Notes from Windward: #71


Felicity and Tate

A pair of model bunnies

     For the past several years, we have been raising two breeds: New Zealand Whites and Californian. Both breeds are heavy meat rabbits. While the New Zealand Whites have heavier bones and albino traits, the California breed has smaller bones with black ears, nose, feet, and tail.

Peaches, a New Zealand White doe

Roma, a California doe

     On February 9, we decided to load up the trash, drop it off at the transfer station, then load up on supplies in The Dalles. We got a few things at the lumber store, stopped in at Red's Trading Post, picked up a few groceries and lunch, found some winter boots at the Salvation Army, and lastly stopped to get rabbit feed at Hughes Feed.

     Walt took care of getting the rabbit feed while I wandered into the "chick" room since the loud chirping sound told me that the season's first order of baby birds had arrived. I wanted to see if I could put into practice the sexing by feather length that I had learned about last fall.

      If you're interested in learning how that's done, here's a link to a fun YouTube video on Sexing Newborn Chicks

     The feed store uses five-unit tall battery brooders and I could see that a few chicks had gotten down under the mesh floor of one of the brooders. I got one of the staff and helped get the little ones back where they belong.

     That gave me a chance to examine their feathers but all the birds were pullets (young females) so there wasn't a clear contrast. I'm looking forward to putting what I've learned into practice with the start of incubation here later this spring.

     I helped load the feed, and once I was settled into the work truck, Walt brought out a large cardboard box and set it in my lap. I opened the box and found two Rex Bunnies. They were kindled on November 25 and were about 10 weeks old. The staff thought both bunnies were girls but it turns out that the black and white bunny is male and I've named him Tate. The brown-black-white bunny is female and her name is Felicity.

Tate and Felicity

     Returning to Windward, we grabbed an empty hutch and moved it to a sheltered area near where I'm working these days. Lindsay and Ruben held the new rabbits while I filled up the feed and water and got them some hay. Then Tate and Felicity moved in and we left them alone for the rest of the day.



     Tate and Felicity have been taking turns going on walks and playing outside. I went through my collection of bags and found a small black neoprene back pack that Tate seems to enjoy being inside. He is calm in his traveling burrow and has even started peeking out.

Opalyn with Tate snuggled in his travel pouch

     This past weekend my sister, Tammy, came up to visit and she helped me give the bunnies travel and play time. Felicity liked burrowing in the oversized coat that I loaned Tammy since the temps were in the low 30's in the morning.

Tammy and Felicity

     We also had a visit from a 9-year-old who loves to play with our rabbits so we took Felicity and Tate over to the outdoor play space that Sam built last summer. The rabbits enjoyed the extra space to run and jump and we enjoyed the dancing rabbit show.

The Dancing Rabbits Show

     I raised rabbits growing up and have cross-trained on taking care of the rabbits here, however, I figured that I needed to update my knowledge so Tate and Felicity would get the care they need. My first stop was the web where I found an excellent article Raising Meat Rabbits which covers the basics.

     Then I headed to our on-site library and grabbed a couple of books about rabbits. I am enjoying taking the rabbits out on walks and am learning more each day as I study books like Ann Williams' Backyard Rabbit Farming.

Opalyn and Tate

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71