Just before the end of the year one of our young bunnies, Tribble, surprised us by giving birth to five happy and healthy baby bunnies!
Here is mama not too long after she had given birth. You can see the fluff she pulled from her belly to help make a nest for her babies.
Tribb is one of our youngest babies and we hadn't expected her to kid so early. Apparently our stud, Carl, got out while the cages were being cleaned.
Here's mama and her babies. We didn't have a nesting box ready for Trib since we weren't expecting her to have babies. But that wasn't going to stop her. Trib managed to get a hold of this towel and pull it through the bars of her cage to make a nest. She has been a great mom to her babies, keeping them warm and feeding them, even helping to keep them clean,
We knew as soon as we saw her babies that she would need a box. Our first thought was to make one. Tim is obviously handy and there are few things he can't make. So we looked up some dimensions online and Tim set about to build it.
Tim Measuring out the box using some wood for a spare bee box.
Its a little rough. but we needed something now for the babies. Its been a very cold winter here in Utah, and I worried about the babies on nothing but a towel. They'd been okay so far, but there was no telling when that towel suddenly wouldn't be enough.
Tim and I don't know a lot about raising rabbits for meat or otherwise. So, we've been learning on the fly.
We really liked the idea of having baby bunnies both to sell and continue to breed. We came to the decision before we'd gotten together. Both Tim and I had wanted to homestead and started down that path before our relationship started. In fact, one of the things that Tim says made him look at me in the light of potential relationship, was the questions I asked him about his work on homesteading.
I'd ask about bees, geothermal heating, what he thought about storage container homes vs a traditional stick built home or maybe even a manufactured home. They were customizable and could be delivered almost anywhere in the lower 48 states.
We'd both thought about rabbits. Great pets, good reliable meat source and adorable as all get out. But we really hadn't thought about it logistically or from an animal husbandry stand point.
But this spring we walked into our local C.A.L. Ranch store and we saw this
And they were so cute. They had been raised as livestock and not pets, so there was no fear of them dying if we put them outside. It would be about $40 for both, which seemed like a pretty decent investment. We could mate them and raise them as a cash crop, for meat, and for the sheer adorableness of them.
We hadn't really talked about bunnies on the micro homestead, give that our space is so limited. Just like we hadn't talked about how many chickens is too many give our space limits and the ones imposed on us by the county.
One of the bunnies came up the cage and let me pet his little pink nose. I looked at Tim and he looked at me and then this happened
Enter Carl short for Caramel, (for his spots), and Nessy, short for Nestle because of her chocolate color.
I hadn't had a rabbit since I was in fifth grade and I was not primarily responsible for their care. With little more thought than "Bunnies are great for homesteads and preps," we were adding pets/livestock to our small property. Despite the micro part of our current homestead.
Working for 911 and the police means that I get calls from people for all kinds of things. Including the goats that the city of South Jordan uses to keep the weeds down around the roads.
At work, I asked if this was normal in the chat we operators used to communicate and was told that it was normal. After a few jokes about needing more animals for my "farm" a co-worker asked if I would like some bunnies that she had and was looking to rehome.
Enter Sulu and Kirk.
Two adorable older boy bunnies. They are super sweet and fluffy as all get out.
We brought their bunny house home and set it up right next to the one we were using to house Nessy and Carl. We put up some rabbit fence the next day and let the bunnies out to roam and meet each other.
Anyone who has ever had rabbits and raised them for breeding and meat will tell you, this is a bad idea.
Kirk and Sulu were raised together and have always been housed together. They were never fixed or bread. So they were very horny bunnies. And they were not very particular about who, or what they were going after. And as older males, there was definitely some dominance issues.
When Carl and Sulu fought and both came away bleeding, Tim and I were really worried. By this point we'd also gone out and purchased two more girl bunnies. They were all even now, all the bunnies could pair up and we'd have babies in now time.
We had the two enclosures, and six bunnies. So we built them an enclosure.
In the video you can see the six of them running and playing as they explore their new space. We decided to leave the weeds in there since as soon as we let them out they immediately began to munch on them.
As you can see here, most the weeds have been decimated by our tiny munching machines.
Even with the space we gave them, the boys started fighting.
In the top of picture above you can see the caging that we got for the area. The holes got bigger at the top and before long the bunnies were escaping.
We were in over our heads.
We eneded up moving the bunnies inside as the snow came, and bread them one at a time. We were in the middle of breading Carl and Nessy when Carl got out and matted with Tribble before my son realized what was going on.
Now we have five baby bunnies.
And the way they grow is amazing.
Here they are newborn. They are pink and tiny and the don't move around a whole lot.
Here they are about five days later. They are bigger and their spots and coloring are starting to really come through. They moved a lot more at this stage, doing little hops and squirming when picked up. But they would cuddle in your hand if you held them right. It was about this time they also started to pee when we picked them up.
Here's a close up of spot with his little colors coming through and his tiny little toes!
Here they are now, about two weeks old.
They are getting very fluffy and even escaping form their nesting box now. We are even starting to see some personality. They still love to sleep in a big heap, which we affectionally call a pile a fluff, and we're so excited to see how they grow and continue to learn as we go.