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We will be taking a FARM ROAD TRIP from BREWER to WEST GARDNER along I-95 around the 25-27th of March depending on what’s best for everyone.
Hatchery: We will have assorted chicks, various hatching eggs, chicken saddles and grain tote bags
Rabbitry: Flemish Giant and Silver Fox stud service, 10 minutes in bunny heaven for $20.
Dairy: Goat soap bars, possibly goat kids; we have a doe due any day and her udder filled last night!
Garden: Seedling starter kits, possibly seedlings
If you’re interested in meeting us at off-ramps along the way please let us know which day is best so we can nail down a good date. Call or text Mandy 745-8821 or email us at WheatonMountainFarm@iCloud.com to set up a waypoint.
There will be a strict 10-minute window for each customer. Be there early, we will NOT wait. This way we can be on time for each stop along the way. We will update our location and specific ETA as we travel. Thanks everyone for the outpouring of support for our little farm.
WE HAVE BEEN FORCED TO CHANGE OUR NAME DUE TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY MIDDLE-EARTH ENTERPRISES. WE ARE NOW “WHEATON MOUNTAIN” FORMALLY KNOWN AS “HOBBIT HILL”.
Homestead Update written on 3/13/19
We have also changed the names of our separately managed Facebook pages as follows:
Wheaton Mountain Dairy Goats
Wheaton Mountain Hatchery
Wheaton Mountain Rabbitry
Wheaton Mountain Homestead
These Facebook pages are kept separate to make it easier for people to find our goats, rabbits, poultry, and homestead education. We may be forced to delete some of or merge these pages in the coming weeks. Thank you for your ongoing support while we wade through this ridiculous mess. The name change was the last straw for me—I hope anyway. This past month has been one long thread of bad luck in the fabric of homestead life including more personal struggles.
We were renting out a house until some buyers could finance it. It’s a ridiculously big house for this area of Maine complete with an indoor pool and Great Room large enough to tie a 15-foot rope on to set up a swing for our kids. We bought after it had been vacant for years and fixed it up while we lived there. As time passed we decided to move to a smaller house on the abutting property which had more potential for starting a farm.
The buyers put off the down payment for months for what seemed like reasonable and valid excuses at first, eventually we kept asking and got less than believable responses. Last week they suddenly left leaving the house trashed, unheated and vacant again mid-winter.
There was a surge in interest for our rabbits as word got around I was downsizing. I sold two young does, three breeding aged bucks, a mother and her litter of seven, and two senior rabbits in order to scale back on the rabbitry. Just like that, I have a waitlist for Flemish Giant kits again after having not sold even one at the weaned age of 8-weeks-old in the last three litters. All recent sales had been for rabbits weeks—if not months—past the weaned age.
After rabbit kits are ready to leave their mother they need space of their own. First I separate the bucks and does into big two cages. After only a couple weeks they will all need their own cage aside from sister pairs which are housed together. Each separate rabbit then has a feeder and water dish to fill, a litter pan to clean and so on. The amount of time, resources and space quickly cuts into the already slim profit margin.
Coffee, Sugar and Foxy Lady are our remaining does. Garfield (seen above), Gofer and Sylvester are the remaining bucks.There is also one young pair of Californians months from breeding age. We will reassess our rabbitry plans after the spring rush. There are two litters due in the next week, one pregnancy didn’t take.
Hobbit Hill Dairy Goats
Somehow my sweetheart and ever-wider Nubian doe, Apple, is still holding out. We picked up two bred does from Cushing, Maine a couple weeks ago and they are getting along great with our herd. We have four total does due this spring, plus a young doe names Klassy who won’t be ready to breed until next year.
This will be Easy Girl’s (seen here in the farm-her selfie) first freshening and she’s a major pain-in-the-ass, nosy, and willful goat. I love her, but sometimes. I check all their udders and tail ligaments as signs of impending kidding doom while they devour their evening grain rations.
Without fail, Easy always leaps over my arm when I touch her teats with just her back legs. Her head never leaves the grain feeder. She’s the one who jumps on me to knock over the grain bucket while the others race to the corner feeder ahead of me. I’m not looking forward to milking her.
Hobbit Hill Hatchery
Due to overwhelming demand for our deep, dark, decadent maran eggs I had to close egg orders this week to focus on chick orders. I have yet to fill 23 French Black Copper Maran hatching egg orders! I’m selling four used incubators after having purchased a 264-egg cabinet incubator.
