Beginning our homesteading journey we knew that life and death would be an intricate part of the process. Breeding animals to bring new life and harvesting them for their meat to feed us. We also are aware that sometimes things just happen unexpectedly.
Disclaimer, there will be no pictures of the bunnies in this post.
We checked on our baby bunnies before heading off to church. Darrick had seen the doe huddled on the kits, but she jumped off when he got there. The babies had just started growing a layer of white hair and were actively clawing around the nest. Darrick did notice that one of the kits was digging at the bottom of the nest box so he took some of the moms hair and covered it up. We were planning on adding more shavings and straw to the box when we came back from church.
Darrick checked them again later that afternoon and found all three of them cold and stiff. We removed the nest box and brought it inside, remembering somewhere that you can revive baby bunnies if they get cold.
We placed a few of the bunnies on a heating blanket and attempted putting one in warm water to try and warm them. Than we used a hairdryer to dry and warm them more but we had no signs of life even after they felt warm. They had started to look bruised and blue as well, meaning blood had pooled and no longer circulating. The nails, which are normally flesh or light colored, were a dark red. This also indicates that it’s too late. Darrick took the bunnies out into the woods and returned them to nature.
Our first batch of bunnies did not turn out. We messaged the rabbit guy we bought the original rabbits from and he said it’s very common to lose bunnies especially with young moms. Our doe didn’t pull enough hair to cover them and keep them warm but with each batch she will become more experienced, and so will we. Next time we will add more shavings and straw to the nest box and figure out some type of heating lamp or heat tape we can use in the enclosure. Another option would be, since rabbits only feed their babies at dawn and dusk, is to keep the bunnies in the house and bring them out in the morning and at night to feed. We’ve done some research and found, contrary to a previous post, that touching baby bunnies doesn’t mean the mom will kill them. Especially since she already knows our scent. It can actually be a benefit, as long as the handling is very gentle, that gets the kits used to human contact which will make them more calm as they get older. We don’t have any experience with this so far, but we can keep you updated with what works for us.
Our doe, Gloria, has been doing fine. We’ve been continuing to give her a daily treat- apples and bananas are her favorite. The rabbit guy suggested we rebreed Gloria soon so we plan to attempt to rebreed her again and will keep you updated when we do. We post on Wednesdays and Saturdays so stay tuned and thank you for following us. If you have any questions please post them in the comments.
Darrick and Kay
For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Ladies and gentlemen…it happened!
Our dream of a homestead has begun! We broke ground and planted all 10 apple trees!
We had set up a plan of how we wanted to set up the trees this winter, but once we got in the space realized it wasn’t going to work as well as we hoped. We had planned to place the trees to one side and have the berry orchard on the other in the same area, but when we measured found the space was a lot thinner than we had planned. So we improvised, measured out new spacing, and reorganized the layouts of the trees.
As we broke into the soil, having really no idea what type of soil we would be working with, and we were overjoyed to find we had between 5-9 inches deep of dark black loamy soil mixed in with some marbling of sand. It was PERFECT! We figured with so many years of this land being unused and untouched the grasses and organic materials had grown and mulched over and over forming a rich, deep black soil. We were overjoyed!
This plot had the most sand of any of the plots, several had almost no sand.
It was a lot of work, and late in the day to start our process, but we finished planting just before dark. We put close to 30 gallons (meaning filling milk jugs and various containers with water) on our trees by hand. We don’t have a well out at the farm yet and it’s 1/2 mile away from any water source. It was quite the work out but we plan on figuring out a better watering system soon.
We have a lot of deer on our land that would LOVE to eat fresh new apple trees. We didn’t have any tree wrap or fencing yet, but had seen a trick at a forestry museum where you staple paper over the branches to deter deer from nibbling. We tried that until we could get more permanent fencing. (Update: When we checked the next day it worked except one little branch where the paper fell off)
We planted 5 Honey crisp and 5 Sweet Sixteen. We have an orchard! Step one of starting our farm is complete!
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions
Spring has sprung! This week we did some spring cleaning and blew the pine needles and leaves off the grass hidden below. It’s amazing how green it turned when you take off a good inch of brown.
Our apple trees are planted and protected with 5ft fencing. We’ve been busy figuring out how best to lay the garden out.
So far we’ve laid out the asparagus patch, blueberry patch, strawberry rows, and raspberry rows. Speaking of raspberries, when we were on a walk to grab the mail we found a bunch of wild raspberries right in our front yard. Go figure, at least we all love raspberries!
