Welcome!

Welcome to Independence Homestead’s website! This site serves our two main goals:

1. To Provide Health-Promoting Food & Farm Products

We believe in the importance of nutritious food that contributes to health and fights disease, and we seek to provide such food to those in our community. We also offer various other products that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, such as the best soaps ever. Please join our mailing list so you’ll be the first to know about new offerings, sales, and events!

Want to learn more about our products? Click through the description pages, and read our blog posts.

Ready to order? Order Now! Visit us on the farm by appointment or when we have farm hours. Have any questions, contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we get a chance between farm chores!

2. To Help The Homesteading Community

Homesteading can be tough, and we’re here to help others succeed. We maintain a blog here to contribute to the collective homesteading knowledge available. When the internet isn’t enough, we offer how-to classes on a variety of topics.  We also offer quality, healthy livestock for sale.

We’ve had pigs for a few years now, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Today I’ll share some of the characteristics of pigs that we take into consideration when constructing housing for them. On the next two Mondays I’ll follow up with posts detailing the two types of pig houses we use! Come back then to learn more.

Pigs Will Destroy Everything

People told us how hard pigs would be on their houses, but we had no concept for just how true this would be. Pigs will push, bite, and tear on their house. If they can move or break any part of it, they will. Part of this is that they like to go where they want, even if that’s through the side of the house. Another part of it is that they seem to enjoy playing around with things.

Pigs laugh in the face of chicken wire and staple guns. If you want to use wire on a house, plan on using horse fencing or field fencing. Plan on hammering in fence staples to attach the fencing to the house’s wood frame.

Our philosophy for dealing with their destructive nature is to accept that the houses will get torn up, and to plan accordingly. We do not spend that much time, effort, or money on pig houses.

They’re Tough Creatures

Pigs are pretty hardy, and they don’t need much in terms of housing. They need a roof to keep them out of the rain and snow. They need protection from wind, which is why we always have the closed end of the houses face north, our direction for prevailing winds. When it’s cold, they like the house to be full of hay. It makes for a cozy bed and also provides a snack!

Pigs Like to Cuddle

All of your pigs will want to cram into one house, even if you provide multiple shelters. This means you don’t need several small houses, and your resources would be better utilized building one house that’s large enough to house several pigs.

The notable exception to this rule is farrowing sows. A sow will want her own house when she farrows. Always provide an individual house for a sow that’s about to farrow.

Pigs Are Short, But We Aren’t

A lot of people make their pig houses very short since pigs are short. It’s rare for a pig to be over 3ft tall. I appreciate that a short house is the most efficient use of resources, but we’ve found with all of our livestock that life is easier if we can access every corner of an animal’s house. We make our pig houses 4-5ft tall. Yes, we still have to crouch to enter, but it’s doable.

Our Pig Houses

We use two different pig house designs, one is triangular, the other is hoop. Over the next two Mondays I’ll provide the details of these two house designs so you can create both yourself! Come back next week to learn more.

 

It’s been another week of enjoying our blessed life here on the homestead. The winter season is a time where the pace slows a bit, we can actually complete everything on the “to do” list, and have a few minutes to savor it all. Here are some things we enjoyed this week.

Delicious Pork

We picked up pork from the processor last week, and we have been enjoying it ever since. The mild sausage is great to fry up and put in anything. We’ve used it in soup, omelettes, and nachos. The pork chops are also a flavorful treat for lunch or dinner! Here’s the recipe I used to make the pork chop pictures below.

Piglets Growing

Every day it’s a joy to see the piglets out running around. Their antics are pretty cute. They’re so small they can fit under the fence and out of the pen, but we don’t worry about it as they never stray too far from mama pig. The other day I was able to catch a piglet as it was outside the pen. This would be impossible to do inside the pen because mama Hillary wouldn’t allow it! Here’s a picture of me with the piglet.

Raising livestock is hard work, but we enjoy so many aspects of it such as watching the piglets. We also believe it’s the right thing to do if we want to eat meat. Our pigs have wonderful lives in the environment where pigs are meant to live. We could never buy pork from factory farmed pigs packed together on cement pads. It’s unhealthy for them and us, and it’s not the right way to treat God’s creatures. We are thankful that we can be part of an alternative.

