Working on a new rabbit cage

My current rabbit cage was not meant to be permanent, it was something I threw together after I already had the rabbits to get their cages up off the ground to make sure no predators were able to get to them. It is made from 2×6’s and landscape timbers, it is cantilevered so there isn’t anything in the way when you are by the cage. Its a fine cage, but it wouldn’t be warm enough in winter time. It also is such that I only have access to the cages in the 2′ dimension so the rabbits have a lot of space to get away from me if I am trying to pick them up. That is not what I want. Plus, the current design would be fairly hard to make work for the winter time. Not impossible, but not the best for what I’ll need to do in winter.

So I knew at the VERY least that I’d be needing to move the rabbits next to the house. I did not want to buy heated water bottles since they are fairly expensive, so from the get-go I went with water nipples. What I am going to try for winter [… click to continue reading this post]

Officially out of ducks :(

A couple days ago we lost our last hen duck, I had assumed she went out and something took her in the woods but my wife noticed a few extra feathers around the yard so she thought something came into the pen to get her. I was debating selling or eating the last drake, but then this morning something DEFINITELY came into the pen to get him. Lots of feathers, he was ultimately cornered in the shelter and then drug out. I don’t know what it was, but I am guessing a fox since that is what took out so many.

So at this point we are down to just rabbits. Fortunately, with feeders and water nipples they can be left for long periods with minimal care. I’d love to have ducks and/or chickens again, but it won’t be any time soon. In the mean time I need to get stuff planted in their pen both to help on the erosion as well as take advantage of the fertility that is undoubtedly there. I had thought about using the fencing for a colony style rabbit setup, but that will have to wait for other rabbits since they’d be exposed and [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbits getting used to me

So after a couple weeks it feels like the rabbits are getting used to me a bit. I’m no longer getting nipped at, though one still makes me hesitate because she kind of charges my hand. I’m no longer convinced it is aggression, but I’m not sure. They are getting to the point I can occasionally pet them, one (Oreo) seems to be very friendly and will come up to the cage door. I can even get my hands under her belly, but as soon as her feet leave the ground she freaks out and starts kicking.

The J feeders from tractor supply are working well, though in the rain they do let a bit of water in which turns the feed to mush. I’ll need to get a better overhang or a bit of a back wall on the structure at some point. For now I just don’t fill the feeders very full, particularly if it looks like it will rain in the near future.

My siphoning water jug to the rabbit nipples is working well. I did have one mishap though. I have two jugs T’d in to one another. One has an entry down low, one has [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbit up and downs

So a couple days after I got the rabbits one of them bit me. I was going to pick her up so the kids could hold / pet her, she was having none of it and gave me a little nip. If you have rabbits, you are probably already shouting at me. Basically, everything we did (other than providing housing, feed, and water) we did wrong. Now I know that we shouldn’t have touched them for a minimum of a week, preferably two. I did get lots of good advice on a facebook rabbitry group. For instance, what I should have done the first week, and have been doing since, is simply spending time out there, talking with them, and bribing them with various foods. I’ve learned that they all pretty much love white pine branches / needles and grass, not so much kale and various other things we’ve tried.

So with a week of bribing under my belt the boy I am able to pet about half the time, the most chill rabbit will actually come to the cage door to investigate and can easily be pet. I did try putting my hand underneath her to move her once [… click to continue reading this post]

Rabbits!

So I’ve been looking at getting rabbits for several weeks now, I had made a cage a week or two back so I’d have one ready to go in case I find the right deal. I had been looking for a specific breed or two, but yesterday I really lucked out. On facebook I found somebody who was getting rid of four meat rabbits for FREE! They were changing up breeds and these had been the sister’s but she went off to school. So, I of course was quite interested in this deal! Last night I worked on making more cages, I got a second and third completed. After a DR appointment tonight I met the people and brought the rabbits home, three does and a buck. Tonight for the last 3 or more hours I made a hanging frame to hang the cages from, I modified the cages to add doors, added the feeders, and made a fourth cage.

The kids loved playing with the rabbits, two of them have a good temperament so they will be the kids. I think I’ll breed one of them soon to see how raising babies is. All 4 are unrelated so I [… click to continue reading this post]

Free hot tub, another dead duck, upcoming rabbits?

