"Bunny, we're HOME!"

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, December 8, 2010 4:56 PM

Saturday, December 4th, was yet another construction day here at the homestead. Ralph and his helper Jim came over to build my rabbitry. A few days before, Ralph and I had gone to get all of the materials so they'd be able to complete the structural work in one day.
Prior to that, I had of course designed and redesigned my rabbitry numerous times. I knew what I wanted, but had to figure out the best way to achieve my construction goals using the least amount of materials. When I finally settled on a plan, I must have quadruple checked all my measurements and material lists.
Ralph had reviewed my plans and material list. He actually approved of the design which was cool. Of course, I planned it with minimum waste and he always thinks of quickest and easiest, so I ended up having to go buy a couple more 2 x 4's because he didn't follow my cutting guidelines. I guess it could have been worse.

But once they got started, the rabbitry went together fairly quickly. Basically, I've built it along the back fence filling the space between the garage and the barn. It's five foot wide, so there is plenty of over hang. At the end near the milking parlor, I have a little half wall that will make a nice little cubby to put all of my gardening tools and stuff in.

Once they left, I started hanging the rabbit hutches. I had only put a couple of them together, so it took several days to finish them and get them all hung up. I wish I had a picture to show the whole row, but it was too dark by the time I finished. There are five cages in a row, with 8" behind them and 6" in between. There is about a 2 foot overhang in front which means I'll be able to stay out of the rain when feeding (like I did tonight).

On Sunday, I went to visit my friend Esparanza at Pluck & Feather. I had helped her process a couple of rabbits a week or two earlier, and she graciously offered me one of her young bucks. So on Sunday I brought home my first rabbit, Papa Charlie Jackson. I named him after an Early American Urban Blues artist. It was so appropriate! He's a 4 month old American Blue, and the brother of Scooter and Kumquat, two rabbits belonging to Rachel at Dog Island Farm. The American Blue is the most critically endangered breed of domestic rabbit. I plan on bringing a doe in from another breeder so that we can increase our local gene pool.
And then it was time to bring home rabbits from the breed I really want to work with, the American Chinchilla. Like the American Blue, this breed is also critically endangered. Both are listed on the Slow Food USA "US Ark of Taste. Finding a breeder in Northern California proved to be rather difficult. I was able to find three. At first I contacted the one closest to me, but the breeder was a little elusive and didn't quite answer my questions. This didn't set right with me, so I kept searching. I knew I had struck gold when I got in touch with Karen and Sandy of Snake Road Rabbitry in Oroville. They had just returned from the American Rabbit Breeders Association National Convention with a few new rabbits / pedigrees to add to their breeding program. That meant they were sorting through their rabbits deciding who to keep and who to sell so that they could make room for the new ones. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
My oldest Doe is Delilah. She's 2-1/2 years old and a proven mom. Right now, she's the nervous one and quite shy. But I'm sure she'll settle in comfortably once she gets over the move. She will be the first rabbit to give birth here at the homestead once I breed her.

Next there is my 6 month old Buck. He came with the name Rasta, but I think I'll be changing that. I haven't figured out a good name for him yet. He has warmed right up to me and loves to be stroked.

And finely, there's my little 2 month old doe. They called her Lucy, and that just might stick. I haven't decided yet. She's a total little snuggle bunny, and cute as a button! It'll be a while until she's ready to breed, but for now I'm going to work on handling her a lot so that I can trust her with all the kids that come to visit. I just know they are going to want to pet one of my new bunnies. Papa Charlie is already super duper friendly. And this little 'un is going to be a charmer as well.

I wish I could show a good picture of their fur. It's absolutely exquisite. When you blow gently on it or brush it against the growth pattern, it divides into four distinct bands of color. Absolutely lovely. And super soft. I will definitely be learning how to tan rabbit hides soon. But no worries about these three. They are my breeding stock. They are, however, meat rabbits and that's what I'm raising them for. If I end up with any especially nice offspring, I may try my hand at a show or two. Who knows. All I know is that I'm happy to have them home!

5 Response to ""Bunny, we're HOME!""


Beautiful rabbits, Kitty! Enjoy them.

Kitty Sharkey Says:

Oh yeah, expansion. Or should I say completion?

The rabbitry is designed so I can install a drop board under the first row of cages and hang another 5 cages below. I'll get to that once Ralph completes the storage cubby walls and the construction is finished. I don't need grow out pens right now, so there was no hurry to finish that part.

I'm giving serious consideration to only get one more cage of this size, and then getting two long double wide cages with a removable divider walls to use as grow out pens. These are, after all, large meat rabbits. I need to make a decision on that one so I can order the remaining cages before I do any breeding.

Rachel Says:

The adults are large, but at market weight they are much smaller - dressing out at about 3lbs. You don't want to wait until they are full size because it's just not worth the cost of feed and space.

Karen von Bargen Says:

We butcher at about 6 pounds which gives a rabbit that is large enough to make it worth the effort in end. I leave the babies with mom until it isn't feasible to have all those critters in the cage together. And technically there are 5 bands of color in the chin color though I find it hard to blow on the rabbit hair long enough to sort all the color bands out. I will see if I can find a reasonable link to a website with a good photo of chin coloring, I know there are a few out there.
I'm glad you came all this way to get my rabbits! We are proud of them as a breed and are working on improvement as much as we can. Welcome to the Am Chin admiration society!

Henry Milker Says:

The idea of building the roof off of an existing fence is really good and a space saver. I like your design and will try to duplicate it here in Alaska.
Happy Milking
Mike Henry