Tag Archives: rabbits

Animal Update

Animal Update

Current index of our menagerie:

3 rabbits
1.5 cats
1 guinea pig
4 black swallowtail butterfly chrysalises

The Rabbits

We lost Taffy over the summer.  We still aren’t sure how or why she died.  It wasn’t overly hot, and the rabbitry is well ventilated.  We suspect it may have been wool block.  Long haired rabbits chew on their own fur, which builds up in their digestive tract and can cause blockages.  But we weren’t seeing any signs of it, such as rabbit poo linked with fur.  She was fine when Hero fed her that night, but the next morning she was dead.  So that was really hard.  I respectfully collected some of her fur and have spun it into a special yarn for Hero.  Now we’re trying to decide what to do next.  We could buy a breeding pair, or we may breed Loki with another purebred French Angora to see if we get any long haired babies.  That will wait until January or so, though.  We don’t want to be dealing with bunny babies during the holidays.

Loki had an unexpected health crisis over the summer.  Three weeks before the 4H fair, she got an open sore on her side.  I took her to the vet (I’m a bad pet mom.  They only go if they are really sick.  This was pretty bad.), and it turned out she had a hot spot that went the whole length of her side.  Think a really bad blister.  The doctor had to cut back a lot of her fur and skin.  Brace yourself.

Then we had to put a poultice on it twice a day for two weeks.  Which she didn’t like much at all.  It healed quickly, though, although not quickly enough for her to be shown at the fair this year.  Hero was upset about that, since this was her last year in the club.

The boys did show, and did well.  Sam beat his dad out for Best of Breed this year.  Tux is so small next to his kids!

Sam made some friends at sleepaway camp

Sam made some friends at sleepaway camp

Now we’re settling into the fall schedule, making sure the rabbitry is snug for the winter.  Sam has decided to channel Houdini, so we’ve had a couple of rabbit chases through the neighborhood.  Brat.

The Guinea Pig

We found someone else at the 4H fair:

This is Wheatley.  One of Hero’s 4H buddies breeds cavies as well as rabbits, and was selling a couple at the fair.  We’ve been trying to convince Xander he wanted a pig for a while now, and he fell in love with this one.  I didn’t want to get him that day, as the next day we were leaving to go camping for a week.  So we arranged with the owner (and her grandmother) to buy him but then pick him up after we got back.  He and Xander are actually pretty well suited.  Wheatley doesn’t like to be handled much, and Xander doesn’t like holding him much because he moves weirdly.  The two are pretty content just to share space.  But he’s been a nice addition to the household.

The Cats

How does one have half a cat, you ask?  Well, Lewis, our grey tabby that we’ve had for about 6 years, has decided he doesn’t want to live with us anymore since the other one moved in.  He’s always been an outdoorish cat, but over the summer he just stopped coming home.  We know he’s still alive, as both Morgan and I have seen him in the neighborhood.  With the seasons turning, we are devising a plan to try to lure him home and get him back inside so we can re-acclimate him to being our cat.  Updates as we get on.

Hudson, meanwhile, has settled in nicely.  He tolerates the rabbits and can’t really be bothered with the guinea pig, although Morgan says he was kind of a dick to Lewis, leading to Lewis’ emigration.

He’s also decided he wants to be an outdoor cat, too.

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He doesn’t go far.  Just enough to show me he can do what he likes.  Brat.  All my animals are brats.

The Caterpillars

I went out last month to harvest my carrots in preparation for planting a fall crop, and found them covered in these:

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I did some quick research and identified them as Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  A bit more research, and I brought 4 of them into the house to hatch.  Kept stuffing them full of carrot tops, and 5 days later they were all tucked away in their chrysalises.

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You can just see two of them hanging from the top of the habitat there.  Not as pretty as monarch chrysalises, but interesting nonetheless.  We used to hatch monarchs every summer when I was a kid, so this was a flashback for me.  But these guys were so late in the season, they’ll stay wrapped up now until spring.  We just have to keep the habitat a little humid so they don’t dry out this winter.  I look forward to seeing them in the spring!

So that’s the zoo.  For now.  I don’t forsee us getting anything more, but in this house, you never know…

The Bench

The Bench

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So, this is the bench.  Isn’t it cute?  Simple, but with some nice wood turning.  Well worn but not too beat ups.  The finish is worn, but there aren’t any gouges or chipped off pieces.  Just a nice, sturdy little piece.

Taffy likes it, too.

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Actually, all the rabbits like it.  Not sure why.  I guess it’s just the right height for them.

Obviously the seat needed to be recovered, but I wanted to do something about the finish as well.  Not strip it, because I didn’t want to lose the look, but just filling in the pale spots.  I had some red mahogany stain in the basement from when I stained my spinning wheel, so I decided to just give the whole thing a coat of that and then a coat of wax.  I gathered my materials and got to work.