Over the last few weeks we have taken photos of all our breeding rabbits and posted them on the Our Rabbits page.

This was no small feat! First, we have a lot of rabbits. Also, trying to get a rabbit to pose can be a challenging endeavor. We do not show, so our rabbits aren’t used to “sitting pretty”. Here are a few of the bloopers from our photo sessions. Check out the Our Rabbits page for the pretty pictures!

 

Happy Friday! We’ve had such wonderful weather the last few days. Who would imagine it’d be over 70 degrees in January? I know more character-building cold will come, and I’m fine with that. But I will enjoy today.

Pork is Here!

We now have a freezer full of pork from the two pigs we took to the processor recently. Full details about offerings and prices are on our products page.

Piglets are Running Around

The American Guinea Hog piglets are now 10 days old, and they’re doing great! They’ve been running around outside their house for the past few days. Mama Hillary is very protective of the piglets, so we enjoy watching their antics from a safe distance. Here you can see two of them venturing about.

Rabbit Kits Growing, and More on the Way

Two rabbits will be weaned today from dam Andrea. Losses from frigid weather made this a small litter, but the benefit is that these two kit are huge! Both are does, and will make great breeders. They are both available, if you want to add to your rabbitry. Here’s a photo of one this morning.

The 5 litters that will be weaned on February 2nd are growing, hopping around, and eating lots of pellets. Here some of them are eagerly waiting for me to fill the feed dish for breakfast!

Three rabbits should kindle any day now. Here are two of them, looking like they’re ready to pop!

Farm Store Open Saturday 9am-1pm

The farm store is open this Saturday 9am-1pm so that you can come buy pork and other goodies. Remember our beeswax candles are on sale, 10% off all of January!

Pork Is Here!

Fully Stocked Pork Freezer

We just picked up our two hogs worth of pork from the processor this week! Many of you have told us how you have been waiting for us to have pork in stock again.  So we are happy to make the announcement today that we will have all of our pork products for sale this Saturday during our farm store hours (9am-1pm).

As a thank you to our customers for waiting so long for us to harvest these hogs we are offering a special “Pork Lovers Package”. The package includes 10+ lbs of pork products like ham, ham steaks, sausage, and chops for a 25% discount off the retail cut price! But hurry into the farm store, as there is a very limited quantity of these packages available!

Below is a complete list of our pork products, you can see prices on our How To Buy page. We hope to see you soon and send you home with some delicious pork!

Woodland Raised Pork Products

ItemTypical PackagePrice
Bulk Mild Sausage
SOLD OUT
1 Lb $9 / Lb
Bulk Sage Sausage
1 Lb $9 / Lb
Boston Butt4 Lb$7.5 / Lb
Chops1 Lb - 2 Chops$9.99 / Lb
Spare Ribs1 Lb$7.99 / Lb
Bacon1 Lb$13 / Lb
Cured Hams4 Lbs$10.5 / Lb
Ham Steaks1 Lb$10.5 / Lb
Ham Hocks1 Lb$4.99 / Lb
Tongue1/2 Lbs$2.99 / Lb
Heart1 Lb$2.99 / Lb
Liver2 Lbs$2.99 / Lb
Feet1.25 Lbs$2.99 / Lb
Pork Lovers Package
Includes 10+ lbs of the following items: Ham, Ham Steaks, Bulk Mild Sausage, Bulk Sage Sausage, Pork Chops
10+ Lbs$80 (25% Discount!)

On Monday I posted about how we updated our rabbit tractors by installing feeders. You can see a video of our tractors here.

Another change we recently made to the tractors was removing the door to the “house” part of the tractor. We did this because we never closed the door, so it was always tied up. There was never a need to close the door and lock the rabbits in one part of the tractor. Periodically the rabbits would chew through the twine tying up the door, and it would come swinging down. Then we’d have to retie it because the rabbits couldn’t get between the two parts of the rabbit tractor!

