Thursday, September 27, 2007

bunnies and chicks...chicks and bunnies

I haven't posted anything about animals lately, so it's time.

We have rabbits. We got them in April. Our intent is to breed, raise, and eat rabbit meat. Miss Kat is in charge of the rabbits. She does a pretty good job with them, but she's rather possessive of them and has informed us that we can't eat any of these rabbits, because she loves we ever listen to her! Our thought is, once we start having baby rabbits, she'll want to get rid of some of the bigger rabbits, so we can safely butcher and she won't notice....that's the plan.

And you all know how my planning works. Yep.

Have you ever tried to sex a rabbit? Well, it ain't easy. Kim and I sexed the rabbits. We determined we had 2 females and 7 males. That's a little off for breeding purposes. We ideally should have 7 females and 2 males.

But, we bred one of our females. We bred her once, it didn't take. Wasn't sure if the male knew what he was doing, or if the female didn't know what she was doing. I do know that some of the time, the male was backwards, trying to mate with her head. I do know that at times, the female was on top.

Neither are conducive to a successful mating. The rabbits might have enjoyed themselves, but this kind of behavior really doesn't result in baby rabbits.

So we (really I) tried again. This time, the male "fell off" upon completion. The book says that he'll "fall off" when he's successful. Of course, he'll be ready again pretty quickly, but he should grunt and fall off. Ok then. He did, and he was in the right position, and so was she. We waited.

Last Thursday, I told Kev and Kim, that we'd probably have to mate the female again because it evidently didn't take. I'd been following the directions of the book...I'd put straw in the cage, 3 days or so before her due date, but she'd eat the straw instead of making a nest. So, I assumed it didn't take, and our 31 days were over. (Gestation for rabbits is 28-31 days.)

On Friday night, as I was helping Miss Kat do chores, we discovered 4 baby rabbits in a small nest of fur. What a surprise! I checked them to make sure all were alive, and we left them alone. Lollipop, the new Mom, seemed protective, they all seemed to be well fed. We were excited with these little ratty looking lumps of babies. One disappeared over the weekend. We assumed that it had died and that Lollipop had eaten it, common behavior. But, on Tuesday night, we discovered 3 dead babies. Lollipop had evidently thrown them all over the cage, because they were scattered and quite dead. Also fairly common rabbit behavior.

The book assures me that she can still become a good mommy, and to give her three tries to raise babies. Miss Kat was sad, but not devastated.

Last night, Andy called me from home and said, "We have 3 baby chicks."

This past weekend, we painted the house and discovered a broody hen nesting in my Russian Sage bush, right against the house. We painted around her, but all assumed that she hadn't been there long. Boy are we observant. Because she had to have been there 19 days to hatch chicks yesterday. (Chicken gestation is 21 days.)

So last night, I went out and counted 4 chicks, maybe 5. (And, these chicks look like Barred rock chicks, not Rhode Island Red chicks, like their momma. Momma evidently was messin' with that OTHER rooster, not the Rhode Island Red Rooster. The hussy.) Momma is still sitting on 2 eggs, cause I saw them and she wasn't eager to move around much yet, so she must think more will hatch. I put some chick food out near her. She ate some, and a couple of the chicks pecked around a little bit. I also set out a waterer for them. But, here's my dilemma...I don't think that up by the house is really a very safe spot for young children. What if another skunk discovers them? What if something bigger discovers them? So, I'm trying to figure out how to relocate them all to a safer spot, like the big dog kennel...

Stay tuned, the next saga will be titled "Moving a hen who doesn't want to be moved." Or, it could be titles "Taking lessons from rabbits, breeding 101..."

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