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I didn’t take enough pictures of the process, because it got downright funny at times.  The stain went on in about 5 minutes, then I washed up and got to work on the seat.  Loki and Sam were both in, and they wanted to help with that.  I don’t know what was in the old fabric, but they both kept chewing on it like it was the best thing they’d ever eaten.  I got that and the padding off easily (it just came apart as I tugged on it) and then got down to prying out the brads that had held it in place.  That was not so easy, and did end up drawing blood a couple of times, as I had to pry them out with a screwdriver.  It didn’t help that Sam was still going for the fabric which I was using the catch the tacks while Loki was using the board itself as a sliding board.  Talk about being double teamed!

Once that was all cleaned up, I set the foam in place, lined up the fabric and started stapling.  I maybe should have gotten a slightly larger piece of foam or some batting to wrap it in, because even with pulling the fabric tight before I stapled it, there’s still a bit of hollow space around the edges.  But otherwise it looks great.  The paisleys in the fabric centered really nicely.

I wiped off the extra stain and then let it sit overnight.  Then Monday I applied the wax.  Just one coat, enough to seal in the new stain without diminishing the aged quality of the old varnish.  Then it was just a matter of screwing the seat back in place and taking the “after” pictures!

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I have just enough of the fabric left that if I was a decent seamstress, I would love to make it into a little box bag with buttoned straps to attach to one arm and keep my spinning notions in.  But other than that, it’s just absolutely perfect.  For $1 (plus $25 in materials.  Oops.) I have a perfect little spinning bench!

Fair Share

Fair Share

That was a long weekend.

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Our babies did good, though.  Both Tux and Taffy took First Place and Best in Breed, which meant they got to complete for Best in Show.  They didn’t win, but it was an honor just to be nominated! 😉

And I ended up on display on Saturday!  Hero wanted me there for the day on Saturday, so I took my travel wheel and camped out behind the cages out of everyone’s way and started working on a project for Nerdopolis.  Within 10 minutes one of the club parents asked me if I’d mind sitting out front where people could see me and answering questions.  Thank goodness I’d brought the yarn I’d made from Taffy’s fur!  Since I was spinning sheep, and Masham, which is not a very soft fiber, at that, I was able to show the difference between different fibers and let people fondle the yummy finished yarn.  I played Find the Rabbit That Made This with some of the kids, and they got a kick out of that!

And Peggy got a new forever home!  It was hard to let her go, but her new home is everything we could have hoped for her.  This boy who I think was about Xander’s age and who I think also had learning disabilities, camped out in front of her for about an hour, insisting to his parents that he wanted her.  I think they were hesitant, but the grandmother of one of Hero’s 4H friends talked to them for about half an hour, answering any questions they had and telling them about the club.  They convinced him to join, and while he was over at the petting table, they bought her for him as a surprise.  The absolute joy on his face when they gave her to him was worth everything!  And he’s going to be in the club, so Hero will still get to see her occasionally.  Peggy needed to be an only rabbit, and she is going to get spoiled rotten, I can just tell.  It really was the best result we could have hoped for.  It was hard letting her go, though.  We were all a little teary afterwards.  Even Hero’s friend with the grandmother said, “I’m getting teary and I’ve only known her for a DAY!”

Sam, however, didn’t sell, which I don’t mind too much.  Sam is my favorite, so I don’t mind keeping her around.  She may yet get a different home, though.  Just before the fair, one of Hero’s school friends was asking about adopting one of ours into their herd, as her dad’s rabbit is sick with cancer.  There just wasn’t enough time for everyone to meet the rabbits and see if any of them would fit well into their group, but I think Sam would be best suited for that environment anyway, as she plays better with others.  So Hero has reached out to her, and we’ll see if anything comes of it.

If not, we have space for 4 rabbits now.  While they were all gone, I had the boys clean out the shed as best they could, and we set up a formal rabbitry space there.

 
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It still needs some work. We want better platforms to hold the crates, and I’m trying to score old carpet to cover the floor. But it’s a good start. Hero’s going to hang her bunny crossing sign in there.