Also, sometimes the rabbits would climb on top of the door. That is not a problem in itself, but sometimes the young, skinny rabbits who perched there would discover they could fit through the fencing on the tractor and run free! So there were a few reasons we wanted those doors gone. It was a simple act of unscrewing the hinges to remove the door. Just like that, problem solved!

The best thing I can say about today’s weather is that it isn’t as cold as yesterday’s was. Today we can look forward to a high of 29 degrees! The animals are handling the cold well, and we are thankful for that.

Goats Enjoy Christmas Trees and Wreath

Over the weekend the goats were given two Christmas trees and one wreath. They have enjoyed snacking on the treat! They eat the pine needles as well as the bark. An added bonus is that the trees give their pen a fresh pine scent! Here are some photos of the goats and their snacks:

 

A while back we adapted our rabbit tractors for winter use. Read about those changes here and here.

Elevating the tractors increased the occurence of what had previously been a minor issue: the rabbits flipping their feed dishes and spilling all the feed. When that happened and the tractors were on the ground, it was not a problem as the rabbits could simply eat the feed off the ground.

Now that the tractors are elevated, when the feed dishes are flipped the feed falls to the ground, out of the rabbits’ reach. That means the feed is wasted, which is negative for a couple of reasons. First, of course that wastes money. Second, the rabbits grow more slowly as they aren’t getting as much food. Since these are meat rabbits, we want them to get big as fast as possible!

Therefore, we updated the tractors with a new feeder system. Instead of using feed dishes on the floor of the tractor, we installed feeders on the side of the cage. We cut holes into the wood using a circular saw and a jigsaw, and we drilled holes to thread wire for securing the feeder. We’ve been happy with the results!

Snow!

This morning we awoke to our first snow of the season. A pretty dusting of snow added some charm to the morning chores. We’re thankful for what has been a pretty mild winter so far!

Our two types of pigs had very different views on this snow. Our American Guinea Hogs were out of their houses, pacing the fenceline, eager for breakfast. The new pigs, which are a mix of various more conventional breeds, were cuddled in their house. Even when I went in the pen, they didn’t move. This is our first time branching out from AGHs, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about other pig breeds and their characteristics as we go forward.

Piglets

We have another exciting announcement: on Wednesday Hillary farrowed 9 healthy piglets! These are purebred, unregistered American Guinea Hogs. It was Hillary’s first farrowing, and she did great. She made a nest in one of the houses, and she’s been taking good care of these little guys.

Farm Store Open Tomorrow

The farm store will still be open tomorrow 12-4pm, despite the recent snow. Roads should be clear and passable, so come on by!

This winter one addition to our farm store is our very own Immunity Booster tea blend. This tea is a caffeine-free blend of herbs that strengthens your immune system and helps you stay healthy during cold and flu season.

The tea is packaged in a glass mason jar, making a beautiful gift. The jar is also reusable for canning, drinking, or any number of any uses.

Ingredients are Chamomile, Echinacea, Elderberry, Hibiscus, Nettle Leaf, Red Raspberry Leaf, Rosehips. Net weight is 1.6oz.

The tea is $6/jar, or $8/jar with a tea ball.

Shop the farm store the first Saturday of every month. Details are here.

 

Farm Store Open This Saturday 12-4pm

We are enjoying our new arrangement of having the farm store open the first Saturday of every month. It’s great to have this regular time to welcome customers and share our offerings with you!

We work very hard to offer high quality products, and it’s a joy to see those who use and value our items. So once again, we will be open this Saturday from 12-4pm.

Please come by and say hello to the animals and buy some goods at the farm store. As always we have rabbit meat, eggs, bath and beauty products, beeswax candles (on sale!), applesauce, and more.

Address and directions are here. We are open the first Saturday of every month. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Sale: Beeswax Candles 10% Off

The short, cold days of January afford the perfect opportunity to appreciate the beauty and warmth of a burning candle. To honor this time of year, and offer a bright light during dark days, our beeswax candles are on sale for the month with 10% off.

