Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rabbit Rolls and Natural Chew Toys


I currently have 4 adult(ish) rabbits and 8 kits. Even though we are raising the rabbits for food I still want to provide a good life for them, and I still care about their well being. There are hundreds of things for sale for rabbits on the market, or any kept animal really. For me and my rabbits free is sometimes best though!

When I first got rabbits I had read they need something to chew on to keep their teeth managed. I started looking and found some options. If you go to petco you can easily find different chew toys and most can be found FREE in nature! 

When reading I heard of people giving the cardboard roll that toilet paper comes on to their rabbits as a toy. Mine had lots of fun with it at first, but now have gotten bored of it. To change it up I started stuffing it with greens hence the "rabbit rolls".

I don't give my rabbits tree branches yet, I need to find my clippers and I will give them some plum tree branch sections. I do like to give them pine cones though! You can buy Pine Cones in stores but I just find them in nature and bring them back. Where I live now I just take our dog Shadow for a stroll filling his backpack up with pine cones during our walk! Two of our rabbits love these, the other two haven't had them yet!

Do you have a special toy or chew for your rabbit? Sound off below in comments, and if its free I'll add it to the list =)

Experimenting with Fodder I


Quiet Contrary
How Does Your Fodder Grow? 

My names not Mary but for my first experiment in growing fodder I had a success and a failure. I found the concept of "fodder" quiet accidentally, I was looking up feeding rabbits naturally to see what opinions were on the subject. I found fodder.

I don't know which website first introduced me to fodder, but instantly I was hooked on the idea. Just think a system that takes just a week to grow and can increase your food up to 6x by weight! The possibilities! Fodder can be fed to rabbits, goats, horses, cattle, chickens, just about anything that will eat greens! In researching the subject I saw lots of farmers considering doing fodder on a larger scale as a viable way to supplement feed and save hundreds of dollars of feed costs.

Here are the websites I bookmarked to refer back to:

I am IN LOVE with the dog island farms blog post "What the Fodder"! I also borrowed the picture above from peakprosperity!

I love nature, but it doesn't love me... you see I have a brown thumb. Since I have trouble keeping plants alive and having them grow I didn't want to "invest" much into a fodder system that I was afraid wouldn't work for me. Growing Fodder is Simple, you need: seeds, water, and a container. It is better if the container has drainage but you can use any old container. 

I didn't want to invest in a large bag of seed in case the experiment didn't work so I went over to my local whole foods and got barley and a winter wheat seed. For my containers I went to my local family dollar and got plastic shoe boxes ($1 each with a lid). I used a shoe box and a plastic salad container =)

Since everything I had read indicated it was best to let the seeds germinate in a dark space I put them on used cupboard space and let them grow. 

The barley (which I had read was the best seed to use) didn't grow. The wheat seeds grew but the top was yellow... 

After minutes on the counter that yellow turned to green! 

Today I decided it had grown enough and gave hunks to my rabbits, and left some outside to see if it could successfully transplant and grow (having been unable to find an answer online). The rabbits are picking at it, but not going to town... I guess I jumped the gun buying a HUGE bag of seed!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting Rid of the Quail


Shortly after buying our new house and moving in I bought quail and my hubby and I built a quail cage under $35 which I blogged about here

I bought the quail when they were supposed to be 8 weeks old and was told they should start laying any day. Weeks came and passed and not a single egg. I tried leaving them alone, then I tried changing their light, adding a sand box and toys. For weeks we would hear the rooster crow and yet the hens weren't laying. 

From what I had read from numberous different blog posts, articles, and online comments quail were supposed to be a great all purpose solution for an urban homesteader or anyone looking to source their own food. Quail lay eggs, can be eaten like a chicken, are supposed to be quiet (one of my roo's was the other was VERY ANNOYING and LOUD), and they reach maturity (eating age) fast, and on top of all of that they have a small space requirement (1 sq ft per bird) so they can be kept almost anywhere, balconies of apartments, basements, garage, toolshed, etc.

