English angoras at 5 and 10 weeks old

The two current litters of English angora bunnies here at Hillside Farm are now at the ‘absurdly cute’ and ‘merely cute’ stages.  Gomez & Cheiri’s babies are now 10 weeks old and Janet & Phineus’ babies are now 5 weeks old.  At five weeks old, Janet’s babies are all pretty much weaned and eating on their own now.

white fuzzy bunny with ears up
10 week old Zeus

Zeus & Co. are ten weeks old now and getting pretty fuzzy.  He’s still the white boy and there’s two black girls and two black boys as his siblings. Since they’re getting so fuzzy, it’s getting pretty difficult to tell the black ones apart these days.

It used to be that Zookie Schwartz was the smallest one.  Ziggy was the one who would come over and lick folks right away.  Zoey was the one bouncing around and had flippy ear tips.  Nowadays, though, Zookie is as big as everyone else or if it isn’t it’s hard to tell under all that wool.  Ziggy doesn’t lick folks anymore and Zoey’s ear tips are now upright like everyone else’s.  Guess I should tattoo them so they’ll be easy to tell apart.

It will be time for their first hair cut pretty soon, no doubt.  Hopefully, Zeus will keep his fairly open face so he will be easier to groom, but we will see what he does as he grows.

black and white really fuzzy bunnies

It’s quite a pile up of fuzziness when they’re all in one spot.

So far all of them are still here and I should recheck the genders to see if any of them have switched.  It’s pretty difficult to be 100% accurate when they’re young but they’re getting old enough that it should be pretty easy at this point.  Once they’re adults, it’s really easy but we want the males and females separated before then.  Last time I looked, Zeus was male and there were two of each gender for the other four blacks.

small brown angora
5 week old Coconut

For Janey & Phineus’ litter, as far as I can tell at this age, they’re all females.  One of them is going to move to Oahu.  The little brown one is now named ‘Coconut’ and she is planning on flying off to Oahu when she’s older.  She’s only five weeks old now, so it’s going to be another month or so before she flies away.  At five weeks old, they haven’t gotten as fuzzy as Gomez & Cheiri’s babies but they’re working on getting fuzzier.

In non-bunny news, I’m still working on getting the bunnie’s website’s home page to show up on mobile devices.  All the pages except the home page seem to be mobile friendly.  Wish I knew more about CSS and other web page building things.

Last day of June

Summer is here, it’s the last day of June and soon we will have July.  Woot!  Not that it makes a whole lot of difference to our seasons or anything.  We do get more flowers appearing in the summer.  This one is a volunteer.  I think it’s a gloriosa lily and it’s somehow survived 27 years of neglect in the back yard.

I think it’s supposed to be poisonous so it won’t be fed to bunnies, but it is very striking looking.  A long spindly stalk with almost vine habits that has flower buds that look more like pods and then these flowers appear.

When opening the flower buds they go through a ‘helicopter’ stage with is interesting.  Then the flower petals go up like alarmed bunny ears.

Another question is how or when to harvest oats?  These are special ‘hull less’ oats which are supposed to be able to be harvested and processed without machinery.  I have an oat flaker, so if we can figure out how to harvest and dry the seeds and get the husk off, then they can be made into oatmeal.  I’m sure the bunnies will want to eat the grassy parts.

There’s the current state of the garden.  The lettuce is still hanging in there pretty well.  A few of them are thinking about bolting but haven’t done much about it yet.  There’s been tons of beans, still no tomatoes.  The oats are the silvery green in the back left corner.  The orange in the middle is a large marigold.  The really red lettuce is outside the picture as well as the gloriosa lily.

So far there’s just one melon but it’s bigger than a softball now.  It’s escaped out the back of the garden and is climbing all up the hillside.

The watermelon isn’t the only climber around.  Ziggy climbed up and over the wall between the baby bunnies and the three adult REWs.  So, Ziggy was visiting with her aunties, Dolce, Petunia & Suzie.

The rest of the ones who weren’t climbing over to visit with the Aunties had ti leaves to munch on for awhile.  Hopefully Ziggy will decide to stay on the side with ti leaves.

Gargoyle Bunny

Dunno as if Zeus thinks it’s near Halloween or what, but he’s been practicing his gargoyle moves.

white bunny imitating a gargoyle

He was right up on the front edge of the nest box just about falling off.  Dunno as if fluffy and white quite goes along with the whole gargoyle theme, but he’s just a beginning fashionista and still needs to work on a few details.

