Thursday, May 31, 2012


Now that winter is over and things are growing, I've been doing lots of foraging for food for the animals.  I spend a few minutes twice a day gathering plants from our property for feeding the rabbits.  Mostly I pull grass, clover, plantain, dandelion, lambs quarters, and paper mulberry leaves.  I give each rabbit a good bit of vegetation twice a day, and they love it. Well, most of them do.  Then I supplement with hay and rabbit pellets.  It's so neat learning which rabbits prefer which foods.

This rabbit below is my small buck (for sale, if you're looking for a nice bunny).  He gets a few greens, but he doesn't really care for them much.  He prefers his pellets, and sometimes he'll eat hay. 

This is Radish, my American Chinchilla/Silver Fox buck.  He loves, loves, loves anything I pick for him.  His favorite is paper mulberry, but he also loves the other stuff too.   He doesn't care for hay as much.

This is Parsnip, my female who has not yet been bred.  She enjoys her greens too, but she adores hay.  I can put a big handful in for her breakfast and it'll be gone by afternoon.  She likes pellets too of course.  They all love pellets. 

This is Turnip and her 12 babies.  They devour everything I put in front of them.  They LOVE greens and pellets.  They'll eat hay, but they save it for last.  I give them as many greens as I think they can eat, plus hay, plus pellets.  The other rabbits only get pellets as a supplement, and usually only once a day or every other day.  Turnip and her babies get lots of feed since she's lactating and they're growing. That's a lot of hungry mouths to feed!

If you've noticed, there are some veggie scraps in their cages too.  I've been getting food scraps from a local restaurant for the pigs, and the rabbits get treats out of that bucket too.  Usually it'll be carrots, but sometimes it's celery or romaine lettuce. 

I love feeding time because it's like an army of miniature bunnies chewing.  Cute!

Here's a video of them eating:

Here's a close-up of the food bowl.  It's got a lot of plantain in it, because the rabbits seem to really like it and it's a good food source for them.

The chickens forage too.  They spend the day in their yard, but I let them out in the evenings to forage. They used to be totally free-range until they started pooping all over the deck and destroying my garden!

And even though the pigs are in a pen, they still get foraged feed.  Several times a week I go to the local restaurant to pick up the scraps.  I have 2 buckets, and leave one with them. Then I just swap out the full bucket for the empty one.  Usually it's a lot of vegetables, but sometimes there will be french fries or other things.  The pigs didn't like fries until just recently.  I guess they've decided they're pretty tasty.  They are good, too.  Sometimes I order fries from there since I work right nextdoor!  They're actually real fries, which you don't find very often at restaurants. 

I was also offered the "seconds" veggies from a local veggie farm, so I'll be picking those up starting soon.  I also contacted a local bakery and a local donut shop for scraps.  I picked up a bag of donuts this morning that were going to get thrown out last night, but they saved them for me.  I know donuts aren't the healthiest thing to eat, but it'll fatten up pigs and it's a small part of their otherwise healthy diet.  In addition to the scraps, the pigs also get a hefty amount of goat milk and some pig feed.  Goat milk is their favorite, followed by romaine lettuce. 

The sheep and goats also forage for their food, in a more traditional way...grazing.  Since I have more sheep and goats than my acreage can support, I have to be careful that the sheep don't destroy the pasture.  I do this  by using a sacrifice lot (a small area of their pasture I fence them in to keep them off the main pasture), and I often have to supplement with hay and sometimes grain.  Right now, our grass is growing pretty well since we haven't hit drought season yet.  I've been moving the sheep around the pasture and yard to take advantage of the free feed.  They're not eating any grain, and very minimal hay (mainly for the goats), which is ideal. 

The electric netting fence is essential to the rotational grazing for me.  I got mine from Premier, and I'm very happy with it. 

And since they graze a large portion of the lawn, it's less grass we have to mow! (Those are the lambs in the picture above.)

