Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Looong Overdue Rabbit Report

Hello Folks, The Youngun here! It's been a long time since we've last spoken. Every weekend has seemed busier than the last, but now that I'm on Thanksgiving Break I have some much needed free time to give a bunny update. So much has happened...
First, I have a brand-spanking new rabbit barn!
Out with the old...

In with the new!!
The bunnies were moved into this new barn this past weekend and I LOVE it....
I really like the front border/trim on the door...
 This cute little loft for my tool box, extra hay, or anything else I need to get out of the way, is amazing!
There is plenty of room for all of my bunnies, and they all are enjoying the new barn.
 I'm sure you all remember Miss Tauriel, my Rex doe. Unfortunately, we had to put her down recently for several different reasons. The poor baby had VERY sore hocks that would bleed often even with straw covering almost her entire cage. She was saggy and unhappy, and she would only leave her nest box to eat and drink, which wasn't much. Her fur was patchy and unhealthy looking, and looking into her eyes, I felt sorry for her, because I could see the pain in her eyes. I didn't want to breed the poor thing while she was in such unfortunate condition, and with zero improvements, actually a worsening in health, after a couple of months, I had her put down to keep her from suffering. She was a decent rabbit and gave me three litters, which I thank her for, along with her gorgeous and heart-capturing legacy...
Do you remember this guy?? 
(FYI: It just made my heart ache with joy when I found those pictures...)
 A member of Tauriel's second litter, he was the first gold-tipped steel I had ever seen in my life. I thought he was just gorgeous, and my mom let me keep him. And I am SOOOO glad I did...

Titan is my GORGEOUS baby, who loves me just as much as I love him. He comes to me every time I open his cage for kisses and loves to be petted and stroked and held. He is a big boy, bigger than his daddy Spartan... (I will include some comparison pictures here)
(Spartan, Titan, Spartan, Titan)
 ...with pretty nice type. He has certainly matured well and he will always be my favorite. He has fathered two litters so far and I hope he will father lots more before he receives an already well-earned comfortable and lavished retirement. 


I bred him back to Tauriel before her health began declining and he recently bred Elvy.

Some pics of Elvy's kits... The last picture is the buck cage, since they've been weaned. As you can tell from the second and third picture, we have an oddball in Elvy's doe kits... I am very intrigued by this young doe's coloring!
Eden also has kits... Five of them...

These little suckers weighed half a pound or MORE at a week and three days... I am very impressed by Eden's ample milk supply and how well she takes care of her kits.

Now, if you have been keeping up with my herd, you'll know that both of my bucks are now related, and in order for nothing freaky or unhealthy to show up, I wanted some does from different lineage. For example, if I were to keep a replacement doe for Tauriel out of Spartan, she would have to be bred back to either her brother or her father, and if I kept one out of Titan, then she would have to be bred either to her father or grandfather. That isn't necessarily unacceptable, however, I would rather be able to breed whoever to whoever I want without having to pause and think, are they related, and if so, how? And if they are brother and sister, will the kits be healthy?? Nobody wants that stress, so I consulted the wonderful world of the Internet, and began my search for a new doe. I saw one doe I liked several times, and she didn't appear to be selling, but I wasn't expecting to get another doe until springtime, and I still wasn't quite sure what I was wanting into my herd. After seeing this doe about four or five times, I asked my mom about her, and it turned out she belonged to a coworker of hers. My mom told them I was interested, and when my parents got home the next night, there were two rabbits in dog crates in their car. One was a tricolored dilute doe that looked like this....
And the other was a very interestingly patterned black and white broken doe, that looked like this... 