This past weekend I found a free hot tub on Craigslist and happened to see it within a half hour of posting. I was the first caller, so on Monday after work I hooked up the trailer and went to get it. The guy helped me out, and with leverage, ramps, and a come-along we were able to get it up the 3′ onto my trailer. So tonight I filled it up (and quickly found the unions were disconnected on either side of the heater and pump). After I got those hooked back up I did see a small leak at one of the fittings, I couldn’t tell exactly why since it is covered in foam. Before I spent too much time and effort on it I wanted to fire it up, so I hooked it up to my PTO generator (my cord wasn’t long enough to plug it in my 50amp outlet in the garage). When I turned it on the panel fired up, but no jets turned on. More concerningly, some smoke started coming from the pump motor after only a couple seconds! Turns out the pump is locked up Between that and the leak, I am not [… click to continue reading this post]

A bit of work, a bit of fun

It wasn’t the most productive 3 day weekend in the world, but it was an enjoyable one. Saturday for some reason we woke up early and were wide awake, so we got up and going around 6 or 6:30. The up side is that I got working in the basement reloading some 357 ammo. I was working up some surplus WC820 powder so I could start using that up for my hot loads of 140gr XTP hollowpoints. WC820 powder has a wide variety of burn rates, but I had made a note on the jug that it was like H110 powder. Thats great, except I couldn’t remember if that was accurate. If I used H110 loading data and it was more like AA#9 then I’d be blowing up a gun. So I loaded some factory H110 and recorded velocity, then I started with AA#9 data with the WC820 and it was VERY light. So I slowly started working up a grain or so at a time. Ultimately I ended up backing off a bit from the H110 max loaded because it seemed like it was a bit over-pressure. I was still getting 1350 fps from a 4″ barrel with the [… click to continue reading this post]

Working in the woods & getting stuff done (clearing property line and getting firewood)

A couple weeks back we were walking the property and I noticed a fresh disturbance in the leaves from dirt bikers using the trail across the back of my property line. I think this trail is many years old, but these dirt bikers aren’t even coming from their property, they seem to just ride all over the woods and may or may not even know whose property they are on. I wanted to discourage them from my property for a couple reasons. They are messing up what is a fairly nice walking trail, which I’m not a fan of them doing. Depending on the way they take, it could end up leading them back to my house, also not a fan. Most importantly, this northwest corner of my property I plan on turning in to a rifle range and I don’t want to worry about dirt bikers zooming by. I had previously dropped a large stump right in the middle of the path, but that didn’t stop them, they just went around in the brush.

So I started grabbing limbs and debris and started piling it up along the property line. I figure that should about force them to take [… click to continue reading this post]

3 more ducks gone – but problem solved!

The weather wasn’t fantastic this weekend, so I didn’t get a ton done. But, I took today off for spring break to have a day doing fun stuff with the kids, but it sure started off a bit stressful! My wife woke up at 5am hearing the ducks and woke me up. I went out, flipped the lights on, and watched the ducks for a few minutes. I didn’t notice anything so I went back inside. After a couple more minutes I realized that I didn’t see my son’s favorite duck. Checked again, sure enough, its gone. Told my wife who was a bit upset (partly for her, partly for my son), she mentioned what she heard sounded like all the ducks trying to take off when she heard them. I assumed it was an owl or something since it got in the pen. I figured it’d be full and not come back, so we went back to sleep.

Half an hour later she got up and went and checked on the ducks, came back to bed and said two more were gone (the babies). At least all 3 are boys this time! I had a real problem on my [… click to continue reading this post]

FINALLY starting to get eggs again

It doesn’t look like I posted when the ducks stopped laying, but it was some time in December I believe (I know it was after Thanksgiving and before Christmas). I don’t know if it is the warmer weather, the longer days, or letting the ducks out so they can forage. It isn’t all, or even half of them yet, but I’ve collected a couple eggs so far after a 3+ month hiatus. If it is anything like when they started laying within a week or two they should all be laying. So far the eggs were the same size as before at 77, 78, and 77 grams.

