Today we said farewell to one of our Guinea Pigs.

Some sad news today.  My son’s pet Guinea Pig, Percy, died. To be honest, I am not 100% sure what may have caused his demise.  I did note that over the last few days he seemed lethargic and was acting a little unlike himself.   I examined him on Monday and I noticed he had some dandruff on some of his skin, as well as some clumps of hair that was matted.  It may have happened with the recent rain… he may have gotten muddy and the hair may have not been cleaned properly.

I decided that I would wash him on the next warm day… which happened to be today.  I set out the water, which was slightly warmer than the air and I started to give him a wash.  I think he enjoyed it a little, as he laid back (I had him laying on his back in my hand, with his hind legs in the water) and I washed his stomach and legs.  After a couple of minutes the water was dirty, and I had not finished my work, so I put him back in his hutch while I cleaned the water.

Percy is here with Betty. Percy is the Guinea Pig with the large mat of hair on his butt.

I picked him back up, after the water was clean, and he was acting very weird.  Not moving a lot in his cage (he would normally run when I try to pick him up), which I thought was unusual.  I went back to washing him, and at first he was huffing and puffing (obviously not happy that I was still washing him), then after a minute… he calmed down and stopped fussing.

 

I continued to wash him for a couple of minutes when I realised that he hadn’t moved… or breathed… for some time.  I gently lay him down on the ground and I realised that Percy had died while I washed him.  I don’t know why he died.  I suspect he was sick and it was just a coincidence that I was washing him when he died.

One of Percy’s offspring… at least we will remember him.

When my son came home from school, we had a little ceremony and buried him in the flower garden.  My son seems to be taking it pretty well, although he has said he doesn’t want another guinea pig to replace Percy… to be honest, I can’t blame him.

My method of butchering a rabbit

I wanted to share a video I produced a week or so ago, of my method on butchering a rabbit.

It isn’t the fastest method (although, as I mention in the video, I am out of practice) yet it is how I get the maximum meat and fur from my rabbits.

There is a significant amount of blood in the video, so if that is not your scene, please don’t watch.

The rabbit was born here from Roger and Marylin.  He was born (I think) at the start of 2017, and we were unable to sell him.  I had kept him for longer than normal, yet when I decided that I wanted to cook a Rabbit for my family, he was the next one the list.

He lived a great life, spending his first weeks with his mother, living with his siblings until they were all sold.  He enjoyed great shelter, protection from danger, as well as fresh food, water and grass.  I think he lived a great life and he only really had one bad day in his life.

The loss of a single Rabbit is terrible when you are the one to blame.

The loss of a single Rabbit is terrible when you are the one to blame, yet what about the loss of ten?  That is a lesson that you won’t soon forget.

On the weekend, Marylin gave birth to a batch of bunnies.  Unfortunately, they all died during the night.  This is the second time this has occurred and again I blame myself for the tragedy.  We had run out of hay for the rabbits a week or so ago.  Spring was really giving us some excellent, warm, days… so I kept putting off buying more hay.  I figured I would have time on the weekend when I did a bunch of other chores, so I left it for the Saturday.

On Friday last week, the weather really shifted.  We had cold days and even snow at higher altitudes.  While it was cold, I knew the rabbits would be fine for one night, so I was satisfied to buy the hay on the next morning.  I actually made a joke to Kitty that Marylin would probably give birth on Friday night as it was so cold.  How right I turned out to be.

 

In the morning on Saturday I was loading up my trailer with additional junk to take to the trash.  I walked past Marylin on my way to get some detritus and I noticed the still figures populating her hutch.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  At first I blamed Marylin… wondering why she couldn’t keep at least one alive.  Then I realised it was my fault for being lazy and not buying the hay earlier.

The babies looked great… all wonderful colours and I am sure they would have grown to be great British Giants.  Yet now they are dead and I have to learn from my mistakes.

 

Can you use tea to tan hides?

Last year we were left with two rabbits to feed and look after when my son was unable to sell them.  Apparently white, albino, rabbits are low on the list of desirable pets.  After attempting to sell them, dropping their price to a steal, and fielding so many stupid queries from people online who never turned up to buy them, I killed and butchered them for meat.  I also took their hides and spread them out to try to dry them.  I have almost no idea about curing hides, preferring to make it up as I go.  I have watched some videos on it, and read some information, so I have a basic level of understanding.

