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My Rabbits, or "On Raising One's Own Meat, With Some Discussion of the Attendant Pleasures and Dilemmas"


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Going back to your first post:

 

On 5/22/2023 at 6:49 AM, chromedome said:

One of the reasons we sometimes lose bunnies at this stage is that Mama bunny will hop out of the nest box when she's done nursing, and occasionally one of the little guys will still be latched on. If you're lucky, you'll find the teeny critter before it dies of exposure.

 

Does a doe ever reject a bunny on purpose? If so, will another doe accept it? In the case you cited above, did you simply have to put the baby back with the doe, or did you have to hand-raise it after that?

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29 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Going back to your first post:

 

 

Does a doe ever reject a bunny on purpose? If so, will another doe accept it? In the case you cited above, did you simply have to put the baby back with the doe, or did you have to hand-raise it after that?

I don't know. I suppose it happens. Some does are just plain better mothers than others; one of ours consistently lost more kits than the others. I think she just didn't have the patience to wait for them to be done nursing before she hopped out of the nest box. Once the kit is out of the box, mama just plain ignores it. I don't think there's really any practical way for them to get one back into the nest/den once it's out, so they just write 'em off.

With the little one I showed in this sequence of photos, I just put it back in the nest box and "normal service was resumed," as they say. That's been the case with any previous successful salvages as well. The unsuccessful ones? Well, I was putting them out in the woods well away from our rabbitry, but eventually realized that there are lots of reptile owners out there. So now I have a bag of failed rescues in my freezer, and we're going to reach out through FB and local pet stores to see who's interested in some to feed their lizards and snakes. It's a way to monetize what would otherwise be a pure loss, so it seems worth exploring.

I'll post more later, but right now I have an article to write and my long-awaited load of topsoil will be getting here in an hour as well.

For now here's a picture of our little lame bunny, Tina, enjoying some backyard time while I clean out her cage.

20230523_191215.thumb.jpg.4234b1d4af192f39549c5272ab11695e.jpg

 

The lawn chairs in the background prompt the memory of an eye-rolling "dad joke":

 

Q: What's Irish and spends all winter in the garage?
A: Paddy O'Furniture
 

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Yesterday got away from me, but I'll try to come back with a proper followup post later on.

 

Fun bunny fact in the interim: rabbits are coprophages. In times of famine/poor forage, or when circumstances militate against leaving the den (a life-threatening storm, a predator parked outside the burrow waiting for a fuzzy head to pop up), they can - so to speak - "stretch the grocery budget" by eating their own droppings. It's actually a very clever evolutionary ploy for a non-ruminant herbivore, since their plant foods are only partially digested on the first pass. It is, in effect, a rabbit's way of chewing its cud. The fibrous cells of the grasses and leaves are already partially broken down, so more nutrients can be released during a second pass through the rabbit's gut.

 

I'll add that all three of our dogs find the droppings to be an irresistible snack. Dogs are opportunistic omnivores, like humans (admittedly skewing more to the carnivore side) and presumably the partially digested greens are similarly easier for their intestinal microbiome to manage as well.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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If you're following along for the cute bunny pictures you may want to close your eyes and hit Page Down a few times, because a couple of days ago we harvested the white bunnies from the original post. I remember several of us taking interest in the breaking down of a deer in the 'Tis Hunting Time blog a year or two ago, so I'm going to post a short series of pics to document processing a rabbit. It's similar, though on a much smaller scale (and I don't typically break down the carcass into component parts before freezing them, because rabbits are obviously a more freezer-friendly size).

 

I've already explained the method we use for the distasteful-but-necessary step of actually killing the poor wee beasties. I haven't got photos of that part, because a) it takes all of our hands; and b) I didn't wanna. So we'll start with a rabbit hung up for skinning. I've taken a piece of twine left over from a bale of hay and hung it from a nail, and then created loops at each end with two slip knots. Those hold the feet, and make it much more convenient to do the rest of the job (you'll note the fatal dog collar at the top left).

