Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year-end wrap up post

It's been a very lively year here. Last January first I had six rabbits - four Cinnamons and two little mutts. Now I have... how many DO I have? 5 Cinnamons, 5 American Blues, 3 Thriantas, 3 adult Cremes d'Argent, plus two litters totalling 11 kits, 4 adult Californians and 12 juveniles in growout, the same two little mutts, and one mutt kit who should be opening its eyes here any time now. I also have some 42 laying hens - 28 in their first year of laying, 8 not yet laying, and 8 older birds. (these last two groups of 8 were given to me... yea!) I've lost a bunch of kits this winter... I won't breed after October 1st again. I lost one bantam hen to a hawk. But all in all, the farm has, well, become a farm! I have business cards with a custom-designed logo, this blog, lots of folks who come to us for fresh eggs, and I had a sign made for the front porch at the Big E, proudly proclaiming "Blessed Acre Farm and Rabbits".

The gardens did incredibly poorly this year. It was just dreadful. I didn't can ANYTHING except for some strawberry jam. However, the rabbit hutches are overwintering in the main garden bed, so the soil there should have no excuses as far as fertility come spring. I kept 5 gallon buckets under the hutches before they were moved into the garden, and spread that over the other garden beds, around the new blueberry bushes, the apple and peach trees. I planted loads of bulbs last summer, after the foundation work was completed, so next spring should blossom beautifully. I've overseeded the front lawn with new grass seed and clover, and have thoughts of tractoring either rabbits in growout or chickens, or possibly both. I have approval to put up a shed on the edge of my yard, leading out into the woods down to the creek. I ran out of fall this year to get that put up, but it'll go up in the spring. Then I'll add a couple of goats and a beef cow to enjoy the undergrowth and the pasture on the other side of the creek. I have designs on more chickens next spring... Cuckoo Marans... more Araucanas... Rhode Island or New Hampshire Reds... I must be certain not to get carried (too far) away.

And, amid all this, I am now one semester away from completing my MA in English Literature! I hope to be teaching at one (or more) of the local community colleges in September. My children are growing and thriving. My Mom is in good health, and we see a lot of her, especially when I have late classes. We see my brother who lives locally fairly regularly, and we got to visit with my Chicago brother and his family last summer at Cape Cod. All three dogs are still with us here - Sheba is 13 1/2, Decker is 13, and Lily is 5. Sheba's back right leg doesn't work as well as she'd like; Decker is mostly deaf, and Lily is maybe finally settling into being an adult, rather than a puppy. She's a great defender, though - chases off that hawk pretty regularly.

My goals for 2010? I'm still formulating them. Indoors, I want to finish my Masters. I'd like to get my wood stove installed and working. I'd like to get rid of about 20% of the stuff in my house - yard sale, Craigslist, consignment, Salvation Army, etc. I want to keep singing. I want to get all the moving parts of my body working properly again, and keep them that way. I want to work out in the gym at least three times every week, and continue with Weight Watchers, such that I reach my goal weight (between 142-148). I'm not sure where I am presently, but it's slightly north of 170. I think that asking my body to carry around less excess weight will facilitate getting and keeping all the moving parts working properly, too. Outdoors, I'd like to get five litters from each of my 15 does in 2010. I'd like to get to more rabbit shows this year - not a huge goal, since we only showed in one fair last year. I want to get the shed built, the fencing up, and add the goats and the beefer cow. I'd like to get my winter garden cover constructed for next fall; I planted winter crops this year, which did... ok... despite the chickens, but they never got covered. And always and everywhere, I want to spend time with my children, helping them grow into the kind of people they can be proud to be. I want to shower them with love and affection. I want to protect them harm, in whatever ways I can. I want to share with them my beliefs and values, and encourage them to define and stand by their own.

Should be a nice, quiet, simple, easy year... right?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exciting times at Blessed Acre Farm

The chickens are laying and laying here. We get an average of 24 eggs each day. Thank you to everyone who has been helping us keep the fridge from overflowing!

