This week I visited my friend on her farm and came home with two rabbits and three ducks! I’ve been wanting to get rabbits and ducks again for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to house them so I’ve been putting it off. I worked out that I could close off the outdoor pen of the chook yard for the ducks, allowing the chickens to come and go through the shed. And the rabbits’ homes are easy. We have one large hutch and we’ll buy another this weekend. Eventually we might build a system in the chook shed so the rabbits and chickens work together – more on that later.
This is Clover. She’s a beautiful girl. I think she is a Flemish but I’m not sure. I’ll find out. She is the smaller of the two. She is very calm and allows us to cuddle her, which we do daily!
Thumper is a large rabbit! She is very fat. She lets us cuddle her too, if we re quick enough to catch her. The previous owners told me that they don’t handle their rabbits very much. I thought that made sense because they are meat rabbits and they might end up eating them. (Don’t play with your food!) However, Clover and Thumper are for breeding, not eating, and a friend on Instagram suggested that we get them used to handling, because they need to trust us when it comes time for them to have their litters. That made perfect sense to me, so I’ve been getting bunny cuddles in as much as I can.
I’m still deciding whether to buy our own buck, and if we do, which variety. We’ve had a NZ White before. They are lovely rabbits but I’d like to make sure we get a tough breed. Clover and Thumper are about 5-6 months old, so they are ready for breeding! We will be eating the rabbits. I’ve heard these girls will produce babies that have a lot of meat. My plan is to use rabbit meat instead of buying chicken. Eventually I would like to not have to buy any meat.
If you’ve been reading along for a while you might remember that we were given some ducks for Charlotte was stillborn. Or maybe I never wrote about it. I can’t remember. Anyway, some friends gave us ducklings after Charlotte died. We didn’t have them for very long, just a few months. D’Artagnan ate one (in one gulp nonetheless) and the other one was taken by a quoll a while later because we forgot to lock her up at night. It was sad. Ducks are lovely gentle creatures and she followed us around everywhere. I’ve been wanting ducks ever since but too often we’ve been caught out getting animals before we’re ready for them. I recommend having very secure housing before you get birds because an entire flock can be obliterated by one quoll (or fox?) in one night. An unpleasant thing to wake up to for sure.
Ducks are great for eggs and meat, and we will eventually eat the offspring of these girls, once we have a drake and a set up for processing. Ducks also serve a great purpose in the garden. They keep your lawn clipped; they eat grubs and they fertilise with their manure. I’m looking forward to having these three girls free ranging, but for the next few days they will remain enclosed in the coop, with an unused dog kennel as their shelter and nest. Muscovy ducks don’t need a lot of water, just plenty of fresh water for drinking, and a small bath. An old kids’ paddling pool would make a great pond for ducks, but we are using a 60 gallon drum that has been cut lengthways (we have the same set up around the property for cows’ water).
I can tell these girls apart but they don’t have names yet. The boss duck is the white one with grey tips on her wings. She and the black and white duck pick on the other white duck, who appears younger because her feathers are whiter. One of them has been laying eggs. I don’t like eating duck eggs; their flavour is very strong, but I do like baking with them. Hello sponge cake!
I’m enjoying being outside with the animals and garden. It is very refreshing when you are feeling housebound by housework and children, even when you adore being a mother as much as I do! I’ve more to tell you about our polytunnel and our spring planting season. So check in later for that :)
Have a lovely weekend x