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rachels.haven's Journal

Discussion in 'Member's "BackYardHerds" Journals' started by rachels.haven, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Jan 26, 2018
    rachels.haven

    rachels.haven True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    Hi out there! Normally I don't really care to share much and would much rather hear about others' adventures, but I'm having a lapse of normal judgement, so I think I'm going to start my thread. I've kept yard birds of various forms for a long time, but just started keeping rabbits, and when writing up pedigrees you need a rabbitry name, so this year when I decided to start breeding rabbits in earnest we became Firebird Gardens. We are very much not a farm, unfortunately. We live in a suburb of Detroit, on an acre that I've filled with fruit trees and vines and bushes and a large, fenced in vegetable garden, and every year the lady muscovy stuff our yard with more ducklings than I want to count. I typically put male ducklings in the freezer by 16 weeks and the female ducklings get sold to others who have had losses the previous winter or who are just getting started. The beef duck is great, but I really love my drake Elvis, and Cocoa is not so bad a character, just a little chubby and lazy. The girls are pinchy and huffy and all obsessed with eggs to the point of having little personality, so they typically don't get names, but I definitely know who they are. This year I kept 5 females back. Two are solid chocolate to go with my drake Cocoa, and two are cream pied, one is lavender pied. Elvis carries dilute genes, so his ducklings wind up fun and surprising colors.

    We also breed red English Orpington chickens. They are currently mostly preoccupied laying eggs and fighting with the pilgrim geese through the fence, so there's not much to talk about them right now. They're a great meat and egg breed for this far north, although I admit, I always make sure they have at least 10 hours of light and food and water always in the shed so they stay fat and lay all year after molt. This is my first year lighting the shed. For the last few years the hens got skinny in the winter, so I'd worm them and just pray they'd make it. This year I decided to try lengthening the days with a single puck LED so they'd have more time to eat and drink, and lo and behold, my birds stayed nice and fat, and after molt, they resumed laying at a decent rate. We also have a 4 gallon horizontal chicken nipple bucket with an aquarium heater in it so they never go without clean water, ducks or no ducks. That whole setup is sitting in a stainless steel stock feed pan, so said ducks don't turn my shed into a slop house and frostbite heaven when they get bored.

    My mini rexes came into the picture two years ago when I decided I wanted something that actually let me hold it. And I'm allergic to cats, and minorly allergic to dogs, so something else was going to have to fill the void. I got a broken black doe with fantastic fur quality from my Mom, turned her into a sort of house pet (I despise frozen water bottle and crock season that much). Later I bred her to one of my mom's very nice bucks, and got the black doe (we call her Apple) I currently have. Much later I got a very nice breeding pair of red mini rexes from my Mother, who needed the cage space.

    At the moment, both of my does live indoors. Kits raised inside with my two preschoolers running around wind up pretty much bombproof and are very handleable for showing (how do you not constantly hold baby rabbits that live in the house?) so the does will probably stay in for now, at least until the weather warms.

    My bucks, I'm not sure what I will do with them. Right now they are in due to winter, but I'd like to have an outdoor setup later, at least in the garage. Probably going to build a cage rack and tuck it away back with the rest of my animal stuff. My red buck, who the kids have named Benjamin Buck Bunny (oops, didn't name him fast enough) will not potty train, so he's going back to a wire cage, which I don't normally like looking at in my house, but this is an exception in the name of sanitation. He's sweet and loves the kids and to be handled, but potties absolutely everywhere in his cage EXCEPT for his litter box no matter where you move it, so in the name of sanitation, I think he needs to be housed like a proper rabbit, not whatever it is I've turned the females into. My other buck is a tiny black otter (Beaman Buck Bunny, also lost that naming war) and he does potty train, but does not enjoy people. Both bucks are upstairs in my front room due to some husband related de-contstruction that was going on last night in my basement where I was housing them for the winter away from the does. We have bunnies due the first few days of February, and man, I've missed that. I grew up with parents breeding meat rabbits, so there were always babies around (and they just in the last 8 years or so switched to mini rex). My kids are terrified of bald baby bunnies because they're not cute like ducklings or chicks when they "hatch". The kids also think rabbits lay eggs, and for now I think I'll leave it that way.

    We have geese too. They are pilgrims, and I might be selling them when I get to the end of my patience with them if my mom doesn't want them. This fighting with all other birds thing is really not fun for them. They deserve to be walking the yard, picking at what's left of our grass, and instead the breeding season has rendered them pen birds. This is our first year with them, and normally the yard is fairly peaceful right now, but the geese want to fight through the fence and the chickens are loving it ALL DAY LONG (what's the deal with those dense, crotchety, war-mongering, ridiculously fluffy hens?!). Honestly, if the chickens weren't the ones making the eggs my family prefers I'd probably just have my muscovy duckers and I definitely wouldn't have the geese.

