Summer is here and the babies have left. And ELEVEN more are here to stay. I just can’t get over how awesome a mama Socorro is and how well she raised such a healthy and happy first litter. This is the final tally for our first litter of eight:
Three for our pot
One for a friend’s pot
One to a friend for breeding stock
Three to a nice lady for breeding stock
The rabbit experiment has not as a whole have not paid for itself yet, but this first litter has paid for itself which is rewarding. Encouragement is sweet.
The babies came and went so quickly. With less than a week since our last bun flew the coup, Socorroo gave birth to the eleven healthy little peanuts on Friday. Socorro had been diligently perfecting her nest for over a week, so it was about time. But eleven is a huge litter. Rabbits only have eight teats, so Socorro is working overtime to keep the the little guys plump and well fed. I’m only a little worried–she’s such a good mom. I think they’ll all pull through in the end and the fact that they’re fat and happy now is a good sign. However, the arrival of the new babes coincided with the start of a ridiculous heatwave which is not the greatest thing.
We’re used to warm, dry summers here in Western Oregon, but multiple 90+ degree days in row, in June no less! is very unusual. It’s a little bit of a worrying start to an already warm and dry drought year. And most Oregonians, including us, do not own air conditioners. And rabbits are sensitive to heat. This means the rabbits have moved into the garage, laid claim to our one box fan and are hanging out next to frozen water bottles. And it also means that I bought one of the last fans Target had in stock yesterday for the house. Sadly, the heat is not going to let up anytime soon.But at least the tomatoes are happy. And luckily my job is flexible enough that I can work from home on the hottest of days and make sure the buns stay alive. So life is good! And as we fight the heat, please enjoy the latest garden pics. The little tiny babies are hidden in a cool, fanned garage right now, with awful lighting, but updates on them to come soon. ELEVEN though! That’s a darn lota babies.
I spend a lot of time day dreaming about the future farm and all of its little pieces. Its animals, plants, barns, fences, house, and stream. And I spend a little time planning. But mostly day dreaming. I have a notebook outline of a rough-a-round-about-someday-soon-?-farm-plan , but I think it’s time to put in some serious library and bookstore hours to expand my knowledge base and turn some of those nebulous daydreams into more realistic things-I-can-actually-accomplish-in-the-next-couple-years-plans.
My productive time–when I can manage it– is spent in the garden and with the rabbits. The bunnies are still pretty cute, but also gigantic. We had to harvest two of the eight last night. I browned one in bacon fat this morning and stuck it in the crock pot on low with a whole mess of fresh thyme, rosemary, and bacon, white wine, and rabbit stock. It was incredibly tender and paired well with garlic mashed potatoes this evening. We thanked the young rabbit who provided us with the delicious meal. The lucky bugger sure had a great life while it lasted. I wouldn’t have minded letting the two we harvested get a bit bigger, but they outgrew their hutch and it seemed worse to let all eight stay in a crowded situation.
I felt much more comfortable with the butchering this time and did a nice clean job. The actual slaughter was still hard though (and I should mention M helped with all of this). The mixture of anticipation, adrenaline, and sadness is exhausting. I went to bed feeling drained, but good about the farm.
Not only does the litter provide us with meat, but I am excited to say that Quiet Owl Farm will have its first bit of income. My dear friend will be adopting M’s favorite bun (whom he named Harriet Houdini for her enterprising ways) in exchange for some delicious duck eggs. Another friend will be coming on Sunday to purchase a rabbit and learn how to harvest it. And I sold the final three to a homesteadin’ lady from Facebook who will pick them up Saturday. It sounds like she’s been interested in American Chinchillas for a while and has been waiting to find some that are reasonably priced. What luck for both of us!
I’ve been investing a fair amount of money into these guys over the last several months and all of this means that the equivalent of Socorro, Jimmy, and a sack of feed have paid for themselves. Oh, and I’m 95% darn sure Socorro is expecting since she was carrying around mouthfuls of hay and attempting to build a nest. If all goes well another litter will be here soon, the rabbits will eventually pay for themselves and I may even make a small profit. And that’s not counting the boundless manure supply and meat we keep. This sales step is certainly encouraging. There’s definitely a market for heritage breed rabbits in this area and I look forward to doing a little business with the community as we enjoy this lovely breed.