Feeding the animals like this takes a lot more time and effort than just giving them feed out of a bag, but it's healtheir for them and also healtheir for our budget!  Not a single bit of our food goes to waste either. Between the pigs, chickens, goats, and rabbits, everything is eaten!  I'm not against using bagged feeds, because I still use bagged feed. I'd just rather feed free food if I can!  So many "weeds" are actually wonderful feeds for animals.  I mentioned paper mulberry earlier in the post.  We have a HUGE hedgerow of it one one side of our property, and we used to think it was a nuisance. It's an invasive weed, and it took us a while to figure out what it was. We read that it is native to Asia, and is used to make paper and also feed deer.  The animals love it, all of them.  It's so prolific that I could feed armfuls of it every day and it would still persist.  It's now fed to the animals and cut back to keep it in check, but I don't want to totally eradicate it.  Lemons into lemonade, and all that.  :-)

Oh, and I forgot.  Sometimes we forage for food on our property too!  Last night I picked a bowl full of sour cherries from the tree in the pasture, and made a cherry crisp that was so delicious!  I love free food!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Holiday Weekend Fun

We went out on the boat yesterday and did a little fishing.  We mainly caught small stuff, but this catfish wasn't too terribly tiny.  We ended up throwing him back though, since we didn't want to have to clean just one smallish fish.  It was a fun day though!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Wonderful Years

And hoping for many, many more together!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rabbits' New Digs

This weekend David and I built a new structure for the rabbit cages. The rabbits have been in the barn until now, and it is just getting too warm in there.  I've been wanting to hang their cages for a while, and we finally got it done!  I'm so excited.  We built it using lumber that was already here (most of it from a project my dad built for us, which I haven't blogged about yet).  I think we did pretty well for not really planning anything.  I wish the plywood roof covered more, but I think it'll function fine like it is. 

The structure we built is the taller one. We already had the other hutch, where Radish, my buck, lives.

We didn't have any chain, and I really wanted to get the rabbits outside today, so we used the same bunkbed frame the cages were resting on in the garage, and just hung it with rope for now. 

The rabbits seem to really like it.  The babies are growing so fast.  They just started coming out of the nesting box and exploring. Today they were munching on some hay and other plants (every day I pull a big handful of leaves and grass for the rabbits). 

I think it's a big improvement from being in the barn. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Few Videos

Here's a video of Big Pig sitting for her food. 

Here's a video of when we introduced the little pigs to Big Pig.  This was the second time they met, and now they've been together for over a week and a half and they all love each other. I caught the little pigs sleeping ON Big Pig the other evening when it was chilly. 

And this last video is a game we call "Spit Marshmallows at the Dogs".  My sister and I invented it one summer, when we were home and bored (we were teenagers).  It's a fun time for all involved!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Babies of the Place

I have seriously been slacking on blogging lately, so in an effort to catch up I'm going to do an update on all the babies around here.

First, the rabbits.  I like to give the momma, Turnip*, lots of extra goodies now that she's feeding 12 kits. 

Just look at this pile-o-babies!  They vary in color, some are black and some are brown (agouti?).  A few of them have white on their bellies and in their ears. 

This little guy (or gal) below has a white belly and also white on the tops of his feet, which you can't really see.

Look at this chub!  All of the babies are pretty big, and there's only one that's a little smaller than the rest.

Next up we have our porcine residents.  The two baby boys have been outside full time for almost a whole week now.  They all get along fabulously, and the big pig is pretty fond of them.

The two little guys are growing well and are pretty chubby, if you ask me.The larger of the two is the Mouth of the South.  He is hardly ever quiet.  Well, he's only loud when he's hungry, which is apparently every time he sees me (you know, the lady who brings the milk).   

Six of the seven babies Wanda hatched are doing great.  The 7th little chick only lived for a day or two.  Something wasn't quite right with it.  It was cold the day after it hatched and didn't seem to get around well, but after spending a day riding around in my bra (hey, it was warm), it seemed to do better.  It went back out with Wanda but died the next day. 

