Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Bad Hair Bunnies

You might remember that less than two weeks ago, the little bunnies looked like this:

They were smallerish and managableish, and they lived in an old cat litter box, because we give only the best here. 

Not anymore.

They have a case of "bad hair", because it sticks out all over the place.  Which is adorable, of course.

They also refuse to stay in one spot, and have had to move to a cage instead of their snazzy litterbox, because they wouldn't stay put.

They enjoy perching.

And leaving tiny pellets all over the house, which prompted my daughter to make a "diaper" for them, of sorts.

Note the extra room in the rear for "pellet storage". 
No, they did not like them. But my daughter got a kick out of them.

Personally, I think they look like fireflies with them on.  Festive fireflies.

The one thing that has not changed?  They still love mealtime.

They are good little bunnies, and sweet as can be.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Nine, Three, Five, One

Nine is the number of kits that Camille, our Satin Angora, gave birth to last night.


Nine is the number of little bodies I pulled out of her cage this morning.  She chose to have the babies everywhere but in her nest, and they all froze to death. 

It is a huge loss.

Three is the number of bunny babies that awaited me when I was done with my chores for their feeding.  Three is the number of babies that Daphne didn't want, and the number of babies who live in the house and are cared for by me.

Three is the number of little bunny babies who climb up into my lap without a moment's pause.  Who will curl into the crook of an arm to sleep.  Who fight over who gets to drink from the syringe first, even though they eat nibbles all day long from the pellet tray.

They are a joy.  We have named them Collette, who is a Black Tort, just like Daddy.  Roy, who is just black, and Pickle, who is black as well.  Pickle is the super special one--the one who will follow me anywhere, the first to jump into my lap or hand just to say "hi".  She is currently perched on my arm as I type.  We are together often.

The three help me feel better about the nine.

Five is the number of goat kids I got to snuzzle today when I went to help a new friend out with her goats.  Two of the littles were only a week old.  I had forgotten how small babies can be, especially after looking at my 115 pound "babies" all the time. 

One was the number of baby goats who sucked on my finger for a while and fell asleep, like she'd just eaten a good meal.  We had never met, but she trusted me implicitly.

The one made me feel better about everything.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

It Goes and It Goes

Well, the Dulci question is still out there.  Her heat is about over, but he refused her the entire time.  I can't figure it out.  She looks bred to me, so maybe it's wacky hormones.  Maybe it was because the weather was nice.  Very strange either way.

I am trying to come out of "hibernation mode" right now.  I resisted it a long time this winter.  I painted the kitchen cabinets, I painted trim, I brought new goats home, but it happened anyway.  It was grey and snowy so long last month that I just did my chores and then curled up with a good book.  UGH.  As much as I love to relax, I hate coming out of it.  And it's time, baby, it's time.

First, it's this time again:

Does that look familiar?  How about now? 

Oh yeah, it's tappin' time!  I was late this year.  I kept thinking it should be the second week of February, then it snowed, and I didn't get out there to tap until the 11th.  I should have started on the 1st, so I was pretty late.  Ah, we make due, right?

No matter, because I upped the "tappage" this year from 16 spiles (I keep wanting to call them splines) to 29 spiles.  In the last three days, I have gotten 37 gallons of sap.  37.  Last year it took me a week to get 10 gallons.  This year, I got 10 gallons the first day (and 15 the next, but who's counting?).  I honestly believe that though the number of spiles helps, it's the colder weather that's making the sap run better.  Last year was not cold enough.  This year absolutely has been.

We are using the turkey fryer method again, this time the one my brother bought us last year.  The dang thing is rocket powered and is cooking like a champ.  I am very pleased with it, but I would still like to switch to wood.  The propane is expensive, and the wood is not.  That will be on my list for the next time, I think.  For now, I'm super duper happy to have this working well.

I met my neighbor who lives behind me when I was tying up the taps the other day.  He's the one I copied last year when I had no idea when to start.  He's a very nice man, and was pleased as punch to see that someone else tapped their trees, too.  He's been doing it for 26 years, so you know, a minute or two.  We talked shop a little, and I've made a new friend.  So nice!!