Our apple trees are doing great, all ten are starting to get tiny leaves! We may not have any apple harvest for years, but we are so excited that they are all doing well.
We are experimenting with growing some of Darrick’s dads willows. We cut a few twigs from his willow plant and we can post an update on these as well if you are interested. Let us know in the comments!
Darrick and Kay
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
We bred our New Zealand white rabbits on September 23, 2018 with hopes that the end of October we would have some new baby bunnies.
We had no idea what we were doing, I was holding the rabbit book reading out loud to Darrick as he placed our doe in the bucks cage. The doe has been a feisty one. We had no idea a rabbit could be aggressive, lunging and biting even when we tried to put food and water in her cage so getting her out of the cage, into the bucks cage, was no easy task. A helpful hint: wear thick gloves when handling feisty rabbits.
The book said the doe should be submissive, raise her tail, and let the buck mount her. That wasn’t the case as she scratched at him, lunged, and ran in circles around him in the cage. We let the buck mount her 3 times like the book said and got her out. That night Darrick did the second breeding by himself as we had guests over.
During her pregnancy she really calmed down. She let us touch her, no longer lunging or biting, even coming to the cage door to greet us. This is a picture of a very pregnant Gloria just days away from having her kits.
On October 24th she got feisty again and started lunging, but she was also carrying straw around in her mouth. According to the book it sounds like she was getting ready to have her babies!
October 25th was a wet rainy day and Bee and I went outside to check on them and our doe had pulled out her hair into the nest and she was acting very friendly again. The hair in the nest was moving so I peeked under and there were 3 tiny babies squirming around. We are rabbit breeders!
Some things we learned in this process is…
*If a mom rabbit smells human on her babies, she may kill them. Don’t touch the kits.
*A mother rabbit builds a nest by pulling out her hair and hiding the babies in it. A female rabbit has extra skin and hair called a dewlap under her chin for nesting purposes.
* A mother rabbit leaves her babies alone all day and will only feed them in the dark of night 1-2 times a day. This is to avoid drawing attention to predators.
*Kits will start growing fur about day three, open their eyes at day 10, and jump out of the nest box at day 16.
We are so excited to begin this journey of raising baby rabbits. It’s just proof to us that we, a pair of city folks, CAN do this. It’s such a big accomplishment for us. We will keep you updated on the baby bunnies as they grow. Thank you for following us and if you have any rabbit questions post in the comments and we will do our best to answer.
Darrick and Kay
Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.
We’ve planted the garden, but getting our first Homestead animals has been the biggest step for us to having the life we dreamed of. We decided on rabbits over chickens as our first animals because they require less space (as we don’t have a barn yet) and we would be keeping them in the shed until a more permanent structure is built.
We researched, talked to breeders in our area, and spent weeks discussing the best breed for us and decided on New Zealand’s for their meat and fur. We found a reputable breeder close to us who uses his rabbits for meat and show. We also discovered we liked the breed champagne de’argent (grey) because their fur is incredibly soft. In the end we decided to get two white New Zealand’s and two champagne’s to start with, with the idea of adding black New Zealand’s at a later date. A big undertaking for us since the most we’ve owned is a dog or a cat and know nothing about rabbits.
We also had no clue how expensive getting rabbits would be either. The cage, nesting boxes, food, water bottles, hay, all the way to nail clippers. It all adds up. Plus, my wonderful husband built the permanent outdoor hutch and the cost for lumber, roofing, and siding adds into that as well, we will release a post on the hutch coming soon. The rabbits themselves are also pedigree rabbits so they were a pretty penny per bunny. Start up costs are not cheap so buy quality stuff that you know will last and be worth it.
We are planning on evening out the start up costs with the long term investment with the meat we will get from them, keeping the best breeding stock, and selling the kits as meat or show rabbits. We had looked into doing pelts, but found that process to be an undertaking we aren’t quite ready for yet.
We allowed Bee to name one rabbit as she will be our breeding doe “Gloria” and will be kept longer. We don’t plan on naming the rest but we will see. In the end, we all know that the rabbits are for meat so although we take care of them daily, we try to keep our attachments to a minimum and remind ourselves that they are animals we will use.
So far Bee has done really well with the idea, is open to talking about it to others, and understanding that they are not pets.
It is an adventure and we will learn a lot in this process as we shift from city folk to country folk. We will make mistakes, the google machine will be our best friend, but in the end- we know we have this and we will succeed.
Darrick and Kay
The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.