We offer the following candles in the farm store:
Pair of 8″ Tapers: SALE $8.10 (Normally $9)
2.5″x4.5″ Pillar: SALE $14.40 (Normally $16)
2.5″x8″ Pillar: SALE $20.70 (Normally $23)

If you’ve never burned a beeswax candle before, you’re in for quite a treat! The candles have a distinctive, natural fragrance obtained from the storage of pollen and honey in the honeycomb from which the wax was made.

To maximize the burning time of your candle, straighten and trim the wick to 3/8″ before each lighting. Burn pillars for at least 1.5 hours at a time. That will prevent tunneling and burn most of the beeswax over the life of the pillar. After extinguishing the candle and allowing it to cool a bit, mold the edges inward.

While the burn time of a candle depends on several factors, such as the ambient temperature of the room, and whether or not you’ve trimmed the wick, generally burn times are 12 hours for the pair of tapers, 25 hours for the 4.5″ pillar, and 50 hours for the 8″ pillar.

New Pigs

We recently welcomed seven new pigs to the homestead. We acquired these pigs to provide you with more delicious, farm-raised pork in 2017.

We take pride in offering our customers an alternative to the factory farmed meat in grocery stores that perpetuates a system that isn’t healthy for the animals or the people who eat the meat. Our pigs live in the sunshine, root in the dirt, and live like pigs!

Feed The Goats Your Christmas Tree

As the Christmas season comes to a close, get one last use from your Christmas tree by feeding it to our goats! They love to eat the needles and bark off the trees. We welcome your tree (free of decor, of course!) this Saturday from 12-4pm during our farm store hours. If you’re still enjoying the tree, just contact us when you’re done and we’ll setup a time for you to bring it by.

Come Visit This Saturday

Come by this Saturday to see the new pigs and feed the goats your tree. The farm store is open 12-4pm the first Saturday of every month, including this Saturday! First time visiting? Welcome! Address and directions are here. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Rabbit Sales Updates

We look forward to selling many Silver Fox rabbits in 2017, and to facilitate that we have made some updates to our sales process.

We now have pages on our website dedicated to communicating with our breeding stock and pet rabbit customers. Each page has a rabbit order form where customers can tell us what they’re looking for, plus answers to the most frequently asked questions we get. See the pages here: breeding stock, pet rabbits.

We have also updated our prices to reflect the time and effort we put into our rabbits, their quality, and the rare nature of some colors. Pet buck rabbits are $30. Junior pedigreed breeding stock are $50 for black and blue, and $60 for chocolate and lilac.

We have several litters that will be weaned at the beginning of February, for those interested in starting their own backyard rabbitry. This is the perfect time to get started because the rabbits will be mature and ready to breed when the weather warms up in the spring, an ideal time for kits to be born!

Done Milking For the Season

We are done milking for this season! The girls are bred, and we’ll begin milking again after they kid in the spring.

Here’s Annie at her last milking for the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I originally hoped to milk year-round, but that was crazy. Milk production drops off significantly after a while, so I was getting a quarter of the amount I milked over summer. With the milking machine it was taking me about the same amount of time to milk, but I was getting so much less milk. The cold weather that we had a few weeks back was a reality check, and I determined that it just wasn’t worth the time and effort to milk for such a relatively small amount.

In the future I plan on enjoying fresh goat milk for about 6-8 months of the year. During that time, I hope to milk enough extra and freeze it to last us through the dry months. I think that plan will respect the natural milk production cycle, and allow me to use my time most effectively by milking when production is high.

For now the does and I are enjoying a few months off, and then we’ll be back at it in the spring. Our first kidding should be at the end of March, so the milk will be flowing again in just three months!

Rabbits for Sale- 12/28/2016

UPDATE: SOLD OUT. We have sold out of the rabbits listed below. We will be weaning two doe kits this month, and several litters at the beginning of February. If you interested in rabbits, please contact us via our breeders or pets pages.

As we head into the new year, we are making some updates to our rabbitry. This includes selling some rabbits to free up cage space.

