Here on the homestead, springtime means babies. There are a lot of reasons for this but for me, the primary reason springtime means babies versus any other time of the year is because springtime means lots of grass, weeds and bugs to feed all those babies. Feed costs can be high in the winter, especially if you don’t grow your own hay and grain. Likewise, providing winter protection for all those bodies can be quite a task. Nothing makes homesteading more unpleasant for the homesteader as well as the livestock than an overcrowded barn or shed. This causes really unhealthy living conditions for your animals and unpleasant (stinky) working conditions for the homesteader.
So we breed in late winter, we have springtime babies and then we sell in late summer and butcher in autumn after the crops have come in, when everyone is peak fat and fit and there’s still plenty of food go to around and enough warm days to give the barns and sheds a good scrubbing before winter hits.
This year, we have bred our girl Penny and we’re not 100% sure it took. She doesn’t seem to have put on much weight at all, not that they ever do because they are in a colony and so get lots of exercise. She has built a nest (or someone has) though she hasn’t lined it with fur yet. This is her first litter, so we’re not sure how it’ll go. Every rabbit is an individual, just like every person. Last year, we bred Rita and Lucy and everything went by the book, except that they both kindled in the same box and we had no idea whose babies were whose. All the girls interacted with the babies, not just the mamas.
We bough our first chickens- silkies. Not the most practical chicken breed for the small homestead as they are not great layers and don’t have much meat on them either. I bought them on impulse at Tractor Supply, for which my husband has subjected me to a well-deserved mocking. I had to buy 6, though I don’t really want six of anything that isn’t going to provide me with abundant food, but they are cute and friendly and I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, besides love on them, of course.
Next week, we will be bringing home geese. (They are incubating right now) Stay tuned.