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Tag Archives: homesteading

When the Show Must Go On… (Or, how do you take care of the animals when you’re sick yourself?!)

 

Taking Care of Animals When You're Sick Too

What do you do when you’re sick but the animals still need daily care?

One of the worst things about raising animals is how they are so darn needy on a daily basis. Seriously – they want food. They want water. They need milking. They need grooming. It’s just so… regular.

 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week because our family has been hit hard by some type of sickness that’s going around. It’s been about a two week period and it’s cycled through all six of us. Assuming it doesn’t offer the pleasure of a repeat round I think we’re about three days from being totally done of it…

And all during this time we’ve still had to feed and water the rabbits. Milk the goats. Collect the eggs.

Animals don’t care a whit if you have a 103* temperature and chills.

Fortunately in our case the sickness we’ve had has been staggered so there’s always been someone healthy enough to do the chores, but it reminds me of the stories of early pioneers who were found dead in their tracks on the way to the barn while the rest of their family is dead in the bed. The last one standing in that situation was obviously overcome with the immensity of it all.

Morbid, I know. Sorry.

My goal in sharing this was actually not to be depressing and speak of death, doom, and destruction, but to point out the need for a plan when things go bad.

We know that life is always going to through curve balls at us – so when it comes to our animals, how are we prepared? Who is your back up to call and take care of the fur babies if you’re suddenly ill? On vacation?

This has been the greatest discussion in our family when our daughter first brought up wanting dairy goats. We know that with a milking animal our schedule will be much more limited and our travel adventures will slow down. However, we’re moving into a season of our family where that fits… so we can make a sacrifice of time and effort for this season.

How are you prepared for an emergency?

 

 

 

In response to our growing microfarm adventures, I’m taking another look at our emergency plan (initially created after I wrote this post a few years ago) and making sure it’s up to date. My plan is to turn it into a fillable .pdf and make it available to all of YOU so your leg work in creating your own plan is a little less stressful. Hopefully it will be out by the end of next week!

In the meantime, may your animal adventures be calm and that Murphy’s Law thing stay far away from you!

I’d love to hear from you about how you handle emergencies and travel plans! I feel like we should create some sort of a web-based service (like the Babysitters Club) where people could schedule others to come and cover chores!

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Our Garden with Bunny Berries – 2018

After a few years of gardening with bunny berries, we are now convinced that these little cast off nuggets make our plants crazy, ridiculously happy!

For background, we live in the mountains of Arizona, in zone 6a. Our last frost date is June 14, and we usually drop to freezing/have snow by mid-October. This makes gardening relatively challenging. Many of our plants don’t grow quite as well or large as those in our slightly southern areas. BUT, gardening with bunny berries gives us an advantage!

This year we planted a bed of squash/zucchini, tomatoes, and comfrey, a bed of salad leaves, basil, broccoli, and lemon balm, a bed of sweet peppers and okra, a bed of cucumbers, a bed of watermelon, and a bed of asparagus. Additionally we had a container garden of several varieties of potatoes, mint, bunching onions, strawberries, artichoke, rosemary, and chives.

We also added three raised beds that were filled 8″ with cinder dirt and 8″ with pure rabbit manure. When we got finished we just planted straight into the bunny berry dirt and let them grow! (We did add a decorative top soil of wood chips.

We decided to be bold and prepared the garden in May. We knew we were traveling the first two weeks of June and wouldn’t be home to plant so we took our chances with the weather and fortunately, this year the gamble paid off!

Over the summer we have been able to see our garden sprout and then flourish. It has been incredibly satisfying to grow our own vegetables and also reuse a resource in the form of bunny manure. We used both aged manure and fresh manure throughout the garden and saw no difference between those two forms of fertilizer.

One thing that was new for us this year is that we now have chickens! We have been fairly anti-chicken for quite awhile because they aren’t silent like rabbits! However, our daughter begged and begged and I made the mistake of going to the feed store during chick days. We came home with a lot of chicks. NONE OF THEM DIED AND NONE OF THEM WERE ROOSTERS. What are the odds?!

Because we had these crazy little birds we also used them to till our garden beds. It worked out fabulously and we plan to set them loose in the garden area throughout this spring to work the soil for us. It’s all about symbiotic relationships and capitalizing on what is natural to benefit all parties, right?!

Now that you’ve seen the bare ground of our gardening attempts, let me share some photos of our garden and harvest as it progressed over the summer. We were thrilled!