One of the things I have been trying is to dry the hides using salt.  I bought a large (10kg) bag of salt for bargain prices around 5 years ago, and it was stored in my garage (as we didn’t really need it).  This year the bag finally gave way and started to leak salt, so I collected it all into containers to use for whatever.  Some of this I spread onto the hides, which really helped with the drying.  I also, periodically rubbed the salt into the hide to act like a loose sandpaper to help remove the membranes and to soften up the leather.

Over all, I have been fairly happy with the results, although they are not cured.  The leather would not repel water and would instead soak it up like a sponge.  I have wanted to take these hides and use them to make an item I can utilise.  After considering this, and finding that my local leather store was out of curing liquids (again!  They seem to sell out very quickly.  I really should buy mine online), I decided to soak one of the hides in a tea solution.  I gathered several days of teabags (maybe 20 in total) and placed them into a large bucket with the hide.  I left it for 5 days before removing it to dry.  I noticed that the hide did have a slightly tanned colour to it, which I hoped was the tannin being taken into the skin.

After hanging the hide for an afternoon, I was pretty happy with the results, yet I decided to leave it for a night.  That night, sever winds blew the hide onto the garden, where my dogs found it the next day and decided it was both a chew toy and a meal.  When Kitty caught them, there was little more than a scrap of fur remaining.

What did I learn from this?  Well, I think the tea solution may have had its merits.  I will try it again with the remaining hide, possibly trying a stronger solution (less water perhaps).  I also learned not to leave things laying around for my dogs to find… although I am sure this is a lesson I will mess up again.

I will post my results here on the next hide.

“I have to believe that somebody up there thinks I’ve still got some work to do.” – George Michael

 

Over the Christmas break, Marilyn (our Blue Rabbit) gave birth to 10 babies.  I had, once more, lost track of time.  I lay the blame for this on Christmas.  I became aware of this when my eldest son proclaimed loudly one morning that there was a baby rabbit head laying in Marilyn’s hutch.  I rushed out and he wasn’t wrong.  A baby blue bunny head was left on the ground.  I quickly realised what had occurred.  Marilyn had given birth and I would guess that the baby was still-born.  It is natural in the wild for the rabbit of a dead baby to eat it… it both prevents predators from finding the nest and returns some nutrients to the mother.

I quickly ensured that she had fresh straw, food and water.  Approximately 10 minutes later I came to check on her and she had given birth to nine more, live, little bunnies.  They were a mixture of White, Blue and Black bunnies.  Over the course of the next couple of hours I tried to keep an eye on them.  I noticed that all of the white and black bunnies were kept in the nest, the four blue ones were left on their own.  Then late in the day, I found all four blue bunnies dead.  So now she was down to five.

There was nothing I could do to correct this.  I had to let Marilyn look after the babies herself.  I know that hand feeding bunnies rarely works out, and I couldn’t look after that many.  I also didn’t think that they would die so quickly.

Since then they have been growing well and I my son (who looks after their food and water, also taking care of selling them) may be placing them for sale soon.

I need to get my own diary so I can make better notes on when to expect the arrival of new members of the Bunny family.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama

I have taken a couple of weeks off work to do some work around the house.  My plan was to sleep in, spend some time in the garden, and lounge around.  Kitty has other ideas…

First week I have been clearing up the mess I made from my last few months of work on the house and property, then I had to get to work on the kitchen.  I had completed building some shelves in the kitchen earlier in the year, now I had to remove one of the kitchen benches in order to install a set of kitchen shelves from the 1950s that Kitty bought.  When I removed the bench I realised I needed to take care of the floor  Under the bench was the remains of three layers of linoleum dating back over the last 50 years, a type of chipboard type layer, and the an amazing wooden floor which was crying out for rejuvenation.  I decided that I needed to fix the floor as well.

Here is part of the kitchen after I began removing some of the draws.

I have never done anything like this before… I once assisted an old friend with sanding his floor, yet that was almost 20 years ago.  Despite this, I thought I would have a try.  I hope that I can complete this in the next couple of days.

After removing the tiles and cupboards.

In between all this work, I also found some time to put a dozen eggs into my incubator.  Reggy, our new Rooster, has been busy with his girls, so I decided to save some of the eggs for hatching.  Hopefully this batch turns out as great as my last one.

More sadness with my animals this week.  One of our little girl bunnies, the one born from Ginger and Rodger, died on Wednesday night.  I have checked her over and I can find no reason for her dying… she was healthy, well fed and watered.  My daughter and I buried her under one of our plum trees.  I did suggest that I might skin her and use her skin for something, yet after the ugly stares I received I decided that was a bad suggestion.

