Monday, January 4, 2010

Our first homestead livestock


Ok so I'll admit it's a pretty small step towards homesteading. At least it is a step. Sunday we drove out to pick up Angora Rabbits for our homestead. It was quite a time.

We arranged to meet at one thirty at the breeders home in Polk City. It's about a half hour drive straight down the highway then another ten minutes slowly navigating the unpaved backroad to her house.
Mary was outside waving us in when we pulled up the drive. She runs a dog rescue in addition to breeding rabbits and her back (well, really front) yard dozen or so chickens and was outside walking one of the dogs when we arrived.

We walked around outside looking at her bunnies. She initially had a REW Angora buck born in May and this guy -a French/English Angora mix- for sale. The REW had started sniffling that morning so she pulled him from sale. I was a little disappointed but it was good to know she wasn't going to pawn off a sick bun on us. That left us the huge cotton ball of a rabbit above.

His little nose was twitching constantly while I held him and cooed to him while we talked about care and feeding and such. I met his dam and sire a few cages down from him. They seemed nice and came to the wire of the cage to sniff us a hello. He gets his black ears and nose from mom.

He's a lot bigger than he looks in the photo but not hefty. The three or so inches of thick wool make him look like an oversized snowball with a face. He's luxuriously plush and was relatively calm through our handlings. He got skittish a few times but settled down quickly. Mary went over his care and showed me how to clip his nails. We packed him up in a cat carrier we had picked up from TSC just a few hours before. We were as nervous as first time parents bringing home a babe. Constantly checking on him during the ride. I looked over my Storey's Guide for Rabbits on the way back nervous I was missing something vital. Or maybe hoping I'd find a quick blurb that would tell me it would work out fine.

He settled into his new 30x30 cage quickly. It was a bit larger than he had before. We had bought a wooden plateau house thing for him to get into incase he got scared. At the store Rob thought I'd be plenty big but we quickly realized the fluffy guy couldn't get into it. It's now on it's side like a cubby but he doesn't seem to mind. Rob spent the better part of an hour fashioning a free feed manger for Timothy hay that attaches to the outside of the pen.*

The kids were excited and I'm pleased to report they were fairly calm and understanding about the bun needing quiet and his own time. They are bugging me regularly to go "check" on him but that's ok. I want them excited and happy about the animals we bring to our  home. They're family even if they're live stock. Someday I hope this bun can sire us some kits that have his wonderous wool.

We had a bit of a freak out when we put the bun in his cage and realized he was eating some stray old oak leaves that had blown into the mesh wire cage. The search results for "Rabbit oak toxic" came back with some alarming results. I ran to my homesteadingtoday.com forum friends and got feedback that he'd be okay. My first afternoon and I thought I'd killed the bunny. This whole livestock thing is going to be an experience. I think I'm up for it even if it can be scary.

After two more before bed checks in the freezing for Florida weather and another early morning pop out to check the bun, he's doing alright. There was a baby possom on the porch when Rob went out for that last check but he was shoo'd away easily and the bunny blanket cover over the cage was secured with a variety of items. A stroller, 2 paving stones, my bucket of gardening supplies and a cooler. He's an outside bunny so vigilance against predators is necessary. He's still skittish, getting used to his new home. I hope soon he'll warm up to us a bit. This morning I treated bunny (man, we really need to get him a name) to a single basil leaf. He nibbled it quickly from my outstreched hand. I hope he realizes we're not crappy people to take him from his bunny friends. Though he was in a cage alone he was surrounded by other buns with just wire separating him. We might need to get him a friend or two soon.

*I'll take photos and see if Rob can tell me how he made it. It's fashioned out of hardware cloth and some sort of tape. It's really quite the thing.

1 comment:

sproutingflowers said...

He's gorgeous! Congrats on your first livestock! We frequently had outdoor bunnies when I was growing up -- in Arizona, Nebraska, and Florida. We always had them in a raised hutch. They did fine in winter (even snow) as long as they had hay to burrow in. In summer we used to freeze 1 gallon milk jugs full of water (no lid) so they could keep cool. We only lost one to a predator -- a snake -- oh, actually I think that was a guinea pig that lived with the bunnies. Don't worry, your new little guy will be just fine!

Christephi