Every year many bunnies, chicks and ducklings become living symbols of the Easter holiday. For many children, it’s a beginning with animals, an introduction that begins an interest. For too many bunnies, chicks and ducklings, it’s the beginning of an unhappy situation they don’t understand.
While our Rabbit Hole and Name a Doe perks can be an alternative, it might be seen as too expensive. Here’s a good illustration why it’s not.
Many pet shops will have too-little bunnies for $25-30-40 or more. Let’s say the bunny is $30. Let’s say it’s a small breed, not one weaned too young and apt to get sick (as too many are). Then you have to buy a cage ($30-50 or more, some outdoor hutches can run $150), bottle, feeder, feed, sometimes bedding…and you’re quickly over $100 and easily approaching twice that!
Then the bunny gets bigger. The child and parents don’t know proper handling, so the bunny begins scratching, then biting. He’s no fun anymore so the drudgery of daily feeding and watering is done, but it’s easy to let other tasks slide. Then through carelessness or deliberate action a door is left open and the bunny is loose.
He’s learned people are food and protection, to some degree. He may have seen the family dog, so doesn’t know other dogs eat rabbits. So do cats, owls, hawks and a host of other animals. People can eat them too, but we can’t have Johnny’s bunny end up in the freezer so turn him loose. Have a nice life. If he avoids the cars, predators, toxins, storms and other dangers he might live to adulthood. He might be caught in a trap and taken to a shelter, or taken in by a breeder who doesn’t want to see any rabbit left in survival mode.
Too often, bunny doesn’t get a happy ending. With alternatives, it’s easy to learn about rabbits (and other animals) without the expense of housing, feeding and caring for them. Then, if and when the child (and parent!) is ready for the responsibility of a rabbit, it’s with a full awareness of the good and bad things that can happen. It prevents some of the already too many bunnies turned loose in the weeks after Easter. It teaches responsibility, not dumping your problems. You don’t even have to take a loss on those unneeded supplies you don’t need anymore!
Rabbits aren’t just Easter decorations for us. It’s all year ’round. We love sharing them – and these perks are a way to do that (some still available on our website after the campaign!). A $25 subscription is a great way to learn about not only rabbits but other animals around agriculture.
Not just at Easter and Earth Day!
I’ve talked about community supported agriculture and farm shares with a wide range of people. I occasionally hear some variation of “but you’re selling something – you’re biased.” It’s true we’re crowdsourcing and selling our regular farm shares.
I suppose for much marketing that is true. But here’s the thing – it doesn’t make it wrong! Many things I’ve said have come true. Observation of not only consumer action but agriculture events are moving towards what could be a bad thing for consumers. Sometimes it’s just tough to get through until it’s too late – and then we can’t turn back time!
(1). A great example of this is someone complaining of the price of beef. Last spring I tried getting folks to sign up for beef shares at $3.75 – nope, too much money I was told. Looked at a meat counter lately? And guess what folks – it’s not done! Two years of drought, reduced cow herd and since then a hit to the beef supply with a blizzard and other natural events. To start *now* the calves will cost more, so beef costs more…and prices rise. Seeing beef jerky recently at almost $8 per bag puts it rivaling price for the prime steaks. Ordinary ground beef is approaching $4 at the grocery meat counter.
(2) Most of those outside agriculture aren’t aware of PEDV, let alone how it could affect their pork supply. As thousands of pigs die, that affects how many are available to market in six months. While it’s doubtful we’ll run out of bacon or pepperoni for the pizzas, it’s likely you’ll pay more for it. Added to increased costs for renovations of barns and it’s certain pork will go up in price. How much is a guessing game matter of opinion. If you want traceability now’s the time – after all it will cost to buy and raise them!
(3) With the increase in pork and beef prices, there will be increased demand for other protein. This means it’s likely chicken prices will go up. Production is looking good but choices are wide open. Planning ahead is a real good idea. It’s a chance to not only use chicken from the grocery but compare that to the outdoor raised birds and other options.
(4) As prices for other meats rise, comparatively it’s a great opportunity to try other meats that aren’t as much higher. Duck. Goose. Rabbit. Bison. When we price dressed rabbit at $20 for between 3-4 pounds, some think that’s high – but compared to where normal prices for other special meal options, it’s not!
