards. Shock and awe and he seemed dazed for awhile after. Sirocco didn’t even roll her eyes, so that was a good thing, too, I guess.
This is Gomie after a haircut so he’s not fuzzy at the moment. Boy angoras need a haircut before meeting the girls or the hair gets in the way and no baby bunnies. He will be fuzzy again soon enough. Still, I don’t think he cares if he has a bad haircut if he gets to meet girl bunnies.
We’re not sure yet if Gomez is on loan or is moving back to stay, we will find out when his person is back from vacation. Sydney is also a here again gone again kinda guy, but genetically, it’s good to have visiting bucks.
Gomez has been a busy boy. He’s met up with Hillside Sirocco as you already know. But, he’s also met up with Hillside Cheiri, Hiratas Cocoa Puff and Hillside Sandy Storm.
This is Cocoa Puff, she is the mother of Tootsie, Gayle & Ginger and is four years and three months old at the moment. We don’t know much about Gomez’s genetics at the moment since both his parents were black. We will see all solid colors from this litter, no agouti or fawns. Gomez’s dam had a recessive for chocolate, if Gomie got that, then there may be some chocolates from the litter. Both his parents had a recessive for REW (albino) but we don’t know if Cocoa has it. If she does and he does, then maybe REW. We don’t really know what else, to look for, this may be an all black litter.
Here’s Sirocco when she’s not yawning. With a litter between Gomez & Sirocco, we will probably see half of them some sort of agouti pattern. (white around the eyes, in the ears and undercarriage with each hair being multiple colors along the hair shaft). If he has no recessives, then statistically speaking, half the litter will be agouti (wild rabbit color) and the other half will be solid black. However, if he has the chocolate recessive from his mum, then there will be half chocolate colors in the litter. Sirocco has the recessive for torts & fawns, but we don’t know if Gomez does.
For some reason I can’t find a picture of Sandy. She’s the cutest little fawn doe, too. Guess my next project will be to take pictures of every bunny and update the who’s who files. Sandy Storm is fawn, which is an agouti color. So we can pretty much expect the same possible colors between her and Gomez as between Gomez & Sirocco, although more possibility of fawns if Gomez has the recessive for it.
Gomie also met up with Cheiri, who is also a black bunny. She has a recessive for albino as well as tort/fawn, but we don’t know if Gomie has them. Maybe this will be an all black litter?
Phineus Phogge also met up with Ginger, but I don’t know if it actually worked, generally it takes a little longer than two seconds. Three at least! I’ll let them meet up again later today and see if they can be more traditional about these sorts of things.
Later, I’ll probably see if Sydney wants to meet up with anyone, but I’ll have to check the database first to see who would be the best pairings.
If any of this works, then we should see baby bunnies on May 4th.
Well, we’d hoped for some new bunnies this past weekend, at least one of the four should have had a litter, one would expect. However, there were none! So, we will try again, however it would be really helpful if there was any idea as to why there’s no litters appearing.
Currently the theories as to why no babies is either the bucks got too hot last summer in the heat and are temporarily sterile. Although they should have gotten over that by now, I’d hope. Or that the feed has been contaminated with herbicide when the alfalfa was grown. Apparently a lot of farmers are now using RoundUp Ready alfalfa or some such thing and the traces of herbicide left on the alfalfa affect fertility. Doesn’t harm horses who are mostly the ones eating the alfalfa, but for bunnies, I guess they’re more sensitive than horses. Also, probably not as many of the horse folks are trying to breed their horses.
So, we will try again and change out to a lot of forage foods for the breeding herd.
In other bunny news, Phineus Phogge just had his first birthday.
Happy Birthday Phin!
He has some almost bright brown on his face now, not sure how that came about with his lilac color. Lilac is technically a diluted chocolate, but he’s almost got a bright red mask on. I suppose that could be a chocolate mask, but it looks more red than chocolate. It’s about time for him to get another haircut, maybe it will change back to his more usual warm gray when his next coat grows in. Bunnies do change their color somewhat between one coat and the next.
Well, I’ll go out and see which girls want to meet up with which boys and see if we can figure out the lack of baby bunnies. This has been an ongoing difficulty for the past several years.
What is it they call a type of wine made by the vineyard that grows the grapes? There’s so many wine terms it’s hard to keep track of them, but wine and yarn may have some things in common. There’s the common wines in cardboard boxes and then there’s the good stuff made in small batches? Well, in any case, today’s effort is making a ‘varietal’ yarn of one type of fiber and it is ‘sole sourced’ from one individual bunny. Ha! Maybe we can now make yarn labels about as confusing as an exotic wine label?
For Hula Bunny Yarn, the bunnies get haircuts and all their wool is in one big group sorted by color. Then it’s sent to a small family run mill, blended with some of the softest Merino sheep’s wool for elasticity and with some silk for shine. Then it’s spun into fingering weight yarn. The next batch will hopefully be three ply, so far it’s all been two ply, we will see if the mill was able to do a three ply when it gets back from the mill hopefully sometime this month.
However, there’s also Hillside Farm Yarn which is the handspun yarns made from whatever is produced here and whatever I feel like spinning up at the time. Consistency isn’t exactly what I’m known for so most of the Hillside Farm yarn has a run of maybe four skeins at most of any one type. Usually ‘one skein wonders’ type of patterns are best for Hillside Farm yarn, but maybe consistency will be something to work on this year.
So we start out with one bunny. In this case, it’s Phineus Phogge. He got a haircut the day before yesterday so now he doesn’t look like his picture anymore.
