Today, I mucked out the stables.
Okay, not exactly. But I did clean out the rabbit colony (a job that was long overdue.) This involves going in amongst the rabbits with a snow shovel, scooping out all the straw and rabbit droppings, and heaving it into a huge wheelbarrow. Once it was clean, I put down fresh, clean straw — nearly two bales — for the rabbits to burrow in and rest upon. Now that it’s getting colder out, I want to make sure they have enough bedding to help keep them warm this winter.
After that was done, I carted the old bedding out to where the garden will be. Rabbit droppings are supposed to be really good for a garden, and the manure isn’t hot like horse or cow manure, so you don’t have to let it sit for a year. You can put it right on your garden.
Of the new rabbit babies, we are keeping one. We aren’t sure of its gender yet, but we decided we could use either a buck or a doe. We don’t know the age of our breeding buck, and our does are hit and miss with breeding, so we want to replenish our stock. The young keeper, named Brownie because s/he was the only brown rabbit in a litter full of blond ones, is now living with the does in the colony. If we determine Brownie is a doe, that’s where she’ll stay. If we find that Brownie is a buck, we’ll set up a cage for him.
Brownie’s litter mates are together in a cage, awaiting their their fate. They are still well taken care of, with plenty of food and fresh water. But they will not last much longer. It is time to get them into the freezer. I need / want to learn how to tan the hides, too. I have found an article online about how to do it, so I’d like to try that sometime. I just don’t know if this fall is the time.
We may need to say goodbye to a couple of our older does, as well. There are a couple that we’ve bred more than once with no luck. One of them is on her last chance right now; if she doesn’t kindle in the next month (she is due in a week or so), off to the butcher block she goes.
Once we get chickens in the spring and get the garden plowed, Dove’s Crossing will feel even more like a farm than it does now.