After so many weeks of waiting for eggs 2 of our 4 quail went from the first picture to the last. The quail were the first animal I had every killed, being an animal lover. I had spent time before buying them looking for the fastest most humane way to kill them (wring their neck). After they were dispatched processing was relatively easy and fast, unfortunately we weren't really so much a fan of the finished product. I have heard its better grilled. 

The other hen decided to lay the day we sold them and their cage. I went to grab them and saw a small egg sitting there by their sandbox! I had waited over a month for this egg and there is was, belonging to someone else =)

Quail huh? 

They definately aren't for us, but if your interested by all means try them. Some roo's are quieter than others and if you like the meat then I can see how they could be great for a homesteader!

Rabbits: Weeds and Kits


A couple of weeks ago two of our rabbits gave birth. Isabella, my favorite, unfortunately didn't manage to keep her babies alive. Sadly it is all too common for first time mothers to lose their first litter, in fact breeders do a three strikes rules for new moms. Other than Bella one of our new rabbits, Cinnamon, also gave birth. She was bred before we bought her so we will probably keep one of the doe kits to breed =)

The Kits are all different colors! You can see them huddled up together in the hay and fur. I haven't spent much time with them. Some does will actually kill the babies if owners are overly attentive, which I was with Bella. Knowing Cinnamon has experience and is a good mother I checked on the kits once or twice and left them alone. Cinnamon has begun warming up to us, but when we got her she was afraid so I didn't want to push her with kits involved.

Other than the kits being new, so is part of the rabbits feed: WEEDS! Ever since I got the rabbits I debated this. From everything I have read rabbits plus weeds equals worms, so its generally encouraged to keep meat rabbits in wire cages and feed only pellets... I'm a fan of nature though so after reading this inspired blog post I decided why not! 
Can you tell the rabbits are loving it? I'm also weeding my yard at the same time as getting them a delicious nutritious treat! The benefits of weed feeding rabbits for me are cost, happiness, and discovering new plants in my yard. I have already found and identified some spearmint and a strawberry plant! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

House Preview


I know this is long overdue, but I decided to take pictures of the house as it is... If I'm embarrassed by my house being dirty than I need to clean it, but I decided to show it as it was.. Unfortunately I didn't take all of the before pictures, because we have already done some work.

Here are some pictures.

                                                                    Living Room:

Hall Way:


Spare Bedroom:



Master Bathroom:

Laundry Room:


As you can see, I have a LOT of remodeling to do. I'm still in the process of painting the hallway, and just got done cleaning the garage =).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Raising Rabbits for Food


We got our first rabbits months ago. We got a black NZ buck and a chinchilla mix doe. Why we got them is the controversial part, we got them for meat! I decided to wait to share this because I was worried about reactions honestly.

Many people view rabbits as pets, and would think of it as me eating a cat or dog. I have never had a pet rabbit so when I began researching urban homesteading I came across the idea of raising rabbits for meat. Apparantly raising meat rabbits was more of a thing back in the day (world war and depression time), since they could be raised cheaply and breed like, well rabbits!

In the last month I got two additional does.

My gray and my red have both had litters... unfortunately my gray lost her whole litter (common with first time mothers). My red just gave birth today, she was bred when I bought her so I may keep one of her does to breed.

I haven't ever tried rabbit meat yet, but with our investment we better like it! I have already searched for the fastest most humane way to dispatch any rabbit we are eating, and I decided on rabbits due to small space requirements, fast meat production (4 months from breeding to plate), and the fact that rabbit is a SUPER low fat meat!

Our rabbits are treated really well. The gray one is a little afraid of us, but is warming up. They frequently get treats in addition to their food, chew toys, and we let them out to play sometimes. 

Anyway I just wanted to make this post to get other people to consider it. We live in an urban type environment so we don't have the acreage to raise big animals for meat, and we aren't planning on going vegetarian anytime soon. We are urban homesteaders now, and we are becoming self sufficient and my goal is to be able to provide our baby when we finally can have one the healthiest food.