BABIES! There are babies everywhere! June 13th was a good day to be born. It was our son’s birthday, chicks hatched and baby bunnies were born.
Honey welcomed her liter of 6 beautiful kits (one all white, three black (just like papa) and 2 mixed white/black (like Honey). Debbie or her sister (I am starting to doubt that this is Debbie after all) hatched 4 babies (two black chicks with white spot and two orange Araucana looking chicks). So lately, we feel as if we are in L&D taking care of newborns, doing round belly checks and making sure everyone is fed and happy.
Honey’s due date was June 13 (31 day gestation) and so was the broody hen’s (21 days)–the fist egg hatched on day 19, so maybe it was fertilized earlier–or it was a preemie?! Either way, everyone is doing very well–growing, eating and pooping.
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It’s that time of the year again. Time to start jammin! Strawberries are in, raspberries and cherries are to follow. We are getting very excited about the next few months of productive labor to preserve food for the rest of the year.
Every year I think I have enough and every year, by March we tend to deplete our resources 🙂 so this year, we will up the canned spaghetti sauce and canned tomatoes, canned corn, canned and pickled green beans, pickles, veggie chow and dehydrate a boat load of fruit. We are also going to freeze a lot more berries as the kids have discovered their true love for smoothies.
I am excited for the work to start! Gathering a few berries from the garden is so gratifying! Watching the kids gobble up berries, asparagus, peas and kale from the garden is hands down the best feeling ever. So much work has been put into the garden with hopes of providing as much of our own food as possible.
Last weekend, we went to U Pick strawberries at our CSA farm in Rochester. We picked enough strawberries to enjoy fresh, freeze, make a fruit salad, jam and syrup. This is the beginning of my most favorite part of the year.
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It seems like this spring has been exceptionally wet! The last few days have been nice and sunny. Perhaps too hot for humans and rabbits but the tomatoes and the rest of the garden is enjoying the heat. We took a gamble and put our starts into the ground about three weeks too early this year. The hope is with all this sun, they will finally start to grow. The cool thing about our tomatoes this year, even though they are super pathetic looking, they are not as spindly as usual. Hopefully what they lack in height they make up in girth 🙂
We are already on the second seeding of radishes, lettuces and spinach. Boy does the salad taste better when it is straight from the garden!! My mouth waters simply from typing these words…
Here are some pics to summarize our last month here on the homestead! Lots happening. Bunnies are growing, chickens are broody, garden is fresh and green!
Baby bunnies are five weeks old as of yesterday and will be ready to re-home in a few weeks–they are super cute! Let us know if you are interested in a cute bunny! We can provide the whole set up–local peeps only!
Honey (meat bunny) is bred and if all goes well–she should kindle on the 14th of June!
Debbie our ever broody hen is sitting on eggs…so far 4 chicken and 3 quail eggs. We will be getting her a few more eggs to sit on today. We don’t know if the eggs are fertile so we hope that we can hatch at least a few. As for quail–we are experimenting. Chicks should hatch on between June 2nd and 4th.
The plants in the green house are looking WAY better than outside!
We got babies–9 bunny babies! Just like our human babies, bunny babies were a surprise. Just like our babies we have no clue what we are doing. This is often the theme of our life, blessings and surprises. We must be an awesome team because we can tackle anything together. We have a strong and knowledgeable support system of family and friends that help and guide us through our journeys. Huge–no, enormous thank you to Edelweiss Ranch and Rabbitry’s Gryph!!! She has been my bunny doula and my book of knowledge. I know she wakes up with the sun and goes down late. Such is the life of a farmer, one that I covet. Though extremely busy, she answered my questions very quickly at any time of day–thank you!!
Back to the bunnies! We have four adult rabbits: Buster and Honey (New Zealand and Rex mixes) and Oreo and Fluttershy (Mini Lops).
Honey and Buster are meat rabbits and we got them from a barter site from a gal who had to travel a lot to help her elderly parents. They have bread once before and had a successful litter. They are around 2 years old. We thought that Honey was expecting a month ago as she started to build a very intricate nest. She and Buster boy usually run around the yard together and although we did not see it, we thought he finally caught up with her. We isolated her in our maternity ward. Bunnies have a 31 day gestation. Nest building can start anywhere from two weeks before kindling to day of. Honey had what is known as pseudo-pregnancy. Apparently, this is common if the doe and buck reside close to each other. Honey wants to breed and we will let her soon. She is not getting any younger and that biological clock is ticking for her.
