Did we get the wrong rabbits?

img_1894-1

One night we were talking to Kay’s mom about our plans for our rabbits. We currently have five New Zealand whites, two New Zealand reds, and two champagnes.

We explained to her that we planned on using them mainly for meat but also for show and helping others build their own rabbitry. We want to use the entire rabbit including the hides. We would like to get into tanning and using the hides to make blankets, gloves and hats. While talking to Kay’s Mom, Darrick was doing research and came across angora rabbits. Kay early on wanted to get angoras for their fiber but we never really did much research on selling the fiber. Darrick was surprised when he found that angoras are a dual-purpose rabbit! They are used for their fiber and meat.

Further research concentrated on the English/French angoras which are medium sized fiber rabbits. An English or French angora produces roughly 12-16 oz of fiber per year. This raw fiber (straight off the rabbit, not carded) can be sold for around $6-8 an ounce. If the fiber is carded it can be sold for $10-12 per ounce. High quality, hand plucked, carded fiber can go for up to $20 per ounce! We started adding up the numbers, looked at each other, and said in unison “We got the wrong rabbits!”

Angoras do take extra time and work to keep their coats clean and brushed. This process takes about 15-30 minutes a week per rabbit. Some breeders recommend daily brushing or at least a few times a week. It doesn’t seem like a lot but I’m sure it adds up quick when you start breeding them.

At this point, we are committed to our New Zealands and champagne d’argents as they will provide good quality meat for our family. However, I’m sure if we see a deal on a nice pair of angoras, we will make some room in our rabbit barn. Stay tuned as we will be looking at designing and building our barn this summer.

Thank you for following us on our journey. For anyone who has angoras or experience with them we would love to hear your pros and cons and any advice you may have.

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

~Proverbs 11:14

How to make Hummingbird nectar

Spring is here, and so are the birds!

We currently have a black bear in our land so to not encourage him too much to visit we don’t put bird feeders out, except for the hummingbird feeder. Nectar in the store can be a little expensive for basically just colored sugar water. The red dye in the liquid might not be so healthy for the birds either. Luckily, it’s so easy to make your own in less than 5 minutes!

What you will need is:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup sugar (regular white baking sugar)
  • Cup and spoon
  • Hummingbird feeder

Simply pour your sugar into your water (it helps if it’s room temperature or warm) and stir until all the crystals dissolve. Pour in your feeder, hang it up, and enjoy your birds! It’s that simple!

Make sure you clean it weekly as can get sticky and icky.

God bless!

Darrick and Kay

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

-Song of Solomon 2:12

Building a chicken coop

We are building our first chicken coop! When we were starting out we intended to colonize the rabbits and chickens together, but decided against it as rabbits can get sick, dirty with chicken poop, and the chickens might peck at the baby bunnies. In cages the rabbits are kept safe and clean.

We wanted to share our experience with building our first coop.

The area was previously used to store firewood. It had a roof and simple vertical framing.

After day one of the build: March 17, 2019

Structure is framed in on 2 sides and siding placed on one side. We picked red because we loved the idea of it looking like a little barn. We are so grateful for several good friends who really helped with this project.

Burning holes in ground to dig in posts !!! What we do to survive in northern Minnesota!

One more step closer… windows. we found these windows at Menards and liked that they had a screen and could open to let in fresh air.

Darrick had to take a pick axe to the ground- it was still frozen but needed those bottom boards to be level!!

March 22: One more day along the process. We had to figure out how to do j-trim but once we figured it out it went pretty good. Set the posts for the main door. It’ll be two 3 foot doors that are Dutch doors, so the top can open up to let air in.

Got the posts set for the double Dutch door. We got the j-trim around the windows done. That was a learning experience

Darrick’s task this week is to build the two Dutch doors and hopefully get them stained too. If we can get the siding started this week that should put us in a good spot to finish insulating by the following week and move the birds and rabbits in.

March 30: Darrick built the doors and moved them inside so Kay and her friend could paint them.

The Doors are finished.

Looking like a barn!! Darrick and his friend have been working tirelessly to enclose the siding on the coop. Next is insulation, plywood, and putting the doors on. Nearly done!

Two wall panels up. Styrofoam behind the plywood.

April 7: Doors hung and plywood on the back wall. The left door will be a Dutch door but that will be finished at a later date.

April 10: insulation and framing by the door.

Next step is to add handles, latches, locking mechanisms, and bury chicken wire on the outside so animals don’t try to dig in. We also added lights to keep the chicks warm if needed.

Last step: add chickens (and a mini farmer)

Thank you for following our journey. Our next step will be to add rabbit cages to the chicken coop (we have a small stackable in the right side of this photo) and turn one of the doors into a Dutch door.

