Recent Rabbit Failures

I always tell myself that I’m as happy to share my failures as I am to share the successes, but I realised this afternoon that my biggest failures in the last few months I haven’t even mentioned on the blog or facebook group.

My struggles/mistakes lately seem to be largely around the rabbits.

It started (although I didn’t realise it at the time) when we processed the last batch of rabbits I think we did a batch after the post below but the most recent time I mentioned it was;

https://quinsgunnado.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/pressure-canning-rabbit-stew/

I always make the mistake of letting the rabbits grow out a bit too much, they end up pretty well adult size by the time I usually finish culling the last of a litter. In this case, one of the black babies must have been particularly big. Because I mistook the black breeding female for a baby and left the ‘baby’ in the cage.

I killed my breeding female and didn’t even know.

When dad was over I bred the black female in hopes of getting a nice looking litter to sell rather than eat. They had a lot of issues and didn’t really seem to do the job very well, but I just put it down to them having a bad day. 4 weeks later (when ‘she’ should have been due) nothing had happened, no nesting, no fur pulled out, no babies.

I decided to have a closer look, that’s when I realised my mistake, I had a black male rather than a female, he will have to go when I feel like a nice slow cooked stew.

Unfortunately my mistakes didn’t end there. I decided to breed the white female, things went much smoother with the breeding and about 3 1/2 week later she was showing all the signs that babies were on the way.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. She had her babies on a Thursday night/Friday morning which is pretty standard when I breed them on a Sunday (rabbits are very exact about their cycles). The Friday was raining heavily and winter was finally setting in so it was icy cold.

I checked on them Friday after work and there was a dead baby outside the nesting box. Things like that happen and I wasn’t too worried to start with, but then I felt inside the box to check on the remaining babies.

There was a leak in the roof that I hadn’t noticed and water was pouring in and soaking the nest and babies. I was starting to get pretty wet but spent the next half an hour trying to make the hutch water proof again, I managed to stop 90% of the water.

I reached into the hutch and felt that there was at least one baby and it was still moving, but I didn’t want to spend long with my icy hands stealing their body heat so I went inside and hoped for the best.

The following morning I went out and checked on them, I convinced the female to come out of the nesting box with a bit of basil bribery and went about checking on the babies. There were no babies in the nest, I’m guessing they died in the night from the cold/wet and the mum ate them (not unusual either).

As you can see, we’ve made some mistakes and had to bear the consequences, but we’ll keep on learning from our mistakes and trying to do better. I’ll give the female a few weeks break and probably breed her again in mid August for a mid September batch of babies, they will be nice and big for Christmas.

I considered giving up on the rabbits after everything that has happened, but between the very high quality fertiliser and delicious meat they are definitely an important part of the homestead and worth continuing with.

I’ll try to remember to include the mistakes we make along with our successes because it’s more important that we and other learn from our mistakes than from our successes.

New Chickens, Sweet Potatoes and Bamboo.

We got 5 new chickens this weekend and had our first egg in the time it took us to get home. Hopefully we’ll get a few good years out of them and we can go back to giving eggs away to friends and neighbours.

We also started some sweet potato. A glass of water and a sweet potato should give us a dozen or so sweet potato plants. We’ll probably need more but we’re starting slow because we’ve never grown sweet potato before.

Yesterday morning I went down and collected another load of bamboo, I’ve stripped the leaves off half of them and will finish the rest some time in the next week or so.

The bamboo is great for marking the contour lines at the block as well as garden stakes and the most important, roasting marshmallows. The leaves form a part of the deep litter in the chook pen so that it doesn’t become the standard dirt pit.

I tried to get an updated pic of the baby rabbits but they decided to start kamikazeing out of the hutch, I don’t think any were hurt but I gave up after a few minutes of wrestling them and getting bitten by mum.

Chicken Stock

A warning before I start today that chickens are made of chicken, if you’re not okay with that then you probably shouldn’t keep reading.

I’ve been complaining for a while that we aren’t getting any eggs from our chickens. From 6 chickens we’ve had maybe 3-4 eggs in the last week.
The issue is a combination of the time of year, less sunlight = less eggs. As well as the fact that we have been buying our chickens as ex farm layers. We get them for $5 a bird but they are already about 18 months old.

I think next time we’ll pay the premium for point of lay hens.

Today we decided that we were  tired of paying to feed the old hens and so we made a nice home made chicken stock.

I’m starting to get better at butchering and 6 chickens from running around to in the pot took me about 4 hours. Not record breaking by any means but I seem to be improving.

Scalding for plucking

Quick clean up

above are the first 5 ready for gutting

After I brought them inside I decided that it was easier to skin them that cleaning up the last of the feathers so buddy got a great feed of chicken skin and wings.

Should be enough for a feed for him tomorrow as well.

Our stock is pretty basic with some herbs, carrot, leak, onion with some salt and pepper. Although Nicholas tried to add some extra banana.

Turns what is basicly a waste product into something of value.
We don’t have a pressure canner so we can’t keep the final product in the cupboard so we’ve let it simmer down to as concentrated as we can and frozen it in big meal sized portions, should come in handy for the next few months.

Organic, free range, locally sourced, small batch chicken stock.

The hipsters would love it.

City Living

Quick update on the Perth homestead. We had 6 baby rabbits born 11 days ago but are down to 4. 2 were very much runts from day 1. I put 1 down when he was refusing to feed and the other died on one of the cold nights.
The 4 that are left are doing great, they are actually bigger than normal for this young. Looks like all 4 are straight white.
We’ve found white are harder to sell but they all taste the same to me.

image

image

I’m breeding the black female again today to see what her kits are like.

I had been holding off brewing so that I could do a beer because I’m almost out after dads visit but never seem to get around to it. I gave in and am going to do a quick sugar wine, hoping that there is some cheap fruit at the spud shed and I’ll put some sort of flavor through it next weekend.

image

I set up the wishing well that dad built, it has what I’m fairly sure was a nasturtium in it which should look good overflowing in front of the window. It’s got a bit of transplant shock at the moment.

image

Mum and Kelvin are back out the block trying to clear a path and I got a few pics of some of the trees that went in a couple of weeks ago, everything is looking pretty healthy.

image

image

image