rabbits

 

I am very excited that rabbits will be returning to our little farm this coming year. We’ve had rabbits most years, but gave them to a neighbor last year because the houses we had were very difficult for me to give the rabbits proper care. They were all metal, sat about 18 inches off the ground, and had a fussy door closing system.

Part of living small and regenerative is to think not just about right now, but how will I do this in 5, 10, 20 years, but also to think about the plant or animal.  How do they grow best? What makes them happy? What do they need to be their best at all times?

So off I went in search of rabbit information.

  • First I created a chart where I could list the inputs and outputs of rabbits.
  • Then I read Beyond the Pellet and created a list of homegrown food possibilities for where we live.
  • Then I read Food Web  and Practical Permaculture and figured out what animals/plants support and depend on rabbits along with housing ideas.

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Housing — My research has led us to a multi-housing system. We will put the wire cages in the slat house over manure collectors (which will have a 2 layer worm bin).  The wire cage will be connected by a pipe to a concrete/brick burrow area (which will have a door on top, so we can clean it, That in turn will be connected by a pipe (that can be closed off at night, in cold weather or during kindling) to a rabbit yard. I’m calling the yard “hobbiton” because it will have hills made of partially buried buckets, small trees, rocks, a watering system, and be surrounded by a thicket of willow trees.

Feeding — 

  • 75%  = willow, hay, clover, grass, wheat grass
  • 25% =
    • comfrey, crown vetch, dandelion, honeysuckle vines, trumpet vines,
    • sage, lettuce, spinach, kale,
    • parsnip, pumpkin, berries, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, peas radish, summer squash, turnip
    • trimmings from apple, peach, grape, lilac, and maple trees
  • Supplement
    • mineral block / salt stone
    • clear, clean water  — always
    • commercial pellets available during transition from other homes to here. Our kits will be fed homegrown their entire lives and we will provide educational materials for anyone who buys a kit that will help them continue the homegrown feed or will provide help for transitioning them to a pellet based diet.

Nature/Yard/Hobbiton —

  • Year 1: Plant scrub willows 6 inches apart and in the fall trim back to 2 feet tall
  • Year 1: Bury 2×6 all around perimeter with rabbit fencing attached. create slopes/mini-swales for drainage, create shelters (buckets half buried then covered with dirt, cream dirt bath area, plant with grass + clover mix, add some rocks for climbing and nail scraping.
  • Year 2 -3: Feed 1 small branch per rabbit per day, circling the yard so each tree has plenty of time to recover, and prune back each Fall.
  • Year 2-3: Each late Autumn sow grass+clover seed and cover with straw/hay
  • Year 4: continue to feed to rabbits. Attach 2nd layer of fencing to the willows for extra protection.
  • Year 4 and on — continue to reseed and cover each winter.

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  The practical bits of putting lots of theory into place on our little farm.

Advent 2018

Advent —   Here is last year’s blog post on Advent. It is much more my philosophy and this year’s post is more pragmatic.

Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.

Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.

Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.

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What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.

I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!

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Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading.  Just the way I like it!

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1 (Sad, but true fact: When we first got Jasper we listened to HP audiobooks every night as a family. Jasper always fell asleep and I would carry him to his bed and then go to bed. Now, he sleeps best if Jim Dale is reading in the background.)

What I’m watching:  Nothing this week

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  Rainwater collection systems, gravity fed household water supply, designing a “sustainable village” for an author, and Advent.