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.

Wind Damage

We are thankful we had no notable damage from the significant wind that swept through the region this week. The worst we suffered was that a tarp tore on the rabbit hoophouse, and a small hoophouse feed area cover flipped over. Trouble is, when the small hoophouse flipped the goats walked on it. That bent it pretty badly, and I don’t know that we’ll be able to bend it back. I was able to stand it back up, but I don’t know how well it works in its new bent shape. So overall the goats did more damage than the wind did.

Barn Cats

Since we haven’t posted about it recently, let me remind how you much we love our barn cats! Here’s Hunter, keeping the feed free from mice.

Enjoying Rabbit

One of the joys of raising rabbits is getting to enjoy delicious rabbit meat! This week we made roast rabbit, and it was tasty! It was so simple, too, just like cooking a roast chicken. I preheated the oven to 375, coated the rabbit with olive oil and seasonings, and put it in the oven. I flipped it halfway through to ensure even cooking. It took about an hour to cook. We always recommend using a meat thermometer to tell when meat is done, and rabbit should be cooked to 165 degrees, just like chicken.

Internships Available

Spring and summer are just around the corner! We currently have availability for 1-2 week internships through February and March. We are also looking for a long-term intern starting mid-June.

If you live locally and would like to intern on a part-time basis, we have an opening to help Mondays or Tuesdays from 9am-noon.

If any of these options sound like a good fit for you, contact us today!

 

The prevailing wisdom when starting a rabbit breeding operation for your own meat consumption is to start with a trio of 2 does and 1 buck. Rather, we recommend starting with a quartet of 3 does and 1 buck. Using our own personal experience, plus running the numbers of meat production, let me explain why we say this.

Our Experience

We started with a breeding trio. The rabbits were 8 weeks old and just weaned, and they were great. We fed them, watered them, and watched them grow. We were SO excited to start breeding and getting little rabbit kits, but we to be patient; we had 4 months of waiting since rabbits should be 6 months to breed.

After a couple of months, we realized just how darn easy it is to take care of rabbits! Feeding and watering takes just minutes a day. In fact, it took us longer to walk out to the rabbitry than it did to do the feeding and watering portion. Stopping at one more cage to put a scoop of feed in the feeder each day to effectively get 50% more production from your rabbitry seems like such an obvious choice! The cost of a 4th rabbit, when purchasing them all from our farm is also significantly reduced due to the fact that we offer a 10% discount on rabbits when you buy 4 or more at a time, making the effective cost of that 4th rabbit only $30 (when you are buying all standard black/blue colored rabbits).

The rabbits were so low maintenance, we had the space for more, and we started doing the math on how much meat we’d get from each doe (see below). We also considered how the price/lb would decrease with a third doe because the cost of the buck would be spread across 50% more meat! All of that combined to our decision to get another doe.

As we continued to expand, now we have the largest Silver Fox rabbitry in the area, we believe that for those starting a backyard meat operation, should at a minimum, start with a quartet of 3 does and 1 buck. We have worked hard to have a large genetic pool in our rabbits. This allows us to provide our customers with ideal combinations of breeders to get their desired color combinations while maintaining low inbreeding coefficients.

The Numbers

First, consider how many litters you’ll get from each doe once she’s of breeding age. The gestation period is about 31 days, which we’ll call 4 weeks. We rebreed 5 weeks after kindling. That combines to 9 weeks between breedings. Wtih 52 weeks in a year you get 5.78 litters/year. Let’s just say that’s 5 litters per year because you may take time off in the heat of summer, if the doe needs more down time, etc.

Based on our production in 2016, each litter leads to about 6 weaned kits (live birth litters are larger but you generally lose some kits along the way). So 5 litters with 6 kits is 30 kits/year from each doe.

The recommended time to harvest each kit for meat is when it weighs 5lbs. After this point, the feed to meat ratio increases, and the growth rate decreases, meaning your cost per pound of meat goes up. Dress-out percentage is 50%. So from each rabbit you’ll get a 2.5lb carcass of meat and bone.

