Category Archives: Rabbits

And on her farm she had some rabbits!

They’re here! I have rabbits on my farm! Just this January I was talking about the possibility and now it’s my reality. Hells yeah! Ward and June are resting comfortably in their own cages on a bit of straw I put in to make them more comfortable. Allow me to formally introduce them.

This is June. She’s a New Zealand, although not the red-eyed, pure white ones I’m used to. She was born on September 21st, so won’t be ready to start breeding into almost March. She’s a little more shy than Ward, but is warming up to me. Little by little. (Maybe it’s because I keep going out there every few hours to see them again!)

And this cinnamon calico New Zealand is Ward. He was born on August 21st. He’s a bit braver than June, but like I said, I think she’ll come around.

In preparation for their arrival, I put the finishing touches on the hutch set up and I wanted to share them with you. The waterers might be my favorite. I ordered adapters that allow me to reuse some liter bottles I stashed this summer when I was drinking Doug fir sodas like crazy. A hole in the top was really all I needed to do. Done.

I made a hay manager, a piece of chicken wire fastened to the outside of one of the sides of the cage. I stuff organic hay in there and it sort of holds it in place against the cage so the rabbits can nibble at it without it getting peed on or falling through the holes on the bottom of the cage so quickly. I love to watch them nibble on the hay. In fact, I just love the fact that I now have to make hay something I purchase and store in my garage. It’s just another way I’m living out my farm fantasies.

I made a little burlap drape to hang onto the front side of the cage to give them a little more protection from rain and wind that might come through the front side of their cages.

And of course, because I’m an artist and am obsessed with beautiful fabric, there is bunting. The hutch had to have bunting.

The Hutch is Happening

If I were tweeting about this, I’d add the hashtag to my tweet #it’shappening. I’ve got my hutch set up and ready for my rabbits. I started this summer and never got it finished when school things started picking up at the end of August. And since I’ll be getting my rabbits this Saturday, I needed to finish this project. Finally.

Like the chickens, I’m learning that there are various ways to raise a rabbit and many different opinions about the best way to do so. As I’ve gotten more experience raising my hens, I’ve figured out what works best for us and have managed to keep my girls happy and healthy. But I didn’t always feel this confident. I spent a lot of time second-guessing my choices and wondering if I was doing the right things. I’m noticing that familiar insecurity creeping up again and I don’t even have the rabbits yet. So I’m taking this new endeavor one step at a time and have at least decided how I’ll set up my hutch.

In doing my research on building a hutch, I learned that the most important thing is to keep the rabbits dry and cool. I knew that I’d have to keep them sheltered from the rain and wind during the winter and keep them cool and out of the sun during the summer, so I decided to put the structure in the shade of the north side of my house.

Like most projects around here, the hutch didn’t come together easily. I had lots of fun challenges along the way. Building a custom-style hutch with a unique compost system like I wanted just didn’t happen because of a lack of time, expertise and shady space. However, I think what I came up with will work out just fine. With the help of my dad, I built a simple wood structure that will protect the rabbits from the elements.

I attached a piece of oil cloth, which I fitted with a grommet in each corner, to the two exterior sides. Those will keep the rabbits protected from the wind and rain coming in from the sides.

I decided to invest in two pairs of stacking cages from Bass Equipment, one set of 30 by 30 inch cages and the other two 30 by 36 inches. I plan on keeping the doe and the buck in the 30×30 cages and will use the 30×36 inch cages as grow-out cages and when my doe is expecting. I already ordered the nesting box. I ordered the cages with doors that swing out so it’s easier to access the rabbits. I was able to order super cool adapters that make two-liter bottles into waterers. They even came with springs that secure them to cages like a bungee.

Putting together the actual cages was a test of patience. Every few inches a small piece of metal called a J-clip is curled around the two sides of wire to join them together. I ordered a special pair of J-clips pliers, but I had the hardest time figuring out how they fit around the clips to bring them to a close. I’m sure most people find them easy to use and I was just too close to the problem to see the solution clearly, but I couldn’t figure out an easier way.

I finally devised a system using a real pair of pliers, which I used to give the J-clip a little more of a bend, and then using of the J-clip pliers to bring the metal all the way around and secured in place.

Finally, no rabbit hutch would be complete, at least on my farm anyway, without a little decorative bunting to give it some charm. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it with style. So, I’m working on that final touch.