God Bless,

Darrick and Kay

Baby bunny birth

We have been on bunny watch all week. Our champagne D’argent “grey” started carrying straw last week so we were on the alert. A few days after that Hattie (our red doe) was carrying straw too)

May 2 Darrick found Hattie’s litter of 5 cold on the wire. We tried to bring them back by warming them but it was too late. At 11am Kay went to bunny check and grey doe was in labor! Kay ran to get Bee so they could all watch together. Kay and Bee got to watch all three of the bunnies be born! What a blessing!

The problem was that grey doe also had her babies on the wire. Kay waited to see if she would put them in the nest but there were soon shivering babies all over the cage so we decided to move mama and babies all inside. In the past grey has been our best mama with pulling a lot of hair and having them in the box, but not this time. Instead of risking 3 more bunny’s lives we decided to bring them in the house to stay warm.

Mama and bunnies are doing well. We did record the last bunny being born! A very neat blessing to be able to witness! A great learning experience for Bee as well. Warning for the video: it’s birth, there’s some blood involved and yes, rabbits eat the placenta.

The loud noises are another rabbit hopping around above her. If you listen closely you can hear the squeal of the baby rabbits first breath! (About 30 second in)

Thank you for following us through this journey. If you would like to see more bunny updates, or have any suggestions for future topics, please post them below.

God bless!

Darrick and Kay

“Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? “Can you count the months they fulfill, Or do you know the time they give birth? “They kneel down, they bring forth their young, They get rid of their labor pains.”

~Job 39: 1-3

Outdoor rabbit hutch

We got our rabbits last summer but they were in our shed and garage over the winter and we were not a fan of the dirty barn smell in a hard to clean area. So we decided to build an outdoor hutch!

We plan to house 10 cages in the enclosure with a gutter system below the cages to collect all the droppings and urine. We get some pretty cold weather in the upper Midwest so we are going to insulate the hutch on three sides and use a tarp to keep the wind off the rabbits. The cages will be suspended to keep them off the drip pan.

For our materials we tried to use stuff we already had or buy at a discount, but we did need to buy some new materials. After looking at what we had around the farm we decided a trip to Menards would be necessary. We went straight to their bargain bin and found discounted metal roofing and hardy board siding.

The metal roof keeps the rabbits dry and sheltered from above. The siding is insulated on the sides to keep any drafts out.

The gutters collect any waste and the top few inches above the cages and under the roof is open to allow circulation.

A rolling tarp keeps the rabbits protected from wind, snow, and rain but us easily opened for us to access and care for them. On nice days we leave it open for them to enjoy nice weather.

Roomy quarters with food, water, and hay. The cages are held up by chains and caribbeaners. The siding underneath catches all the waste and encourages it to go to the gutter.

The tarp is held up by bicycle hooks.

Thank you for following us and we hope you visit again. If you have built your own hutch and have any tips, please write them in the comment section.

God bless,

Darrick and Kay

How to make a Self-watering planter

Did you get spring fever and plant all your little seeds only to realize the following week you were going to be gone all week?

That’s what we did. Oh no! How are we going to make sure the plants are watered?! Well here is one way we tried and our mistakes along the way.

As we all know cotton soaks up water, but did you know it can also transport water?! What you need is…

•Your plant

•A string of 100% cotton yarn

•A cup, pitcher, or some vessel to hold water.

If you don’t know if your yarn is 100% cotton you can wet it, place one end in a cup of water and lay the other end on a paper towel. In a few minutes the paper towel should be slightly wet and you might see water drops.

So now that you know your yarn will work bring your water vessel and yarn to your plant. Cut your strings so they will be long enough to reach the water in your water vessel and your planter, better to have extra than not enough.

Wet your yarn thoroughly. Make a small hole with your finger in your planter about an inch down and place your damp yarn in vertically and secure it with soil. (You could lay it on top of the soil too, just make sure it’s not drowning any little seedlings) Take the other end and place it in your vessel with water. Check back on it in half an hour or so and you will be able to see it working and the soil should be wet.

If it’s not working, or working too well here’s some quick tips…

If it’s not wet enough make sure your water vessel is taller than your planter. The yarn will soak up water, but gravity brings it to the plant. You could also try to wet your yarn again, remember it has to be 100% cotton.

If it’s too wet (I came back after half an hour to find a very wet table and full planters) your water vessel is too tall (the pitcher is too tall for these planters; notice the water on the bottom of a few of the spill lids).

You should also note if your plant needs extra water, give them a taller vessel. If they don’t like wet feet (like this lavender) a shorter vessel will do just fine.

When your strings are in place fill up the cup and your good to go. This particular layout with 5 planters and a 2 cup measuring cup in the middle kept my plants watered for 5-6 days.

Let us know in the comments if you tried it, how it worked for you, and any hints you found that worked for you. If you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it follow us.

Thank you and God bless,

Darrick and Kay