On this blog we talk a lot about the growth we are experiencing through our every day lives and things we have learned to do like milking a goat, sewing, baking bread or working with trees.
We have achieved a lot but we have also had huge set backs. Last year's garden was a succession of rookie mistakes and bad timing but we still ended up with a relatively good crop. And the past 6 months have been disastrous with regards to raising rabbits.
We originally bought 2 does and a buck. One of the does never proved to be fertile. One day she started acting sick. 2 days later we found her dead. The other doe, Adrian, was a good mom and gave us regular large litters. She escaped one night last Summer and we think one of the dogs got her and gave her too much of a squeeze on the head. We had to cull her as she was clearly suffering. The series of bad luck kept going.
My mom bought two new does during the summer to replace the ones that died. The first one, Zabou, gave us a litter then failed to get pregnant the second time so we wasted a whole month waiting until we decided to put her back with the buck and finally successfully breeding her in the Fall. She gave birth in October and we lost 4 babies of that litter. Definitely because of the drafty cage in the unheated barn.
Little Marie, the second new doe, gave us a small litter last Summer and one of them died on the first day. We found it squished under the nesting box, severely injured and dying, so we had to kill it to relieve its suffering. We gave the does a break for the cold winter months. Little Marie just gave birth to her second litter on the farm, 3 babies. Poor number. All died with 48 hours.
We are very disappointed but haven't lost hope. Some things really worked with the rabbits. The rabbit tractors were awesome and we fed them all summer without buying pellets and without having to clean up. We had two successful litters last winter in the colony setup. The babies were very healthy and fat and had space to run. We just had a bad experience with the flooding of the barn in the Spring during the thaw. The colony was soggy and smelly for weeks and it was just a big mess.
We're going to replace Little Marie in hopes to find a better mom and raise a new buck to maturity to eventually replace Rocky. The lessons learned were paid a high price. It's never easy to see an animal die because of inexperience. It hurts, each time. We're hopefully becoming better at what we do and next year should be better than the last. Time will tell.