Friday, July 11, 2014

Homestead Cuteness

It's been a busy spring, so I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but hopefully you'll forgive me because I have a ton of cute pictures to share! Here's what's been keeping us so busy:
In January, my 11 year old daughter Hannah bought two Angora rabbits from a friend of ours. They were sisters, one all white named Lily and one grey named Clover.
All was going well until April, when we got a call from the friend we'd bought them from saying that she had discovered one of the girls from that same litter had suddenly shown itself to be a boy! The litter was nearly a year old by then, so they should definitely have been easily recognizable much earlier. Just to be sure, our friend came over and checked Hannah's bunnies, and gave us the all-clear. They were still both girls.

A week or so later, I checked again, just to be sure. I'd never sexed a rabbit before, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to check, and there, even to my inexperienced eye, were definite male parts. Lily was actually Lyle!

Thus began Clover Watch 2014. Was she pregnant? Was she getting cranky from hormones, or was it just spring fever? Was that nest-building, or just moving stuff around? How many days was it since we separated them? What's the gestation period for a rabbit, again?

Hannah did the math, and wrote on the calender, "If Clover doesn't kindle by now, she's not pregnant." Apparently we need to work on her math skills, because a week later, on May 20th, we found 8 baby bunnies in the nest box! Two were stillborn, but the 6 remaining bunnies were big and healthy.

Those babies are almost 7 weeks old now, and so unbelievably cute!
But wait - there's more. This all started because my 13 year old son Sam wanted to raise meat rabbits. My husband and I had promised him on his birthday in October that we would get him set up with his first set of rabbits, feed, and cages. After some discussion, however, we all agreed it would be best to wait until spring, so we could start breeding them right away.

In mid-May, my sister-in-law found a New Zealand buck for sale and bought him for us. We picked him up and brought him home, and Sam promptly named him Paul Furgussen Fluff.
Sam and Paul
Paul is a great rabbit - very calm and even tempered (he just sniffed at our dog when she came up to check him out, and doesn't mind when Sam picks him up and plays with him). He's also a big boy - 10 pounds at least.

But a buck isn't much good without a doe, so we went on the hunt for a couple of girl rabbits to bring home for him. We found a Craigslist ad for some Californian does about an hour from our house, and the price was right, so we bought them. And so Asher and Bunny joined our little farm (Sam wanted his rabbits named after the great Sumerian king, Ashurbanipal, thus Asher, Bunny, and Paul - get it? I love my homeschooled geeks!)
The woman we bought the does from said that they had already be exposed to a buck (her own New Zealand), so they might actually be pregnant already. Double score! If they were, we could keep a doeling from each of those litters and have 4 breeding does without worrying about inbreeding. Sam's Rabbit Ranch was off and running!

Sure enough, last week Bunny kindled, and Sam had his first litter of 10 baby bunnies. No signs yet if Asher is pregnant (there's a week left in her possible gestation period), so we'll just have to wait and see.

But bunnies aren't the only cute babies running around the yard - we also had a very successful hatch in our incubator this spring, so we have 33 mixed-breed chicks just starting to feather out:
This picture is from the day they hatched, so it's a little out of date
And our order of 100 Cornish Cross chicks arrived at the post office on Wednesday:

And to top it all off, we brought home two new kittens on Sunday:
Hazel and Chestnut
This may be the cutest summer ever!

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