The rabbits are doing great, too. Our American Blues arrived on November 14th, after a long, long trip. Our friend in Rochester, NY, picked them up in San Diego for us and drove them back to her place. I drove out to Rochester and brought them home. The young lady who sold them to us had bred the does before selling them - and to a different buck than the one she sold us. I've said it before - rabbit folks are just plain Nice People! The first litter should arrive on Friday (the 26th). Hurray!

We also had a Thrianta buck brought in for us from the Convention in San Diego. He's a gorgeous, gentle boy, very cuddly. Last Friday we brought home "the last rabbits we're buying for a LONG TIME!" - two Thrianta does. They are adorable - so fuzzy and sweet.

I hadn't planned on any winter litters this year. However (you knew there was a "however" coming!) with the Americans arriving bred, and with several of our young does hitting 6 months now (those spring babies!) we decided to go for it. My Cinnamon doe, Maple, kindled a week ago Tuesday, on the first night in over a week that was below freezing. It was a small litter, only three kits, and they just couldn't keep themselves warm. It was very sad. We gave her a couple of days of eating fresh mint to dry up her milk, then rebred her. We bred Whiskers the same day, so that there would be two does kindling - always useful in case we need to foster. We wanted to breed the Creme d'Argent does that day, too, but they weren't having ANY of it. They'd been in a hutch together, and I had previously had sisters who wouldn't breed after living together over the winter. We separated them, and finally today, after a week of "Uh UH!" they deigned to be bred. That means their litters should be Christmas babies! (or maybe Boxing Day) Again, it's well to have more than one litter born on a given day. If another doe had kindled when Maple did, we could have fostered them all in together.

I also learned today that my friend Rick at Windy Pines had his first Cinnamon litter from a doe he got from us. I feel like a proud grandmother or something. It's all good - the Cremes I bred today we got from him!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy, productive chickens - and lots of eggs

My chickens have been producing like mad this week! I had 20 eggs today alone. Bottom line? I have six dozen eggs that need new homes. These are free-range eggs, local, sustainable, and just $3 a dozen. And, because of the variety of breeds here, the eggs are very pretty - yes, those *are* green eggs! Come, help my refrigerator before it explodes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Four dozen eggs available!

I have four dozen eggs available today, and I will be heading up to campus around noon. They're $3 a dozen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eggs for sale

I have a dozen fresh eggs for sale - first come, first serve! We had our first dozen-egg day today, and hope that our girls will continue to provide us with like quantities of Hen Fruit on a regular basis. I put a light on a timer in the henhouse, and it seems to be working out well. I have it come on at 4 AM, since I read that it's harder on the birds to have the light at night, so that when it shuts off, it's abruptly pitch-black. It makes sense to me; I have no idea what the hens think, though.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I need help naming two rabbits!

If you read down a couple of posts, you'll see that we kept a breeding pair of black Cinnamon/Californian crosses, just for grins. These poor rabbits still don't have names! I'm looking for help naming them. The suggestions we have thus far are Midnight and Shadow, Blackberry, and from me, the Harry Potter geek, Sirius and Andromeda (who were the two decent members of the Black family, for those of you not in the know, you poor things).

I'd like to have these beauties named by the weekend, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eggs for sale

I finally have fresh, free-range eggs to offer! They're $3 per dozen, and I have two dozen available this morning. First come, first serve... I'm hoping they'll be in someone else's refrigerator here soon :)

The White Leghorns have been laying for about 2 1/2 weeks now. I saw a Black Sex Link in the nest this morning, and found an egg appropriate to being from her. However, I have a darker brown egg as well, which suggests that one of the other breeds has also started laying. Hurray!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thorgerd comes through with 9!

Thorgerd kindled either in the night or early this morning. There were ELEVEN kits, though two of them were stillborn. Although the photo doesn't really show much other than a nicely constructed nestbox, I thought I'd put it in for the sake of completeness.

In a few weeks, the cage will look like this (photo courtesy of Vigdis)

and a few weeks after that, it'll look like this (also courtesy of Vigdis). Well, that's not a great picture, but the weather is gloomy and the rabbits are squirmy. It'll have to do.

