Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Winter to All!

We have had more snow than usual this year, with four substantial snowfalls already. This one was about 16 inches or so.  I was so glad we designed the hay bale storage with a solid front base that is 18 inches, before the start of the doors. I still had to move a bit of snow to pull the doors open, but only the snow-drift stuff. If the doors had been full-length, I'd have had to shovel them out entirely to get to the hay. If you look to the left in the photo, under the yellow kayak, you'll see some bales under a blue plastic tarp, and next to it is a very ugly structure that is protecting the rest of the hay (brown and grey doors). It's functional, but I didn't get to paint it up all pretty yet. ;)

On the note of hay, we ended up having to stock up due to the fodder shortage in Texas. All the ranchers have been coming up to Colorado and buying up the hay to feed their beef cattle, causing a shortage here for the locals. The price was going up, up, up, and it was getting harder to find the hay, so rather than just buying what we could fit in the hay storage and looking for more later this winter, I had to nab it whenever I could find it. I have 6 bales of grass hay and one of alfalfa. They should last me until next spring.  I use the ones in the storage structure, since they're easier to get at, and will move the ones under the tarp when I have the space.

Here's a close-up of the bunny condos. There's plexiglass on the front doors to keep snowfall out of the rabbit condos, so they stayed nice and dry, and it also helps keep it warmer in there, so the water bowls freeze a bit less. They still get plenty of sunlight, when the sun shines. There are side windows too, and vents at the top to keep the air from getting stale. I have gutters on the north side for the rain and snowmelt, and I have gutters installed below the second story of the yellow condo that serve as poo-catchers. Look closely, and you'll see that the tray under the weanlings up there slants, so the waste rolls down and out for easier removal.

Here's the whole she-bang! The chickens are in the blue coop with their run. The grape vines have been helping to keep the snow out of the run, as they grow across the top and provide shelter. Buried under the snow are my new garden beds... you'll see those once the snow is gone.

Happy winter to all! Enjoy the activities the cold, snow, and dark inspire at this time of year! For us, that will include learning to knit and learning to tan those rabbit hides. I've got some designs for neat products I'm going to make using their lovely fur.  I'll have to get my leather-working skills up to speed. I'll post more on that soon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Apologies for the gap in posts

Due to a medical challenge in the family, I have been too busy to write for the past few months. I hope to remedy that this winter. Sorry for the lapse! I have plans to finish getting you all up to speed on our progress, and some really interesting links I want to share.

First, I found a yahoo group that specializes in meat rabbits. Check it out! And I hear there's one that specifically deals with colony-style housing for meat rabbits. I haven't been to that one yet, but look forward to it. I figure I will collect wisdom from both of these groups and apply it to our little set-up here.

We've been modifying our two-story condo a bit, trying to find the best method of containing the waste from the weanlings as they live out their last month up top. I'll write in detail on that later.

We have successfully harvested two litters now, and boy, they are delicious! My initial uncertainty is gone. I am no longer squeamish about eating them. Of course, I'm still not the one butchering them... my husband is. We'll ask him how he's doing soon.

Lastly, I shall leave you with a link to a beautiful video on how to respectfully and humanely harvest a chicken. The woman talking you through it is a lovely soul. :) You'll see what I mean.