Lost a rabbit doe from heat stress

I don’t know where you folks live, but here in SLC it has been SCORCHING. Granted, scorching for me is about 105 degrees, but still, that is pretty dang hot. I’ve been worried about the rabbits because rabbits in general suffer from heat stroke very easily, and we don’t have any kind of coolant system set up. In fact, this is what our rabbitry looked like as of two days ago:

Rabbits all in their respective cages

Rabbits all in their respective cages

You can see we just have some cardboard on the sides as a nod to sun protection, and that is it.  We are diligent about making sure their water bottles are filled, but I image that during the course of the day that water becomes pretty warm and probably not very refreshing to drink.

Two days ago I came home from work to find our Cali doe, the one in the top right in the photo above, had died.  She was racked out on her cage, in full rigor.

dead Cali doe

I felt so bad when I saw her!  Granted, we probably would have eaten her in the future, but dying from heat stress is probably scarier and more painful that the exit we would have planned.  The next day, I was on one of my rabbit forums and another member said they had the misters going, fans, iced bottles to snuggle up against, the works, and still lost 47 breeders that day as well.  47 breeder rabbits!  Apparently they were dealing with temps of 120, not the 103 that we were at.  I felt my one doe was a paltry loss compared to their 47, but it still was sad.

Yesterday at work I was worried all day, but when I came home all remaining 3 rabbits were accounted for.  I turned on the hose and let the water cool down, then thoroughly soaked all bunnies.  They didn’t quite care for it, but it definitely cooled them down.  When Jesse got home, we decided we needed to move the rabbitry to a more cool locale.  The problem is, we don’t have a lot of shade in our backyard at this time.  We ended up moving them on the brick walkway that skirts our deck.  Then we spread a tarp from the desk down over the cages.  We’re hoping that the angle of the tarp will help shade the cages from the sun during the course of the day.  We also plan on getting misters today and getting them set up as well.

new cage setup

new cage setup

We have been looking into the dugout den approach where you either dig into a hillside, or mound up a false hillside and create false dens.  Here is an idea of what I’m talking about.  We don’t have any hills in our yard, so we would have to create them.  Not sure if we’ll go this route but I think it makes sense.

We’ll end with a dab of cuteness, to brighten up this somewhat sad post.

Ezra, chilling with Mister kitty

Ezra, chilling with Mister kitty

Resisting the allure of soda

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I do love soda.  (On an unrelated side note, in high school I used to call it “pop,” and I had a best friend who called it “soda.”  It drove me nuts when she called it that, but somehow along the years, that’s what I call it now, too.)  Where I work, it’s available for free, and wouldn’t you know, the vending machines are literally right behind where I sit.  They call to me all day.  All day, every day that I’m at work, people make the trek down to these vending machines.  One particular gentleman I see comes by multiple times a day.

Intellectually, I know that soda is not good for me.  Maybe the kind that’s made from pure cane sugar is better than the HFCS stuff, but all in all, not awesome for the body.  The thing is, I love that fizz!  It’s so effervescent and delicious.  It’s the bubbles that make it so, though; I think most of us will agree that flat soda is not appealing.

So, to try and combat my desire for soda, I have been making kombucha tea at home.  I’ve been making it for several months, now, and I think I’m just beginning to get the hang of it.  Komucha is a fermented tea that promotes better digestion, increased energy, and generally just brings your body back into balance.  You can read more about kombucha in many places, but I like Kombucha Kamp.  I bought my SCOBY from them, and they also have a great Facebook group page where I tend to ask a lot of questions and receive a lot of answers.

Anyway, I’ve been pretty pleased with the results (a couple overly-vinegary batches notwithstanding), and they can get great carbonation.  The problem is, I think it looks weird to have a flip-top-type beer bottle at work – because you second ferment in a flip-top bottle to get the carbonation – and I would worry about the pressure causing the drink to fizz everywhere if I tried to open it at my desk.  My kombucha is more of a home drink for now.

1 gallon kombucha tea brewing

1 gallon kombucha tea brewing

I also am going to make a ginger bug.  (I had an awesome part of this post about ginger bugs, and for whatever reason, WordPress didn’t save my draft.  Darn you WordPress!  Now I have to retype everything.  Maybe I should start creating Word documents, then copy and paste….  Oh well, onward and upward I suppose.)  A ginger bug can be used as the base for natural sodas like apple-ginger soda, root beer/sarsaparilla, or just simply as natural ginger ale.  From what I’ve read, if you had a stomach ache back in the day and someone told you to drink a soda to settle it, this is the kind of soda they meant you to drink.  Ginger bugs are chalk full of probiotics, and many folks find ginger soothing and nausea quenching.  I plan to use this recipe.  Seems simple enough, right?  I’ll let you all know how it turns out.