So - well done, Thorgerd! Oh - and when I checked Bergthora's kits this morning, I realized that my son had miscounted - there are nine in her box, too! Woo hoo!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kindle: verb...

trans. Of a female animal: To bring forth, give birth to (young).

[Appears in early ME. (along with the cognate

KINDLE v.2): app. a deriv. of cynd-, stem of {asg}ecynd, KIND n. Cf. G. kind child.]

As I suspected, the verb "to kindle" as it refers to a rabbit delivering young comes from the same root as the German "kind," meaning child.

Bergthora obliged us by kindling 8 wee babies this morning! When I looked in on her at 7:15, she had pulled a bit of fur as lining for her nestbox. When my eldest and I went out to feed and water all the rabbits at 8, she was actively kindling. He got to watch! What an exciting way to start the day! By 8:10 she was finished and cleaning up the placentas. I confess to a twinge of envy at such efficiency in parturition.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

California Dreamin'

My computer is back home now and behaving itself nicely. It must be time to update again! I've chosen the Californians for today, since both Thorgerd and Bergthora are due with litters tomorrow. Bergthora was making a nice hay-stache earlier this evening - and this is her first litter. What a good rabbit! Note: neither of them is pictured, because they were heavily pregnant the day I was taking the pictures and didn't want to harass them.

Bergthora is 29 weeks old, born March 15th. She's not pedigreed, but is a pure-bred Californian.

Thorgerd is about a year and a half, also a pure-bred Californian from Rick Kudlacik's barn. She has an 8 week old litter born August 6th, who are now available for purchase. I weighed her on September 1st when I bred her - 8 pounds 5 ounces while nursing 6 four-week-old kits! Here they are now:

A bit of background on the names: when we got the Californians, we had only had Cinnamons up to that point - only brown rabbits. The children were so excited by white bunnies that they started with icy/snowy names for them. I had just finished a semester of Old Norse language study, and was then taking Scandinavian Sagas, so I made the leap to Icelandic names.

So - meet the rest of the family!

This is our buck. His name is Sigurd, the Dragon Slayer. He's a fine gentleman, very sweet with the ladies, and is a robust 9 pounds, 8 ounces. He's originally from Rick Kudlacik's barn.

This is Thorgerd's sister, Vigdis. She's a LOVELY girl who consistently bears large litters and weans them all. She's given me a litter of 8, followed 2 months later by the litter of 7 shown below. I weighed her on September 20th, while she was nursing 7 kits, who were 18 days old - and she was 8 pounds 12 ounces.

Vigdis and her September 2nd litter - 7 gorgeous babies!

This is what you get when you cross a Californian doe with a Cinnamon buck - some Californian marked, and some solid black.

Oddly, if you cross a Cinnamon doe with a Californian buck, you get these - Cinnamon marked and solid black. We kept a buck from the white and black litter, and a doe from the brown and black litter... and we'll breed them in the spring, just to see what happens!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

technical difficulties!

I was hoping to do a post introducing my Californian rabbits by now - but my computer is experiencing the dreaded "technical difficulties" and is in the shop, probably until Wednesday. And, of course, all of my photos are on its hard drive (though I'm having a CD burner installed so I can back up said photos!) so I can't do diddly from this rental laptop... except my homework. Oh, that.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And now, the Cremes d'Argent

These gorgeous creatures are Creme d'Argent rabbits. They are the 12th rarest breed of rabbit in the US, according to the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. I have a trio of Cremes, all from Rick Kudlacik in New York near Albany.

Goldenrod is the buck. He's the youngest, 15 weeks old, and weighs 4 pounds, 13 ounces.

The does are littermates, and are 18 weeks old.

Honey is a bit smaller - 6 pounds 5 ounces -

than Amber, who is 6 pounds 7 ounces.