Let's see....what else?  It snowed.  There's a shocker.

It's a real pretty snow, the kind that brings all the trees closer to you, somehow.  The pictures cannot capture the feeling no matter how I take them.  It makes me glad to live in the woods.  Though, I'm always glad to live in the woods, so it's really just a bonus.

And I'm building again.  Oh, I love building.  We've moved the red coopette to the "front yard", and I'm building a screened run for the fancy chickens.  The three little silkies are loving the garage, but they need to move out.  I am expecting chicks next month (supposedly), and I don't want them in with the chicks, eating all the food.  So the little coopette is cleaned, and the run is being built.  And I'm loving every minute of it, don't you know.  :)

On the rabbit front?  I thought you would ask!  It looks like Camille has been bred (to Buckley, which was planned), as she's digging to nowheresville in her house and making a hell of a mess.  All my girls seem to make a hell of a mess before they get "nesty".  I don't know why.  Unfortunately, it looks like Bella may have been bred, too.  Freaking PJB.  He hopped the fence one day when she was in the next run outside on the only non-snowy day we had in January.  I found her hiding in the corner, away from him, but he may have gotten to her.  She's digging to China, too, and that's a pretty good indicator on her part.  Grrr.... we'll have to see.  All of those bunnies will go up for adoption, though, even if I have to donate them to Agway.  Not a one of the last litter is making a good fiber rabbit, sweet as they are.  I just don't have the space.

I saved the best for last,you know.  The little abandoned bunny boos?  Well, they are doing just fine, thank you for asking.
We call her "big Bertha".  She is huge, compared to the little black ones.

This is feeding position.  She has just finished scarfing down 13 ccs of milk.

Growing like weeds, just like they should.  In fact, they outgrew their little nest box and have been jumping/falling over the sides, so they've been moved to classier digs.

Yep, that's an old (and clean) litter box.  We are purely class here. 

They have more space and plenty of hay to nibble, if they're so inclined, which they have been.  I also put feed, but they don't understand it yet.  They will.  Mom will come in to feed only at night now, and very reluctantly.  I think she may be drying up, because the littles go under and grunt and complain and when Daphne hops out, their tummies are still small.  So we're back on the milk and syrup routine, but I'm going to have to get some probiotics in them soon so they can start to digest other things.  We're not out of the woods yet, but their eyes are open, and they are inquisitive and growing, so things are good.

Thor doesn't care how clean that box is.  He knows it's a litter box.  He doesn't understand why I won't let him use it.  Bad laydee!!

Ok, well, I think things are good.  Thor has another opinion.  Honestly, I can't wait to see what happens when there are goat kids in the house.  He thinks this is stressful, just wait!

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Big Question for All You Goat Lovers

Hey fellow goat fanatics,

I have a big question for you.  Dulcinea was bred back in December, and it looked like a good breeding.  She hasn't gone back into heat since, except for a little half-hearted tail wagging in early January, and then not again.  All signs pointed to "bred".  Flat vulva, relaxed area.  Tummy growing, behavior change, the whole bit.  I thought definitely bred.

Yesterday, she started to present with a red vulva and a LOT of tail wagging.  So I thought, crap, she went back into heat and is not bred.  But I have Stewart, who breeds anything that stops moving long enough to be bred.  (And even then, he'll breed them as they walk away).  Anywho, he's fully functioning, let's leave it at that, and I figured, if she's really open, he'll take care of it. 

Dulci, swollen, flagging Dulci, has been asking for it for two days.  She nuzzles him.  She stands in front of him, wagging away.  She puts her head in places she shouldn't, practically begging for it.  And Stewart?  He sniffs her, and butts her away from him.  And at times, pretty hard.  He's even lifted her rear in the air when he's put his head under her belly, in an attempt to get her to leave him alone.  He REALLY doesn't want her.  It's plain as plain.