Back to babies, I promise! About a month ago, my sister and I were enjoying tea and chatting away, kids were playing and Paul was in the back yard, cleaning the bunny cages. Buster and Honey were out and about. Oreo and Fluttershy were out in their little play-yard (this is a typical set up for us). I glanced over and saw that Oreo was out of the play-yard and Buster, taking an opportunity to “meet” her. The encounter was very brief and we did not think much of it.
About two weeks ago, on Sunday, while Oreo was running around the yard, we noticed she was gathering straw, tearing fur and running back and forth in a corner. Upon investigation, we found she had dug a burrow and was building a nest. The bells went out in my mind and I was reminded of her interaction with Buster. Paul and I decided to separate her from Fluttershy. Paul was hesitant at first, thinking it was another false pregnancy (thinking of Honey). Boy am I glad that I insisted!
On Tuesday, I was making my rounds, tired after a full day of childcare. I peeked into Oreo’s cage and saw the fur move–I was pretty convinced that my mind has been officially lost. I looked at Oreo and saw that her feet were a bit bloody–I then asked Paul if he was seeing what I was seeing! Sure enough, my eyes and mind did not fail me, there were indeed babies! Babies!!! Paul moved Oreo into her maternity suite and we made her a “make-do oh crap, we have babies nesting box” out of a deep baking dish. It was already midnight and we were pooped!
Morning feeding and check went well, everyone was still moving, warm and super cute with round bellies. Mom did a good job. Later that day, I found a kit all alone and very cold to the touch, not breathing. The nest box was flipped over and the rest of the babies were under it. The lonely baby was lifeless but still very soft (no rigor has set) I am not sure why, but I put him on my chest, rubbed on him and tried to warm him up. At some point, while still very cold, I saw his mouth open. I figured it was a muscle spasm, but also got a glimmer of hope. The bunny started to breath and move and in about a half an hour, I placed him back into the nest with his brothers and sisters and a rock so no tipping over happened again.
The next day, despite being ill, I sent Paul to get a metal bunny nesting box to eliminate any worry for the safety of the kits. We checked on them every two hours for the first two days. Now we routinely do a morning and evening belly evaluations–checking for roundness. As long as their bellies are big and round, we know they are being fed. Today, the kits are one week old. They have grown quite a bit and already have fur.
Oreo has been a great mama so far. We are excited to see the babies grow and learn how to hop. Follow our daily bunny updates on our Facebook page: Homestead in the Suburbs
I am officially over my fear of baking with yeast, so I thought that this year, it would be good to try baking the traditional Kulich, Russian Easter bread. I was hoping to use my mom’s recipe (her mom’s and grandma’s recipes, so very special to my heart). I would love to learn the recipe and pass it on to my children, keeping this tradition alive for at least one more generation).
Of course, nothing went as I planned. My challenges all began, when I fell asleep with the kids (four kids is no joke, I am tired) and did not get the yeast starter going overnight.
It was an all day process but I was prepared for that. The outcome was not as I hoped. My kuliches did not come out of the molds well and the taste was good but not as good as my mamas–but I could be biased.
I had a lot of dough (I should have halved the recipe) so I made cinnamon rolls and craisin rolls as well. Those looked pretty good.
I was able to salvage some of the kulich by cutting the bottoms off–I guess live and learn and then do what your mama tells you!!
We also dyed some eggs, chicken and quail. This craft, I feel very proficient in, the torch was passed on to me, at 16.
We did the traditional Russian onion peel eggs and the food coloring kind.
I have blogged about the process of dyeing eggs in a previous post, check out it out, super easy and very pretty. Here is a link: Happy Easter
The girls and I had a blast, the boys were spreading cow manure on the garden beds.
It’s done! It’s done!! Our greenhouse is up and semi-functional!! It is not perfect, but it was within our reach and we will customize it to make it fit our needs. We are so proud of ourselves!!! It took us longer than we hoped but we did it!!!
Now we put in some shelving and make some beds and the full production is on!!
Next on the to do list: rain barrel and aquaponic tub set up–stay tuned!!
