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]

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]

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]

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]

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!

Another duckling loss

Well, it seems that the ducklings are large enough to get in the water bucket I left for the adults, but not big enough to get back out. One of the ducklings climbed in and apparently drowned Down to 3 ducklings of the original 12 eggs. To keep that from happening again I will make sure the bucket is MORE full so that it is easier to get out if they get in. The ducklings are growing ridiculously fast, they sure have some heft to them now. Other than that they are doing well.

 

Diamond and the Muscovies (which I CANNOT seem to keep out of there!) are eating all the duckling food. I mean, they have their own bucket of food, but it has been in there for several days. The worst part is they can’t be getting that much nutritional value out of it. I went to change out their water and the bottom was a yellow gunk, so they are taking a bite and then washing it out of their beak. There was a pretty thick layer of sludge in the bottom of the bucket.

The ducklings are getting big enough Diamond isn’t able to easily [… click to continue reading this post]

Mother of the year award

… does NOT go to Diamond. While she is very protective of the babies from me, she does not do anything to protect them from the Muscovies who have taken up residence in the “mothering pen” (as my kids have taken to calling it). The Muscovy that is sitting on what I suspect are the dud eggs has nipped pretty hard at the babies a few times and Diamond doesn’t seem to do anything. I don’t know if that is normal within ducks or not.

Furthermore, when I open the pen to let the ducks out Diamond will try to escape the mothering pen and run out with the other ducks, leaving her babies chirping behind. She doesn’t seem to care. Now, when I go to pick them up to let them be with her she seems to then care that I’m near them, but not before.

I think I’ll check the dud eggs and toss them, hopefully that will spur the muscovies to start laying eggs again. I’ve heard they stop laying come winter time, this just seems a bit early for them to be done. In fact, I just checked them and they definitely are duds. They developed [… click to continue reading this post]

A duckling loss

I went out this morning to collect eggs and I could only spot 4 ducklings. Its a bit dark in the mornings some days, I couldn’t see super well. I eventually noticed a dead duckling just laying there. One was smaller than the others, so I think there wasn’t something right with it to begin with. I don’t think there was any specific cause, so I only feel moderately bad. All the ducklings seem to get cared for as far as being kept warm, plus this one wasn’t near the nest so its not like it got pushed out from Diamond and got cold through the night. So, started with 12 eggs and down to 4 ducklings, not a fantastic ratio.

Other than the dead duckling they seem to be doing well. It has been in the 60’s at night so its not like there has been too harsh of weather. We did have a HEAVY storm the day after they were born that they weathered through no problem (between the shelter roof and Diamond caring for them. I put in the other downspout’s drain to get water away from the duck area, so that probably helped to not flood [… click to continue reading this post]

We officially have babies!

I was going out to cull the two runner drakes yesterday, going in the pen to get my 5 gallon bucket to fill with water for rinsing during cleaning. Going into the pen I saw a cracked egg and an egg with a pretty hefty hole in it. I wasn’t sure if this was time yet or not, though it is within a day of when I thought we’d have babies. I did see some movement inside, so I figured that was PROBABLY a good sign. Even so, I decided to not tell the kids until later. I had a bit of limited time before church, so I thought I’d be better off if I spent my time getting a safe area for the babies set up rather than culling the drakes. So, I let all of the ducks out of the pen, even Diamond ran out. So much for her mothering instinct. So, I got a fence set up around the plywood roof so that all the other ducks wouldn’t be running through and trampling eggs or babies. During this time I saw another cracked egg pulsing and another egg that had a crack in it, so I figured [… click to continue reading this post]

Losing some babies, and other duck update

We started off with 12 eggs in the nest, recently I had found only 11 in the nest. I assumed that one got crushed during feeding time, though I didn’t see any egg fragments around the nest. I wrote it off, after all, there still was 11 left. A couple days later, I noticed one more missing. Again, I wasn’t too concerned, particularly given my recent realization that there is at least a 2/3 chance that the father of the ducklings will be one of the scrawny runner ducks that I STILL need to cull. Well, I came back from a trip and TWO more eggs were gone, and one was cracked! I am now down to 7 eggs. I used this as my trigger to work on the fence a bit and clear out some weeds around the electric fence. No babies lost this morning, hopefully they’ll hold out the 3-10 days left until they hatch!

So I thought the tiny little eggs were just a phase of one of the ducks, but they have been pretty darn consistent. Some have been as “large” as 45 grams (which doesn’t even count as a medium), others have been as small [… click to continue reading this post]

Egg hatching and egg laying update

We got another pekin egg today, it was another tiny one (even smaller than the other). I weighed them and yesterday’s was 48 grams (technically counts as medium if it were a chicken egg) and todays was 42 grams (a small). I am wondering if there is anything but yolk in them, will find out soon I’m sure. Got another Muscovy egg, that has been 1 every day for the last 9 days or so. I’m still not sure why the other isn’t laying, she is more reserved and last to the food line, maybe it is a nutrition thing?

So my mother-in-law is here and we were looking at the ducks and talking about Diamond (the one sitting on the nest). I decided it was a good time to candle a couple eggs, I did that 3-7 days ago and saw no hopeful signs. One end looked empty (an air space I think, but it didn’t move around) and every egg I checked it appeared that the yolk was stuck to the shell. I saw no veins to speak of which are pretty visible (per Metzer Farm’s pics, linked). Well, today I VERY clearly saw veins, I could even [… click to continue reading this post]

Egg laying update

So I thought I would give an update that the one muscovy is still laying eggs pretty religiously, I have found an egg now every day. She has taken to waddling her little butt next to Diamond, sometimes pushing her off the nest and laying in her nest, at other times waddling a tiny little nest right next to her. At times when she makes an annex nest she somehow pushes around Diamonds eggs and I have found up to 3 of Diamond’s eggs in the annex nest. I’m not sure if the Muscovy is trying to steal them, or if Diamond ends up just pushing them as she is trying to re-arrange herself while this other duck is half laying on top of her. The Muscovy that is laying is the less skittish one who is not afraid to run right up to me while it is dinner time (and even eating from my hand if she is hungry, though she is still hesitant and skittish when doing that). The other Muscovy stays back until all the other ducks are done eating, then she’ll come up and eat. I am pretty sure she is the one that is not [… click to continue reading this post]