Breeding Age Does

We’ve grown out more breeders than we have space for, and are in the rare position of selling breeding does that are at breeding age! This is an opportunity to add to your rabbitry without having to wait the 6 months it takes to grow a rabbit up to breeding age.

Cabernet: UPDATE: SOLD

Black doe, pedigreed, born 6/14/2016, may carry dilution gene for blue. Never bred, just reached breeding age. Weight 7.4lbs. Unrelated to our stock, so a great addition for those who already have rabbits from us! Price $50.

Colony Does:

11 Does, unpedigreed, that have been living in a colony. 9 are Silver Fox, 2 are Californians. Of the Silver Fox, 4 are black, 5 are blue. All are of breeding age, 1 has kindled for us, unknown if others kindled with a prior owner.

You could buy several and keep them in a colony living arrangement, or separate into individual cages. Price $50/each, 10% off purchases of 4 or more.

Here are a photos of a few of the does. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Kits for Sale

We also have a few young litters with kits for sale. If you are getting started with your rabbitry, this is the perfect time to get stock! Grow up the rabbits over winter, and they’ll be ready to breed just as the weather warms in the spring.

Here are the details of the kits for sale:

Born 10/12/16, Dam Almond, Sire Duke, 2 black does, 1 black buck available. UPDATE: 1 doe, 1 buck, both black, available.

Born 10/13/16, Dam Bacon, Sire Alfalfa, 3 blue does available. UPDATE: 2 blue does.

Born 10/26/16, Dam Chestnut, Sire Arturo, 3 chocolate does (carry dilution gene for lilac) available. UPDATE: 2 chocolate does.

Born 11/05/16, Dam Banana, Sire Duke, 2 black does and 2 black bucks (carry chocolate gene) available on Saturday 12/31.

Born 11/18/15, Dam Andrea, Sire Buckeye, 2 chocolate does available on Saturday 1/14.

All kits are available as pedigreed breeding stock, $50 for black and blue kits, $60 for chocolate and lilac kits. Select bucks are available as pets (without pedigree) for $30.

Contact Us to Purchase

To buy any of the rabbits listed here, contact us today. We are available for sales this Saturday from 9am-1pm, so in your message please include when you’d like to come by and buy some rabbits!

 

 

 

We’ve been trying some new setups for laying hens this year, and creating a new hen house meant making new nesting boxes. I used the opportunity to make improvements on prior designs, and here’s a summary of what resulted.

Key Characteristics:

  • 4ft long
  • 4ft high
  • 2 levels
  • 15″ deep
  • Roll-out style (tilted floor, covered egg storage area)
  • Not divided into boxes

The Details:

For the dimensions and general design, I considered that there are about 50 layers that will use this nesting box. I needed it to be large enough to meet their needs. 8 linear feet of nesting space seemed adequate. I made the front about 4 feet high and the back about 2.5ft high so the roof would be steeply slanted to prevent roosting (and pooping!) on it.

In making a new set of nesting boxes, it was important to me that the boxes be roll-out boxes. I find this design is easier for egg collection, keeps the eggs a little cleaner, and helps limit the potential for egg eating by hens.

To make it a roll-out box, I put each nesting shelf on an angle so the eggs would roll forward to the front of the shelf. At the front, there’s a vertical stopping board with doorway insulation pieces there as a bumper. On the top there’s a hinged board that covers the egg collection area. When I collect eggs, I simply flip up that board and grab the eggs.

One of the challenges of the angled design was how to hold a golf ball in place as a fake egg. I’ve had good success showing hens this is where they should lay using a golf ball, but that doesn’t work well on an angled surface where the ball can just roll away! Super glue didn’t hold it in place. I ended up using duct tape to keep the golf ball in the middle of the nesting area, and that’s worked very well.

The floor of each nesting shelf is covered with vinyl flooring. We had some left over from a household project, and I used it here to create a surface that could be easily cleaned. A clean nesting box helps with clean eggs!

Another detail I want to mention is how I didn’t construct nesting boxes, but rather nesting shelves. In a prior nesting box setup I tried this “shelf” idea out after reading about it. It’s much easier to construct, uses less material, and the hens like it just fine. I guess with the curtains in the front and a tarp in the back, they feel it’s plenty private even without sidewalls.