Hopefully I will soon be adept enough at making these drinks that I *will* be able to bring them to work with me, and then I can completely ignore the siren call of the soda machine.

Flowing foliage

While we are waiting for our garden beds to grow and fill our rumbling bellies, our flowers are blooming like crazy!

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The first year we moved in, I had no idea what I was doing and pretty much killed the large rose bushes that were here and we dug them out.  Then last fall I decided we needed roses again.  I’m happy these are doing so well!  I’m trying a more hands-off approach this time around.  Just watering and dead-heading.  Not really pruning or anything.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses

We originally tried to dig out all the climbing roses because they were just getting out of hand, but they grew back the next year.  They are tenacious!  I really like these lighter pink variety as opposed to the darker red behind them.  I like the flower heads better on these one, they seem more full.  I don’t think we’ll try to tear them out again.  If nothing else, they’re a deterent to someone trying to break into the house via these windows.

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One of the other new rose bushes we bought.  I love the delicate pink color!

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Our lavender is sprigging out

Our lavender is sprigging out

Jesse and I really like lavender.  I think we have…6? or maybe 7 plants around the yard.  Ezra likes to munch on the lavender as well as look at it.  I can tell if he’s been outside (apart from the dirt around his mouth) when I come home from work because his kisses are lavender scented.  Anyone else’s babe still shovelling in the dirt?  He’s getting better, but at 20 months, I thought he’d be getting over sticking random stuff in his mouth.  Ezra is our first babe, though, so maybe I’m expecting too much too soon.

Speaking of too much, too soon, Jesse would like Ez to start potty training.  I had to tell Jesse that we probably still have a good year of diapers ahead of us.

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Jesse loves wildflowers.  He has scattered a variety of wildflower seeds all around the yard.

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I like this rose bush because it’s hardy.  It’s just a wee thing, but it’s survived the last three years or so on its own, just hanging out in a corner by the fence.  We think it gets some water from the neighbors when they are watering their yard, so maybe that’s why it hasn’t kicked the bucket.

Some of our DIY raised garden beds

Some of our DIY raised garden beds

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Baby lettuce head

Baby lettuce head

Now, I realize we have un-composted rabbit poo in our garden beds, but I figured even un-broken-down rabbit poo was better than nothing.  This fall and next year we will probably work it into the soil, but for now this is what we have to work with.

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Part of our strawberry bed, with some chives seeding themselves

Part of our strawberry bed, with some chives seeding themselves

More strawberries, with a bunch of tomato plants

More strawberries, with a bunch of tomato plants

These tomato plants are completely seeded from last year.  We didn’t do a great job of picking up fallen fruit, so there were probably hundreds of seeds there are one time, and now we have a great many plants sprouted.

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Our dwarf lemon tree is producing some fruit.

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Our nod to pest control, marigolds.

Half of our rodent-removal team, Jojo

Half of our rodent-removal team, Jojo

The other half of the team, Mister

The other half of the team, Mister

The man who makes all this possible, Jesse

The man who makes all this possible, Jesse

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

girls

Female rabbits

Our female rabbits.  We have one New Zealand White and two Californians.  They are about 2.5-3 months, so still have some time before we can breed them.

boy

Male rabbit

Our lone male rabbit.  He is a New Zealand White, about 3 months old.

c5

Red Sex Link

c1

Ameraucana

c3

Blue Andalusian

c4

Black Sex Link

c6

Buff Orpington

grapes

Growing grapes

My husband loves grapes.  He planted them all along the back fence, and from the way they are filling out, we will have a plentiful harvest.

peach

Fledgling peach tree

straw

First strawberry harvest of the season

I was so excited about this first strawberry harvest.  We planted last year, and I hate to wait.  These were juicy, and tangy, and sweet.  Even Ezra ate a couple, which was awesome because he always turns his nose to strawberries.

Ezra

Ezra

Soon, our vegetable beds will turn out produce.  This is the first year we’ve really a lot of gardening with an eye toward food production.  Our ground is fairly poor.  It’s kind of hard-packed, clay-like material, but the budding plants are coming through, and we have lots of lovely rabbit manure now that will help the process.  We’re thinking about worm farms and mulching and composting.  So much to get together!  But eventually our dirt should be beautiful.  You know, probably in a couple years, just in time for us to move.

I’ll leave you with these images of sleeping kitties.

Snoozy Mister kitty

Snoozy Mister kitty

Snoozy Jojo

Snoozy Jojo