Stay tuned for updates soon. #it’shappening

 

Terra Plata

I went to the NW Flower and Garden Show again this year for a little pre-spring time inspiration. A friend and I played hooky from work and went for the opening day. It never ceases to amaze me how crowded it can be, even on a weekday. Much like last year, the moment I walk into that convention center, I have an unconscious agenda – to seek out all things edible, sustainable, and reusable or repurposed. I could care less about the fanciful ornamentals, but a display of edibles and urban farming will stop me in my tracks. Inevitably, I end up stopping by the booths of my favorite local businesses I already support.

I didn’t see too much that really inspired me this year, although the terrariums were lovely. If last year was the year of the succulent, this year was most definitely the year of the terrarium. I think I need to find a place in my fence to put a terrarium porthole.

The best part of the day for me though was lunch. On our way to another place we had in mind, we took a detour to Terra Plata instead, a restaurant in the Melrose Market that has been on my list since it opened. At a thick, rustic table with wood chairs that needed a little muscle to move, we had the most delicious lunch.

We shared a delicious arugula beet salad, a most fitting starter to try considering my newfound taste for beets, thanks in part to recipes from Tender. The nonalcoholic citrus fizzes were delightful too.

Originally, I had my eye on the farro risotto, but when our waitress told us about the day’s special, a rabbit and root vegetable “pot pie” with a cheesy drop biscuit on top, I was sold. I’m a mission to develop a better sensibility for how to cook rabbit since I plan to incorporate them into my urban farm this year. If the rabbit I cook is as good as the rabbit I ate for lunch, it will be a most worthwhile endeavor.

I’m not quite ready to cross this one off the list just yet. I told Jeremy we should put this on our list for date night and I think we should keep it that way. After all, I only sampled the lunch menu. Who knows what seasonal goodness awaits me for dinner?

 

The Next Frontier

When I tell my loved ones about something new I’m about to do, their reaction is usually one of subtle surprise. Either with their words or just a look, their response always seems to say, “of course you are.” It’s as if they wouldn’t have expected anything less.

I’m a girl with many ideas, who has shared her lofty plans with them with zeal and intention many times. But I’m also a girl with follow-through – a girl who often reaches the goals she sets out to accomplish. And with urban farming, I’ve proven to those around me that I have the dedication to make those dreams a reality. Even when my family thinks that what I’m doing is crazy, they love me anyway and support me along the way.

That’s the reaction I got when I told them that I am going to start looking into raising rabbits for meat. Of course, my sister, who was the loving owner of two rabbits growing up, reacted with a bit more intensity. After hearing the news, she texted me, the shock clear in her message. “You’re going to eat rabbits??? Didn’t Bun-bun and Elmo mean anything to you?” Truth be told, they didn’t really. They weren’t my pets and the rabbits I plan on getting won’t be either.

There is a lot to be said about raising rabbits:

  • they take up less space than ducks, turkeys, or chickens
  • their manure is amazing for the garden and doesn’t have to be composted the way chicken manure does
  • they’re quiet
  • they reproduce like, um, rabbits
  • their pelts can be harvested for the fur

This is truly the next frontier, at least for my urban farming career. If my mom could see me now, her picky little girl, she’d be shocked. And truthfully, I’m kind of shocked as well.  When my grandma told me the story of how she couldn’t stand to eat the rabbit that was served to her at my grandpa’s house, I could totally relate. Ew! I wouldn’t want to eat it either, I’d say. But now, I’m on my way to raise them for my table? Looks like my newfound love of food and drive for self-sufficiency is winning over my childhood picky habits.

And yes, they’re cute and furry, but I’m bound and determined to learn to call them food. No names like the chickens. I can’t guarantee I won’t cry when I have to kill them too, but I am confident that I’ll do it.

It’s time. Rabbits are the new chickens in the world of urban farming and I just can’t help but be intrigued. My interest was piqued when I read Farm City. Then, I heard about it again from someone in the Seattle Farm Co-op. And now, a class at Seattle Tilth? I’m in! I signed up for the class and we’ll see what happens from there. But if the past is any indication of what’s to come, I’ll bring this idea to fruition too. My family might have reacted with a little more surprise then usual, but I know they’ll come around. After all, my dad loves those chickens more than I do.

*image by Jenn Ireland