 

The nesting box has been in use for about a month now, and it’s working great! This is being used with hens just starting to lay, and most of the eggs are being laid in the nesting box. They stay clean, and none have been broken. Overall I’m very happy with this design.

Rabbit Colony Free Feeder

This fall we’re experimenting with a rabbit colony setup. This experiment is ongoing, so we cannot yet say whether or not it’s successful. One nice characteristic of the colony, though, is that we can quickly feed and water several rabbits at the same time.

To feed the rabbits, we made a rabbit feeder comparable to our poultry feeders. We use a plastic storage tote from Costco, PVC elbows, a jigsaw, PVC glue, and duct tape.

The construction process was very similar to the poultry feeders, so see that post for more details. There were only a couple of differences, both of which were necessitated by the fact that rabbits have wider faces and necks than chickens do. That changed how they could utilize the PVC elbow.

The first adjustment we made was that we had to cut off more of the PVC elbows, as the rabbits aren’t able to reach as far down a narrow tube.

The second difference is that we had to use duct tape to hold the elbows in place. With the rabbits’ wider heads and necks, when they were reaching through the elbow they’d move it. Often, it wouldn’t end up reaching down, instead reaching to the side. They cannot access the food unless the elbow faces down. Taping it in place has corrected this issue.

The tote holds about 3 50lb bags of pellets, which means we don’t have to feed the rabbits daily. Instead we just fill up the feeder every couple of weeks! That’s a big timesaver.

Winter Tips & Tricks

Here at Independence Homestead, winter begins when we switch from automatic waterers to bottles for the rabbits. We do this when the temperature stays below freezing for an entire day, so the automatic waterers will be frozen and won’t work. Well, that happened last week and bottles are up!

If you’re facing chilly temperatures as you run your homestead, remember we’ve posted a lot about our winter management practices here on the blog! All the articles are tagged with “winter” and you can find them here. I hope our hints help you!

Weathering the Winter: Water

Every winter we work hard to ensure the animals have access to water. With several animal pens, this can be a challenge. It can be frustrating to refill a water bowl with fresh water only to have it freeze in a matter of hours. Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way that may help you.

Tip 1: Only Pour What They’ll Use

In the morning I used to go out to the pens and worry the animals would be dying of thirst, so I filled their water bowls and buckets to the brim. In the afternoon I checked on everything, and find 90% of the water I poured in the morning was untouched by the animals, and now I had a huge ice block to knock out of the bowl or bucket. It’s taken me a while to realize I should just pour less water! So now I fill the water bowls and buckets with how much I expect the animals to use based off of past consumption. This leads to a lot less waste and saves me time!

Tip 2: Rubber Pans & Buckets

We have a good supply of rubber pans and buckets for winter water use. The rubber material is more flexible in cold weather than plastic is, so I can knock out frozen water without breaking the container.

We use low rubber pans for chickens, ducks, pigs, and the rabbit colony. We use rubber buckets for goats. These items can be purchased at Tractor Supply or your local feed store. They’re not expensive, either!

Tip 3: De-Ice in the Afternoon & Dump in the Evening

In cold weather we check all the animal pens in the early afternoon, and kick the water containers to break any ice that’s formed. It gives the animals a few more hours to drink the water.

In the evening, if we’re going by a water bowl to lock up chickens or ducks in their coops, we’ll go ahead and dump any remaining water at that time. It’s easier to dump the water/slush then compared to in the morning when it’s frozen solid. Now I don’t think this is worth a separate trip to the water bowls, but it’s worth doing if you’re there anyway.

Something to Try: Tires

We were passed along a tip to keep water from freezing in cold weather. The secret is put the rubber water pan inside a tire. The tire helps insulate the water pan so the water doesn’t freeze as easily.

img_20161122_075856210

We’ve given this a try this winter, but I can’t say whether or not I like it yet. The few sub-freezing days we’ve had have been really cold, so all the water pans are freezing whether they’re in a tire or not. The pans in the tire are notably more difficult to turn over and dump out. The pan is stuck in the tire, so we have to turn the entire tire on its side and kick the pan to get the ice out of it.