(5) Heritage and heirloom options – preservation is critical. Society frets over 500 mustangs despite thousands maintained on private lands – and ignores those with less than 500 and none in other areas. From Gulf Coast sheep to Hereford pigs to most purebred turkeys, keeping the breeds active keeps those genetics viable. Selection for outdoor, small farm produced systems empowers food options. It’s not for the majority – that’s why it’s a niche, and to create a demand takes time. If even 25% of the population want a heritage turkey there would be no more – it would wipe them out in one year! But if you choose one, and a hundred others choose one, then it’s a means to increase breeding for next year too.
(6) Along with the niche markets must come small farms – this can vary from urban to microfarms to small farms with several adult members of the same family working together. Again – creating demand is more than saying “I want” – it’s says “I’ll buy.” It doesn’t ask “how much” it asks “what’s fair?”
(7) Don’t get caught in price. When I talk to folks about signing up for pigs, $700 gets met with “it’s too high”. Especially when it doesn’t include cutting. Here’s why we do that – for that $700 you get a dressed hog – about 180-200 pounds of meat. At 180 it’s $3.88 per pound. How you have it cut can affect how much you get. If you don’t want some cuts, that affects what you get back. If you don’t want the organs, hocks, etc it all affects what you get back. Some consider that waste, but it can also be extra from bacon, ham and sausage. This is food choices in action but look around folks! Even at 50 cents a pound it’s still under $4.50 for your *choices*. Doesn’t that count? Priced ham lately? How about specialty thick cut bacon? One of the local grocery stores has a current ad with boneless pork chops $3.99/pound. People say they’ll pay a little more to know how it’s grown. In action, it’s not that easy. Less than a dollar a pound changes things!
We all have food choices. Make yours.
And – well it is Easter, and among the symbols of Easter is the rabbit.
I’m a bit partial…so took a break on the crowdsourcing push (last 3 days – help us out folks!) to shoot some fresh photos. We have several litters that are 2 weeks old now, and one that’s just 4 days. We have peppers the same age, but I think the bunnies will get more awwwws than the peppers will!
This photo on the left you’ll have to look closely to see the white – pinkish – babies laying side by side in the white fur. Baby bunnies are born with eyes closed and no fur. The doe pulls fur from her belly to line the nest, and this first time doe did a good job providing a warm blanket for her babies. They’ll get bigger in a short period of time!
At right is a mini Rex doe – with her small size, and the even smaller size of her babies, she’s housed in a solid floor/side cage typically sold for guinea pigs. This is her second litter and she’s a great mama.
This can be a difficult thing for some to accept or understand. We get that, but at the same time in order to justify keeping rare breeds alive, the use of them as they were intended – in this case for meat and furs – allows the maintenance of the breeds for the future.
This little one is a Giant Chinchilla, two weeks old today. She’s grown from the naked, blind looks like a mouse with no tail that she started. She’s learning to explore her nest area, and the cage above as she’s big enough to get out. She’s learning to groom herself and sit up, scratch itches and move around. As she gets older the entire litter will be evaluated for their potential as show animals. Those not making the cut will be evaluated as potential breeding animals either for purebred lines or crossbreds. Those not making that cut will join the crossbreds as meals for meat customers.
But at this age – this two week still wobbly content with not being in the big wide world stage – this is the little bit of time that eases the heartache of the youngsters lost, the older ones injured, the disappointments, the cold and wet and the discouraging days where we just try to find answers. Taking some time to watch them hop sometimes controlled, sometimes not, around their little corner of the world makes it bearable to keep doing this.
It’s watching these youngsters greeting their Giant Chinchilla neighbor, who is bigger than their mom, as part of exploring their world.
Have you ever heard someone say they wanted something, and you happened to have or come by that something to give to or share with them, but then they didn’t really want it? Maybe they outright rejected it?
Some might get angry. Others may be hurt. Some may offer all they have but it’s not enough, while others may be from a different view and can’t appreciate what they have been offered.
The something may be food, or friendship, or a thing, or a favor. As we reflect today on Palm Sunday, it’s not uncommon those communication errors happen. We’re imperfect. What’s one person’s broke is another’s wealth. What’s one’s unlivable is another’s palace. What’s one’s feast is another’s famine.
And it’s sometimes tough when it feels personal. Sometimes it’s just perspective, the way someone is, the soil (things) they surround themselves with. Agriculture folks know when planting in good soil, seeds can grow. But planting a tomato seed and hoping for watermelons just isn’t gong to happen…all it can be is tomato. It won’t become a watermelon, or a pepper or a squash.
Sometimes the gift is much bigger. Instead of navigating a new area it’s navigating life. Instead of opening a door it’s opening a life. Instead of giving a life for a meal it’s giving a life for salvation.
