Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rabbits, rabbits

I had kind of put our rabbit breeding project on the back burner since I knew it would require a great amount of building (hutches, shed) and purchasing (feeders, waterers, brooding boxes, etc.). However, I lucked out!

A friend of ours just happened to have practically everything I needed, and was willing to give it away to clear a space in her garage!

2 3-tiered wire hutches, and 4 suspending wire hutches (one unassembled)

Plus feeders, water bottles, brooding boxes with extra liners, resting boards and feed cups!

This blessing has moved our rabbit project up to the forefront, and I am designing and sketching like crazy. So really, once we build our rabbit shed and locate some rabbits, we're good to go.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what kind of rabbit to raise.

Originally I was thinking New Zealands, mainly because they're easy to find. I also think they're kind of ugly, so I figured I'd have an easier time killing and eating them.

But the more I thought about it, the less I liked to idea of investing in a breed I really didn't care for. I've always had a heart for Heritage breeds, and really want to promote and perpetuate them. And really, good quality New Zealand breeding stock doesn't cost much less than good quality Heritage breed stock. All rabbits eat the same amount and probably taste about the same too. So now it comes down to deciding from a long list of beautiful and functional breeds.......

I've looked at everything from American Chinchilla, American, Beveren, Silver Fox, Creme 'Argent, to Champagne d'Argent.

I've decided that the Creme D'argent appeals to me the most.

They are technically "recovering" according the the ALBC, but I have discovered they are extremely difficult to locate. Leave it to me to decide on a breed that is impossible to find.

There are absolutely NO breeders in Tennessee. The closest breeder I've been able to get in touch with is 5 hours away in South Carolina. However, they are actively breeding and should be able to supply us when need be. And they have 2 genetically distinct lines.

The good news is, I would apparently be the only breeder in Tennessee, and that could create a high demand. So I'm going to make sure I invest in quality breeding stock, for the sake of perpetuating the breed.

The only problem I foresee is how disgustingly cute their babies are.......

I know all rabbit babies are cute, but there's something about that soft buff color. Ultimately the reason we want rabbits is for a healthy, home-grown, humanely raised food supply. Which means killing, skinning, gutting and eating cute young rabbits. Can I do it? I think so but we shall see.... If not, I have a husband who hunts and skins and guts, so if it comes down to the wire and I realize I can't handle it, I can walk away and leave him to do the dirty work.

We have basically no storage space at our state house. No basement. No usable attic. No garage. We bought a 10 x 8 storage shed, but that is already full (mostly of rabbit equipment now). With no other outbuildings on the property we will be constructing a shed to house the rabbits.

So far I'm thinking a 12 x 6 x 6 3-sided shed, building the framework from 2 x 4's. I would like to cover the frame in wooden lattice, and train grape vines on them to provide shade for the rabbits, and grapes for us. During the winter we will have some type of barrier to add to protect them from the cold (maybe a heavy curtain of some kind.

The proximity of the shed to the garden and the compost pile will also be really handy for moving around all that beautiful rabbit manure.

I'm ready to go to Lowe's right now to start buying materials, but I do tend to be a little hasty. Hubbie has to work sometime and I will definitely need his help with the project.

As for the ducks, I was too late to get Silver Appleyards. The one breeder I found is sold out practically until May, so I decided we might try for them next year.

For now, I went with the breed I think would be the second best dual purpose duck: Buff Orpington....

McMurray Hatchery has them available beginning in March. They are medium sized, attractive, good foragers, good layers, and make a good eating duck. I will be raising them at our place for a week or two before they get sent to my parents' farm to finish growing. One select drake will be kept to service the females, and the rest of the males will be for the table.

Hmmm..... I just realized, buff ducks and buff rabbits.

Overall I'm really excited about our upcoming projects. Farming has been a passion for me for years, and I feel like I am finally realizing that dream, despite the limitations of living in a State Park.

Oh, I have other long range plans: pigs and cows and maybe sheep and goats...........

..... but I think we have enough to keep us busy for now.

By the way, never put an egg in your pocket because you always, always forget about it.......

..... I do, anyhow.

1 comment:

  1. I can so relate to you! I had wanted to raise rabbits for the same reason you do, but really had to question if I could handle their cuteness. We did pigs twice (no one could fall in love with a pig, right? Wrong)and it was tough. It's been a few years, but we will probably do it again someday. My husband doesn't have the same issues I do, he was raised on a farm.
    Best of luck to you : )