2.5lbs per rabbit at 30 rabbit kits is 75lbs of meat per doe per year. Two does would give you 150lbs of meat per year. That’s just under 3lbs per week. If you follow our recommendation of 3 does, then you’ll get 225lbs of meat per year. That’s 4.3lbs of meat per week, or nearly another 8 3oz servings.That has a significantly larger effect on your grocery store bill, don’t you think?

The average American eats about 271lbs of meat per year, and the world average of meat consumption is about 103lbs/person (source). So getting 225lbs of meat from your backyard is a very reasonable amount for a family of two or more to utilize.

Other Factors

One of the great things about rabbits is that you get that meat in small, manageable amounts over the course of the year. It’s not like a cow, where you raise one animal for 18 months and then have hundreds of pounds of meat that you have to fit in the freezer. It’s easy to make homegrown rabbit a big part of your diet because of this.

Rabbit is also a versatile and delicious meat! It can be used in any chicken dish, plus there’s a whole world of delicious rabbit dishes to explore! From basting with oil and spices and baking it whole, to pulled rabbit, to rabbit stew, there’s no end of mouth-watering ways to enjoy rabbit.

I hope this has convinced you that a breeding quartet is the best way to get started with your backyard meat operation. Visit our breeding stock page now to get started!

 

Another wintry week has passed! This one had record high temperatures, though, so we are thankful for the mild winter weather. We try to cut back to “maintenance mode” in winter with no special projects, but things always pop up. That’s when we really appreciate the mild winter weather!

Since it’s not too frigid outside, Rebecca often gets to “help” us with farm work. Here she is after one work session in the carrier; I think we’ve all felt this way before!

Piglet Castration This Weekend

This weekend we will be castrating the male piglets from the litter born at the beginning of January. Here’s our last post about castration; we will have several helping hands this time around, so I’m hoping to get more photos!

We are selling these piglets at $75/each. We have one female and 2 males still available. They will be weaned and ready for a new home on Saturday, March 3rd. Please contact us to reserve piglets today!

Rabbit Sales Spring Rush Starting

People always seems eager to start new projects in the spring, and that includes starting a rabbit breeding operation! Springtime is our busiest season for rabbit sales. If you want to get rabbits this spring, visit our breeding stock page now and contact us soon. You’ll want to get on our reservation list immediately to make sure we can meet your needs!

Rebecca says our rabbit kits are the best! She loves to hold and pet them.

In Part 1 of this series I posted the considerations we take into consideration in our pig housing. In Part 2 I detailed the first pig houses we made. Today in Part 3 I will detail our second pig house design, a hoophouse!

Here are some prior posts about hoophouses for more tips and tricks:

Building a Hoop House: Part 1

Duck Hoop House

The Hoophouses

We now have 2 hoophouses that we utilize as pig houses. One thing we like about this design is that it’s universal. These houses have served goat, ducks, and chickens before. They could easily return to being used for these other animals, too.

Dimensions and Framework

The hoophouses are made with a 2×4 base and cattle panel roof/sides. The houses use 2 cattle panels next to each other, so they’re 8ft deep. The back can be made of a cattle panel or field fencing/horse fencing. For the base, we use screws and brackets to reinforce the corners. The hoop exerts a notable amount of outward pressure, that’s how it stays up, but that requires strong corners. We use fencing staples to attach the cattle panel to the base.

The cattle panel was cut to about 11ft before assembly, and that makes a hoop about 4ft high when the house is about 5ft wide. We cut the cattle panel with a metal cutting blade on our circular saw.

For the back we have used both the piece of cattle panel cut off and fencing to make a solid rear wall.

Roof and Sides

The roof and sides are simply the cattle panel covered by tarps. Zip ties easily hold the tarps onto the cattle panels.

The pigs periodically ruin the tarps by biting/pulling/rubbing them. Tarps are inexpensive at Harbor Freight, so we just add a new layer of tarps periodically.