Our sweet bunny Honey has been acting weird. She has been attacking the cage door with her paws and making a grunting noise. She isn’t vicious but is definitely acting different–strange. I got a bit concerned and asked our local bunny expert Alecia, from Edelweiss Ranch and Rabbitry, if I should be concerned. I got an answer I was not really expecting–she wants to breed! Well, who am I to get in the way of nature?? We decided that it was time for our homestead to have more babies. We love babies and what is cuter than baby bunnies?? We were advised to wait a month, which was a month ago, for warmer weather and longer days. Alecia is a wealth of information. I am not sure how she feels about it, but I am glad that we met!
We never just do something, so it was time to take out our bunny books and do some research! Here are some bunny breeding facts and cool information I found in our books.
Bucks are almost always willing to breed–not so shocking! Buster has been chasing (not very successfully) Honey from day one.
When it’s time, the girl bunny (doe) goes into the bucks cage. Does are territorial and can hurt the buck.
If the doe is ready to mate, she will not make the buck play hard to get, she will “lift” for him.
According to the books, it is easy to tell when mating occurs. The buck usually is very vocal toward the end.
It is recommended that you, the owner, are present during the mating to ensure that it did indeed occur. Also ensuring that everyone is safe, intervening if needed. I guess rabbits are not shy and have no issue with an audience however I have read and heard that the act is quick enough to miss.
If the doe is not interested, take her out in 10 minutes and give it another try another day.
A girl bunny giving birth is called kindling and the gestation of the pregnancy is 28-35 days (average of 31). It boggles my mind that it goes from conception to baby bunny (or nine) in just a month!!
Fatness in a doe causes a difficult pregnancy, so properly feeding the mama is important. It is recommended to keep the doe on the same ration of food for the first half of the pregnancy (15 days) and then gradually increase her feed. Towards the end, before she kindles, she will decrease her food intake on her own.
The doe will need a nest box; wooden, metal or wire. Dry clean shavings, hay and straw (all clean and dry, of course) is placed into the box and the doe then makes it her own by pulling out fur from her chest and belly, providing a soft nest and exposing her nipples for the babies to nurse from.
It is important to place the nesting box on day 27 (so documentation is a must) into the clean (not potty) corner of the cage.
Once the doe kindles, her appetite increases and so should her feed, as she is now eating for the babies as well.
Does get anxious about their babies as any mamas do. Be considered of her needs and provide a quiet and safe area for them to be.
Baby bunnies are born naked (no fur) and blind. They begin to grow fur within a few days and by 2 weeks will be completely furred.
Keeping the nest box clean and dry helps control disease. Cleaning it is essential.
By 10 days the babies should open their eyes.
By 3 weeks, kits (baby bunnies) start to come out of the nest and nibble on pellets. At this time, it is advised to start handling them for socialization. It is also recommended to start sexing the rabbits as it tends to be difficult when they are young. So doing it weekly can help confirm your previous observation.
At 8 weeks, the babies are ready to be weaned form their mama. To make it easier on the mama psychologically and physically (reducing milk production), some separate all the boys first and a few days later separate the girls.
By 8 weeks, the bunnies are ready to go to a new home or if they are meat rabbits, to be butchered.
Just like with human babies, you can do all the research and read all the books but you will never be too prepared when the babies come. This type of knowledge is not learned, it’s experienced. We feel that we are ready for the challenge and are looking forward to having more babies. We haven’t made the decision whether we will be butchering these rabbits or re-homing them.
Once Honey is bred, we will keep a journal of the experience. We know she had two litters before we got her and we’ve had her for almost a year now. We hope that she is still capable of having babies. It will be fun to see the new fuzzy little bunnies in her nest box.
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For us, late fall and winter are seasons to get crafty for the upcoming holidays, shop from our pantry, reflect on our year and plan plan plan. Holidays are behind us and the good Lord knows we reflected…so now for the planning mode–seed ordering! A few weeks ago, I placed an order with Seed Savers. It was so much fun to go through all the cool seeds and select the ones we will be harvesting come spring and summer. I tend to go into my own little world when I order seeds, and have many visions about the upcoming garden. I reread that sentence and sure, it sounds like I am crazy, but its true–I go to my happy place!
Last year, we used up most of our seed reserve, so this year, we needed everything. I also ordered some additional seeds for people in our community–a small co-op group of local backyard farmers/homesteaders/gardeners/. Here is a photo-list of what is on its way. To say that I am excited is a HUGE understatement! I can’t wait until late February-early March to get these guys into soil…some as starts and some directly sown into the ground!
My mouth watered and my heart was happy looking at all of these photos! Thanks for reading! Like us on Facebook for daily updates, news, recipes and pictures of our journey.