 

20230523_192546.thumb.jpg.984f7d84e721379f66d77be703bd84e3.jpg

 

At this point I've cut around the front of the ankle with a small, sharp knife, have cut partway down the front of the leg, and am coaxing the pelt away from the leg muscles. Rabbits' skin is fairly loose in most places, but the actual ankle is not one of them so it needs to be pulled away and carefully aided with the tip of the knife. When I first started doing this I would girdle the entire ankle with the knife blade before starting the downward cut, but that way there's a high risk of cutting the bunny equivalent of the Achilles tendon, which makes it more complicated to finish the leg. So now I cut around the front 3/4 of the leg, then loosen the skin all round, and finally insert the tip of my knife between the flesh and skin and cut upward and outward to free the pelt. That way there's no risk of cutting the tendon, and the leg meat stays where it's supposed to.

 

20230523_192920.thumb.jpg.e84f84fd0cc842d899d7396258a6f8ac.jpg

 

At that point I make quick incisions down the front of each leg to the hip, and peel away the skin much as one would remove a sock. Once I've exposed about this much of the groin and belly (barring a small "Speedo" of fur around the various orifices), I loose the skin around the hips and gather it up in a bunch in my non-dominant hand. Then I cut through the tail to free up the whole hind portion of the pelt and leave it hanging as you see here, and then remove the "Speedo" with another couple of quick cuts. I really should have taken a photo of that stage, to make this visual record more complete, but didn't think of it until afterwards.

 

 

20230523_192949.thumb.jpg.68e44ca1ff331cbba425b6b603047a63.jpg

 

Then I pull down on the skin and basically turn it inside out from hindlegs to ankle. Unfortunately, I missed getting the "business end" of the bunny into the frame while taking the picture, and left out the important part which is the skin still covering the forelegs and head. By the time I realized my error I was already finished, so here we are. At this point what I do is take each foreleg by the "elbow" and pull it out of the skin, then cut off the forepaw to free the leg entirely. With those removed from the skin I'll pull the skin down to the neck, sever the head, and set the whole pelt aside for later handling (my father used to eat the heads occasionally just to get a reaction from my Mom, but I don't bother because of the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob).

 

...annnnd, this is the final stage of the skinning process, with the head and forepaws removed.

 

 

 

20230523_193231.thumb.jpg.a4310241b4cc29017e306c4e4905f9da.jpg

 

The blood comes from the neck-breaking process, which among other things causes a significant degree of internal bleeding at the neck. I usually put down a piece of corrugated, covered with random scraps of hay and straw, to soak that up.

 

Now that I've "undressed" the rabbit in the physical sense, I'll move on to "dressing" it in the culinary sense. I start by pinching the thin flesh of the abdomen and pulling it away from the underlying plumbing, and then making a careful incision from groin to ribs. Again I probably should have taken a photo at that step, but didn't think of it until afterwards. Once that's done, I reach in and grab a handful of viscera starting with the stomach, which is the sturdiest part of the whole apparatus. If I pull that out in one big handful, everything should (and usually does) come out in one piece. Here's that stage of the process. I apologize for the middling quality of the photos; it was late in teh day and the light was poor. In the upper part of the cavity the dark mass you see is the liver, and directly below the liver on the right you'll see one of the kidneys nestled in along the back. Ordinarily they'd have more fat around them, but this bunny was an outlier.

 

 

20230523_195142.thumb.jpg.266d44f7907b637d5e75e42e6e403fcb.jpg

 

Here's a better look at the liver and kidneys in situ.

20230523_195240.thumb.jpg.9e5617d88c2c4b6c354ed7d05ec19d55.jpg

 

I remove those and set them aside in a steel bowl that I keep handy for the purpose. At the top of this image you'll see the diaphragm and lungs, which constitute our next destination (again, my apologies for the image quality).

 

20230523_195323.thumb.jpg.9be0cae4a806014ce15ec042f197d304.jpg

 

That's the heart you see behind the lungs. I save the heart but discard the lungs. On a given day the hearts, kidneys and livers may get bagged and go into our freezer for the dogs, or simply pan-fried and go into me. On this particular occasion, because the freezer is already well-stocked, they went into me.

 

At this point I put my dressed-out bunnies on a baking sheet and bring them to the house, where I rinse them thoroughly in a food-safe plastic bucket filled with salted water. Then they're patted dry with paper towels, bagged, weighed and frozen (in this batch two were right around the 3 pound mark but one weighed 3 pounds 10 ounces, so that's the one that went to pay for our new bathroom countertop).

 

So that's the process.