I’ve also noticed a lot of, *ahem*, mayhem going on lately, the “babies” have definitely reached sexual maturity and I have too many boys for my girls. I figure when it warms up I’ll eat 2-3 of the drakes. Its interesting though, all winter there were really no shenanigans at all going on, as soon as I filled their pool up for the first time it was like something out of a duckie porno. I suppose that makes sense though since their ancestors are meant to spend so much time on water (and [… click to continue reading this post]

So much for my homemade ratchet rake

Well, I went to spend some time in the garage and the plasma cutter wouldn’t fire up, even putting new consumables in. I took the torch apart and it looked like an arc flash had happened. The electrical lead was loose, so I went to tighten it and the screw twisted right off. Through this I found several things out through this. First I found out what model torch was on this plasma cutter, something that would have been handy before. I could have ordered the correct consumables with that information; I don’t know if the incorrect consumables are what caused this issue or if it is just the fact the thing is old. I also learned that this torch is old, out-dated, and poorly supported. You can replace the torch, but that was $400-600, WAY too much for me. I wouldn’t have a plasma cutter had it not been given to me for nearly free.

I was going to mothball the thing, and I still may, but I”ll first try to fix it by drilling out the old screw and re-tapping. If it fires up then I’ll order the correct consumables for it. This will be VERY low on [… click to continue reading this post]

Two dead ducks

This week has been extremely busy at work with some equipment being down and my group pitching in to outsource some processing. I was having to get in to work early and slept in a bit because I was tired, so I asked my wife to feed the ducks this morning. Of course that would be the day that she found our two Muscovies were dead. She calls me at work crying because they were laying next to each other on the ground. Nothing looked like it ate on them at all, so we don’t know why they died unless it was from the cold.

I have a shelter for the ducks that I had started locking them up in at night, then even during the day after 3 days they started going in of their own accord since it is warmer. Last night I didn’t lock them up because it wasn’t that cold (they had easily gone down to 10 degrees, it was mid 20’s last night), I was tired, and I figured if they got cold they would go in the shelter. The rest of the ducks did go in the shelter, but the muscovies did not. So [… click to continue reading this post]

Tractor snowblower broken shear pins

Well I learned how to change out the shear pins on the tractor today. This was only the second decent snow we’ve had, the road still isn’t quite frozen solid, plus I still have some ruts from grading the road before it got all mushy from rain. So the shoes on the snowblower are digging in a bit and shaving off a bit of the ground at times. When I hit the area that I graded I have been scalping the ground a bit. Well, today I did that and also kicked up a couple large rocks (one the size of a baby’s head). I didn’t think anything of it, it pushed the rock out front, I saw it, then chucked it off to the side. When I got to the top of the hill there was an awful lot of snow in front of the snowblower, but I just thought that was part of it. I haven’t really had much experience to say otherwise. So, I turned around and started heading back. Then I noticed snow being pushed out 4′ in front of the snowblower, I KNEW that shouldn’t be the case.

So I got down and checked, all [… click to continue reading this post]

Tractor snowblower ROCKS!

So I did stop by the dealer and got the spare bolts, so I took off the bucket and put on the snowblower. That took about 45 minutes total, but that includes pulling the car out of the garage, moving things around to fit each item where I want, etc. It could probably be as low as 30 minutes, or even quite a bit less if you have things conveniently located and/or easy to move around.

Anyhow, I took it out on the driveway and it does GREAT. It will do better when the ground is frozen and the shoes don’t sink in to the ground any, but it was pretty awesome as it was. I was able to clear the deep spots, eat into the stuff pushed up from yesterday’s “plowing”, and clear the driveway in about a half hour. The 27W LED flood light I have installed did great. I have a couple more on order so I can have two in front and 1 or 2 in back as well, but for snowblowing really 1 was sufficient because of the snow. Still, two will cut down shadows some. I drilled and tapped a 1/4-20 hole in my [… click to continue reading this post]

My first implement

I picked up a back blade yesterday (6’ish, has both tilt and angle) for $200. Kind of old, rusty, and a bit beat up, but a pretty good deal I thought. All of the cheap ones only had angle, but I was really hoping to find one with tilt since the roads here could really use some ditches along the sides. I spent quite a few hours working on the road/driveway today, it isn’t super easy. Do some work, make an adjustment to the blade, do some more work, etc. It was quite a bit of time looking to the rear, makes me thankful I have a front mounted snowblower for winter time!

I’m not sure how effective my work was today. On one hand I did get some ditches dug and a bit of grading done. On the other hand, it is hard to make everything smooth, so there are quite a few lumps in the middle. It’ll smooth out as I drive on it a bit, but I’m sure it won’t be perfect. I’m not real sure yet how to use it effectively, but I’m sure I’ll learn.