Cucumbers were our best crop this year by far. Last year it was the tomatoes, but this year we had fresh cucumbers and pickles until the world looked level. Our squash and zucchini also produced the biggest leaves I’ve ever seen outside of the pacific northwest!

I can’t say exactly how much money we saved using bunny berries instead of soil from the garden center but when you consider the size of our raised beds that needed to be filled I’d hazard it was several hundred dollars of savings just by recycling our bunny berries. Additionally, our daughter sold bags of rabbit manure ($5 for a bag of berries, we reused 50 lbs, rabbit food bags for packaging) and was able to pay for her market goat project independently using that income. Our local gardeners were thrilled and so was our daughter!

It’s been a fun adventure to try to figure out the ways we can create multipurpose benefits from having these rabbits. They continue to be a fun adventure for our whole family!

Give the Gift of Rabbits – Heifer International

HeiferI just received this wonderful reminder from Linette:

“Since this is a time of year many people think to donate to charities, I was reminded of the Heifer project which donates animals and farming equipment to people in developing countries. They have a program to purchase breeding trios for people who will raise them for meat.

It’s a wonderful way of sharing rabbits with people in need!”

heifer-international1

Moria chimed in, “We have done this a few times and it’s awesome to be able to share the love of bunnies and the reason they are so versatile to other people! And it’s not expensive at all! highly recommend it!”

 

Would you like to give the give of self-sustainability to those who might not have access to meat in other ways?

http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/animals-nutrition/gift-of-rabbits-donation.html

 

Share a rabbit c

Organic Meat on a Tight Budget

The government used to encourage citizens toward self-sufficiency.

The government used to encourage citizens toward self-sufficiency.

We’re big fans of self-sufficiency around here, as well as making a dollar stretch like a piece of taffy! One of the main reasons we decided to raise rabbits involved the realization that not only is rabbit meat extremely healthy, low fat and high protein, we would never regularly purchase organic or all natural meat at the grocery store as it was cost prohibitive for our family.

 

Raising rabbits has allowed us to feed our family a meat we know is healthy, antibiotic-free, and that has been raised  and butchered humanely. Not to mention the carbon footprint of a rabbit is significantly smaller than beef, pork, or poultry for the same amount of consumable food!

 

Rabbits as livestock even the playing field and give people an opportunity to actively participate in creating a healthy future for their families. Rabbits allow those who live in apartments, have limited income, or don’t have the time to invest in a labor-intensive product to successfully take part in owning their destiny. Developing countries around the world have recognized that rabbits are a way to meet a basic necessity — to eat — as well as work their way out of poverty. In our own country, where far too many people are eating fast food and slowly poisoning their bodies with preservatives, we believe raising rabbits is a viable way to break the cycle of food poverty and obesity!

 

Rabbits take daily care, but are very low maintenance. While they need regular cleaning, they can also be raised discretely as they make hardly any noise at all. Rabbits have a quick turn around from birth to butcher – I like to joke that they are the impatient person’s perfect animal, as they mature and gestate very quickly in comparison to other livestock animals.

 

Once upon a time our government encouraged citizens to plant Victory Gardens and raise their own livestock for food. Handouts were an option, but really encouraged only after people did their best to support themselves with the resources they had available to them at the time. I sure do wish we were receiving the same message today.

 

 

Patriotic Rabbits: The “New” White Meat

patriotic bunny

Truthfully, I feel sorry for this rabbit. Bunnies in costumes scare me a little.

I just finished reading an article on rabbit, the “new” white meat. (What’s up, Chef? Rabbit is the Trendy New White Meat)

 

While I’m not thrilled to be associated with “trendy” things, it is validating to see other people recognizing the benefits of rabbit meat because there’s really not another meat that can compete with rabbit for nutrition. It’s low in fat, high in protein, flavorful, and has a higher meat/food conversion rate than just about any animal out there. Add that to the ability to raise rabbits in your backyard quietly and I’m pretty sure rabbits are the perfect urban livestock!

 

Over the time we’ve been raising rabbits we’ve had a chance to get several others started on their urban homestead. I am so appreciative of these new friends who are drawn to a desire to know what is in the food they consume and who want their children to realize meat doesn’t initially come on a styrofoam plate. While rabbit raising isn’t for everyone, I truly believe it’s an approachable way to begin to take back control over your food sources.

 

Rabbit rearing gained popularity during World War II when most beef was reserved for the military forces. It lagged  as a livestock in the intervening years, but many say it’s at all time highs once more as Americans become more concerned about the additives in bulk produced food.

 

Coming up on Independence Day, who doesn’t want to celebrate self-sufficiency?! 🙂

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