We are still taking egg orders for our Olive Egger and Easter Eggers, as well as some assortments. Day-old chicks will be available every other week through June. I plan to hold open farm hours every other Saturday from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.
Coming up . . .
I’m learning to make soap with my new friend Gwen. Her and her husband Jason came to see our rabbitry a while back to purchase rabbit meat for their family. All of the soap is made from goat’s milk, hog tallow, and Douglass fir tips. The only purchased product is granulated lye. After we get our soap recipes perfected I will start processing lye from our stove ashes. Our soap will be available at the next open farm day Saturday Feb. 23rd. I will begin offering it on our website soon.
Rabbit hides are stacking up. We’ve sold some meat rabbits and have three stretched hides dry and ready for the next steps. A gift shop down in mid-coastal Maine has asked for rabbit fur gifts for tourists. I’m brainstorming for small, useful things that won’t take me forever to create.
Erin, my long-time friend from college, will be partnering with me on our great garden endeavors here atop Hobbit Hill. We will be doubling the already massive heirloom garden this year to include display beds for our summertime workshops. She will be keeping me on task and organized on top of keeping plants happy. I’m not sure which is more work!
In a couple week our Homestead will be offering chicken coops for sale built by my good friend Laurie’s husband, Lance Sherman. He is a custom carpenter and built Laurie an amazingly lavish coop after she’d purchased chick from me last year. We were fast friends and hope to make a splash with our functional and affordable coops built for Maine’s crazy climate. The first build is due to start next weekend.
Stay warm, the worst of winter is behind us… I hope!
When filling orders for chicks we place more than enough eggs in our incubators to fill each order. This leaves us with a few extra of each breed in each batch.
Our little budding hatchery focuses on colorful eggs and boasts the darkest Maran eggs in Maine with a handful of hens scoring a #7 on the Marans of America chart and a couple laying #8’s. Several pullets 6-8 months of age and on the cusp of laying from the same bloodline. See the comparison chart below or just find the Maine Poultry Connection page on Facebook and ask who has the darkest eggs in Maine.
Our blues are stunningly brilliant and we offer a wide spectrum of green shades from aqua to a a deep mossy green. We are currently working on a faint pink to rose pink line. We hatch on a bi-weekly basis and offer the following breeds:
French Black Copper Maran ($15 each)
Olive Egger ($8 each)
Easter Egger ($8 each)
Blue & Black Ameraucana ($12 each)
Why buy local chicks: Quantities at Hobbit Hill Hatchery are limited and we have no plans of growing to a commercial hatchery size. Each hen here has a name, is hand fed, there are no mean roosters and each coop is free range when weather allows on a rotational basis. The Marans are let loose one day, and the Easter Eggers the next and so on. They roam our 35 acre property including wild berries and a clover field for wild forage. Our flocks are manageably sized for tending and optimal care. Hens are allowed to go broody and raise their own little flocks freely as soon as the spring season has passed.
If you are interested in adding brilliant colors to your flock, consider getting on the “Leftovers” list. We will let you know when we have extra chicks to choose from. Every other week clear through late June we will contact our interest list. There is no need for deposit or obligation to buy once you are contacted, we’ll simple let you know what we have when they come available.
We have a strict three chick minimum purchase as stated by law in Maine. We do not ship chicks—it’s just not nice. We care for our chicks and want them to have the best start, not stuffed in a box and tossed around just after the feat of escaping an egg.
Chicks at Hobbit Hill Hatchery are NOT vaccinated and are fed conventional feed. We are just starting our hatchery and can’t afford organic feeds or the time and cost of personally vaccinating each chick hatched. This is something we will look into after this season.
We are NPIP certified, member of the Marans Club of America, and the American Poultry Association.
We do not ship chicks, pick up in Bucksport, ME only
French Black Copper Maran Chicks $15 each
The famous “chocolate” colored egg layers are rated 6-7 on the Marans of America color chart here at Hobbit Hill Hatchery after five long years of selective breeding for color improvement. The little chicks are white bellied but will turn black as they feather out. Many of the hens have shimmering emerald and copper coloring, while others are a flat black.
Maran hens here on Hobbit Hill become broody in early spring and make excellent mothers. They have no fear and protect their little ones at all costs. Last year we had one that wanted nothing more than to sit on every egg in the henhouse. We had to lock her out!
Mandy will contact you when your order goes in our incubators.
Easter Egger Chicks $8 each
Our first generation “F1″Olive Eggers all have a French Black Copper Maran with a proven dark 6-7 color line for their rooster daddy. The mother hens are all Splash, Blue and Black Ameraucanas.