“Memory always obeys the commands of the heart.” – Antoine Rivarol

This afternoon I had to put down my long time Rabbit, Ginger.

Over the last week she had developed a growth on her face, which was most likely an possibly an abscess.  Unlike with us, an abscess in a Rabbit is very difficult to remove.  It takes scans, surgery and medication to correct.  While I am attached to this Rabbit, I am not about to spend hundreds of dollars on her medical treatment.  Some people may think that I am heartless for this, and I understand that… yet I ensured that she was not in pain by having her put to sleep.

We decided to bury her on the edge of the property and I planted a nice Banana Passion-fruit vine on the spot.  My kids were a little sad about her death… she was a very good rabbit, being a good mother to her little ones.

 

 

“The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters.” – May Sarton

Winter has hit us with an unexpected cold snap this week.  We were still enjoying fairly warm weather up till this point, with many a day spent outside without anything too warm on to keep out the cool.  I have been contemplating when I should prune my fruit trees and where to begin my winter garden.  I did not plan for the swift onset of winter and I have paid for it.  My son’s rabbit, Marylin, gave birth yesterday.  I had expected this to happen this week (considering when she was mated with the father of the bunnies), yet I didn’t expect the cold to be so… cold.  She gave birth to nine little bunnies, yet (maybe due to it being her first litter, or the effect of the cold) they all died.  My son was obviously very upset about this and I explained to him why this occurred.  That Marylin would be a good mother next time, yet we would wait till closer to Spring before we tried again.

WP_20160603_15_19_56_Pro
Here is Marylin sitting among the hair she removed from herself to make a nest.

We had a little funeral for them, where I said a couple of things over their grave.  I planted them beneath my Peach tree, which my son seemed to appreciate.  I think the little funeral made him feel a little better, as though there was closure on the sad little affair.

 

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

WP_20151204_15_43_48_Pro

I made some modifications to my rabbit hutches during the week.  With the coming winter we are due for increased rainfall.  I was a little concerned that my rabbits would suffer some illness if they become wet and cold.  I would like to add some straw to their hutch to give them scope to hide from the cold, yet currently straw is almost $22 per small bale.  I decided to add a temporary cover to their hutches, so I bought several cheap plastic tarps.  Using a staple gun, I attached the short end of the tarp to the wooden shelter.  To the other end I attached a wooden 2×4.  With this done, the shelter was completed.

 

This was finished just in time.  The day after, the downpour began.  Three days of almost constant rain could have been misery for my little friends, yet as I had completed my work it was just a mild inconvenience.

I am able to, with a swift movement, lift the tarp from the shelter without leaking much water onto the rabbits.  It is meant to stay out of the way, allowing sun to keep the rabbit warm, and moved to cover the hutch when the rain begins.  I am pretty happy with the outcome, as it only cost $2 per hutch… such a small amount to keep them safe and happy.

WP_20160515_13_45_24_Pro
Ginger is nice and dry in her hutch, with plenty of room to roam.

“You can always tell when the groove is working or not.” – Prince

Almost 9 months ago I placed a bag of walnuts within my refrigerator.  These were a gift from a friend who had collected them from his own walnut tree.  I decided to place them into my fridge to try to cause them to sprout.  I had read that placing them into the cold of the fridge, over the course of several months, will cause them to sprout.  Once sprouted they can be planted.  With dreams of a planting a Walnut forest I placed this bag of nuts in my fridge.  Every couple of months, I would check the nuts, thinking that soon they would sprout, every time I checked there was not progress.

Eventually, after 9 months (which was three times the amount of time the Wiki page recommended) I decided that I had enough.  I took the bag from my fridge and grabbed a pair of nut crackers.  A couple of minutes of work on the nuts saw the results laid bare.

WP_20160327_15_10_57_Pro

It appeared that almost a third of the nuts had shriveled and blackened.  The other portion seemed fine, and I tasted them to be sure they were still good (and they were).

I learned a little lesson… something I really already know, which is to check the facts.  I should have checked multiple sources for advice on how to sprout walnuts.  Since this failure I have found some more useful information, both on the web and also in many of the books which I own.

I will keep you updated on any results.

My rabbit Rodger is a father again, although not with any of my rabbits.  A friend of mine owns a British Giant female, and she wanted to breed from her.  As my rabbit Rodger is a fine, handsome Rabbit, she naturally wanted him as the father.  So I placed them together and, long story short, the female gave birth to 7 little bunnies.  You can see a video of them below.