I have to feed the critters and set to work now, but I'll be back later in the day.

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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Thanks for the description. What happens to the stomach and intestines? Also, how salty is the salted water into which you put the meat? Am I correct in thinking that's for a food-cleansing purpose? (I never thought to do that with deer meat.)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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27 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Thanks for the description. What happens to the stomach and intestines? Also, how salty is the salted water into which you put the meat? Am I correct in thinking that's for a food-cleansing purpose? (I never thought to do that with deer meat.)

The intestines and suchlike just go into the trash. The mastiff turned up her nose at them and I don't want to risk attracting any (other) predators to the vicinity.

 

I don't exactly know how much salt. My late son-in-law bought several boxes of pickling salt for one or another purpose and they're all badly caked now, so I just grab a chunk and bust it up and throw it in. I don't know if it's enough to actually contribute to food safety; I was thinking more in terms of helping draw out the blood from the neck region, which remains dark and discolored (I usually trim it away before cooking). They don't remain long in the water in any case, it's a relatively quick wash, so the salt is probably not really doing anything much.

 

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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3 hours ago, chromedome said:

The intestines and suchlike just go into the trash. The mastiff turned up her nose at them and I don't want to risk attracting any (other) predators to the vicinity.

 

I don't exactly know how much salt. My late son-in-law bought several boxes of pickling salt for one or another purpose and they're all badly caked now, so I just grab a chunk and bust it up and throw it in. I don't know if it's enough to actually contribute to food safety; I was thinking more in terms of helping draw out the blood from the neck region, which remains dark and discolored (I usually trim it away before cooking). They don't remain long in the water in any case, it's a relatively quick wash, so the salt is probably not really doing anything much.

 

Hmmm.  I wonder if the dark neck region is due to the trauma caused when harvesting the rabbit.

 

Chickens will bruise and the flesh turn reddish/darker when they experience trauma at the end of life.

 

For me at least, strangulation seems somewhat cruel and unnecessary.  Chop the poor things head off or put a .22 right at the back of its skull.  Much faster, less stress and no discolored meat.

 

Easier said than done, (especially from behind a screen!) I am sure!

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40 minutes ago, TicTac said:

Hmmm.  I wonder if the dark neck region is due to the trauma caused when harvesting the rabbit.

 

Chickens will bruise and the flesh turn reddish/darker when they experience trauma at the end of life.

 

For me at least, strangulation seems somewhat cruel and unnecessary.  Chop the poor things head off or put a .22 right at the back of its skull.  Much faster, less stress and no discolored meat.

 

Easier said than done, (especially from behind a screen!) I am sure!

It's not strangulation, it's a sudden breaking of the neck. Of course that also severs/bursts some blood vessels, hence the bleeding and discoloration.

 

Chopping the head off we discarded immediately as an option, not because it isn't quick/humane (I'm sure it is) but getting the critter's neck down on the chopping block necessarily means stress (and distress) for the animal. Also, as mentioned, my GF has plans for the pelts and washing out excess blood is no part of that.

 

As for the .22 that would certainly be effective, but I have only just moved to the country and own no firearms. I may at some point acquire a couple, but it's currently pretty low on my priority list.

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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Taking a momentary break from today's work (an article on baby names, of all things) to touch on a practical note or two about raising bunnies.

 

One thing a lot of people ask is "how much meat do you get out of this?" The answer really depends on the breeds you're raising, how large an establishment you can manage, and how hard you want to push your livestock. My GF (who, as mentioned upthread, handles the management side of things) tells me that a doe could have up to 10 litters/year, though that's a Victorian-era level of pregnancy that's very hard even on rabbits. We plan to go no more than 5-6 at most, and in future to give them the winters off (we kept them breeding this past winter, largely because we were still in the "exploring this whole thing" stage).

 

The number of kits per litter varies widely - we've had as few as 2 and as many as 14 in one litter - but consensus within the "homesteader demographic" is that 8 is a good working average for planning purposes. So if you have 6 does as current breeders (as we now do; we've had up to 8 previously), the math looks like this: 6 does X 8 kits by 10 litters (max) equals 480 hypothetical kits; or at our projected volume half of that number. In our case, harvesting Flemish Giants at 16 weeks of age, we've been averaging 3 lbs dressed weight. More quick math, then, gives us potentially 720 lbs of meat in our freezer for our year's efforts.

