No Cable Here, But “Chicken And Duck TV” Is On All Day

Chicken and Duck

One of the best things about living on a farm is being able to turn on the ever-entertaining and variety-filled “chicken and duck” (and rabbit) channel. You never know what you’re going to see!

This past winter, we spent a lot of time with the chickens and ducks lately after finishing up morning chores because that seemed to be when the hawks most commonly appeared. While it’s within the realm of possibility for a hawk to swoop down and grab a chicken and duck right in front of a farmer, the hawks like to hunt when people or other livestock guardians aren’t around. Why? Because they’re opportunists: they want an easy meal with low risk of injury to themselves. Unfortunately, a young, inattentive chicken fits the bill. Continue reading “No Cable Here, But “Chicken And Duck TV” Is On All Day”

Farm Project Update: Breeding Pens, Not So Much

Breeding Pens

We recently described how we had constructed a couple of tractor-style enclosures for the French Black Copper Marans and American Bresse breeding groups. While we’d like to tell you that they worked exactly as intended, that wouldn’t be reflective of reality…

We should all be able to agree that no one likes it when projects don’t work out as envisioned, especially ones that require a fair amount of toil. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what happens sometimes. We think it’s important to share “lessons learned” as well as successes so that others may benefit from the identification of our mistakes and process improvements (and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes). Continue reading “Farm Project Update: Breeding Pens, Not So Much”

Naughty Baby Lagomorphs: The Real Story

Silver Fox Rabbit Kit

The rabbit kits are 2 weeks old now, and their eyes are open. What does that mean? Trouble.

Once they realize they can get out of the nest box, they go pretty much everywhere in the kindling cage. And they constantly harass the does, trying to crawl under them for a meal. Sometimes the mothers look like they’ve just gone to their “happy place”, ignoring the squirmy, hyper kits.

There’s no denying that the kits are incredibly cute at this age. They have fur now, and they check the world out with their bright eyes…eyes full of mischief. They’re deceptively fast, too – they can evade capture like you wouldn’t believe. Once captured, though, you have to cuddle them a little – we like for ours to be used to handling from an early age. Continue reading “Naughty Baby Lagomorphs: The Real Story”

Farm Construction Project: Chicken Breeding Pens

Chicken Breeding Pens

Spring is in the air and it’s time to get those constructions projects completed. The weather is just right: not too cold and not too warm, conditions that likely won’t last long. We needed to get the American Bresse and Black Copper Marans pullets and cockerels into breeding pens, so we broke out the new table saw and starting creating a lot of sawdust.

We used our plans for rabbit tractors as our template, but as with the rabbit tractor iterations, we modified the plans slightly to better suit our goals. These pens are wider and longer than the rabbit tractors, though they share the same general design (plus, if the breeding pens don’t work out the way we intended, we can easily convert them into rabbit tractors). Another difference is that the breeding pens are open on the bottom so the chickens can scratch in the grass – the rabbit tractors are wired all around to prevent digging out. Continue reading “Farm Construction Project: Chicken Breeding Pens”

A New Litter of Rabbit Kits

American Chinchilla/New Zealand Cross Rabbit Kits

After a month of anticipation, both of our selected does kindled on Monday the 13th. Sometimes, kindling goes smoothly and both mother and babies are fine…other times, it doesn’t go so well. Happily, we only have good news to share.

Our American Chinchilla doe, Siobhán, kindled first. She had one litter previously, and half of the litter didn’t survive; naturally, we were concerned that it might happen again. Fortunately, she exhibited behaviors this time that showed that she was preparing for the births (like haystaching) and she pulled fur prior to kindling. She had seven healthy, vigorous kits, and they were nestled into a nice bed of fur…on the cage floor. Silly girl! Continue reading “A New Litter of Rabbit Kits”

Pastured Rabbits And Snow

Rabbit Tractors On Snow PastureIt snowed here a few days ago. It’s fun until the snow lingers, like it has, due to the cold. Walking on it packs it down, and the sporadic sunshine melts it a bit, so it becomes icy…which means it’s really slippery, and no one wants to involuntarily ice skate while holding a basket full of eggs. You might think that the rabbits need to come inside with temperatures below freezing and snow on the ground, but they actually do just fine in cold temperatures, if you take specific measures to ensure their comfort.

First, proper protection from the wind and rain is important. When we saw that snow and very cold temperatures were predicted, we “winterized” the rabbits’ houses. Continue reading “Pastured Rabbits And Snow”