Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poison Ivy makes its annual visit

Every year, without fail, I get a poison ivy rash. My yard is surrounded by the vine, and it actually used to be much worse, with vines crawling up some of the trees in the back yard.

Since I'm not a big fan of spraying chemicals in the yard, I find myself pulling this stuff every year. I cover my arms and legs and go to town. In 100+ degree heat index, this is not a fun process, and usually takes a few weekends. But then it becomes a literal juggling act trying to properly clean the clothing and gloves that come in contact with the ivy.

Last weekend, Sarah and I did some major weeding. I came in contact with poison ivy a few times, and figured I'd get some on me, so this isn't a big surprise. Boy, it sure itches already. Although, I'm tending to believe that I'm building up a tolerance, because the severity of the rash is less and less each year. That first year... boy oh boy. It looked like I had third-degree burns all over my forearms. But now it's usually no more than a few bubbles here and there. But almost always still on my forearms.

So I guess you could say poison ivy and I go way back. And that's ironic considering the fact that we're going to name our daughter Eleanor Ivy. No, I promise I'm not naming my baby after the plant that haunts me every summer, but it's funny to think about.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sad news

Over the weekend, we had some type of predator attack. I'm not sure if it was a cat or a raccoon, but I've seen plenty of both running around this old suburban neighborhood. And it's ironic that in just the last post I was going on about how lucky we are to not have predators around here!

Anyway, four of the six baby bunnies were killed by something. Whatever it was reached through the bottom of the cage and killed them. Of the two remaining bunnies, one is missing a foot, but he/she seems to be ok otherwise. This happened two days ago, and it's still active, so I think it will be OK.

I put a plastic pan under the cage for now, to hopefully protect them a bit more, but I guess this is just a lesson learned with my first litter. It seems no matter where you live, there are dangers from predators.

Hopefully soon the puppy will be old enough to stay outside all night and help protect them as well.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How they grow

This weekend, we bred the other female rabbit. Or at least we think we did. Remember, we're pretty much rookies at this whole rabbit-breeding thing, and I always find it amusing when things don't necessarily go according to what the books and websites say.

Since one of the females successfully procreated, we figure we're on the right track, at least. In hindsight, we realize that there was a distinct difference between the one that did and the one that didn't become pregnant. The one that did (we'll call her Female B) had a textbook mating period, if there is such a thing. The male mounted, went to town, and fell off, just like the books say. But Female A kinda just ran around in circles until she got tired, and then Male A looked like he didn't know which end was up. Literally.

But this time we took Female A and mated her with both Male A and Male B. Male B, of course, is an old pro at this by now, so he did his thing like he did with the other one, but he didn't fall off. He kept going and going and going (like another certain bunny), with small breaks in between. But he never fell off. So Sarah and I are left scratching our heads as to whose issue this is. Could it be that something's wrong with Female A? We've decided that we'll try a few other crosses (Male A with Female B, etc), before we narrow down the issue to Female A or not.

And this brings us to the six newborns. They seem to be doing really well, and despite my previous panic-laden post, they're turning out all right. I thought that the mother was just being a bad mommy, but it turns out that's how rabbits are. They give birth, lay around all day (not on the babies), and feed them once a day, for only five minutes. The rest of the time they pretty much ignore them (unless you try to get close to take a pic!)

Since the initial jailbreak, those little baby bunnies have escaped probably every other day, but I have been keeping my eye out and make sure to scoop them up before they get too far. One good thing about living in the 'burbs, is the fact that there aren't many predators out to find those babies before I do. It seems that the babies climb their way out of the nest box, then scoot over to the side of the wire cage, fitting through holes in the wire just big enough for their tiny bodies. The bottom of the cages have wires that are closer together, so it just happens when they make their way over to the side. Fortunately, they seem to be too big to fit through the holes now, since I haven't seen any jumpers in a day or two.

GeistSo the six babies are growing up nicely. Their ears are moving around, their eyes are just beginning to peek open, and they're all covered in white fur. So far, so good!

In a similar fashion, our little puppy Geist is growing up just as nicely. She's nine weeks old now, and I just readjusted her collar this morning for the first time, since it seemed a bit tight. Also, her ears are starting to stand up on their own, and her face is elongating.

Training is going really well, and she has learned some German commands already. She can sit and come to me on command, and we're working on getting her to stay. But so far she's been a really good dog. Her first trip to the vet presented her with a clean bill of health, so we're happy about that.

Oh, and keeping on topic, Sarah and I found out that our baby will be a girl! Yes, I saved the best for last!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The great bunny escape

So I wake up this morning, take the dog out, and do my daily check-up of the rabbits. Mother rabbit? Check. Baby rabbits... hmm. Their nest is still full of fur so it's hard to tell. I don't see any moving inside, so I keep watching for a few seconds. Oh no, I hope they didn't die! Maybe they're still sleeping?

Then I look over to my left a bit and a bundle of pink catches my eye. It's four baby bunnies on the ground about six feet away from their cage!!

I run over, start counting and sure enough, there are only four. Just last night I counted six, so I know two are still missing. Luckily, they're not far away, but since my yard is on a hill, it appears they fell out of the wire cage and rolled a bit. Those poor things!

I ran inside to grab a plastic bag (so I didn't get my scent on them) and used it as a glove to gently pick them all back up, one by one, and place them back into their mother's care.

The mother seemed to take them back OK, and the babies scooted themselves back over to her to feed. Phew!

I'm still wondering how they got out. Their nest box wasn't turned over. The holes on the bottom of their cage are way too small for them to fit through. They had to have either climbed over to the sides and through the larger holes, or -- God forbid -- been pushed out by the mother. Either way is scary.

So I'm going to try to keep an eye on them as much as I can today while I work (I work from home). I guess one good thing about living in the 'burbs is the limit on predators. I've seen racoons in the yard before, but luckily, nothing ate those babies.

I'm going to read up on how common this is, and what to do about abandonment, if that's the issue. Has anyone else had this happen to them?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Baby bunnies!

One of the female rabbits gave birth to a litter of babies last night. We suspected she was the pregnant one, as the other didn't seem to mate as easily, but we'll try them both again soon. She was also pulling fur out last night, so I provided a little nest box for her (and the other female, just in case).

Since this is my first successful rabbit mating, I'm excited to see these babies grow. I didn't want to get too close this morning and scare the mother, so this picture isn't a close-up. She could hurt the babies if she gets frightened.

You'll notice in the pics, it just looks like pink blobs in a bunch of fur. That fur is from the mother to make the nest, and the babies are still too young to be much more than pink blobs at this point. I can't even really count them yet, but I should be able to in the next few days.

More pictures soon!