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Winter blew in early this year with two major ice storms before December. A lice outbreak this fall created a super molt. Poultry lice is common in flocks kept near high populations of wild turkey––like ours is. That, in combination with the rapidly dropping temperatures and high winds up here on the mountain, dropped egg production to zip-zilch-zero for nearly a month.

Instead of shaming the freeloaders, I caved and switched from layer pellets to higher protein grower crumble mixed with 1/4 cracked corn and 1/4 scratch grain. This blend boosts feather growth, promotes weight maintenance and gain, and the slower to digest corn and whole grains keep their digestive furnaces burning through the whipping winds howling around their coops at night.

Our White Laced Buff Polish, and White Splash Ameraucana with their rooster Magic have been moved to their pre-breeding rooms in our remodeled utility truck boxes. There the six Polish and four Ameraucana are separated for 14-days from all other birds to insure the eggs will be purebred. They receive a layer crumble diet after having been on the feather grower/winter mix as I described above. It’s warmer and we installed two full length double paned glass doors as windows over the weekend for both warmth and light. Kitchen scraps are withheld and crushed egg shells are mixed in the feed. After their 14-day period comes to an end, they are let out into a new run on days it’s over freezing and not raining.

Our French Black copper Marans are also prepping for their breeding program. We butchered the last of the cockerels and suddenly, the very next day in fact, we found the first egg after almost two months on strike(see photo below). I win. The darkest is on the far right in the photo above, all four laid were laid by our spring hatches. Our spring hatchlings, as well as two pullets I purchased from a reputable show-stock breeder, and our 2-year olds have all been given the full health check-up. We also took in a 3-year-old from a local retiring flock.

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6 PURE FLEMISH GIANT KITS & 1 SILVER FOX x FG CROSS KIT ARE AVAILABLE NOW

email Mandy at CluckGobbleQuack@gmail.com for details

November 2018 Hobbit Hill Rabbitry Update: Our Flemish Giant doe, Coffee, is about to part with her litter of eight in the nursery pen. She will be moved while we raise the large cage off the floor to suit stacking of other cages to house her now weaned kits. Coffee had a litter of ten kits. Two were obvious runts. In her last litter she’d had six and they did great. We sold two, saved one which we named Sugar, and ate three.

The litter prior, which was her very first kindling, Coffee had a whopping 16 kits. All of them had died before I saw them. So with this in mind, and us being a farm here at the Hobbit Hill Rabbitry, I culled the two smaller kits and left eight for Coffee to raise. I’m sure it’s much easier on her to have one kit per nipple. If she has more than eight in her next litter I will let nature take it’s course.

Peter Lives On

This current litter which turns 8-weeks on December 1 was thrown by our sweet romancer, Peter; who would sometimes take hours to mount but always threw a good litter. Peter is seen in this photo looking equally exhausted and frustrated following an afternoon with a particularly uninterested doe.

Most unfortunately, he died within a day of the breeding. He was only two. We believe the goats spooked him when they learned they could jump up and knock the food out of his feeder. We have since changed the housing to prevent this from happening again.

He was our only FG buck at the time and it was pretty devastating. He had also bred our Silver Fox doe, Foxy Lady, and our FG doe, Mocha Fiona, in the weeks prior. Unfortunately, the breeding with Mocha Fiona didn’t take.

Foxy Lady has two of Peter’s kits after having lost two a few days in. It was her first kindle. At least she didn’t have 16! They are almost 3 months. The doe is available.

Where there were only two kits to support there was no competition for food or attention. They are very robust, large juvenile rabbits, corner potty trained, and handled often. I will keep the sandy colored SF x FG crossed buck to cross again for meat rabbits with one of our Californian does. He will be sold after a few successful litters.

Speaking of our Californians here at Casper, our Californian buck came to the Hobbit Hill Rabbitry by surprise within his pregnant mother. He is now reaching 3.5 months and will be bred with our sister Californian does, Groucho Bubble and Sister Squeak after they have had a successful litter with Michelle Michael our lazy senior Cali buck.

Michelle Michaels runs loose often while I fill feeders and top off waters. He is very quick to mount and roll off like an awkward stone statue… Or sometimes just cling there until the doe moves and he flops over looking quite stunned. He has been crucial to our meat rabbit breeding program here at Hobbit Hill Rabbitry and will retire to a pet home in the next year.

Co-Kindle FAIL

Groucho Bubble lost a litter of seven three days ago. It was my first attempt to co-kindle two does in the same cage. They’d never been apart. I had heard positive things, told it was “the way” and more natural to their social structure. WRONG. Or, maybe a fluke like a 16-kit first litter or a pregnant-on-arrival doe. Either way, I won’t be risking it again and all pregnant does will be separated from now on.

Sugar FREAKS Out

Our FG doe, Sugar, was bred with Michelle Michaels 28 days ago and no sign of nest-making. In my favorite photo of her below, she is only 6 weeks old. She will be moving to a new cage today after pitching a fit. As with all the rabbits, she takes turns being the “free bunny” of the day exploring their 8×14′ house. She’s handled all the time and is never jumpy. But I thought for sure she would break her own neck today!

