First Fencing

First Fencing

Gabe and I spent the day putting up fencing with a little help from the rest of the family later on in the afternoon. The fencing will be for a duck pen, and later (we hope) for dairy animals. Surprisingly, everything was much easier than I thought it would be. After last year’s Rabbit Shed Fiasco (yes, it deserves capitalization), I was expecting a more difficult time. In case you were wondering, I’ll chronicle the steps on how to build a Rabbit Shed below:

Jane, posingTitle PageDon, Jane & Betsy, Young

  1. Plan thoroughly on what you would like to construct, carefully tracing out a plan on graph paper. Remember almost all of your high school trigonometry lessons.
  2. Purchase supplies.
  3. Get supplies home. Stare at the supplies on the ground, wondering what in the heck you’ve gotten yourself into.
  4. Begin cutting lumber at measurements that you had previously figured on.
  5. Realize only then that you had remembered ALMOST all of your trigonometry learning, not all. Decide to scrap plans and just ‘go for it and see what happens.’
  6. Slam thumb with hammer. Suck wind and jump up and down.
  7. Throw open the back door and yell to wife that you’ll be bringing the rabbits into the mudroom for the winter and that you’re going to set fire to what you’ve got.
  8. Wife flatly points out that she DID major in Musical Theatre in college, and that she DID take multiple semesters of set building and design. You COULD have just asked for help.
  9. Fume to oneself. Ask for help.
  10. Rabbit shed is successfully erected!

I’ve heard it said that Pinterest causes that ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ inadequacy feeling among people, particularly mothers. For me, it’s reading ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to the kids. Seriously, ever read those books? Pa Ingalls was no joke. Fighting prairie fires, hunting mountain lions and building houses and barns from the ground up… and I barely managed to get a shed standing for (at the time) 5 measly rabbits. Blood, sweat and smashed thumbs aside, that shed was resigned to our scrap wood pile when we moved while the rabbits are in a MUCH sturdier barn.

I’ll spare the details on what it took to get the fence up, mostly because it went as smoothly as all the YouTube videos that we could find showed it to be. If you ever find yourself needing to put up a fence, YouTube it. This time, the internet pulled through for us! Plus, it’s always nice to have a helping hand:

Poor homeschooling kids; everything turns into an educational lesson. Fencing was about measurements & addition.

We’re not completely done with the fence, but it has to be shortly. Not only will the ground be frozen over, but these ducks are rapidly outgrowing their 5×6 brooder in the barn. I knew that they would grow fast, but jeez! I’ve already seen how fast rabbits grow, but they don’t have anything on these ducks. The only thing that I can think of that grows faster is our feed bill.

Carrying Seed
This bag of black oil sunflower seeds used to be enough to mix in with pellets for 1 month. Now, it’s gone in about 10 days.

The fence will hopefully cut that down in the long run. Once they’re old enough, they’ll be able to run around in their pen, feasting on all sorts of grubs, worms and plant material and hopefully limit our expense. When all is said and done, there will be nearly 200 square feet per bird (once we’ve culled it down to a smaller laying flock of 10), which should be plenty of space for them to get in some good eating.

Apple 'Waste'

On the same line of saving feed, we went apple picking again yesterday and brought home an additional 50 some-odd pounds of apples. More applesauce and apple butter for preserving, and apple pies for freezing. However, there is always ‘waste’ involved. This could be composted, but for now we’re replacing some of our animals’ feed with it. The apple peelings are put into the blender and diced until they are small enough for the ducks to get them down their little bills. The apple cores have been frozen, and each rabbit will receive one in place of some of their pelleted ration. The two nursing mothers will continue to get free choice pellets, as will Elinor, whose weight has slipped a bit since weaning her litter several weeks ago. Everybody else gets a carefully portioned off ration to maintain optimum weight. This is less so to save money and more to keep them healthy. Not everything is about saving money, and our animals’ health is certainly one of them. But, if we can make use of our table scraps and still keep them well fed? I’ll call that a win-win.

Next post: why we do the crazy things we do – Why Raise French Angora Rabbits?

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