Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roxy the Rex had Babies!

Even though I haven't mentioned the rabbits much, they are a part of the daily routine here on the homestead. Not only are they routine, they are also an integral part of "The Plan." When I say plan I mean the overarching plan for what we want  to accomplish here on Haven Homestead.

Something that we have learned from Geoff Lawton's Online PDC is "Each element performs more than one function, and each function is provided by more than one element." This is how diversity breeds stability. (SOOO COOL!) 
You can see the nest of hair in the corner in front of the nest box.

So our rabbits fit into the master plan by providing us with compost/fertilizer and meat, not to mention they are really nice to hold! Now, they are not the only elements providing us with meat or compost or entertainment (see the post on my artsy blog about chicken's deflating...), but those are the functions that they provide. 

So in the order of providing meat, we had Barnaby (a Silver Fox) mate with Roxy (a Rex). Chris knows more about why we have those kinds of rabbits, so I'll ask him and report back, but that's another post for another day.

Little Benny-Angelina Abby Hodge. That is what Emma says his full name is.
Friday of last week, Roxy had her first litter! It was quite unexpected because we have been trying for a litter for a while. She didn't pull the fur out of her tummy to make a nest until that night (we were expecting her to give birth a few days before, and Chris thought she'd pull her fur a few days before giving birth) Then we woke up and went to check on the animals on Saturday morning and she had little babies lying in a nest of fur ON THE FLOOR OF THE CAGE! We had given her a nesting box but we think it was too small. We read that you are supposed to leave the rabbits alone for the first 24 hours after birth so we check on them on Sunday and we were sad to find that of the litter of 6, only one little kit survived, and he was hungry.
Nursing the baby on Roxy was really stressful for all parties involved, but we felt it was necessary for the first few feedings. 

We did our best to try to save him. We held Roxy still and let him nurse off of her for the first two feedings, but that was a two person job and Chris wasn't going to be able to help during the week. We read that kitten milk replacer was the best option, (DON'T use cow's milk) so we went to the feed store and bought some. We fed him 2x a day, stroked his tummy so he could defecate, and we left him alone the rest of the day. That's what the momma rabbit would do, so we did our best to replicate nature.

Unfortunately, little Benny-Angelina (Emma named it) died on Tuesday Morning in spite of our best efforts.
Emma and Benny-Angelina

It was exciting to have the litter, dissapointing when we discovered the faulty nest box, exciting to try to take care of a kit, and sad when he passed on.

We will be trying for more litters, and now we know better. Here's to better results from our next litter.