 

In practice, it's not going to look like that. Sadly one does lose some kits along the way, and in the case of that one doe I'd mentioned above the attrition sometimes reached half a litter. We've also sold a lot of kits as pets or breeders, which helps defray our costs but of course takes meat out of our freezer. The most recent sale was just yesterday, a 12-week kit. The couple had been out a few days ago to pick their bunny, a buck from the two near-simultaneous litters we'd gotten from our black does. One had only 2 kits and the other had 10, and the ones from the 2-kit litter are HUGE compared to their cousins. It was one of those that went to this couple. In the intervening three days they'd acquired a cage, a soft bed, a jacket-style harness and leash, and - in the wife's words - every toy ever devised for a rabbit.

 

I think he's going to have a very happy life. :)

 

Another question we often get is how this works out, cost-wise. Well... this is something we'd ideally have researched thoroughly before getting started, but - to reiterate - that's not how we roll around here. So we're just now getting to that part of the exercise. My GF's inquiries have given us a rule of thumb that a 50-pound sack of pellets equates to roughly 200 cups (here we go again, converting between weight and volume measures!), and an adult rabbit ordinarily requires 1 1/4 cups/day. That works out to 160 rabbit/days of feed per sack, and a sack costs us $27 and change CDN. With 8 breeders, that would nominally work out to 20 days per sack, but in practice that's not the case. Pregnant and nursing does have higher requirements, and some of our does will always be pregnant or nursing until the winter layover, so that's an added cost. Then there are all the kits (currently 30 or so indoors, and another 10 adolescents outdoors on grass at the moment), and our future breeders for when we refresh our bloodlines (5 currently on grass, the 2 black does are already second-generation). So in practice I'm currently going through roughly a sack a week, because even the pastured bunnies require some pellets.

 

Additionally they get hay, which is relatively cheap (I live in an agricultural area) and has cost me about $80 total since we moved here and began purchasing it by the bale. That's 10 months now. Having the ravenous "teenagers" pastured out on grass should help keep our costs relatively low during the summer (another reason for letting them rest over winter).

 

My best guess, going back through bank records, is that we're into this project to the tune of $1800 or so in feed, cage materials, food/water bowls and the gravity-fed watering system that's currently awaiting revision. We've sold approximately 30 kits to the best of our recollection, at $30 each, which has covered about half of our costs. We've harvested 30-odd as well (I could get an exact number by going back through our records, but don't want to take the time), of which a few have been bartered for various items (a tow for my van after a flat tire, the aforementioned vanity countertop, etc), so all in all I think we've arrived at a point where our cost/food rabbit has come down below $30, or roughly where it would be if we were buying them from the supermarket (where they're not always available).

 

We know we'll need to spend on materials at a lower level going forward, probably just one more roll of wire to build an updated cage and then the occasional purchase of plain pine boards for shelters and nest boxes (rodents need to chew, and their shelters take a beating). So with more pasturing, and drawing down to just our 8 breeders in winter, we should be able to get our net cost down to maybe $20/rabbit, dressed and in the freezer. At an average of 3 lbs that's under $7/lb, which as this kind of special-diet scenario goes is not bad at all. It's comparable to the regular price of many beef/chicken/pork cuts in my neck of the woods, and cheaper that anything like lamb, veal, and farmed venison or bison (sale prices, of course, are a whole other thing).

 

As always, feel free to ask questions.

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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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What is your cost for breeding stock?

I am guessing you are doing this just to meet the protein needs of your girlfriend and not to run a profitable business. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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41 minutes ago, Anna N said:

What is your cost for breeding stock?

I am guessing you are doing this just to meet the protein needs of your girlfriend and not to run a profitable business. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Our cost varies. We've gotten some for free, some for $20, some for $30. Some we've traded for.

 

"Meeting the protein needs of my girlfriend" is not entirely accurate. Poultry, fish, dairy (she eats her weight in cheese) and vegetable sources of various kinds meet her protein needs quite adequately. "Meeting her emotional need for something a bit meatier than chicken or turkey" would be more accurate, and that is indeed the goal. Also I like rabbit, and will happily eat it every week.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I've been corrected "off camera," as rabbits apparently are not rodents but lagomorphs. They were at one point classed among the rodents, but that was corrected a century or so ago. The "need to chew" part was quite accurate, mind you.