Got any ideas?  Anyone seen a buck reject a doe in heat?  Again, he's still functioning.  He bred Cleo last week.  He still sniffs after the other girls, though they are all preggers.  He's a MALE, for goodness sakes, how picky can he be??  And Dulci is begging for love, and all he does is push her out of the way. it Stewart?  Or is Dulci lying to him?  Is she in heat?  Or is this the pregnancy talking, and he can tell?  My friend, who breeds goats, has never seen this, but thinks it may be that her hormones are all crazy, and she's not open, she's just "horny", and Stewart can tell and won't participate, since it won't pass on his genetics.  I would agree, and that's what I was thinking it might have been too.  But, I would love an opinion from y'all. 

Ever seen this before?  Heard about someone who has?  Please feel free to weigh in here, I would TRULY appreciate it.

Thank you, friends!

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Trying to Beat the Odds

I was curious the other day, and looked up how likely it is for our little bunny friends to actually make it with no mama.  Can you believe it's as low as a 10% success rate?  Neither could I, but there it was. 

We is sleeping

I would like to beat those odds, but two days ago, I could see I might not.   The littles were skinny and a bit dehydrated.

We is STILL sleeping

So I did what anyone would do--I went to mama.

Not my mama, though, she doesn't know what to do with bunnies.  I went to Daphne, THEIR mama, and brought her in to nurse them.  I thought that maybe, just maybe there was a chance that they weren't rejected totally, but instead she had been booting them out in mistake.  She can't really see, so perhaps they were "casualties" of her going in and out of the nest and not seeing the babies falling out.  I was hoping, though, if I could kind of hold onto her, that maybe I could just have her nurse them, if she'd be willing.

Honkshooo!  Honkshooo!!!

Thankfully, she was willing.  She knew exactly what to do, though the first time I had to hold her still for longer than she would have liked, and bribed her with an apple to keep her in one place.  Since then, she's been more patient with waiting for them to eat, and has been letting them nurse a little better. 

I have to hold her still, and she steps all over them all the time.  It's become apparent to me that Daphne is blind, probably completely, because all she does is react by smell.  When she gets in the nest box, it's all a mishmash of smells and she's like a bull in a china shop and she stands all over everyone.  Luckily those babies are squirmy, and they move to be in position, but I still have to lift her off someone from time to time.  But she stands somewhat patiently, and the babies usually have big tummies when she's finally had it.  If they don't, I supplementally feed them with what I have.

Sleeping pile o' bunnies

We've been doing this twice a day so far, and it seems to be going ok.  I have also discovered that little bunnies LOVE grape Pedialyte, so that's a good thing.  If they get really dehydrated (and they have been), I grape Pedialyte them up and they are so happy.  They slurp and slurp.  I've also changed over to a modified insulin syringe to feed them, and that seems to be better for them as well.

 So, like many things, we wait and see and hope.  Two of the three have opened their eyes, which I take as a good sign that we're developing normally.  I'm sure the third will follow soon.

I'll keep you posted!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

And Then There Were Three

It is too bad that you can't tell if an animal will be a good mama by looking at them.  It would save so much heartache.  Daphne is not a good mama.  After she booted three of her babies from the nest on Sunday, I made some changes to it, added a heat lamp, and crossed my fingers.  Unfortunately, she booted that same baby who came back from the edge one more time, and this time she wasn't so lucky. 

Out of the 6 beautiful babies she made, only 3 remain.  Two girls and one boy.

I have taken them in.  Literally.  They are in the house, sleeping in their nest in front of the woodstove.  I feed them with a syringe.  They will be the tamest rabbits on the planet when they grow up, that's for sure.

Innocence personified.  Then she peed on me.

They are very sweet and very wiggly, and a joy.  But they are a good amount of work, too.  I am looking forward to their opening their eyes, so they can find their ways around a bit and eat some real food.  One more week until that happens!

Winter has been renamed Cleo, and is doing very well.  She seemed to have Pink Eye the last two days, so she's been in heavy lockdown and been treated for it.  However, yesterday she was flagging heavily, so I let her out with Stewart.  Stewart loved the way she smelled, but he had some performance anxiety--he was so busy worrying about his other girls (who were locked in their yard), he couldn't do the deed.  I finally let everyone out, and he got down to business.  I can pretty safely say that he's bred her. 

