Grow Out Pen :: plans

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Now that I have sold the last rabbit kit from spring breedings, I have a much better view of what and who I have for winter breedings. For winter breedings I will have one more doe than last season, and enviably, one more litter of kits. This means that I will not have a comfortable enough or large enough space for kits to grow up in after they have been weaned. Especially if Clementine has another litter of eleven!

The health and cleanliness of our rabbits is very important to us as is the welfare of all our animals and insects. So this fall/early winter we will need to build a “grow out pen” for incoming rabbit kits. It will also be a time to upgrade our rabbit play pen with matching wire fencing and some AstroTurf. The area itself has worked well with recycled materials, but it looks a little tacky. I’ll admit it.

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What we plan to do is to redo the wire fencing on the 10′ x 10′ foot rabbit play pen and make it extend all the way up to the deck above. This should keep predators out when we put this new grow out pen inside. Basically we will have a large winter hutch with legs inside of an under-deck enclosed kennel.

As you can see, we will make the grow out pen 3′ feet deep by 9′ feet wide and 5′ tall. While it will have a wooden frame, I want to use the same corrugated PVC roofing material that we used on the main rabbit shed for this grow out pen’s walls and roof. Hopefully the PVC material will be easy to scrub down in-between breeding seasons.

The new grow out pen will be divided in two sections with a wall in order to separate the young bucks and does. We don’t need any surprise litters around here! It will also be on 2′ foot tall legs so that rabbits can still use the space underneath to play in. When the grow out pen is in use, I can even put plastic tubs underneath to catch droppings.

As always, we will keep you up to date on progress and share a tutorial with you so you can make your own. Construction on this project will probably take a weekend or two in September or October.

Want to Start Beekeeping?

We made a quick video for those of you who have been asking, “What do I need to become a beekeeper”. We may not be experts, but here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

If you start collecting learning resources and beekeeping tools this autumn, you will be ready for your new bees in the spring! Also consider joining a local beekeeping club to pick the minds of more experienced beekeepers.

Beekeeping Suppliers:

Better Bee Inc
Brushy Mountain Bee Supply
Dadant
Mann Lake Ltd
Miller Bee Supply

Beekeeping Books That Helped Us:

Grit’s Guide to Backyard Bees and Honey by Mother Earth News’ sister publication, Grit
Keeping Bees by Ashley English
Keeping Bees by Paul Peacock
Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston in the “for Dummies” series

Fall Planting :: 2012 getting started

Today was a reset day in the garden. The cilantro and green beans were pulled out and their spots were re-fertilized and re-planted with new crops. The cilantro had bolted and seeded as coriander. The stalks were clipped at the base and tied up to dry. All of the leftover stalks had dried solid and were pulled from the soil, thrown into a bucket destined for the burn pile. In our experience, thick stalks and stems do not decompose fast enough in the compost pile.

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Early August is the time in our area to start planting Fall crops. We have to act fast to get seeds in the ground and most Fall crops grown and harvested before our first hard frost in October. It’s not easy, but we manage. This year we are lucky enough to have more gardening room than we ever had before, so we take advantage by planting as much as we can possibly eat, freeze, can, and dry.

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With a quick stamp in each square…

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…we plant some turnips, snow peas, carrots, and beets. Next we will use the tall metal fencing stakes from the potato towers and some jute to make a long trellis for the freshly planted snow pea plot.

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Potato Towers :: harvest

This is almost the most pitiful aspect of our Spring/Summer garden. Almost. The most pitiful was our quinoa harvest… which was zero. We didn’t get so much as a sprout. It was so sad it didn’t really deserve a post. So if you’re reading this, you have now learned that it is virtually pointless to sew quinoa seeds in the sandy soil of the California mountains.

As for the potatoes, I think we may try the towers once more next year but in a different location. The fenced in area we had them in this year had the perfect amount of sun and they grew beautifully. However, the area also had an over abundance of hungry bugs that eyeballed our potato plants long enough to give us hope before attacking.

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Hope does not always spring eternal. This was our harvest from two potato towers. Trevor dug out our spuds and found the culprits among our survivors… pill bugs (or sow bugs) and crickets. So we were left with these few “nickel spuds”. I would have given you a comparison, but it harly seemed worth it.

Next spring we will try, try again in a new location. Our only concern is finding a spot for them to grow where the deer won’t eat them. We have deer like locusts here!

Angora Colors Explained :: video

Here is a list of ARBA accepted colors for French Angoras:

— SELF (solid colored body, no pattern) —
Self Black
Self Blue (blue is a diluted form of black)
Self Chocolate
Self Lilac (lilac is a diluted form of chocolate)
Blue-eyed White (Vienna gene)
Ruby-eyed White (albino)

— POINTED —
Black-pointed White
Blue-pointed White
Chocolate-pointed White
Lilac-pointed White

— AGOUTI —
Chinchilla (black based, mostly grey in color)
Chocolate Chinchilla (chocolate based, mostly grey in color)
Lilac Chinchilla (lilac based chinchilla color, mostly grey in color)
Squirrel (blue based chinchilla color, mostly grey in color)
Chestnut (black based, dark brown in color)
Chocolate Agouti (chocolate based, amber in color)
Lynx (lilac based)
Opal (blue based)
Orange Fawn (black based, light orange color with white under belly, around eyes, and under tail)
Cream Fawn (black based, diluted gene gives blue/grey eyes, light orange color with white under belly, around eyes, and under tail)
Red (black based, bright orange/red color)

— PEARL (angora specific color, colored face, ears, feet, tail with almost white wool) —
Sable Pearl
Black Pearl
Blue Pearl
Chocolate Pearl
Lilac Pearl

— SHADED —
Sable (black based with chinchilla gene)
Seal (black based with chinchilla gene, dark sable)
Smoke Pearl (blue based with chinchilla gene)
Tortoiseshell (black based, black over entire body with brown on its back and sides)
Blue Tortoiseshell (blue based, blue over entire body with brown on its back and sides)
Chocolate Tortoiseshell (chocolate based, chocolate over entire body with brown on its back and sides)
Lilac Tortoiseshell (lilac based, lilac over entire body with brown on its back and sides)

— TICKLED (one color with tipped hairs in a second color) —
Steel (black based with gold tipping)
Blue Steel (opal based with gold tipping
Chocolate Steel (chocolate based with gold tipping)
Lilac Steel (lilac based with gold tipping)

— BROKEN —
Any of the above colors can also come in broken. Broken colors are mostly white hiding the true color underneath.