Darkening Days

The days are getting shorter and colder, and we’re in a bit of a holding pattern here on the farm. The harvest is in, and we’re getting used to most meals including at least some element that we grew ourselves, which is an absolutely fantastic feeling. The birds all seem perfectly content, and the rabbits as well. They adapted seamlessly to their new heated water bottles, which work a little differently from their oversized summer ones. The main order of business right now is getting ready for the holidays and making sure our plans are all well-laid for springtime.

No news yet on whether our rabbit breeding was successful; palpating a rabbit is a delicate skill that requires practice, and I don’t think a novice farmer attempting her first palpation on a cranky doe is a recipe for success. Some books will recommend a “test breeding” to determine whether the doe is pregnant, but I’ve decided against that for several reasons. In a test breeding, you would put the female back in the cage with the male, the reasoning being that if she is pregnant she will refuse to mate with him. The problem is, it’s not foolproof. She could accept his advances even if she is pregnant. In rabbits, it is actually then possible for her to become pregnant with two litters at the same time, with different dates of conception. In this event, it’s unlikely for either litter to survive, and it can be dangerous for the doe. So with palpation and test breeding both off the table, we are electing to simply wait and see if she kindles on schedule, with presumptive prenatal care in the meantime.

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