Today she was flagging a little, but her heat seems to be short, so I let them all out together again, to catch the tail end of it.  Yes, he had no problem breeding her again.  All goes well, there will be babies born here from mid-May to early July, with Dulci going first and Cleo going last.  We will be busy! On the good front, Cleo's eyes were nice and clear this morning, and there was no sign of pink swelling.  I'm hoping I beat it back, or that it wasn't Pink Eye to begin with.  It's hard to say.  Cleo has been SO stressed about moving here, it could be anything at all.  Goats are funny like that.

Speaking of "like that", not to be outdone, Dulci was sick this morning.  Either she ate something she shouldn't have yesterday when they were out foraging, she didn't drink enough water overnight, or someone butted her in the stomach but good, but this morning she was droopy and looked like she had a stomachache.  She's done this to me before, delicate flower that she is, and I mixed up a bunch of rhododendron poisoning antidote, just in case.  I forced it down her throat and shot her in the butt with B vitamins.  She perked up pretty well, but she was still kind of tired all day.  She drank a ton of water this evening, so that might have been a lot of the issue.  Tomorrow will tell.  That girl loves her drama, she does.  Hopefully she'll be ok.

My girls do not love Cleo, but they don't hate her with a passion, either.  Minerva isn't loving her, but Minerva is queen, so she has to approve of everyone, and she's a tough nut to crack.  Lilly is second in that respect.  Dulci is the one who doesn't seem to mind too too much, and Stewart let her share his dinner this evening, which shocked me but good--he takes his food very seriously.  Then, when she retired to her garage-barn pen for the evening, he made his wookie noises looking for her.  He cracks me up, with the "ownership" he's taken of "his" girls in this short amount of time.  It's going to be interesting when he has to move to his bachelor pad in a couple of months.  I have a feeling there will be a lot of wookie noises then.  I may need to buy earplugs for the whole neighborhood.

Other than that, all the outdoor cats have an upper respiratory infection and are being treated, which they like not at all, and tomorrow we are supposed to get snow.  Either 3 inches or 15 inches, depending on who you ask.  So, pretty much business as usual here at Chicken Scratch.

If you're in the path of the storm, stay safe.  I'll let you know how it turns out here!

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Monday, February 4, 2013

He Gave His All

Never let it be said that Philip Johnny Bob doesn't give 110%.

Because he does.

He really does.

It's rooing time at Chicken Scratch, and for those of you not in the know, and wondering why the heck I'd do it when it's this cold, lemme 'splain:  The hair is shed when it's shed.  Though it may look like it's attached, it's not, and if I leave it alone, it will catch on everything, leaving big gobs of it everywhere, which the rabbits will eat and then die from, as they'll get wool block.  As it is, I have left it on too long because it is cold, and there were starting to be gobs on the cages.  Since that's dangerous, it was time.  Past time.

Buckley was rooed, Daphne was rooed the day before she gave birth, and PJB was done today.  Like his mama before him, he gives it all.  Some of them do.  But fear not, my friends.  I would never put him back outside in the cold in his pink skin. 

He got a sweater.

In this case a turtleneck, made out of an old sweater sleeve.

I think the color suits him.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Long Day

I am exhausted.  Did you ever have a day where you juggled the entire time?  That would be today. 

Yesterday, I picked up Winter.

It was late, and she was so nervous that we couldn't get her out of the car.  I used that to my advantage and gave her her injections and some Selenium paste and then trimmed her nails.  My husband and I lifted her out of the car, she touched noses with the other goats through the fence, and I put her in the pen in the garage that Stewart slept in when he had first arrived.

Unfortunately, unlike Stewart, who was kept by himself, Winter was kept with 30 other goats.  Yes, she did notice that she was alone.  And yep, she told us all about it for quite a while last night.  Luckily, between the stress of the moving and all the new smells, she conked out somewhat early and she only cried rarely during the night.  Poor little pudding.