This is Phineus’ fluff becoming a ‘sole source varietal’ yarn. Woot!
It’s not been processed in any fashion other than clipping it off of Phineus. I may card it a bit or I may not, depends on how it looks at the time. It will be washed after it’s spun to set the twist. Then measured, weighed and labeled. I haven’t had much Hillside Farm Yarn available for awhile, it doesn’t last long once it’s made although hopefully there will be some for me to knit with this year. I knit a lot with Hula Bunny yarn so patterns can be made, but there’s not as much Hillside Farm yarn so when it sells, there’s usually not any left for me.
The main difference between the two yarns is the elasticity of Hula Bunny verses the non-elasticity of the Hillside Farm yarn. Also, the Hillside Farm yarn is even softer than Hula Bunny. Hmm, Hillside Farm yarn would make an excellent blanket! That would be a lot of bunny fluff, though. Maybe I’ll make some and try weaving it, I don’t think I’ve ever woven Hillside Farm yarn. That would make an excellent weft yarn, not sure if it would be a good warp yarn, though. Hmm, maybe spin up some cotton for the warp and angora for the weft? Well, I’ll think about that project some more.
See, that’s the thing, when you make your own yarn you can sit there and think about exactly which fibers you want in it and exactly what characteristics you want your yarn to have. I find yarn stores really limiting when all they have is a zillion colors of the exact same yarn.
I’d been spinning the Bleak Hall Sea Island white fiber yesterday and now today the bunny fluff feels much slicker than usual. It doesn’t have the same amount of ‘catch’ that the cotton has. Both fibers are somewhat similar lengths. Both fibers are approximately the same diameter, both being fine fibers. Neither fiber has much elasticity at all. Yet the cotton has a lot more ‘catch’ to it and can spin finer without falling apart in the process.
I’d started with the same setup for yesterday’s cotton spinning and immediately noticed that the tension was set way too high for the angora. Really lowering the tension helped and now we’re spinning up Phineus into a “Varietal” yarn. Maybe I’ll have to think up a better term for yarn made from one specific fiber source? Do wine terms work with yarn? “Single Source” for yarn from one sheep or one bunny? Anyone else know what the terminology would be?
Well, it may not actually have been that much ‘early morning’ but it’s later in the year and the sun gets up later so I do, too. Around 8:30 this morning, though, there was a diesel burring sound near to the front bedroom. Not a loud diesel noise, a nice quiet burrrrr. Well, that wasn’t too bad until there was a back up beeper. Ick! So with the annoying sound of back up beepers before morning coffee, I awoke.
This is three and a half hours of Mark & Excavator. There used to be a hillside covered with trees and brush where the boys are standing.
This is the view from the other direction. There’s still thirty or forty feet of uncleared area behind and the excavator is near the front. It’s rather a bit of a hillside, but hey, we’re Hillside Farm, after all. Although, this wasn’t the hillside we started on, the original hillside was rather a bit bigger. But, even though we’ve gone townside & residential, we’re still sticking to our Hillside roots.
A grapefruit tree and a macadamia nut tree were found, along with a lot of jacaranda, although the jacaranda are not going to be able to stay. I would have liked one for the back yard, but they’re pretty much where we have to put the house. Residential lots are pretty small and with only a third of an acre, there’s not much leeway on where things can go.
The bunnies can live up under the macadamia nut tree, though. Eventually, it will take awhile before they have to move, probably a year or two. The new hutches are movable, though, not like last move where we had to rebuild from the beginning. I’ll draw in the place for the bunny hutches when drawing up the new house. Not sure what that’s gonna look like just yet. Once Mark gets done with the excavation, it will probably be easier to see how it should go.
We’re hoping for a lot of baby bunnies this upcoming January. There have been six girls who have or are visiting Joey & Phineus. Sydney has come down mountain for a Christmas vacation, although we don’t know if he’s going to visit with any girls over his vacation or not. With six possible litters, if they all happened and if each one had six babies, that would be thirty new baby bunnies! I’m not expecting more than one or maybe two litters of four to maybe six babies each, but with bunnies, you never know.
Let’s see, who met up with whom? There’s only two of the bucks who met up with girls. Phineus Phogge, our newest young buck met up with Suzie, Myste and Sirocco.
Since three of them have ‘atmospheric’ names, they were all born earlier this year. This is the year of names that have something to do with weather or atmospheric conditions. Joey and Suzie were from the year before where the bunnies were named after famous people, although I’m the one who gets to choose who is famous or not. Joey is named for a friend on Maui who does some background acting in Hawaii 5-0 and other movies so he’s a famous movie star – at least, the bunnies think so but they don’t watch much TV. Suzie is named after the Suzie who wrote ‘The Nervous New Owners Guide to Angora Rabbits’, a very famous person indeed! Well, at least, if you’re an angora bunny. Next year we may name them after textures or soft things. Fluffy, Squooshie, Silky, Crimpy, Charmin; hmm, maybe we won’t. Well, some sort of name theme will pop up, no doubt.
Other than Phineus, the other buck who met up with girl bunnies is Joey. He’s a Ruby Eyed White with really nice shoulders and a cocky attitude. An angora with an attitude somewhat reminds me of an angry butterfly, but it’s hard to be a tough guy when you’re soft and fluffy. Joey met up with Cocoa Puff, Ginger & Sandy Storm.
We are hoping for more than one or two litters, but we will have to see how things go. Sometimes the litters don’t show up in the late summer and early winter.