I feel as if there are a hundred decisions to make for the Rabbitry lately. In just one moment of thought I feel as if I’m drowning, blessed, excited, and anxious. Although I am not sure exactly who is staying and who is going… or where, I do know that a final decision needs to be reached in three weeks. It’s good to give yourself a deadline I think. Otherwise I would keep everyone all the time and I would eventually live in the overrun rabbit version of China. No one wants that.
First off, I have to think about how much room I have verses how many rabbits I have. Right now I have 12 rabbits and 5 cages. That’s not good math. I would like to keep just 5 rabbits through winter and into my spring breeding season. Not counting the 2 rabbits that are sold and waiting to be picked up, I need to find a place for 5 rabbits.
One option is to sell them. I think I may have sold all the rabbits I can for this year. The second and more likely option is that I will have to butcher the unsold 5 for family consumption. Before I get too much slack for even suggesting that a few rabbits may end up in the freezer, let me just say this: Would you rather eat mystery meat that was raised in an inhumane manner and had never seen the light of day during their life? Or would you rather eat meat that was raised in a happy, clean environment, surrounded by love until the moment they are sent to the freezer?
I know my answer. Our family chooses locally raised grass-fed beef over mysteriously raised “store” or fast-food beef whenever possible. I realize that most people don’t raise their own meat or even eat meat. We do have that opportunity though and if we are going to be meat-eaters, we need to be more responsible meat-eaters. Sorry if you don’t agree, but I will always respect your decision so please respect ours.
Another decision on the table is who to keep. Thistle and Clementine are givens just because they have the furthest distance of relation between the two of them. Blackberry is a keeper for her beautiful color wool. The rabbits in question are Dandelion and “7 of 9”.
Dandelion has caused me some trouble this year and I am really hoping it’s just because this was her first litter. It took her three tries to have a litter and then the litter had some unhealthy kits. If you remember, Dandelion’s 4-week old blue tortoiseshell kit died of digestion problems and then on Friday her cream fawn kit died of heat stroke quite horribly at 5-weeks old. Dandelion will get one more chance for a healthier litter come spring. Hopefully I can replace Dandelion next summer with a beautiful fawn buck.
We named one of the chocolate tortoiseshell bucks from Clementine’s litter “7 of 9”. He is the seventh of nine kits in the litter and was jokingly named after the Star Trek character. I would like to keep him only through the spring breedings to increase my chances of colored kits in Dandelion and Blackberry’s litters and then sell him.
I also have the matter of how often to breed. I am pretty sure breeding once a year in the spring is going to be my best option. Breeding once a year is the minimum to keep my breeding does healthy without being overrun by baby rabbits. And with Blackberry as a third doe in the breeding program, three litters should be more than enough to foster back and forth in case a doe cannot feed her kits for whatever reason. The health of my rabbits is always my top priority.
So anyhow… this gives you a little idea of what has been on my mind lately. A little long winded, I know, but I have a few crucial decisions to make in the next few weeks. I’m giving my extra 5 rabbits until two-weeks after the county fair to be sold and then they will have to make the trip to the freezer. It is not a decision I take lightly, but it must be done. And that’s why we are here. To learn to be more self-sufficient. It’s a journey.