How it Works

Right now our American Guinea Hogs have one hoophouse and two triangular shelters to use. All eight of them (plus 7 piglets!) choose to pile into the one hoophouse and the triangular shelters sit empty. They seem to prefer the hoophouse, and I believe it is because this house is large enough for all the pigs to live together.

I hope this short series about pig houses helps you in caring for your pigs!

Farm Store Open This Saturday 12-4pm

This Saturday is the first Saturday of the month, which means the farm store will be open! Come by to get some of our delicious pork! We also have duck eggs on sale, 10% off this Saturday only.

Piglet Update: They’re Eating Solids

The piglets are a month old now, and they are healthy and adventurous. While they are still nursing, they are starting to explore with eating solids. Here you can see them chowing down on grain with mama Hillary and the other big pigs. Come see the pigs on Saturday!

Now that we’ve talked about the considerations that go into developing our pig housing, in this post I will detail the first pig house design we ever used. Next week I’ll detail the second pig house design we use. Both are good, they’re just different.

The Triangular Structures

These are the first two pig houses we made. Over time the pigs have helped us improve these houses by destroying all weak aspects of the houses and allowing us to rebuild them stronger than before. Yes, that’s what pigs do.

These houses were designed with the need to balance sturdy construction (pigs are destroyers) with minimal weight (we would be moving the houses).

Dimensions and Framework

Each house is about 4ft high, 4ft wide, and 6ft deep. The 4ft wide dimension makes it easy to use a sheet of plywood for the roof, you only need to make one cut for the length.

The base is a frame of ripped 2x4s. We ripped them to lessen the weight, and they have been sturdy enough. The pigs have never managed to break the base!

The vertical supports at the front are 2x4s. We cut one 8ft 2×4 in half to create the 4ft sections. You’ll see where the vertical supports meet the base we use scrap wood to create a triangular brace. That adds a lot of strength to the structure.

Also note the 2nd pair of vertical supports in the middle of each side. These supports help the roof, and they also provide an extra place to secure the fencing on the sides.

Roof and Sides

The roof is thin plywood on one house, and thicker OSB on the other. I prefer the thin plywood as the different material makes the house significantly lighter. When we’re carrying the house to a new location, that makes a world of difference.

The sides of one house are field fencing. We attached it with fence staples we hammered in to the wood frame. The other house has horse fencing (2″x4″ squares) attached in the same manner. That house has a tarp over the fencing.

If you try simply using a tarp for the sides, the pigs will run right through it. If you try stapling up chicken wire covered by a tarp, the pigs will run right through it. If you want the sides enclosed, use sturdy fencing and cover it with a tarp.

How it Works

This house design functions very well as a pig house. They snuggle in the house at night, and it keeps them out of inclement weather. It’s heavy enough that they don’t often move the house around, which is nice, but light enough that we can move it without trouble. We’ve been able to construct these houses from scrap material, so they don’t cost us much. We spend a few bucks on a new tarp every year or so.

We value multi-functional structures, and these houses also work as goat houses. We used one for our goat kids this past spring.

We have been very happy with this house design, and would be happy to use it again in the future.

 

It’s been another wonderful week on the homestead! There’s been a good amount of mud and dirty clothes, yes, but also warm weather and sunshine. We are thankful for the rain we received as well as the sunshine. Some of us (pigs!) are more thankful for the rain than others.

The Pigs Are Porking Up!

Our American Guinea Hog piglets and our pink feeder pigs are growing well. The piglets explore more and more each day, especially on warm, sunny days. The pink pigs are growing so fast we can nearly see it happen! We supplement their feed with spent brewing grain. On Wednesday Rebecca helped me feed the pigs the brewing grain from the pickup truck bed!

Rabbits Are Growing, Too!

We have so many rabbit kits hopping around right now! From just kindled to already weaned, we have kits of all ages.

The farm store will be open next Saturday, February 4th, and we will have 7 litters weaned and ready for new homes at that time. If you’re looking for a pet or breeding stock, contact us now to reserve rabbit(s)!

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
Bacon SOLD OUT1 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!

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