Sunday, January 18, 2015

KICKING OFF 2015: PART II

In 2015 I want to learn.

I want to try things I have never tried before.

This year I want to begin slowly expanding our homestead.

So this January I will take you through our 2015 Homestead plan. This plan will show all of current projects with their tasks and any updates or additions they need. As well as new tasks or skills we want to incorporate on the farm. This month is one of brainststorming, planning, and preparing, for there is much to be done before spring!

Lets get started!

So If it isn't already obvious I love animals. Spencer, my fiance, refers to it as my animal addiction.... He might be right! I'm not sure when/if I'll ever hit that point where I feel I have too many. My poor parents painstakinly endured many many of my animal experiments and projects, praise the Lord for their patience. I look at my little managerie as a privelage that I am so grateful for. My animals rely on me for all of their basic needs, somehting any animal enthusiast, or horder ;, never takes lightly. For ifI were to see anyone mistreating my fur babies, girlfriend would be one amgry mama. For one, ok, two main reasons I feel this way. 1) my animals all serve some purpose or provide some service, from my bull dog Dixie to my horse Sweet Pea, every breathing animal serves their divine purpose in the grand scheme of our stead. And we could not be more blessed to receive the gifts they give us of all sahpes, sizes, and forms. Spencer would say he is most grateful for those animals whose purpose is so feed our family. Currently these animals consist of our laying hens, laying ducks, 2 pigs, and our meat rabbits.

In the spirit of prepping and my anxious excite about animals I jumped the gun when a little extra money came in and invested in our rabbit program, this is where our intro to 2015 begins..... rabbits. Following the reccommendtaion of a fellow blogger, Shaye, at The Elliot Homestead, we decided to begin our breeding program with 5 rabbits. So, mid December 4 does and 1 buck came home to the farm. Though I may jump head first into my projects and sometimes a bit hap hazardly, I always do my research.

(A side note to anyone looking to trade urban for rural: Be ready for a lot of reading, the wealth of information available to the modern homesteader via book or internet is limitless, and is the easiest and quickest way to learn a new skill or research one you want to learn, which at the end of the day is the whole point of our endeavor... To learn to cultivate and preserve a humble healthy lifestyle to pass onto our children in the the spirit of getting back to basics and living a wholesome life.)

So, I spent weeks and weeks fawning over homestead magazines with nest box blueprints and webiste after website of how to's and facts for the meat rabbit raiser....have I said this is my first time over seeing an animal husbandry project? Holy cow I've only dreamed of baby animals my whole life and what better to start with than fuzzy kits! Gah! This mama is so ready for babies!

Firstly, I had no idea where to begin... So when in doubt sister simply typed meat rabbit into Pinterest... watch out! You'll be enthralled for hourss just like I was... Eventually I found so much great information that I setttled on 5 breeds that seemed to be the best for meat breeding. New Zealand, Californian, Silver Fox, Satins, and Standard Rex are the most commonly bred meat rabbits. Alas I knew what to look for as my plans began to come together, so I set a budget according to what I thought I needed for housing them and how much it would be per rabbit. When looking for my rabbits I did not bother to care about pedigree and registered status as these rabbits will never be shown, they're simply our little farm bunnes.... Although wouldnt it be fun to start a rabbitry for farm baby when she is a little older? I'm entertaining the idea, this would be a great way to incorporate her into the farm as she grows and teach her some valuable lessons along the way.

Secondly, we at The High Desert Homestead are working on a conrnerstone of homesteading and micro farming, frugality.... Not that I ever spend money unneccessarily on myself or material things, I just tend to over anticiape additions to the homestead and at times may jump the gun when money might be better spent somewhere else. Granted it usually works out in our favor. Becoming more frugal and saving more is a serious goal for this farm mama this year! So... when it comes to purchasing animals, equipment, or farm materials I rarely have to look past another of my daily addictions.... Craigslist. I dont care who you are or where you are, there are always a plethora of animals and equipment floading this oh so wonderful black market network.

Back to the drawing board....

Where will the rabbits be housed..... Next to the chickens underneath the eve of our barn....

And in what.... A homemade rabbit hutch that cost... wait for it.... Nothing! We were able to build it completly costless from recycled materials and some gifted supplies from my unlce... Who by the way gave me the courage to start this rabbit endeavor after he told me about all of his rabbit experiences, and he even said he would help show Spencer and I the whole butchering process! Another homestead lesson in the bag... in about 11 weeks...more on that later!

How much will each rabbit cost..... In central Oregon rabbits prices vary but here's a breakdown of our rabbits cost:

Chester - New Zealand buck (6 mos): $20
Ariel - New Zealand doe (9 wks): $10
Fiona - New Zealand doe (9 wks): $10
Snow - California cross doe (2 yrs): $15
Belle - New Zealand cross doe (1.5 yrs): $15 (with these two does I also recieved 1 rabbit transport cage, 2 water bottle, 2 feeders absolutely free from the breeder who was liquidating his commerical breeding program, homestead win!!!)

As you can see rabbits aren't initially very expensive as far as start up goes and its free to breed them to your hearts content as long as you are prepared for a lot of babies and are sensitive to the mamas' needs throughout gestation, nursing, and weaning. Aside from the cost of the rabbits ($70... Which I might add I won in a game at Spencer's company christmas party!), one large water bottle ($10), and one large feeder ($12) our start up was virtually free. The costs associated with feed are recuring at $11.75/ bag/ month from our local feed company, HayStack Naturals, (20 miles from our house!!! Making Local Habit!) which is sold throughout the county.

Ok, ok wanna see the fur babies???




Pretty dang cute huh?!? The top picture is my main man Chester! He is a broken red New Zealand and boy is he frisky. He always thumps his feet at me when I'm trying to catch him. The second picture shows Snow on the left with the Californian black ears/ nose and Belle on the right with black spots, she is a broken black New Zealand. Last but not least little Ariel the broken red and Fiona the chesnut. As you can see from the picture the two little girls are living in a temporary home until the finishing touches are put on their side of the hutch that the other older girls are sharing. More about out choice to colonize our rabbits instead of individually house them latet!!!

So there you have it!

This is my first step toward a more sustainable food source.

AND... my first new homesteading task to master this year! With the help of Spencer who built my amzing huthces (pics to come later) and always completes my ridiculous requests, and my unle who has experience with meat rabbit raising( and who also happend to be a custom knife maker.... oh ya he said he would make me some of my own processing knives!) we will be well on the road to baby rabbits without stress...

By the way... Snow is expecting her first litter by Chester at the end of this month! Soon we shall seperate her from Belle and give her a nest box this weekend to begin making her nest.

Follow here and the other girls progress her at The High Desert Homestead

Overly excited!
QB