It was a little traumatic the first night.  Hero didn’t like not having them in the house where she could spoil them easily, but there just wasn’t enough room indoors for all of them.  Even I was a little anxious.  Were they okay?  What if something happened?  Loki apparently didn’t like it, but that may just be because she’s never been anywhere but in the house.  And Taffy pulled out some of her fur, which made us all nervous, but in the end I think that was just because she was hot.  We tried grooming her, but nothing came off.  We did put a fan in the window to improve the circulation, and we’ve got a clamp light in there now so Hero can see at night when she feeds and waters them.  They all get time in the house every day, but now they’re confined to the kitchen and pantry, which are easier to clean up.  Which makes me happy in a selfish way.  I scrubbed the hell out of the dining room floor in all the spots they’d been using as toilets and mopped and waxed the whole thing, and we cleaned the living room and hall as well.  So the house is now relatively fit for company.  Which makes me feel a little more relaxed and in control.  And with the rabbitry set up, we’re in better shape for next year’s breeding program.  We’re looking for a French male to breed her with in the spring, and I may have him breed Loki and Sam, too, just to see what we get out of them.  Once we have working rabbits, then Tux may come back into the house, as he really is a pet.  That distinction between pet and animal is a fine one, but I think that’s one of the lessons we need to start learning now if we plan to be farmers.

So, thus ends another 4H year.  Next year’s project will be more practical, in that Hero gets to learn how to make a rabbit carrier instead of having to do a poster, and we know what her plans are for the rabbits, with the breeding plan. Which, it turns out, is actually a 4th year assignment!  So she’ll be ahead of the game.  But for now, we’re just going to take a deep breath and rest on our laurels for a little bit.

And I guess I need to develop a better rabbit-centric spinning demo…

 

It Must Be Bunnies

It Must Be Bunnies

I was going to write a big, long, chewy post.  But I don’t have it in me.  Have some bunnies instead.

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This is them at birth almost 3 weeks ago.  One all black one didn’t survive delivery, and the black and pink patch one didn’t make it past the second day.  But we ended up with four healthy kits.

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This is Jarvis/Pepper. (Now we’re pretty sure she’s a she, so she’s been renamed.)

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And Peggy.

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Tasha, now Sam (again, we think he’s a boy).  He’s a wiggler.

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And Loki.  We’re pretty sure she’s a she, but the name works either way (let’s hear it for the god of genderbending!)

They looked like naked mole rats at birth, but still kind of creepily cute.  It’s really interesting how their pattern shows on their skin even though they had no fur at all, not even fuzz.  We couldn’t figure out, though, what color Loki was going to be.  Peggy and Pepper were obviously going to look like their dad, and Sam was going to be black, but Loki’s skin tone was a completely different shade from P/P, so we weren’t sure what color she was going to be.

A week later:

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All the kids are starting to fluff up.

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Peggy and Pepper

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Sam and Loki.  Notice Loki’s getting this lovely buff color.  We got harassed for not naming the blond Thor.

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A week later they filled that box.

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Peggy takes after her namesake and likes to sleep in weird positions.

Just a few days later, they’ve already learned how to get in and out of the crate themselves.  They chase their poor mother all over the dining room looking for another meal.  For a while she would hide in her litter box, but they can get in there now, too.

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Now, at almost three weeks, they are already eating hay and trying Mom’s pellets, and Peggy has figured out how to drink from the water bottle.  It seems way too early, but we’ll actually be thinking about weaning them in just a couple more weeks.  Which I’m sure will make Mom happy.

We’re having way too much fun with them, and it’s going to be hard to adopt them out when the time comes.  I suspect we’re going to be keeping Sam and Loki, but we have a home lined up for one of the others already.  If we can’t re-home the other, we’ll put her up for sale at the 4H Fair in August.

Of course, we may not be done.  About a week after these guys were born, we caught Tux and Taffy together AGAIN.  Since she can be re-bred three days after giving birth, we are now on the countdown again.  If she is pregnant, they’ll be due by the 18th of June, just in time for us to go away for our first camping trip of the summer.  *sigh*  It’s definitely time to think about getting Tux snipped.  And possibly Sam, if he does turn out to be a he.  Even if we do get a second litter, though, they’ll be old enough to sell at the fair as well.  So timing wise, it’s not too bad.

I still want to get her properly bred to another Angora, though.  I’m already starting plans for our rabbitry out back. I just need $750 and a hammer…

 

Hippity Hop

Hippity Hop

Well, yesterday’s post was pretty timely.

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I got home from work yesterday to find Hero really upset.  “Mom, she had a mouthful of fur!  I didn’t know rabbits ate their own fur!”

Here we go.

See, one of the signs that a rabbit is about to give birth (or kindle, but that has such a different connotation these days) is that they start building a nest, which they line with their own fur.  Taffy wasn’t eating it, she was collecting it.  So while Hero did her homework, Morgan and I got out the nursery crate.  This is a large wire crate that we used to use to take the rabbits back and forth to 4H meetings, but it seemed just the right size for a birthing suite.  Lined it with an old towel, put in her litter box, water, hay and food, and then put in the nesting box, which is just a dishpan that we put rags, hay and the bits of fur she’d collected in.  Then we put her in to get used to it.