 

Hat tip to Smithy for the correction, and an article here for those who like to know about these things:

 

https://www.charlotte.providencevets.com/site/blog/2020/12/18/are-rabbits-rodents

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I have really enjoyed this thread. I’ve learned a lot.

 

There’s a little church near me where I serve twice a month as a lay speaker. I’ve noticed riding out there there’s a pasture full of goats. I’m starting to see baby goats. Tremendously tempted to stop and ask about guying one…barbecued kid is a fine thing.

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Glad to hear that your method is not strangulation, but rather breaking the neck.  Far more humane.  It's how farmers have dispatched chickens for years in many places around the world. 

 

I have also seen some really cool full cycle systems that have multiple animals and components involved in said cycle - something like a live aquaponics setup that uses the waste from the animals as feed, etc.  Perhaps for phase 2?! :)

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, TicTac said:

Glad to hear that your method is not strangulation, but rather breaking the neck.  Far more humane.  It's how farmers have dispatched chickens for years in many places around the world. 

 

I have also seen some really cool full cycle systems that have multiple animals and components involved in said cycle - something like a live aquaponics setup that uses the waste from the animals as feed, etc.  Perhaps for phase 2?! :)

 

LOL Not looking to get into it at that level.

 

I'm currently using the waste from the animals to build the soil in my garden, which is not currently in good condition. The year I first dug a garden here (the property's been in my GF's family for several years now, so I've had the use of a patch) I dug over a 4X8 foot bed and hauled away 5 (IIRC) large wheelbarrows of just the larger stones. My frame of mind at that juncture could be characterized by the Brits' idiomatic "Sod this for a lark!" and so I've been using raised beds since. This year I was able to (finally!) budget for a load of topsoil, which in combination with the bunnies' droppings should set me up well for the coming years. The droppings are mixed with scraps of hay that also fall through the cages, so I'll get some grass popping up wherever I use it without composting it first, but I'll live with that. 

 

I've got a compost pile started, which hopefully will get hot enough to kill the grass seeds and make it only a transient problem. We hope to add some laying hens to the mix over the next few weeks, and chicken droppings will certainly help heat up the compost. The plan is that next year I'll have a "this year" pile (aged) and a "next year" pile with current droppings. Rabbit droppings can go directly onto the garden, so I can use them even if I run out of compost that first year, but chicken droppings emphatically can't without being composted first. 

 

The chickens may indeed get to forage on the patches recently vacated by the outdoor bunnies, but that's as close as I'll get to any kind of formal system. And of course the grandkids will still want to run on the grass in bare feet, so there's a limit to how much manure we want in random spots around the yard.

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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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On 5/29/2023 at 9:55 AM, chromedome said:

LOL Not looking to get into it at that level.

 

I'm currently using the waste from the animals to build the soil in my garden, which is not currently in good condition. The year I first dug a garden here (the property's been in my GF's family for several years now, so I've had the use of a patch) I dug over a 4X8 foot bed and hauled away 5 (IIRC) large wheelbarrows of just the larger stones. My frame of mind at that juncture could be characterized by the Brits' idiomatic "Sod this for a lark!" and so I've been using raised beds since. This year I was able to (finally!) budget for a load of topsoil, which in combination with the bunnies' droppings should set me up well for the coming years. The droppings are mixed with scraps of hay that also fall through the cages, so I'll get some grass popping up wherever I use it without composting it first, but I'll live with that. 

 

I've got a compost pile started, which hopefully will get hot enough to kill the grass seeds and make it only a transient problem. We hope to add some laying hens to the mix over the next few weeks, and chicken droppings will certainly help heat up the compost. The plan is that next year I'll have a "this year" pile (aged) and a "next year" pile with current droppings. Rabbit droppings can go directly onto the garden, so I can use them even if I run out of compost that first year, but chicken droppings emphatically can't without being composted first. 

 

The chickens may indeed get to forage on the patches recently vacated by the outdoor bunnies, but that's as close as I'll get to any kind of formal system. And of course the grandkids will still want to run on the grass in bare feet, so there's a limit to how much manure we want in random spots around the yard.

