rachels.haven's Journal

rachels.haven

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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.
 

Xerocles

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I won't do captive bolt then. I think I could handle killing it just by throating it but of course I'd rather not. I'd rather be humane, plus noise is a factor.
Several concerns on owning a fire arm here. My main one is as follows: The kids' doctors require you to disclose your firearm status. They write it down. It ends up in their state database. That makes me uncomfortable. They may not take away your guns, but give them any reason to take your kids and I'm sure they will. My kids are safe, healthy, stable, and happy. I wouldn't trust the state with them worth a goat duki.

My husband is mostly worried about his crazy kids somehow managing to get into it at any time of them living at home. He is also more center leaning in his views on politics (not left, not right) and I think he feels owning a gun will somehow push him right. BUT a gun is still just a tool though-a tool state agencies told me to get as they offer no protection for my children against their wild animals. It also, strangely enough, feels like caving to the wackadoodle lefters here to me. It's like they're saying, " don't want to be a good little indoor dwelling follower? Fine, be pushed into this box with other state declared "undesirables" so we can find ways to abuse you and tell you what to do better" which makes me realize why every farmer and sportsman around here that I've met seems sad and bitter. The state mistreats them by over taxing, loading them up with far too many laws they MUST follow or be punished, and not supporting them at all. But I digress.

So basically, it's complicated why we don't have a gun here. The simple of it is that I don't feel good about it here yet. We are licensed. When/ if the situation arises where we need one we will get one that day, if at all possible. Until then, I wield an ax handle from the ax collection the previous owner left. I may buy a baseball bat or keep my own small personal ax accessible. It's good for dispatching and inflicting major damage and not awkward but not too small. I keep it sharp.

Oddly enough, I'd feel more comfortable owning a gun in a place like TN, where I'm less likely to need one because the neighbors usually enjoy shooting or trapping or have simply already done the vermin dispatching because it's open season on vermin in general. The state is less hostile.

I can get my goats dispatched for me if I have to, no worries. Dwarves grow slowly anyway. I'd like them to be at least 50 lbs first, but I'd take 40. That may be more like 7-9 months rather than just a few. Saffron the lamancha's 9 or 10 week old wether is about 40-50 lbs NOW, for perspective. If the dwarves wethers reach weight by winter or early spring I could always book them then in the offseason when I see they're going to reach that point soon if I can't find someone to pay and do it for me. That slaughter house charges $40 to dispatch. I'd pay someone $40 to come to my house and dispatch one properly, or I'd be happy to bring them to the slaughter house and have them dispatch and bleed out and I can bring home and do the rest.
I'm a couple days late to this party, but I just gotta stick my big nose in here. The doctor asks if you have guns in the house? Seriously? I'd have to say "None of your D@#* business (and it isn't)....and as much as I hate to lie about ANYTHING..... if forced by law, I'd look them straight in the eye and LIE. Do they also ask if you drink alcohol, smoke pot, have extra-marital affairs or drive over the speed limit? Ultimate silliness.
Now, I am a self-professed "gun nut", but I never encourage anyone that they should own a gun. Personal choice. Your life, your decision.
BUT. One statement you made.
"When/ if the situation arises where we need one we will get one that day, if at all possible."
PLEASE, please, please...reconsider this. It's like saying, when I need to travel out of state, I'll buy a car.
Buy a gun, don't buy a gun. Like I said, your decision. But. If it's ever a possibility, do it NOW. Take additional classes to train yourself with THAT PARTICULAR GUN. And PRACTICE, on a regular basis.
It's like a teenager borrowing a friend's car, learning just enough laws to pass the driving test, and never driving again till they're 30 yrs old and buying a Corvette.
Guns and cars are most dangerous (to their owners and innocent bystanders) in the hands of those not trained and familiar with their proper use.
Apologies. I'm far from MA, and I don't have a dog in this fight. But as an American who values my right to own firearms, I must give sound counsel when I hear things like this. One untrained person having an "accident" gives the rest of us a bad name.
 

rachels.haven

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...oh dear, that's a scary idea. Yes, please no keys for the boys to the heavy, cutty, cool colored, choppy thing-and yes, it has keys, that are hidden somewhere. I have a hard enough time keeping them out of the washing machine and using it as a "merry go round" (dkfjsldkjsdlkfj!!!!! on so many levels!).
...come to think of it, I don't think we're anywhere far enough from the me saving them from themselves phase.
 

rachels.haven

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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.
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He's really very cute and petite looking normally when he's not limp.
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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.
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rachels.haven

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Not much going on lately. Kicked the bucks out of the house into the garage where they were originally planned to go. Chicks hatched. Broodies brooding. Gander figured out how to gander. Baby rabbits growing. I got put on meds for bad circulation, so now cold isn't so painful and my joints aren't angry. It's going to rain over here very soon. But hey, people like pictures, so here are pictures! Some are repetitive. Still haven't gotten good pictures of the does and the black otter kit. My camera decided on it's own to video from that point on, though so none of them turned out. Annoying, but whatever. My kids are being crazy, so no time to think about that atm.
 
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