We’ll see if this seems helpful over a longer period of time.

I hope these tips help you on your homestead as you deal with winter weather!

 

The farm store will be open this Saturday, December 17th, from 12-4pm so you can shop local and get great gifts for the holidays! Address and directions are here.

We have many items available that would make great gifts, including several new offerings! Here are a few great gifts:

Immunity Booster Tea: Handmade by us with organic ingredients. The perfect blend to boost the immune system this cold and flu season! $6/jar or $8/jar with tea strainer.

Lavender Bath Salts: Handmade by us with lavender essential oils and dried lavender. $10 for a 2.5lb bag.

Rabbit Hides: Handmade by us from our own rabbits. Use as decor as-is, or use in crafts. $30 each.

Coasters: Handmade by a friend, available in a variety of colors and patterns. $14 for a set of 4.

Fridge Magnets: Handmade by us. Add country charm to your kitchen! $4 each or 3 for $10.

Lavender Bath Gift Set: Includes a bar of goat milk lavender soap, a soap dish lavender lip balm, and lavender hand salve. All organic, and scented with essential oils. Comes in a gift box ready to give! $20.

Applesauce: Made with local apples, and no sugar added. $6/pint or $10/quart.

Beeswax Candles: Made with 100% USA beeswax, these candles are a beautiful gift that also cleans the air while burning. $9-23 depending on size.

Handmade Soaps: Organic soaps available in a variety of scents. Made with essential oils, not synthetic fragrance! $6/bar.

Organic Bath Products: Several products available, including body wash, lotion stick, lip balm, and hand soap. All made with organic ingredients and essential oils. Price varies $3-$15.

Here’s how to find us. We look forward to seeing you at the farm store this Saturday!

Dispatching Rabbits

We’ve had some questions about how we dispatch rabbits when processing them. We’ve had a lot of success with the method detailed in this YouTube video:

We’ve found this method is quick and humane. Additionally, it requires no special tools as long as you have a broomstick around. I hope this helps those of you raising your own meat rabbits!

The farm store will be open this Saturday from 12-4pm. Address and directions are here.

Shop local this holiday season, and get your gifts here! This Saturday only we’re offering 5% off all purchases of $50 or more.

Our offerings include organic soaps and bath products made with essentials oils, rabbit hides, beeswax candles, handmade magnets, and more.

The farm store is open the first Saturday of every month from 12-4pm, and by appointment. If you’d like to visit but are unavailable this Saturday, contact us to schedule a visit.

In Part 1 I gave an overview of our rabbit grow out practices in the growing season, and profiled a rabbit breeder’s choices for growing out rabbits in winter. Here I will detail the grow out method we are using this winter.

This winter we are using our portable rabbit tractors as grow out pens over winter, but we have retrofitted the pens so we can elevate them for winter use.

You may ask why do we need to elevate them? There are two reasons. First, it is very important to keep rabbits away from their droppings to prevent disease. All animals should be kept off their droppings, really. Second, the tractors could be difficult to access or even buried in snow if left on the ground. Last year we had a 30″ snowfall! While that was not the norm, we must consider accessibility in snow.

The issue with the rabbit tractors that we needed to address to elevate them was the flooring. During the growing season the tractors are on the ground, and we want the rabbits to eat the grass the tractor is on. Therefore, the floor is covered with horse fencing comprised of 2″x4″ holes. This works great in the growing season! It keeps the rabbits from burrowing out, but it doesn’t push down or cover the grass; they can graze very well. The holes would be much to large when the tractor is elevated, though. The rabbits would have nothing to stand on!

To create a floor that would hold in rabbits while letting their manure pass through, we covered the base with 1/2″ hardware cloth.

We ziptied the hardware cloth to the current flooring all around the perimeter of the rabbit tractor. Since this is something we will take off when using the tractor in the growing season, we wanted an attachment method that would be easy to undo in spring. Zipties will be very easy to cut.