She promptly trashed the place.

Thankfully she didn’t turn over the litter box as she is wont to do, but the food was tipped over in a flash, and by the time I went to bed, she had the nesting box upside down.  Okay, fine, she’ll figure it out.

Well, she must have.  Hero heard squeaking noises around 10:30 or 11, but couldn’t tell where they were coming from.  She was the first one downstairs this morning, but she came right back up.  “Mom, there’s a baby bunny!”  I got dressed quick and went down to see.  Taffy was contentedly hanging out next to the litter box, which was covered with the nesting box.  I opened the top of the crate to take out the nesting box and saw a pile of hay and fluff move on the floor beside it.  Basically she had used the floor of the crate as her nesting box, which, hey, worked out fine!  Carefully we started removing the rags to reveal the little kits.  Four live ones and one that didn’t make it, poor thing.  One of the live ones had fluff twisted around her neck, so we carefully cut that away.  She seemed to relax after that.  We buried the stillborn one, reset the nesting box for the rest, and gave Taffy a reward carrot.  Then Hero had to go to school, although I was able to work from home for the day.  So now I’m sitting at the dining room table, watching little mounds of fluff moving around in a dishpan.  It’s exciting!

As you can see from the picture above, the fluff isn’t theirs.  They are born nekkity nekkity naked, although their skin is patterned in what I assume will be their fur pattern.  One looks like mom, one like dad, one a mix of the two, and one might end up being albino.  If she does, she’s getting named Dynamite, as in “That rabbit’s…”  We think they’re all girls.  It looks like they all have two holes, which seems to indicate female.  At the moment, their names are Tasha, May, Peggy and Sif. I’m waiting until tonight to do record keeping so Hero can be part of that.  More learning experience for her!

Not sure at the moment if we’ll be keeping any of them.  I want to see how their fur comes in.  If any of them seem like they’d be good fiber bunnies, I might.  Otherwise, some of Hero’s friends are already laying claim, and any we don’t adopt out we can sell at the 4H fair in August.  If nothing else, this gives Hero a bigger kick in the butt to get her project book done!

It’s a zoo around here!

It’s a zoo around here!

Last Thursday, we were all running late and scrambling to get out the door on time.  Suddenly Morgan comes thundering down the stairs shouting, “There are vultures in the back yard!”  Now, bear in mind, we live in a neighborhood of tightly packed twins with small yards in the middle of friggin’ town.  Vultures, yeah, not something we see.  I go to look out the laundry room window, and sure enough, there are two big turkey vultures in our yard!

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My first thought was a) where were the cat and rabbits? and 2) are the neighbor’s dogs out?  It didn’t seem like it, although there was a Frisbee in the neighbor’s yard that one of them was sitting by briefly, so maybe they got confused.  Or maybe they smelled the rabbit litter in our compost.  Although they didn’t seem too interested in the compost bins.  So who knows.  I tried not to take it as an omen for the day.  They are impressive birds in the air, but on the ground they are UGly, although still BIG.

And speaking of the rabbits, we’re on kindle watch at the moment.  Taffy started acting strangely a couple of weeks ago, digging up the litter boxes like she was trying to get to China.  She’d never done this before, so I looked it up.  Oh goodie, it’s a sign that she might be pregnant.  Not that we weren’t going to try to breed her this year, but I wanted to breed her with another angora.  We have had two incidences in the last month where she and Tux were both out of their crates at the same time, though, so…  Apparently the digging starts at about 2 weeks, so if she is pregnant, we should start seeing nesting behavior this week or next.  Part of me kind of wants her to be, just because we’ve never had newborn critters in our house, and I can vividly remember our cats having kittens when I was a kid (once under the couch I was watching TV on!) and still kind of love those memories.  Hero’s friends are already putting in adoption requests for if she does have any, and the rest will be old enough to go to new homes by the time of the 4H fair in August, so this is a good time for it to happen if it has.  But still, oy.

Gratuitous Rabbit Post

Gratuitous Rabbit Post

Taffy

So obviously my photography skills need some work.  Although I doubt I would ever be able to get a non-fuzzy picture of this critter.  She never holds still for very long.  But yes, as you can see, this is our beautiful, sophisticated French Angora rabbit, eating out of the cat’s food dish.  It’s not that she’s starving.  Hero feeds her twice a day.  But as soon as her cage is opened, she’s off like a shot straight to the catfood.  The only thing we can think is that we were told she needed higher protein food for a few months, and I’m guessing the supplements we’re giving her may not be enough, so she’s making up for it with the catfood.

Or else she thinks she’s a cat.  Hard to tell.