Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kits, Chicks and Heat! Oh My!

 We've had some interesting adventures this week.  Thursday morning, I noticed Mona had pulled some fur and was looking crazed.  That evening Husbandman went to check on her and agreed, lots of fur, crazed look, but no babies.  Moments later Farm girl runs in screaming that there are baby bunnies on the ground.  Sure enough, 1 was outside and squirming around in the dirt.  Angel helped to find the others that had fallen out toward the back of the pen.  Mona had decided that even this nest box was not suitable evidently.  And delivering them outside the box meant they all fell out of the pen.  I called a friend and she said not to put them back in right away.  So we created a little home for them... in our bathroom.
This set-up is a 5 quart ice cream container (curtousy of my step-dad who's an ice cream junky... I totally dig the buckets).  The 5 babies are under the pile of fur that Mona had pulled out.  We set up our heat lamp that we use for chicks.  Over the top I laid an extremely well-used (but clean) cloth diaper that would block out some light, but have enough holes in it to allow some air circulation.  Later that same friend sent me a webpage giving me better details on how to care for baby rabbits... like keep the house between 68 and 72 degrees and IF its cooler than that add some heat.  Needless to say the light got shut off immediately.  Our house is kept at 80 and since outside night time temps may not even dip down to 72, I figured that would be just fine for them.
And so I fed them goat milk via dropper that first night and hoped for the best.  In the morning, they were all still alive and wiggling.  I fed them goat milk again (rabbits only nurse once per day and if fed by hand, should only get it twice at most).  My friend came by with a homeopathic concoction to help calm Mona.  I put that into her water a waited a few hours.  Then I put 2 babies back in, wrapping them well in some fur.  By feeding time that evening, there was still wiggling under all that fur so I knew at least 1 had survived and I put the remaining 3 back in.  As of yesterday, there was some wiggling, not much, but enough to know at least 1 is still alive.  We really can't find out anything more certain with out potentially causing more harm by freaking Mona out so we'll just wait and see.

Yesterday morning, while preparing breakfast, we noticed chicks scurring loose about the front yard.  We ran out and collected them and discovered a hole where something had dug under the pen.  4 chicks disappeared with only a few feathers left behind.  This is our first predator loss since getting Angel.  But we pulled an enormous tick from Angel on Friday AND she always sleeps in the back yard.  I think the reason we only lost 4 and not all 20 was because of Angel, but I think a lot must have gone on before it woke her up.  Either because of distance, the fact that the chicks are still very quiet or she was feeling lethargic due to that tick that had been feeding off her for quite some time.  At any rate, we moved the chicks to the back yard (where I was gradually working them toward anyway) where she could better protect. 

The garden is doing miserably.  By now okra and beans should be pumping.  I have nothing but amaranth, watermelons and cherry tomatoes feeding us.  I tried new varieties of okra and beans: eagle's pass for okra and Chinese red noodle bean.  With both they get just so big, produce maybe 1 fruit and then curl up and die.  Since ripping out my cucurbits (except watermelon), I've had room to add my standbys (Burmese okra, rattlesnake beans and red-seeded asparagus beans) so I'm hopeful to still get a decent harvest.  But I'm also concerned killer compost has found its way to Florida.  Monsanto has been selling this herbacide for hay fields.  Only it doesn't break down after the animal eats it.  Instead, it gets pooped out, composted and tossed in the garden where it continues to kill everything.  Since learning the problem, have they taken this junk off the market?  Goodness no!  They wouldn't make any MONEY if they did that!!!  Given that some beds are fine and others are not, I think it could be other issues.  But, for example, my eggplant should also be big a producing by now... I've had to reseed 4 times!  They either wouldn't germinate, stunt out before transplanting or stunt and die shortly after transplanting.  I just got all new seed, got my first good germination and transplanted healthy looking plants.  Hoping for something good.

The heat has been rough this past week.  I transplanted some new collard green starts (from my own seed!) and they just couldn't handle the heat.  I watered every 2 hours the first day and they still just laid down flat.  All but 2 transplants are now dead 3 days later.  I've got an idea for shade frames for transplanting in the summer heat... just add building them to the to-do list. 

Another interesting event earlier this week was Zuma came down with laryngitis.  She spent most of her 5 years in a concrete pen being fed from a hay rack and drinking from a pig waterer.  Her previous owners warned us that she probably wouldn't drink for a while since her only option was to drink from a bucket.  And we also discovered she didn't know how to graze.  I'd tether her out and she'd do precious little eating and absolutely no drinking.  One day this week, I did the same... only it had been very hot and a bit smokey the days prior.  That night and strange noise was coming from the barn.  Husbandman told me about it and said he thought it was Zuma.  Angel was going nuts.  I ran in and found her looking just fine... just sounding like a pubescent boy whispering.  We grabbed a bucket of grain which she ate happily.  I did research about sheep laryngitis and the results were miserable... like immenant death!  But she was eating fine, standing fine so I figured she just pulled on her tether a bit too hard, got dehydrated by refusing to drink from that bucket all day, and the smoke further irritated it.  I left her in the pasture for a couple days and she was back to her normal loud, deep demands at first light from the house.

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