And on to the lambs...

They're big and due to be weaned this weekend.  They're actually a little past due, since until last weekend the piglets were occupying the pen in the barn.

Lambs are a good canvas for promoting world peace.  Who knew?

And last but not least, the seedlings!   I've got nasturtiums, hyacinth bean vines, and moonflower vines starting in this tray.

And this tray below is tomatoes and a few hollyhocks that survived the damping off disaster.

I think I need to fertilize the tomatoes because they've sort of stopped growing.

Well, that's the update for all of the babies around our place.  I still have lots to blog about, so I'll get right on that I think I'll start that tomorrow.

*My sister helped me finally name the rabbits while she was here. The momma rabbit is Turnip, her sister is Parsnip, and the big male is Radish.  I'm not naming my small white male, since I'm trying to sell him. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Siblings

I got to see both my sister and my brother this weekend.  I have lots to post about, but I wanted to make a post just for them.  I found a few of my favorite sibling quotes online.  I can't say it any better myself!

 Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.  ~Author Unknown

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other's hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.  ~Clara Ortega

"Brother and sister, together as friends, ready to face whatever life sends.  Joy and laughter or tears and strife, holding hands tightly as we dance through life."   -Suzie Huitt

"Someday when you're far away and the miles keep us apart. I'm going to whisper. I love my sister, you will discover. I love my brother and we will know it in our hearts."  -unknown

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wanda Does It Again

Wanda just hatched out a new clutch of chicks yesterday.  She's my perpetually broody hen, and she'll be 3 years old later this summer.  I figured I'll let her hatch out as many chicks as she wants because she loves doing it so much. 

She always likes to make a nest in one of the 4 holes in the nesting box, which means it's crowded for all of the other hens. I'm glad she's done now, so all the rest of the girls have more space. Plus, sometimes when Wanda gets down to eat or drink, she gets confused and can't remember which hole is hers.  I found her in a different hole twice about a week ago, and I was really hoping she wasn't off the nest long enough to let the eggs get too cold.  Luckily they hatched anyways (well, 7 of the 10). 

And I love having chicks around, especially when they're raised by a hen and not by me!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Dozen!!

My New Zealand doe had babies last night!  I've been expecting them, and I saw she was pulling fur for her nest last night.  I woke up and went out to feed the animals, and looked in the nest but did not see any babies. Her stomach didn't look any skinner, so I thought maybe she still hadn't had them yet.  A few minutes later she went in the nest and fiddled around, then when she jumped out I saw a pile of babies!!

I counted them, and was shocked to find 12 fat, squirming babies!  They all seem healthy and happy, and they're all dark colored!  She was bred to my American Chinchilla/Silver Fox cross buck  I wasn't sure what to expect since she's a first timer. I was hoping for at least 6 or 8 babies. I'm crossing my fingers they all make it!  I'll be feeding her as much food as she can eat to make sure she's got enough milk for them all. 

They're bigger than I expected, too. 

She hid them well!  I'm excited to track their progress.   Also, my broody hen, Wanda, has some new chicks!  They were still in the process of hatching out, so I haven't taken any pictures but I will this afternoon. 

Hooray for new babies!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When You Have Goats

When you have goats and you sit down in the grass, you're likely to have one lay down in your lap. 

I was visiting with the animals the other evening and Ida was all over me.  It was like she hadn't seen me in years.  She laid down right in my lap for a while, then got up and harrassed me some more.  She rubbed on me, kept trying to step on me (I don't let her), chewed on my hair, licked me, etc.  I think she likes me. 

I tried to get a few good pictures, but my Go-Go-Gadget arm wasn't working so I had to settle for these.

Then June came over and decided she loved me too, but she's not as enthusiastic about it as Ida is. 

June makes me work for it.  She can't let me have the upper hand in our relationship.  Crazy goats.  (and check out Ida trying to eat my hair in that last pic)
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