That was the only alteration needed to prepare the rabbit tractors for elevation. So we took cinder blocks, spaced them at the tractors’ four corners, and elevated the tractors. We put them in the garden, where the manure could fall on the ground and enrich the soil.

You can see how two tractors were able to share one set of cinder blocks, meaning for every two tractors we need six blocks. We cannot combine tractors any more than that because we wouldn’t be able to access the tractors’ doors.

We’ve had young rabbits in the elevated tractors for a few days now, and so far the elevated tractors have worked beautifully. The rabbits easily hop around on the hardware cloth flooring. We have been very happy with this solution for growing out rabbits in winter!

 

Winter presents a number of challenges on the homestead, one of which is how to grow out rabbits. Today I’ll explain our grow out method for the growing seasons, and what we do in winter!img_20150319_183159603

When grass is growing, we grow out meat rabbits or replacement breeders in portable pens we call rabbit tractors. To learn more here’s an article where we profile our rabbit tractors. We love many things about this setup. The rabbits get to graze on fresh grass daily, which lessens feed costs, creates healthy grassfed meat, and means less mowing! They also get to live in small groups, which means less pens to deal with versus keeping them individually in cages.img_20150604_160057348

In winter when grass isn’t growing and there’s a chance of snow, we must change our management practices. We cannot leave the tractor in place on the ground because then rabbits would stay on their own manure (a very bad thing!), plus it would be difficult to access the tractor in snow. So for those who pasture their rabbits in the growing season, there are a few choices for what to do to grow out rabbits in winter.

Choice 1:

Harvest rabbits at weaning. At 8 weeks, rabbits should be about 3.5-4.5lbs. A breeder can choose to harvest any rabbits for meat at this point, and then not have to worry about what space to use for growing out rabbits. This hasn’t been our choice, but it’s a valid option.

Choice 2:

Grow out rabbits in extra hanging cages. This is what we’ve done in past years. We had extra hanging cages, so we’d wean a litter into the extra cage. We typically sell a few from each litter as breeding stock, so the cage wasn’t crowded. When the rabbits were large enough for us, we’d harvest them.img_20160818_154625996

Choice 3:

Grow out rabbits in a colony. A lot of people love raising rabbits in colonies, and people especially like this setup for growing out meat rabbits to harvest. If you have a secure space such as a barn stall or dog kennel, this may be a great option. You’d have to make sure the rabbits were protected from precipitation, though, as you wouldn’t want them cold and wet in winter. We considered doing this, but we are currently experimenting with a breeding colony, and don’t want to start another colony at this time.

Choice 4:

Grow out rabbits in rabbit tractors elevated off of the ground. This winter we have made some adjustments to our rabbit tractors so we can elevate them on cinder blocks and continue to use them as grow out space over winter!img_20161129_111434721

In Part 2 I show and explain how we have retrofitted our tractors for winter use!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 to hear the first part of the story!

At this point in the story Storm is still showing rear end weakness, and we’re pretty sure he has a meningeal worm infection.

The curative treatment we followed was oral dosing of Safeguard at 10 times the standard rate for 5 days in a row. Storm weighed 57lbs using a goat weight tape, and the standard dosage rate is 2.3cc/100lbs. So his daily dosage of Safeguard for this treatment was 14cc of Safeguard. My largest syringe is 10cc, so I’d feed him 10cc, then refill it to 4cc and feed him again. Thankfully he liked the taste of the medicine and ate it right up!

This is a TON of dewormer, and I was worried about what it would do to his system. To keep his rumen functioning well, I mixed probiotic powder with some grain and fed it to him daily. While grain might be been a little hard on his system, I figured he could use the extra calories, and it ensured he ate all the probiotic powder.

Thankfully Storm took the dewormer like a champ and we quickly saw improvement in his mobility and strength. It’s been nearly 3 weeks since we completed his treatment, and he seems happy and healthy. Amazingly, his mobility is back to normal. Many resources say any damage caused by the meningeal worm is permanent, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I wonder if we caught it early enough to prevent permanent damage? Whatever the reason, we are thankful that Storm is back to normal.

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