You never know...... ;)

 

Sounds like a blast.  I have also read that bunny poop is the BEST for the garden, as unlike (I believe) nearly all other manure; rabbit is not a 'hot' manure, so you can apply directly with immediate benefit (others take years to break down).  Tons of great nitrogen and phosphorous in there.

 

Also, sorry to hear about your plights with digging beds - glad you ran into raised beds, you should also consider, if you have not - the 'No Till' method of gardening (saves your shovel and back a whole lot of headache!).

 

 

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13 minutes ago, TicTac said:

Also, sorry to hear about your plights with digging beds - glad you ran into raised beds, you should also consider, if you have not - the 'No Till' method of gardening (saves your shovel and back a whole lot of headache!).

"No till" is very much the plan, yes. I'm currently using plain ol' corrugated under the beds to suppress weeds, but have evaluated other options as well (and will continue to do so). Current plan is to build deeper, more permanent beds as I go, adding manure/compost and soil each year.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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36 minutes ago, chromedome said:

"No till" is very much the plan, yes. I'm currently using plain ol' corrugated under the beds to suppress weeds, but have evaluated other options as well (and will continue to do so). Current plan is to build deeper, more permanent beds as I go, adding manure/compost and soil each year.

And will you be ddoing it "in the buff" like the famous Ruth Stout?  http://allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com/2015/05/ruth-stout-original-naked-gardener.html

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6 minutes ago, heidih said:

And will you be ddoing it "in the buff" like the famous Ruth Stout?  http://allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com/2015/05/ruth-stout-original-naked-gardener.html

LOL However enthused my GF might be about the idea, we share a home with my stepdaughter and three grandkids. So no. And that's before we even get to the respective costs of all-over sunscreen and bug repellent. :P

 

As it happens my father's copies of Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News were literally some of my earliest reading, so at the age of 7 or so I could have given you a pretty good rundown of Stout's ideas and methodology.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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15 minutes ago, chromedome said:

As it happens my father's copies of Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News were literally some of my earliest reading, so at the age of 7 or so I could have given you a pretty good rundown of Stout's ideas and methodology.

Me too. When I was a girl we inherited a collection of Rodale's Organic Gardening and how I first heard of her

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My GF and I keep somewhat different hours, as her biology (and work schedule) skew slightly more nocturnal than mine.

 

Last night she was coming to bed around midnight, and heard a shrill "EEEEEEE!" from the direction of the rabbits, followed immediately by another. She ran to the door with a flashlight and saw a raccoon departing at speed, presumably having made the acquaintance of our electric fence. The mastiff was out through the door at full stride in a heartbeat, pursuing the little fleabag like an avenging fury, but it apparently had enough of a head start to get to safety in a tree.

 

I suspect that particular raccoon, at least, will have little appetite for any further visits.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Quite effective. My mare touched her nose to one (unmarked) left me on the ground and ran at top speed down middle of road to home, Luckiy no traffic incident. Many Japanese Americans here keep koi - electric fencing around pond a must. And the hired weed clearance goats are corraled with electric fences. Works both to keep them in and to keep predators out.

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On 6/1/2023 at 9:12 AM, TicTac said:

You never know...... ;)

 

Sounds like a blast.  I have also read that bunny poop is the BEST for the garden, as unlike (I believe) nearly all other manure; rabbit is not a 'hot' manure, so you can apply directly with immediate benefit (others take years to break down).  Tons of great nitrogen and phosphorous in there.

 

Also, sorry to hear about your plights with digging beds - glad you ran into raised beds, you should also consider, if you have not - the 'No Till' method of gardening (saves your shovel and back a whole lot of headache!).

 

 


Having friends who have horses, I get horse manure every fall. Dump it on the beds, cover with straw.  Let it sit all winter, till it and the straw in the next spring. Works like a charm.

 

On 6/1/2023 at 9:27 AM, chromedome said:

"No till" is very much the plan, yes. I'm currently using plain ol' corrugated under the beds to suppress weeds, but have evaluated other options as well (and will continue to do so). Current plan is to build deeper, more permanent beds as I go, adding manure/compost and soil each year.

 

I’ve used my beds for three years. They’re just 12 inches high. I think I’m going to skip a gardening year, but next year, I believe I’ll add another 12 inches to the height, to accommodate annual additions of compost.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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