We also breed some “F2” Olive Eggers which are green egg laying hens “F1’s” fertilized again by a Maran. Much like the Easter Eggers, they vary in coloring from a drab Army green to a deep dark olive tone.
Mandy will contact you when your order goes in our incubators.
Ameraucana Chicks $12 each
We offer Black and Blue Ameraucana here on Hobbit Hill, but not pure Splash until we find a suitable Splash rooster. Chicks will either be Black or Blue due to a 50/50 split when crossing our Black Ameraucana with the Splash and Blue hens.
They all lay brilliant aqua blue to baby blue eggs. They are docile by nature and love to come when you call. Ameraucanas all sport fluffy muffs and beards, and have thick neck hackles.
We are pairing down on our rabbit population after some issues including a roof leak in their winter housing which requires removing the cages for repair. A stretch of poor sales, no-shows, and holds that fell through resulted in higher feed costs and overpopulation. The need for additional genetics means adding new rabbits in the next six months which we can do after kidding season and putting the garden in. The overall time spent caring for them (lots of separate food and water dishes) with hatching season underway has seriously cut into my schedule. We will be keeping only four rabbits for the meantime while we evaluate our overall business plan for our farm as a whole. We will keep offering meat rabbits from the litters produced from our remaining two unrelated pairs.
PICK UP ONLY, NO EXCEPTIONS
LOCATED IN NORTH BUCKSPORT
15 MIN SOUTH OF BANGOR, ME
CALL/TEXT MANDY 207-745-8821
BRED DOE *incredible mom* $100
“Coffee” 1.5 year old black FG doe, 4 litters of 16, 14, 12 and 9 kits
*Due in 3 weeks, no unrelated bucks on site
YOUNG FG DOE $50
“Sandy Cheeks” 5 months old, sandy doe
YOUNG FG BUCKS $35 each
4 bucks all 5 moths old, all black
FG PAIR $150
“Fiona” 2 year old sandy FG doe, 1 litter of 4 kits
*Bred to unrelated buck, due in 3 weeks
5 month old unrelated FG buck, black
CALI PAIR *****Sale Pending***** $80
“Sister Squeak” 1 year old doe, 2 litters of 5 and 9 kits
*Due in 4 weeks, sold unrelated sire
5 month old buck, 100% unrelated, never sired SUPER friendly
CALI DOE & HER KITS: $70
“Groucho Bubbles” 1 year old doe, 1 litter of 7 kits
Kits are 2.5 weeks old MUST go together
Being a seasoned bunny owner, I can forget to tell folks how to (and how not to) feed their rabbits. Here are some answers to common questions we get about rabbit diet, nutrition, and affordable feed choices.
How much does a rabbit eat?
First of all, what temperature will it be where they are housed? If it’s cold they will need more food to stay warm. The breed, size and age of your rabbit will change the amount of feed they need as well. Lactating does are ravenous—while juvenile dwarf and mini breeds could eat out of a thimble. For pet owners, give your rabbits free choice of hay at all times and feed them pellets in a dish. To figure out the amount they usually eat simply use a measuring cup to scoop out the feed. If they eat 1/4 of a cup in a sitting they will need more, so try 1/3 cup for the next feeding. Feedings in this fashion are done twice daily. Alternatively, it can be weighed for more a precise comparison.
In the winter months I give all of my rabbits free choice of hay and feed at all times unless they are feed dumpers or diggers. Then they will be fed in a dish for a single sitting but knowingly a bit more than they can finish. I also spread hay in their cages for a soft, insulated place to lay.
How much does it cost to feed a rabbit?
Feed costs can be greatly reduced by purchasing in bulk and understanding that they only need a bale of hay from a local farm which is about $4.00 in Maine for second cut hay which tends to have more vitamins and minerals, finer blades. First cut hay is fine, that goes for about $3.50 a bail and has thicker stalks which are great for teeth (covered in more detail below). Always ask about the grasses in the hay. If you don’t get a clear answer, look elsewhere. A 50-pound bag of pellets from Blue Seal Hutch 16 from Blue Seal costs about $13.00).
What type of feed pellets should I give my rabbit?