They lived on the back porch for a few days, partly as a quarantine, and also so that we could finish the new rabbit barn. The does didn't look sick in the slightest, however I have a very healthy herd so I didn't want to take any chances whatsoever.
The tri-colored doe settled in very nicely. I named her SaraBeth, and within a few hours she was hopping around her cage animatedly, grooming herself, eating hay, and using the bathroom in a regular manner. I was told she was wild and not very nice, however she is the SWEETEST doe I have ever met, very curious and interested in everything I do in her cage, excited to be petted and held, and just very positive mannered in general. She would eat out of my hand very shortly after being moved to the back porch, and was very curious about anything I held in my hand or reached for in her cage, but not pushy at all. In short, I fell in love upon meeting this doe.  
The other doe, however, didn't settle in as gracefully as SaraBeth. She received the name Lacey, and although she seemed healthy, she sat in her cage lethargically, seemed sluggish, and didn't eat, drink, or use the restroom hardly any the entire three days she was on the back porch. By, hardly any, I mean there was no poop that I could see, unless she had been eating it, and she didn't touch her pellets to my knowledge, just nibbled some hay, and didn't drink much, if any, water. As the beginner rabbit raiser that I am, my research immediately led GI stasis to my attention. Out of worry and the, lets say, not so good outlook on rabbits that get it, I started giving Lacey mint, greens, and parsley in small amounts about three times a day. This didn't help her bathroom problems or her pellet eating, but at least she was getting moisture from that green food. By Sunday, we were ready to move rabbits and I was a bit more relaxed, because somehow I knew once we got Lacey out with the other rabbits and she could observe them eating, drinking, hopping, etc, she would want to do the same. After the barn was finished, I moved them to two brand new cages out in the new barn with the other rabbits. SaraBeth settled in at an almost alarming rate, drinking plenty, eating lots of pellets, ANNIHILATING any hay I put in her cage, and pooping very regularly. Lacey caught up slowly, but FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY, after what felt like an eternity, but was only like two days, I started to see small indentations in her pellets when I went to check, and slightly misshapen, but present, poop on the ground. And then as of this morning, she has completely settled in. She is eating plenty of pellets, enjoying human contact better, pooping normally and finally drinking out of her crock! I was ecstatic.  

Perhaps I freaked out a little too much... Okay... I was crazy... But rabbits are kind of confusing sometimes, and you don't always know why the crap they do things that they do... And sometimes research can lead you to think the worst. I'm sure all of you rabbit people out there can relate, am I right?? ;)
Both does had a tiny touch of ear mites, so we gave them a shot of Ivomec, and kept them out of contact with the other rabbits, as I've heard it is very contagious. Now their ears are soft and pink again, no yucky crusties!
 The previous owner said that SaraBeth ate her babies, however I know of several ways to prevent that, and if any of you other rabbit folks out there have any input on those unfortunate incidents, your advice would be greatly appreciated! :) I was also told that Lacey wouldn't take when breeding, so she had never kindled even after being bred to two separate bucks... So again, any information or advice on getting does to take would be appreciated!
Phew! Sorry for such a long post! I'm sure you lovelies don't have much time to sit around reading my book! But anyways, have an amazing Thanksgiving and I'll try not to wait so long before posting again!   

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Winding Down the Canning Season.....

I really never stop canning.  I make soups and stews and can dried beans all year round, but the busy canning season is in the summer and it is winding down.

I canned the last of the butternut squash two weekends ago and that rounded out a very bountiful harvest! 

 God has blessed us with such a wonderful garden this year and I have no words to express my thanks.  Pretty much every weekend for the last 6 weeks or so has been devoted to canning all of that largesse!

This is the breakdown of this years bounty.....

  • 53 pints salsa  (Most of these tomatoes were bought from our Amish neighbors - 24 lbs for $8)
  • 5 pints pizza sauce
  • 31 pints sweet corn
  • 19 quarts lime pickles
  • 19 quarts dill spears
  • 2 pints dill spears
  • 29 quarts butternut squash
  • 2 quarts mixed corn and squash
  • 15 quarts tomatoes
  • 7 pints sweet relish
  • 7 pints bread and butter pickles
  • 12 pints zesty bread and butter pickles
  • 6 pints mulberry jam
  • 9 pints summer squash
  • 4 pints pickled beets
  • 22 pints green beans
  • 57 lbs of red potatoes
Next year we plan to plant a lot more summer squash and only one hill of cucumbers and one hill of butternut squash.  We should have plenty of pickles and butternut squash left over.  If not then we'll revise the plan.  

The garden has been tilled in preparation for the fall crops of kale, turnips, beets (for greens), green onions, and mustard greens.  I've found that beet greens are just about my favorite type of green, so I can't wait for those to come up!

These fellers were oh so happy to get the canning leavings and I'm oh so glad to share with them, as it makes for such delicious pork!  They are getting all the leftovers from canning as well as lots of surplus eggs and milk and as you can see it they are doing well!

In front here is the big gilt, or Peggy Sue as we call her.  She is a BEAUTIFUL hog and I would keep her for breeding, but she'll serve us much better in the freezer.

The little red spotted gilt is Rita Rose.  I actually bought her to use as a breeding sow, but she isn't maturing near as nice as I'd like to see her, so she will go into the freezer as well.  The barrow is in the middle.  He's not as nice as Peggy Sue either, but will make delicious meat nonetheless!

So that's whats going on around here.  Things are good, summer is quickly fading into fall and we are so happy and blessed!

Till next time,

God Bless,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Re-evaluating Goat Kids - What a Difference a Couple Months Makes......