    I'm thinking of adding a pair of dairy goats to our mix. Our township allows it, I can build a decent sized shed for them, and I've got plenty of time to care for them every day, but I've got an entire fence line of 30 foot trees to clear all by myself so I can replace the old field fencing and put up a goat pen to keep the goats out of my fruit trees. The husband is not yet on board with the goats, so hiring to do the clearing is not in the budget. Last year I did about 20 feet of it, which came out to be about a dozen large sumac trees to burn (yes, I CAN do it!). This year I might get a chainsaw, but for now I'm using a bow saw and a hatchet. Unfortunately we only burned 2/3 of the wood before the snow came and now we have one of our hundreds of groundhogs living under the pile. I'm probably going to enlarge our burn pit and just move the pile into it and burn it one of these days when I get a chance. I wish I could clear faster, but I can't take down trees with kids in the yard, so last fall I used their TV time to do trees every day, and I'd do one or two per day, saw them up into light enough pieces, and drag them back to the pile for stacking. The kids are no longer into TV, so we'll see what happens this year. I might have to be a weekend warrior and make DH watch them. Maybe I'll negotiate for some budget and get some help. It won't be cheap, is the main problem. It's hard work, the property is very long, and felling trees makes lots and lots of burn wood. I'm definitely rounding up what I've already done because those trees are trying to return with a vengeance, as sumac trees tend to do.

    Well, that's that right now. I'll get pictures of everything later. My two year old broke the camera as his major accomplishment this week and we're not smart phone users, so I either get to use my kindle's camera, which comes out grainy, or maybe try to turn my laptop webcam into a camera somehow, which I'm less optimistic about. I think I'll just get a new camera...but that takes time, and I just used up all of my "I feel like being on the computer" time for today already.

    So hi out there, if anyone reads this! And sorry for the lack of photos.
     
  2. Jan 26, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Well, seems like you lead a pretty busy life! Thanks for sharing :) I'm on board to follow your journey, or ranting, or just sharing what's going on. Good luck with the Feb bunnies.
     
    Senile_Texas_Aggie likes this.
  3. Jan 27, 2018
    rachels.haven

    rachels.haven True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    Thank you :)
    I know it's not BYC, but here's a picture of my favorite rooster I had laying around. I might make him my profile pic for a while until the new camera comes. IMG_20180127_114715.jpg
     
  4. Jan 27, 2018
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Herd Master

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    He's beautiful - and welcome from TX!
     
    Senile_Texas_Aggie likes this.
  5. Jan 27, 2018
    rachels.haven

    rachels.haven True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    Thanks. He's currently getting beat up by his brooder mate over the hens, but he's eventually going to get it all to himself.

    Here's a very dignified picture of my red mini Rex buck who just goes to mush when handled and therefore will not pose. HE'S now my avatar. IMG_20180125_172144.jpg

    He's really very cute and petite looking normally when he's not limp. IMG_20180125_172238.jpg
    But he's only willing to do that running around, and that's no good. I'm working on it. The kids let him out here. Rabbits with unpredictable restroom habits are not normally allowed to do this.
    IMG_20180125_172433.jpg
     
  6. Jan 27, 2018
    Sara Ranch

    Sara Ranch Overrun with beasties

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    It's not easy getting started! :)

    I'm with you - I am not much for sharing personal stuffs online, but I have found this site to be very comfortable.

    Lol - and girl, welcome to the club (we are the only two members right now) that cut the wood by hand with a handsaw!

    Baby steps. Keep plugging away at your goals. You'll get there.
     
  7. Jan 27, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Not envious of either of you ladies having to use a hand saw of any sort for land clearing. You know you can get a chain saw pretty cheaply, right? Doesn't need to be a logger's version... just a smaller yard work model will probably do. There are also better electric versions today with more powerful batteries for light work. Handsome roo, and nice looking bunny.
     
    Senile_Texas_Aggie likes this.
  8. Jan 28, 2018
    rachels.haven

    rachels.haven True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    Thanks! No, price isn't an issue. I'm just paranoid of it bouncing back or getting dropped...or breaking it via pinching or something. Honestly I probably just need someone to show me how to use a chainsaw the right way and make sure I'm doing it right, just once and I'd be fine. It's significantly harder to cut your hand off with a bow saw and a little hatchet, at least in my mind. My husband is not the outdoors working type so he doesn't know how to use one either, so I don't really have anyone that can teach me (DH does outdoors work and has even built a really nice 8x10 shed, but it's all been learned in the last 4 years since we acquired a house and it hasn't been without injuries and stupid mistakes). I was taught lots of house, yard, and basic homestead maintenance, but the parents adhered to the old mindset of the boys getting to use the power tools, the girls not so I do not know today. Husband's even teaching me to use his table saw that he learned how to use last year (lol). And in my parents' defense, DH's parents taught him no outdoors or manual labor skills.
    I will probably set about learning the ins and outs of a chain saw this year in the spring. It's too much work to do with the hand tools alone. Youtube is good, and the internet can help.
     
  9. Jan 28, 2018
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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  10. Jan 28, 2018
    rachels.haven

    rachels.haven True BYH Addict Golden Herd Member

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    Thanks! YouTube is great. Its how DH learned to build this and he's a programmer by day. IMG_20180128_114916.jpg

    Here are the young lady muscovies before they get all egg obsessed. The older one is already nesting.
    IMG_20180128_114808.jpg

    IMG_20180128_114802.jpg