This morning, I got her fed and then took care of everyone else while she voiced her opinion about being left alone.  I let her out to explore with me, but unfortunately she was only ever kept in a house and in a pen, so she was afraid of all the space.  If she lost sight of me, she would just walk off and bellow.  She went into the woods and bellowed, she went near one of the streams and bellowed.  Once she stood in the road and bellowed.  Luckily all her calling made her easy to find, and I was able to convince her to follow me back.  But she was not so eager to do it.  I can see that I will have to work on her to get her to understand that I am the one to follow.  I think it's going to take a little doing. 

Besides working with Winter this morning, I checked on Daphne and her babies.  Bad news on that front.  Somehow she had knocked two of her babies out of the nest last night.  They had frozen.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to revive them--just in case they could be saved.  They could not.  I tried though, I really did.  It was just not meant to be. 

I tried to be mad at Daphne, but the truth is, she can't see under her nose, and what she can see otherwise I think is relegated to shadows and light.  I think the babies were attached when she got out of the nest, and she never noticed.  Unfortunately, it's really cold and they just had no chance.  It's a crappy loss, though.  I was hoping for a miracle.

I did get one later, however.  Daphne had done it again--somehow booted a baby out of the nest.  This time my favorite baby--black with a white splash on his/her head.  I came out to check on Winter in her pen and let her walk outside a bit, and there was the baby, on the wire, cold and not moving or breathing.  I took the baby to the heat lamp and began to rub.  Miracle of miracles, after a few long minutes, feet started to twitch, the mouth started to move, and up and down when the belly.  She was cold, but not frozen.  After she/he really started to move and squiggle, I gave her a very small sip of warm water, and put her back in the nest.  I put a heat lamp over them.  I'm still worried, but they are warmer and have more of a chance now.  I also raised the sides of the nest box so they couldn't be spilled so easily--I hope.

Cross your fingers for these four littles.  They are all that's left.

Of course, all of this was occurring while Winter was bellowing like a madwoman, which echoes like crazy in the garage, so I let her out of her pen to explore and then had to keep an eye on her while trying to resuscitate a baby bunny.   That stopped her from bellowing, but then I was fully occupied.

I spent the rest of the day outside, watching Winter roam around, trying to let her get her bearings, and watching to make sure she didn't get lost.  She was interested in the other goats, but very wary of them.  She also talks all the time, which is pretty funny.  It's low and not loud, but she's always maaaing.  I think she's still looking for her herd.  I think it's going to take a long time for her to not look anymore.

After the animals were all fed dinner, I brought her into the goat pen to meet the others.  They were not that interested-save for Stewart, who was VERY interested, but after he eats, he's always really "worked up".  The girls all sniffed and snuffed and followed and looked, and then went back to doing whatever they were doing--mostly wanting petting from me.  I guess new goats are old hat now.  I have no doubt though, that there will be plenty of head-butting in the future. 

Being in the pen, I had a nice chance to watch everyone interact.  A lot of times I take the girls (and boy) out of the pen and let them run.  Then they are all distracted by what's going on outside and busy interacting with the environment.  But today as I sat in their environment, I got to really watch them.  Stewart, who has filled out quite a bit, by the way, is surprisingly very tender with "his" girls.  I never noticed that before.  As I watched them all, yes, he definitely does jump them from time to time--especially Winter, who is new, but with Lilly and Dulci, he nuzzles them more than jumps on them.  I saw him walk up to them many times and just nuzzle their faces with his.  I have noticed before that he keeps track of the girls.  Three days after he got here, if he lost sight of one, he'd bellow until they'd come running--and they came running!  But that's male behavior--I never thought he would be so sweet.   After I watched him a while, I noticed he kind of does the same thing to me.  So I guess I'm one of his girls, too.  It could just be that I found the magic cheek spot, though.  Ever since then, he's allowed me to touch him more often.  Before I found it, he didn't really like to be pet. 

Winter is sleeping in her garage pen tonight.  She will have to be very slowly introduced for short spans of time to the others.  Not only because I want her somewhat quarantined, but because she's so nervous around the others.  Goat psychology is really fascinating.  They have very complex emotions, and it's hard to always gauge exactly what everyone is going to do.  So for now, I am taking it slow. 

I'll keep you posted!  But goodness, didn't someone say winter was a farmer's "down time"?  I'm not seeing that right now!
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