I’m still looking for a box blade, a 4′ brush [… click to continue reading this post]

The two babies are boys :-/

Well I went out a little bit ago to collect eggs (I am down to about 3 a day, not sure if 2 stopped or if all 5 are laying intermittently), feed the ducks, and let them out. One of the ducks got over the short fence, so on my way back in I encouraged it over. However, at that time I noticed the braaap, braaaap, sound that the males make. So I cornered the other and found it too was a boy. I had my suspicions since I hadn’t HEARD them prior to now (I read females can start making their sounds at 1-2 months). These will have to go soon so I’m not feeding 2 extra male mouths over the winter!

Hopefully today I’ll get their shelter enclosed so I can start locking them up at night. Not because they NEED to be locked up, but because they will be warmer and therefore eat less. If you give them unlimited feed they will do find in some pretty cold weather as far as I’ve been able to read, but MAN will they go through some food. My recent bulk feeder was semi-successful, but I found they went through [… click to continue reading this post]

Clearing trees for mini-orchard

A month or so ago I posted that I got a score on some fruit trees. I am needing to get them in the ground in the next few weeks now that the leaves are mostly falling off. When the leaves fall off, the roots will still grow quite a bit, thats why fall fertilizing your grass is the recommended method (if you do at all, which I don’t). So, I really need to be thinking about WHERE I am going to put these trees. If I put them near the house (which would be great!) irrigation would be easy, but I don’t have any spots with decent sun. I’d need to clear out some of the larger trees that provide some shade on my house, which I don’t really want to do. When (if?) I get central AC in this house it won’t be AS big a deal, but still is nice to have a pretty shady area in the summer time. Nowhere else on my property really has good sun exposure either.

I have a small clearing where previous owners had a small fire pit, it is about 200′ back from the house. Probably a bit far to [… click to continue reading this post]

Score on fruit trees!

I just got a pretty sweet deal on some fruit trees. On my way home from work there was a train across the train crossing that I have to cross, so I continued on down the road a way I had never been before. Pretty quickly I passed a nursery I didn’t know was there and as I passed them I saw they had a sign out front for fruit trees for $10! I turned back around so I could go in and take a look. I was there a couple hours, but the short of it is that I ended up getting 5 fruit trees (one was a larger size for $15 rather than $10), 4 small blueberry plants, and two bags of sphagnum moss for $85 total. Normally you would have gotten maybe 3 trees for that price (though they may have been SLIGHTLY larger).

I am going to leave them potted until the leaves fall off. The place I am planning for them isn’t real close to irrigation, but once the leaves fall off they shouldn’t need TOO much. I’ve heard fall planting is about the best, its just hard to find fruit trees in the fall [… click to continue reading this post]

Trying to keep adult ducks out of duckling food

This is starting to get a bit annoying seeing all of the little bits of baby chick/duck food all in the bottom of the water buckets and I’m not really sure how to stop it. When the babies were tiny I tried to keep out the other ducks, but the Muscovies would just hop or fly right over the fenced area (I tried running a strand of electric fence wire over the shelter to keep them from walking up, that didn’t work). Now that the babies are a bit bigger I have started letting them be with the rest of the flock, so I had to do something or their food would be eaten in no time. What I tried hasn’t been 100% successful, but better than having the food in the open.

I made a small pen area (maybe 2’x2′) and put one of my old recycling buckets in sideways. I put their food in there and cut a small 4″ or so hole in there. I quickly discovered whatever size I made it was too big as the greedy Pekin ducks would squeeze in. So, I started making the hole smaller and smaller with zip ties. That is [… click to continue reading this post]

Ducklings getting bigger

The ducklings are starting to get big enough I am considering integrating them into the main flock. At the very least they are big enough that I have started letting them out in the yard with the other ducks instead of locking them (and Diamond so they don’t freak out) into the main pen. They’ve been able to go for a few swims, though I learned my lesson with the bucket so I made sure to put a brick in the kiddie pool so they will be able to get back out.

So far in the yard they seem to be getting by just fine, though they do have trouble keeping up with everybody else. I’ll give it a couple more days of letting them interact with the rest of the flock.

Work has been pretty busy lately, so posts are a bit scare lately, but I’ll try to make sure I’m at least getting some updates out!