So as we may remember, when little Merida was born, I was totally smitten.  She was such a darling little spotted thing and such a sweet little lover.  And then Erika came and she was so beautiful!  As they began to grow, I decided I couldn't bear to let Erika go and worked things out with Jen to just pay her for Erika and that way with giving her Fancy and the money we'd be squared away.

Now as any good animal raiser will tell you, you mustn't make your final judgements too early.  

As Erika and Merida have grown, some things have become very obvious....

My little Merida, while still with her lovely moon spots....

Is a puke.....

Yes, that's what I said......a PUKE!  Her conformation is HORRID.  

But Erika on the other hand......

Erika is just gorgeous.  She is so beautiful and graceful.

I'm so very happy with how she is developing.

Here is a picture of Erika and Merida standing together...

It's not the best, but Erika is taller, wider, more level on the topline and has a prettier head.  The vet botched Merida's disbudding, so she's got scurs, but even without that, Erika is so much nicer of a doe in all ways.  Most importantly, Erika is a much more loving doe.  Merida really doesn't care to be messed with.  She isn't afraid at all, but she isn't into affection.  Erika on the other hand is a great deal like Tulip, but not near as bossy.  She will stand in ecstasy to have her butt scratched, and loves to be loved on.

Here is a picture of everybody but Tulip.  Star at the far left, Erika next, then Bear, and finally Merida on the back right.   The Man was headed down to the garden, and Tulip always has to go stand down at the edge, begging for a green bean, or a cuke, or a tomato!  

You can see how wide in the chest Erika and Bear are compared to Merida.  Bear is destined for the freezer and I will continue to reevaluate Merida as time goes on, however I'm almost certain I won't be keeping her.  She'll most likely be freezer bound as well, as I'm always much more comfortable with knowing an animal is nourishing us as opposed to wondering if they are healthy and being cared for!

Depending how things go  I will breed Erika next fall and then keep a doeling out of her.

When raising animals it's very important to keep your perspective.  When you are breeding for the good of your homestead, you must keep the best animals you can, and oftentimes that changes as time goes on.  

Till next time!

God Bless,

Monday, August 3, 2015

Effects of Copper Deficiency on Goats......

One of the very first things I noticed about Tulip when I got to Jennifer's to pick her up was she now had a huge, lacy, white patch on her left shoulder/side.  I commented on it and said "That's new!"

I didn't think too much more of it and brought her home.

I've always been very aware that goats need a great deal of copper, and have always kept out the best loose mineral that I could buy in my area, being Manna Pro Goat Mineral which contains 1350 ppm (minimum) at all times.   The goats love it and eat it right up.  Both Tulip and Star during their pregnancies ate this at a rate of about 8 lbs per month to 6 weeks!

When Star got sick with Barber Pole, I began to do a great deal of research on it and what I was finding was that goats with copper deficiency tend to have trouble with Barber Pole, as well as other symptoms, including coat color issues.

This got me thinking about Tulip's "white shoulder".  I went out and checked her over, and while she had no other symptoms, I did notice that the large, lacy white patch on her left shoulder wasn't nearly as pronounced as it had been, presumably due to the constant access to loose mineral and the rate at which she consumed it during her pregnancy.

I also noticed that Star has white places around her "armpits" and her throat area.

You can also see her black skin along her sides and on her legs.  I thought it was because she was so huge from carrying the triplets that she'd rubbed the hair off her sides, but in my research I've found that hair loss is another symptom of copper deficiency (or can be a zinc deficiency).

I know all about black goats (and horses as well) having a reddish cast when they are copper deficient, but had no idea about white patches appearing or the goat even turning white entirely!

I have copper bolused both girls and am going to bolus the kids as soon as they are old enough.  I am excited to see if Tulip's lacy white shoulder disappears completely, and if Star's armpits and throat area turn back to her regular color.


So I bolused Star the end of April, and then again the end of May.  The first time I dosed her I gave her the dosage for her weight.  Then 30 days later I bolused her again with 1 1/2 times the dose for her weight.  So in 30 days she got almost 3 doses of copper.

Here are is a picture from over the weekend.

Star looks fantastic now.  She's had no more trouble with worms, and her coat is as sleek as it's ever been.  As you can see she's still lighter colored in the armpit area and in her chest.  I'll be curious to see if that ever totally goes away.

I also now think that Bear's interesting coloring is due to copper deficiency.  I truly believe he should be black all over, instead of with the roan type coloring he has on his back half.

I'll be bolusing the whole herd the first of September, and then again in January.  Then I plan to dose them twice a year from here on out.

Keeping goats is always such a learning experience, and I have to say I am very thankful to have access to the internet which is a wealth of information, although you do have to be careful to weed out the crazies, do your homework, and use your head!

Til next time............

God Bless,