For one rabbit a 50-pound bag will last for months. Don’t be fooled by the tiny package of timothy hay and fancy looking package of bunny kibble—that’s consumerism at it’s best. Don’t do it! Hutch 18 has 18% protein which I only use for my meat rabbits and in the winter for my breeders. My meat rabbit grow-outs who I know are headed for the table are fed 1/2 Hutch 18 and 1/2 All-Stock/Sweet Feed mixed. They grow faster, have a sweeter less “gamey” taste (thats change if fed wild plants as described below, which we avoid in short-lived grow-outs) and it helps keep them warm once weaned from mommy and separated by sex at 8 weeks. In short, the feed type depends on the rabbit’s age, intended use and environment. Sweet feed is not as good for rabbit’s long-term health. Too much of something sweet can cause bloat; so mix it thoroughly.
Does the brand of rabbit feed matter?
I personally like the Blue Seal brand, mostly because I don’t frequent Tractor Supply for many reasons; poor selection, items are often out of stock, prices are usually a little higher, and customer service just plain sucks. Once I went in and asked for a cart because there were none in the entry and I had eight bags of feed to load. The cashier looked at me and told me it’s stocking day, all the employees are busy using them. She said it so mater-of-a-fact and simply walked off. I was flabbergasted. I waled around until I saw an employee almost done with their cart. I took the rest of the stuff out and took it. He watched me without comment. Any-who, enough of my personal grudge—the lessen here is that every dollar you spend is a vote support and create demand for the product or service you purchased.
Am I feeding my rabbit too many treats?
Rabbits can be given limited treats along with free choice of hay and pellets. Lettuce, carrots, celery, apples… you get the idea. To save money and promote your own health, plan your meals to produce kitchen scraps which will be used to feed your rabbits. Carrot tops, celery ends, broccoli stumps, and thick kale stems are byproducts of healthy human food. Just remember, it’s a lot like a kid with a cupcake—they will always choose treats over their healthy regular food. Always feed treats in moderation—and never through the cage bars, that will promote finger nibbling.
Did I give my rabbit something that made him sick?
If you notice loose stool or their little bunny pebbles sticking together in clumps, remove treats from their diet for a few days. If the loose stool is more than clumped and very soft, remove all food but their hay. If this continues the following day, it’s time to call a vet or a local breeder for advice. Not all vets take rabbits into their practice in my experience due to their unique physiology. It’s best to call around and find a good vet for your rabbit prior to having a health concern and put them into your phone contacts to have on-hand for emergencies. Remember, it’s okay to ask questions over the phone to see if it’s necessary to come in or they may recommend a treatment you can administer yourself to save time—and usually lots of money too.
Do rabbits need vitamin supplements?
All rabbits need trace minerals not found in abundance or at all in feed or hay. Little wheels are at all major pet and livestock feed stores and they can be tied to the cage with a piece of wire.
How can I get my rabbit to stop chewing my furniture?
Rabbits need to chew to keep their constantly growing teeth worn down to a healthy size rabbits require lots of chewing. Stains, paints and wood types found in your home may be tempting to nibble on and could make your rabbit very sick. The best method is to offer a constant flow of in-cage approved chews for when you are away for your fuzzy one to gnaw on.
What type of wood chew toys should I get for my rabbit?
This can be simply, and affordably, achieved by adding branches, twigs, course dry leaves, and by the daily chewing of their hard pelleted feed and hay. What you chose for hay type (mentioned above) depends on the availability of branches and thick, dry leaf litter for chewing. More course, thicker hay types offer more tooth-wearing ability. Alternatively, higher vitamins in some hays are better if you intended to use a commercial chew toy. For that, you can drop your money off at the local pet or feed store for a dorky chew toy—and pay more for the hay. Choice is yours folks. I like to keep my money.
Can my rabbits eat wild plants?
Leaf matter should be from obviously edible species. Cattails, goldenrod, clovers and vetch are all very common in Maine and great supplements for you rabbit’s diet in moderation. The occasional addition of small branches to their enclosure provide fibers which are a natural part of their digestive system, offer added nutrition, and they enjoy the treat and activity of chewing. If you house train your rabbits, this is a great way to train them not to chew your trim and furniture.
Common trees in Maine safe for rabbits to eat include: alder, fir, poplar, birch, beech (left), spruce (right), willow, ash, maple, hazelnut, apple and cherry. Your rabbits can eat the leaves, bark, twigs and branches of these trees. A section that is the same size as your finger with fresh bark poked through the wire is great: it stays more stationary for natural chewing instincts (another reason why the leg of you kitchen chair is SOOOO appealing), has natural tannins to promote health and it thick enough to really go-to-town on.
Happy new year from Hobbit Hill. This year kicks off our sixth year breeding our French Black Copper Marans. These beautiful layers of deep coppery-brown eggs are increasingly popular in recent years with the growing interest in backyard flocks which lay an assortment of colorful eggs.