I had the door open, which she is the closest rabbit to. There had been cardboard boxes from the failed kindle I’d covered their wire and made a nesting box with. They were damp from condensation so I tossed them out the door. I’m in there very often, three or more times a day and recently for longer periods with upgrades and full muck-outs when the weather throws us an above freezing day or two. Anyhow, I covered her eyes and held her down until her breathing settled.

She’d hit her head on the feeder and had a good sized bump. I pet her and talked a while. I finally let her go to walk just a few feet away to grab a few apple peels from the scrap bucket. When I came into her sight she went off like a rocket in all directions worse than the first time. I calmed her again and finished my chores moving very slowly. I spoke to her as I stepped past her to the door and slipped out. I stood for a moment to listen, then headed off to finish my rounds.

Hard Choices

We dispatched one Californian doe and a broken mini rex this week that we’d bought as part of a rabbitry buy-out lot. We couldn’t find a good home for her and aren’t a petting zoo. She was the only one I didn’t place in a pet home.

An extra hungry mouth becomes an exponential dent in the profit margin. If an animal is not a viable part of our breeding programs or isn’t grown directly for food. This holds especially true for wintertime.  If an animal detracts from our ability to sustain our Hobbit Hill Rabbitry it no longer has a place here and must respectfully and kindly be dispatched for food, fiber and compost––in that order.

It’s a hard job to make choices that will improve your stock and reduce stress when they come down to culling newly born and hatched animals here at Hobbit Hill Rabbitry. This was something I knew would have to happen, but the first few times were still difficult.

Upgrades to the Bunny Box

As we look forward to the winter months at projects, plans and needed improvements the Hobbit Hill Rabbitry “Bunny Box” is high on my list of housing upgrades. The rabbits have been moved into a utility box off an old electric company work truck. It’s enclosed fully to keep mice out and free-roaming rabbits in. The box is vented but the humidity is still too high. This will need some tweaking. The rabbits are all in long wire cages raised off the white laminate shelving by 23″ long 4×4″ blocks.

Aluminum disposable turkey pans are slid under each cage in the corner they use for pooping. This is dumped into buckets with lids and once full is dumped into a plastic grain bag to be used as banking around the Bunny Box. Come spring, it will be used as compost.

Over this weekend new, much larger cages will be added to make our bigger bunnies more comfortable. Active kindling does are not given hop-around time on the floor until their kits are a few weeks old. I’d like the pregnant does to have more room to sprawl out and do their nesting thing.

Meet the Rabbits… SILVER FOX Foxy Lady

Silver Fox Doe

1.5 years old

Will be bred Dec. 1

New Buck Pending!  CALIFORNIANS Groucho Bubble

Californian Doe

11 months old

Will be bred Dec. 1

Sister Squeak

Californian Doe

11 months old

Will be bred Dec. 1

Michelle Michaels (seen above with Sister Squeak)

Californian Buck

1.5 years old

Proven, quick to mount

Casper

Californian Buck

3.5 years old

Too young for breeding program

SILVER FOX x FLEMISH GIANT CROSSES Gofer

Flemish Giant x Silver Fox Buck

3 months old

Still growing, too young for breeding

Velvet

Silver Fox x Flemish Giant Doe

3 months old

Still growing, too young for breeding

FLEMISH GIANTS Sugar

White Flemish Giant Doe

9 months old, largest in her litter of 6

Due for her first litter in a couple days

Mocha Fiona

Sandy Flemish Giant Doe

2 years old

Kindling 3 Cali-cross kits

Coffee

Black Flemish Giant Doe

1.5 years old

Kindling 8 pure FG kits

Will be bred Dec. 1

Garfield

Fawn Flemish Giant kit

7.5 weeks, leaving nursery Dec. 1

Coffee x Peter’s litter

Will sex and place with other kits of same sex Dec. 1

Cinder

Steel Flemish Giant kit

7.5 weeks, leaving nursery Dec. 1

Coffee x Peter’s litter

Will sex and place with other kits of same sex Dec. 1


The post Hobbit Hill Rabbitry: November 2018 Update appeared first on Hobbit Hill Homestead .

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This month we sold out of all chicks, pullets, all but one 8-week-old and older rabbit kit and most garden produce. We have added dairy produce to our available produce, see below. 

Produce:

Heirloom tomatoes, wild coral mushrooms, blackberries, goat dairy products (see below) and other garden goodies in limited amounts.

Our current breeds and availability:

(All chicks will be available again starting in March.)

Chickens

Waterfowl

  • Jumbo Pekin Duck, we expect eggs next month.
  • American Buff Geese, eggs will be available in Spring.
  • Australian Spotted Bantam Ducks, flock of 11 ducks for sale. See below for details.

Nubian Goats

This is our first year with goats. We may or may not have any available in the spring. And it will likely only be bucks we will be willing to part with. 

