Homestead Chaos!

Today is exactly the kind of day that that would see me go into labor- we shall see…

My husband went out this morning to check on the animals and move the rabbit tractor to fresh grass for the morning. He noticed 2 baby bunnies from our newest litter had been flung out of the nest box, so he warmed them up and put them back, letting me know to go out and check soon as I got done in the house.

I went to the bathroom before heading out only to be called for by the kids (and this is why Mamas end up with UTI’s) to have to come out immediately, because one of the baby bunnies was on the ground. So we got the bunny inside, and I just pulled that Mama’s whole box to check on all her kits. Of the 9 that remained, 1 did not make it after sitting on the heating pad to warm back up. And a baby bunny is not considered dead until it’s warm and dead- they have a way of slowing their heart rates when they get cold so I don’t ever dispose of cold/still babies until I’m sure they’re really dead- warm, not moving, and I look for blood pooling in their fingernails.

Heather’s babies being counted and getting warmed up on the heating pad

Anyway, from the 8 left after the mass warming session, I pulled the 3 smallest kits from Heather’s large litter, and put them in Abigail’s nest box- she had only kindled 2 this time, which is her normal (Heather and Picket are her babies born last spring), hoping they’d have a better chance at being well fed with less competition. So, now, each mama has 5 kits to nurse, and hopefully that’s manageable for everyone.

As a sidenote, and in lighter news, Shaggy Maple Homestead is officially an ARBA registered rabbitry! I may have mentioned that in a previous post, but it was kinda the highlight of our week. It’s been super fun to read about breed standard, and then to know what to look for/ breed for in our bunnies. I think it’s the pursuit of excellence that makes me so excited about it. Could we just randomly breed rabbits and raise them up? Well, sure… But the strategy and wisdom of knowing what to look for, what makes a good, strong rabbit, and the characteristics we really want to shine have made it more of a passionate pursuit than just another farm task… I think my husband knew this and knew that if I had a goal in mind, that I’d enjoy running the rabbitry more than I initially thought.

Then after all that bunny shuffling, I was informed that the baby goats were out of the barn and skipping around the property, so I had to go back out and catch them and return them to the barn. We’ve been separating them from Luna during the day, and putting them all back together around 6:30 or 7pm to nurse, and letting them stay with her at night. It makes most sense to do it the other way around, but the barn sleeping arrangement isn’t conducive to that right now, so instead of AM milking, we’re milk sharing with the babies doing a PM milking.

Of note with milking this year, we invested in a vacuum milker from Dansha Farms. Or to be more accurate, some accessories. We had the brake line bleeder kit we used for vacuum sealing mason jars, so we just got the specialty lids, flanges, and tubing. It was around a $70 investment, and I am very glad we did it. It works exactly as it was supposed to, and milks Luna very quickly. She’s not quite used to it yet, as we’ve only ever hand milked before. But she gets better each time on the stand. What I like about it most for milk sharing is that it doesn’t completely strip her. So we’ve been getting around 5-6 cups of milk for our family, and then the babies get the rest. It works out and the babies are growing and gaining weight, and we’ve got what we need. Once the babies are weaned, we’ll see more like 8-10 cups and that’ll be our cheese, kefir, and yogurt high point. This is Luna’s 3rd freshening and I’m very pleased with her udder conformation, and milk supply. She’s just a champ- great mama, great producer, so sweet and friendly- and I just love her more than I thought I could love an animal. 😁

Still no signs Honey is pregnant, though she always looks pregnant. If she were bred, she would be due the first week of June, so… I’m pretty much conceding she is not pregnant again this year. She doesn’t respond well to AI the way Luna does. So we’re praying about our options with her.

In addition to chicken-sitting for some folks from our previous church family this week, my husband went ahead and ordered some more chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery, and they should be here around Wednesday. I’m working on assembling chicken tractors and rabbit tractors, which is going much more quickly now that we’ve had the experience of building one last summer, as well as the addition of a table saw to speed the cutting process! Soooooo much faster.

I’m STILL pregnant- I’d been having some early labor but now that it’s an appropriate time for me to give birth, and fluid is becoming scarce in my womb, baby girl seems no longer interested in making her debut. I have pretty regular Braxton Hicks contractions that keep me awake most of the night, but still no actual labor. I know in the fullness of time, she will be here. So I’m trying to wait with patience and grace while we stay plenty busy with all the animals and their babies.

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