To complement that basket of decadent chocolate tone eggs, we also offer green, aqua, pale blue, and robin’s egg blue. We are working on a top secret selective breeding for a lavender colored egg which we hope to offer by next year.
After opening hatching egg orders on the first of the year we booked into March for our Marans! Our Easter and Olive Eggers have shorter waitlists. Our first shipped eggs were received just yesterday safe and sound.
With a cold snap depending on Maine over this weekend driving temperatures below zero with bone-chilling wind gusts up here on the mountain, I find myself collecting eggs every hour. I paused all mailed orders and contacted pick-up orders who are next in line to keep the eggs moving. We will also be offering chicks, ducklings, goslings and Polish pullets as spring draws near.
Meat rabbits sold out the last two litters with another inquiry yesterday. We currently have five ready for the butcher block. We do not use a “hopper popper” to ensure the rabbits are never stressed or have any idea they are to be sacrificed for food. This makes for not only more tender meat, but for my peace of mind.
There have been some very nasty emails, messages and even threats surrounding our raising of these animals for food. I have been told we are eating pets. To this I reply, all of our animals are treated the same here. My cat is given the same care and respect as each animal raised with the intent of eating. Cows, pigs, and chickens make good pets too. They are housed comfortably, fed a free-choice diverse diet, treated with kindness, snuggled then slaughtered quick and painlessly.
This week we had two Californian litters born with 8 and 5 kits. Both are first time mothers. One doe seems like a shitty mom and the other is just great. I plan breeding to have kits born together so I can move them to the better mother or even out a big litter. Once we had a rabbit kindle 16 kits! After some grew thin I had to cull the runts to save the stronger, larger kits. It was a hard thing to do. From then on I planned breedings to prevent this from happening. With the cold snap this week I fear the fully-enclosed rabbit house will not be warm enough for the kits and plan to bring them all in the house today. My poor husband.
Speaking of animals in the house, we had an early arrival. One morning on my way out the muck out the stalls and change the bedding, I heard an infant. There were no cars around and I don’t know anyone who would visit with a newborn. My heart leapt as my brain connected the sound to a baby GOAT. We had not been expecting one for two months. I ran and stopped—the does would all go nuts if I went in without fresh hay as I do each time I enter. I turned back and grabbed a gracious armful. I ran with loose wisps of hay trailing behind me and chucked it onto the snow once I opened the gate. All the does but one came running.
I turned to the barn to see Candy still squatted over a membrane of squirming, crying muck that was all legs and hooves. I wasn’t sure if I should cry, laugh or panic. I did none, and quickly wiped the membrane off and stuffed the sticky critter in my coat. The dirty floor was no place for him.
Boy way my husband surprised when I came back to the house!I handed him over and went back to muck out the barn, lay new bedding and reunite the tiny buckling with his dam. Long-story-short, we bottle raised him and sold him at 10 days old.
Apparently his dam, Candy, who we purchased this past summer was bred a week prior to our purchase. We have had her and her sister, Apple, since August and bought them as our first milkers. They were both in their first freshening. They were quite thin, had poor coats and were shy. It took months for me to gain their trust—and to learn how to milk them. Now they come to their names, eagerly hop up for milking without restraint and stay until I say “free”. They are sweet as can be now and I can milk into a mason jar in a few minutes flat.
Just last week we picked up a six-month-old doe, Klassy, to add to our herd. She is a joy to have around and is full of energy. She enjoys joining me for morning rounds and is a great listener. Her coat is thick, she’s perfectly plump, and obviously well cared for.
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.
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.
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.
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 Doe
1.5 years old
Will be bred Dec. 1
New Buck Pending!
11 months old
Will be bred Dec. 1
11 months old
Will be bred Dec. 1
(seen above with Sister Squeak)
1.5 years old
Proven, quick to mount
3.5 years old
Too young for breeding program
SILVER FOX x FLEMISH GIANT CROSSES
Flemish Giant x Silver Fox Buck
3 months old
Still growing, too young for breeding
Silver Fox x Flemish Giant Doe
3 months old
Still growing, too young for breeding
White Flemish Giant Doe
9 months old, largest in her litter of 6
Due for her first litter in a couple days
Sandy Flemish Giant Doe
2 years old
Kindling 3 Cali-cross kits
Black Flemish Giant Doe
1.5 years old
Kindling 8 pure FG kits
Will be bred Dec. 1
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
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