Rabbits

  • Flemish Giants, one purebred breeding pending kindle, another doe up for breeding this week, still deciding on buck choice.
  • Silver Fox, one cross with FG pending kindle.
  • Californian, one doe with 3-week-old kit.
  • Two rabbits ready for new homes, see below for details.
Available poultry:

Our flock of 11 Australian Spotted Bantam Ducks is up for sale. 2, 2-year old hens who brooded their own ducklings this spring. One 6-month-old hen. There are at least a couple more more hens, the rest are drakes. Reply for pricing. Two already sold this week.

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Our little homestead wedding was a simple and happy day. It’s officially been a year since we first set foot on this bountiful, private and peaceful little mountain we now call home. Our relationship had some serious bumps along the road leading to a break-up and a make-up. Of course, the story is much more complicated—but for simplicity’s sake let’s go with that.

Not long after the make-up, I asked Kevin to marry me. One might say he was taken aback, but quick to accept my offer. So were his parents when we told them it would be in six weeks. In the depth of mud season here in Maine we tromped up the dirt road to the pond. This was before the ducks and geese had moved there. Kevin bush hogged it only days before, along with the fields that would become the garden a month later and the goat barn and runs a few months later.

Nicole and Greg are our new neighbor’s here which we’d met only months before. That is just how fortunate and perfect this little home of ours here is. I’m not sure what was being discussed in the photo below, but I’m pretty sure it’s along the lines of Greg telling Kevin “You’re in for it now buddy.” And Kevin retaliating with “What was I supposed to say? No?”. Another neighbor found himself in the procession somehow and gazed with mild interest at the freshly cleared land.

In the foreground, Nicole and Greg’s kids on the right were holding the goats—would you expect any less at a homestead wedding? My kids held the other two on the left. Luckily the little Nubians were only a couple of weeks old and not very heavy yet. My sister, Marcy finally had her chance to be my flower girl and lead the center of the goat bearer pack. Because, who says a flower girl can’t be of legal drinking age? Little Fireball munched on Sierra’s green hair—to be fair, it does look like grass.

Now, I can’t recall what was discussed in this photo below, but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of Nicole saying “Pfft, you’ve got him now!” and me saying “I know, he-he-he!” with looks of great satisfaction.

Our goat kid bearers stood just beyond the best man, Greg, and even better best lady Nicole on either side of us. Kevin’s sister did the deed, she had us read our very serious and traditional vows while looking sweetly into each others gaze. We had written the vows together that very morning—a homestead wedding can be done on the fly. 

Our Homestead Wedding Vows

I will be open and honest with you, even though it might take me until midnight to find the right words.

I promise to not be upset when you wake me up at midnight, to listen openly, and never go to bed stressed out.

Kevin: I promise not to kill your kids even when they’re being annoying—the goat kids of course.

Mandy: I promise not to smother your itchy Chihuahua at 2AM, as long as she sleeps on your side of the bed.

Mandy: I vow to use a square and level when I build from this day forward.

Kevin: I promise to try to help on the rare occasions when you let me.

Kevin: I vow not to get too upset when you run into something with my pick-up truck.

Mandy: I vow not to blow your speakers with my terrible choices in music—although Sierra might.

Mandy: When you’re sick, I’ll make you chicken soup and dote upon you sweetly.

Kevin: When you’re sick, I’ll buy you chicken soup—to eat while you binge-watch NetFlix.

Mandy: When there is nothing left to wear, I’ll give in and tell James to wash the laundry.

Kevin: When we are out of clothes to wear, I’ll call in and we can binge watch NetFlix together all day.

Kevin: I’ll bring you on dates to keep the fire in our marriage strong and to have fun together.

Mandy: I’ll dress up for you my sexy red suspenders and muck boots for those precious moments at junkyards, deserted chicken barns, and yard sales.

Kevin: I promise to let you sit on my lap on the tractor.

Mandy: I promise to kick you off it and revel in laughter.

Kevin: I vow to support you in your endeavors, dreams and projects.

Mandy: I promise to video all of your risky antics and post them to Facebook, because sharing is caring.

Angela:

Do you both promise to have fun when things get rough, laugh in the face of setbacks, and work together each day from here on out?

Together: we do!

Angela: Do you both promise to love each other, be faithful and true?

Together: we do!

Angela: Do you promise to be best friends through it all?

Mandy, Kevin: I do — I do

Mandy: I promise to never shut you out and come to you first when I hit bottom.

Kevin: When your face of steel occasionally leaks, I’ll be your shoulder to leak on.

Kevin: With this ring, I promise to always be there for you.

Mandy: With this ring, I promise not to be too stubborn and always love you.

Angela: With the power vested in me by the State of Maine, I hereby pronounce you best friends for life.

And just like that, I tittered with laughter while Kevin mostly unsuspectingly stood there by my side. The poor fella didn’t envision a heard of six dairy goats in a few months, or the two trips to the doctor’s for farm injuries—a railroad spike to the foot for me putting me on crutches and hobbling for a couple weeks, and a corner of metal roofing to the forehead requiring eight stitches for him. In a month he’d be pounding in fence posts while I sewed hundreds of heirloom vegetable seeds.

          

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