Zelda was trying out the gargoyle thing too, but nowhere near as convincingly as Zeus.

black bunny trying to be a gargoyle

She just doesn’t have the whole gargoyle thing figured out yet.

Other than fuzzy bunnies, there’s been fuzzy scarves being knit.  I’ve started writing out the pattern for it since it may turn out well enough to be knit by other folks perhaps.

detail of a knitted scarf

This is the front side of the scarf.  It’s being knit out of Hula Bunny’s ‘Beach Bunny’ color of yarn.  It’s mostly ‘Old Shale’ or ‘Old Shell’ pattern which is sometimes erroneously called feather-n-fan.  This is NOT feather and fan, it is Old Shell.  Which is sometimes called ‘Old Shale’ because of the accent from when it’s spoken.  So, now that we have that clarified, here’s the back of it.

back side detail f scarf

This is the back and because the Hula Bunny yarn gets so soft and fuzzy, a lot of the fine details in a pattern will get lost in the fluff.  Which is why a big broad pattern is best with Hula Bunny yarn.

If it were made with an unmodified Old Shell pattern, the back of the scarf would sort of have an overall pebbly texture and no real interest, IMHO.  The vertical stripes were added in to make the back nice to look at, too.

At the moment, it’s only half knit since it’s only about three feet long.  I’m thinking maybe six or seven feet would be the nicest length.

Not that we need a scarf in the middle of June, but I have to start knitting now so there will be things ready for folks in the fall and winter.  More bunny haircuts tomorrow!  The bunnies have to help or all kinds of folks will be missing out on toasty ears, necks and noses come next winter.

One Month & One Day

The bunnies aren’t getting any new drastic size changes now that they’re a month old.  When they’re very small, they seem to change quicker.  Now they look like small bunnies instead of baby bunnies, but they still don’t look as fluffy as they will in a couple of weeks.

little black bunny sticking out his tongue

Zookie Schwartz is still being his usual quirky self.  Today he stuck his tongue out at the camera.  Guess he wanted something tasty instead of a flash bulb.

red leaf lettuce in the garden

Not sure why the dark red color doesn’t come through in pictures.  There’s more green in the lettuce along side  of it, too.

crowded leaf lettuces

It’s about time to thin the lettuce in the garden.  Still no beans yet, though.  We’ve had a few messes of beet greens, those are quite tasty.

Down to the last forty eight hours before we can hope to see more baby bunnies!  It seems like it takes forever sometimes, but considering how long folks with horses and cows have to wait to see if there will be babies, I suppose we’d get no sympathy if we complain.

3 weeks 6 days

It’s almost like they’re all in a bunny bunch like when they were tiny bunnies, but now they’re just piled up in the food dish.  They started  out eating and then they just kinda ended up hanging out together.  Guess they’ve spent most of their life so far being in a bunny bunch so maybe it’s what they’re used to and comfortable with?

Grasses on the nest box got them out of their bunny pile up.  At least, all the black ones.

The little Ruby Eyed White decided to run to mama instead of jumping up to the top of the nest box.  But, there were enough grasses for everybunny.

Bunny Games (3weeks 5days)

King of the Mountain - black bunny on nestbox
King of the Mountain, er, well, nest box anyway.

Baby bunnies have Bunny Games.  We’d probably call it ‘King of the Mountain’, but I suppose for them, it’s ‘Bun on the Box’ instead.  Here’s the picture from moments before:

one baby bunny pushing another off the top of the nest box
Bun on the Box

How rude!  Just push your sibling off the box!  But, then he gets to be the head Bun on The Box.  The little stinker.

white baby bunny sitting in the food dish
Bun in the food dish

Sitting in the food dish is either a bunny game or some sort of commentary on empty food dishes.

bunnies eating mulberry branches
Mulberry for dinner again

It’s not exactly leftovers since they’d pretty much eaten all the mulberry from yesterday, but it’s mulberry leaves again today.  Maybe tomorrow they can have some ti leaves or grasses.  They also have their organic alfalfa pellets and supplements of black oil sunflower seeds & calf manna.

I think we have some tentative genders figured out for them.  The white one is a male, I think.  The smallest black one, Zookie Schwartz, (not sure if he’s gonna keep that name) is most likely a male.   The biggest black one is a female and of the other two blacks, one is male and one is female.  So, two black females, two black males and one white male.

We will be keeping the white male and probably both the females.  Part of that depends on what shows up hopefully next week, though.  We’re hoping for two litters next Tuesday and then another one the next day and one the day after.  We will have to wait and see.

Interesting Conversations

chocolate mum rabbit with black baby rabbit
Cocoa with baby Gayle

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!