Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Unexpected Arrivals

I shall tease you with an unrelated picture
of happy pork attacking windfall crab apples. 
There are a lot of things going on here at the farm.  A lot of "balls in the air" to use a popular phrase. Though I may not be a professional juggler I usually have a pretty good idea of when a ball is coming down though, so I can at least get out of the way if a catch is not possible.

Definitely dropped one today, which lead to a day of scrambling, setting up new accommodations with makeshift materials, and catching up on work I have been meaning to do for months and that (I thought) I would still have plenty of time to get to before they were necessary.(continued)

Canned chicken? What will they think of next?

Since Easter we have had 3 rabbit.  Flemish Giants actually. Two does and a buck, a breeding trio, purportedly capable of producing together 80 - 90 offspring in a single year. Offspring that would build the breeding size of the rabbitry or grace the roasting pan someday.  It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, especially if you can raise those rabbits on pasture.

After doing the math and consulting the books we knew we'd have a long time to wait before those three Easter baby rabbits would be breeding... we just guessed wrong. Rabbits are known for breeding, it's basically what they do so I should have seen this coming and I can only blame my resources so far for saying when they could be bred not literally when they would be capable of breeding.

One pink, two gray, blind, naked babies.

So for months our 3 growing rabbits have cohabitated... with predictable (but still surprising) results. For those unfamiliar, rabbits are born after a gestation period lasting between 28 and 34 days often in large litters.  When they are born they are naked, and blind.  It won't take them long to get a bit of fur and go from looking like little naked rats to the cutest dang furballs you ever saw but they certainly don't start that way.

It is a good thing I walked by the hutch this afternoon when I did, because a little bit of human intervention was needed. My doe, a bit too young, perhaps a bit confused and a first time mother to boot was popping out babies without a nesting box while sharing a hutch with another rabbit. Recipe for disaster. Sparing the details, of a litter of 7, 3 kits were alive when I found them and was able to get them tucked in and warm, protected, and sheltered.  I suspect the others were stillborn... but again I will spare you the details.
Settled in a bit later, snuggling and warm.
In the books they very clearly state that you should not SHOULD NOT touch the babies right away as this may get your scent on them and cause the mother to reject them. Much better to leave them alone for a few days when possible.  Hopefully that will not be a problem here, as touching them was an immediate requirement.  So far so good, with an afternoon in the bag everyone was still accounted for and in good shape.  The babies had moved around the box a bit getting comfortable and based on positioning I think may even have been nursing (a good sign).

Fingers crossed that mama will snap to it and do her job, as there is little I can do to help at this point.  I suspect our other doe is pregnant also and may be days or hours away from a litter of her own, hence my hurried afternoon.  New hutches built, set up, and moved into, new nesting boxes (created out of necessity on demand) digging out the extra feeders and watering equipment I haven't seen in a year... yes definitely a busy afternoon.

This of course means that the Pastured Poultry update you've expected will be a bit late in coming, but it also means you can look forward to frequent updates from the rabbitry as well, as we wait for a possible (ooo, suspense) additional pregnancy and can monitor the progress of these kits as they grow.

A very exciting time, even if a rather stressful day. Please keep YOUR fingers crossed that mama does her job tonight and I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Replies
    1. I want use harsh words like "Mama rabbit was an exceptionally poor mother rabbit" but apparently screwing up or outright killing the first litter is not only a notable but is also a frequent occurrence. The more I look into it the more corroborating opinion I find that the first littler should pretty much always be written off for this reason.

      Of the three, only one survived the night and into the next day but in the AM on day two that one was dead also. Very sad here, and feeling it even worse because of the abrupt swing from excitement to disappointment, In the good news column there have been no more kits and no sign of any on the way (we won't really know for sure for a few weeks yet) but with everyone separated and no additional unscheduled breeding events able to occur we will have much more control and can initiate breeding in the proper way in the proper time.

    2. Sorry to hear about the losses but I am glad to hear that it is normal for that to happen and most of all you were able to learn from the experience.