I will be breeding both does to Goldenrod in the spring. Aren't they pretty?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meet the Cinnamons

I thought, since these will be image-heavy, that I'd introduce the rabbits by breed. That way, I can send folks to a specific link to meet each breed later on. So - I'll start where I started a year ago, in June 2008.
This is Peanut Butter, our Cinnamon buck. He is a big, beautiful boy from Nancy Searle's barn. I weighed him today - 4780 grams, or 10 pounds, 8.6 ounces. He's very gentle and affectionate!

This lovely doe is Mocha, also from Nancy Searle's barn. She has had four litters for me, starting in September 2008, of 5, 6, 9, and 7 kits. She's much more shy than Peanut Butter, and an excellent Mama. She weighs 9 pounds, 6 ounces at present, even while nursing 7 kits!

This curious and spunky girl is Acorn, from Peanut Butter and Mocha's first litter. She's the very first rabbit from "my" barn! She's a big girl - 4975 grams, or 10 pounds, 15.5 ounces - and she's nursing 8 kits, who are only 8 days old. She has had three litters for me this year - all with 8 kits! She's a lovely rabbit, a bit grumpy when pregnant, nicely protective of her kits for their first few days, and gentle and affectionate the rest of the time.

And finally, this lovely lass is Maple. She is from Acorn's first litter. I bred Acorn to one of Nancy Searle's bucks, PJ1, who is an award-winning buck at last year's Nationals. Maple herself won Best Cinnamon in Show at the Cummington Fair this past August. She was born April 22nd, so she is 22 weeks old, and she already weighs 8 pounds, 4 ounces. I won't breed her this year - Cinnamons are pretty sensitive to day length, and she's still a month away from the "magic" 6-month figure. In the spring, I will ask Nancy if any of her bucks want a playmate - or I could breed her back to her grandfather, Peanut Butter. You might notice that her coat is much more of one color than the other Cinnamons' - that's normal. Her distinctive markings will emerge as she matures.

I can haz eggs!

I found my first two eggs on Friday morning, tucked into a basement window well behind my potato bed. I was so excited! Today, Sunday, I found three more. These were in the coop, hiding under one of the benches. Yippee! Aren't they teeny?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Welcome to Blessed Acre Farm and Rabbitry!

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessed Acre Farm and Rabbitry has been a dream of mine for years. I had thought I'd move to a farm, but instead I've decided to make my current home (on 1.3 acres, partly wooded) into my dream farm.

Presently my four children, three retrievers and I enjoy several large garden beds, the company of our flock of 26 pullets (who will start laying soon - check back often for information on fresh free-range eggs) and our rabbit herd.

As of today's date, we have 62 rabbits on the property. We raise pedigreed Cinnamons, Cremes d'Argent, and Californians, for show, meat, and pets. We also have two "mutt" dwarf rabbits, who are pets, and a very sweet French Angora-looking buck we took in when he needed a new home.

We have available the following rabbits:

*a litter of 8 Californian/Cinnamon crosses, all with Californian markings, born July 1st
*a litter of 5 Californian/Cinnamon crosses, 3 with Californian markings, 2 all black, born July 2nd
*a litter of 6 Cinnamon/Californian crosses, 4 Cinnamon colored, 2 all black, born July 11th

Coming available soon:

*a litter of 6 purebred, pedigreed Californians born August 6th (available October 1st)
*a litter of 7 purebred Cinnamons born September 2nd (available October 28th)
*a litter of 7 purebred, pedigreed Californians born September 2nd (available October 28th)
*a litter of 8 purebred, pedigreed Cinnamons born September 12th (available November 7th)

Upcoming anticipated litters: two purebred Californian does are due October 2nd. One doe is pedigreed, the other is not.

Future events:
We will be breeding our Cremes d'Argent in the spring, around the beginning of March. This gorgeous breed is the 12th rarest in the United States according to the list from the ARBA convention in 2006 (will be updated in October 2009), and is on a "watch" status with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
We are looking forward to acquiring a quartet of American Blues in early November, and will be breeding them in early spring as well! This stunning, heritage breed is THE RAREST in the United States as of the 2006 list. American Blues are on a "critical" status with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. We estimate that there are only about 400 adult American Blues in the United States and Canada.

Come by again soon! I will put up pictures this weekend.