That was done, and still many turn away from that gift. The small things that we have here pale in comparison. The judgements of not being good enough are human. Beyond that is the judgement that matters – and no matter what we look like, no matter our surroundings or situation we are good enough for Him. Perhaps he put us where we are to reach others. He came on a donkey, in peace, rather than a horse used by kings in war. Does it make Him less of a King? Does it matter what current surroundings are or long term ones?
He empowers. Don’t turn away from the gifts, or the opportunity to give them. Drastic changes have happened due to someone else’s prayer. If someone uses you dishonestly, that’s on them.
It can hurt, anger and bring on emotion. Seems like God knows a thing or two about that. After all there’s little more precious than family, and His son paid the price for all of us. That’s a gift no one can repay, but many turn down.
A gift can be offered but not forced. Don’t overlook the gifts in front of you.
So it’s the time we see as feed, breed, seed. Feeding goes on year round…doesn’t matter what stage of production they’re in. Seeding – planting, transplanting, keeping tender seedlings alive – is important. Breeding – well baby rabbits are growing and we’ll watch as they grow who looks like a show or breeding prospect. Others will be fed out as meat rabbits- something there are people opposed to, but they provide a lean, healthy meat for those who want it.
Of course that’s not all we’re doing! Mixing compost,and selling compost, is a part of things and generates much needed income. Marketing, social media, and a host of other tasks take time. Cleaning the solid floor rabbits happens several times per week, with a deep clean under the raised cages happening a few times a year (replenishing the compost pile!).
Looking last night the poultry end needs about a $2,000 injection this year, producing a whimper as I looked at the tally. Keeping things going means also working forward, not just spinning wheels. When we do things like the crowdsourcing, and posting endlessly about farm shares, it’s to put life into those projects! Many of our hens are 2-3-4 years old, and it’s time for new blood and the next generation.
We’ve also been helping a friend get settled and finding a new level of double standards. While many say they can’t find good renters, when there are good renters they can’t find good houses! Mold, mice families and other issues aren’t where most want to live, and certainly not paying for it. It reminds me of people saying they want local, organic food with transparency, then rejecting those supplying it. Or businesses wanting the ideal customer without being the ideal business.
Perhaps many businesses need to do the feed, breed and seed model. Basics. When we get good customers we like to hang onto them. That doesn’t happen turning into a bad business.
Solid basics are good and set a foundation for the future. We’re not the biggest – but started where we were with what we had…someday we’ll get to where we want to be.
But for now – it’s time to check on seeds and breed some more rabbits.
It’s with good reason. We don’t just talk community. Life has a way of putting good things that still temporarily sidetrack us. So when a friend needed a hand moving – from cross country! – and getting settled the right thing to do is help of course! Wouldn’t do it any other way!
But we haven’t taken eyes off our goal and that remains a task to push. From our pepper perks to trees to heritage breeds we still have a limited time to get the word out about some unusual perks. Help us spread the word!
A one of a kind perk, the Rabbit Hole, puts your name on a pen (or hole!) of the mega-hutch. This literally provides comfortable housing for the doe and litter or buck to stretch out like a king. Just 16 of these available!
There’s a couple higher dollar options. There’s the Memory Trees at $200 which leaves a tree for the next generation. We’re focusing on food trees for this, as our plan is continuing providing food and shelter for wildlife as well as our animals and ourselves.
There’s the opportunity to join us for lessons – four of them for $400. You can take four classes or bring four people to one class…your choice. We’ll be doing classes and clinics, teaching a variety of skills. You might be interested in building things, or raised bed gardens, or other options. There’s not a deadline on these, but there is just 65 available!
Many can’t afford these options, and we have sunset photographs also at $20. These can still add up to a pen or some fencing. It puts an original photograph on your wall that captures a sunset.
Our quest for providing conservation projects and food continues. Many think it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we need it to be more than a great idea – we need it to be reality. Many of the rare breeds are but a storm from serious trouble. Those here provide one more option out of the way of storms and issues elsewhere.
Time is ticking, community is real and while we’ll continue no matter what happens in the crowdsourcing, we hope you’ll help us spread the word and meet the goal. It’s not just about us – it’s about community and helping others.
It’s a good tired at the end of a full day. We have some things ahead to share, but need support and interest to do so! Full steam forward – thanks for sharing this with those who are interested in what we’re doing.
Like the rare breeds – we all need tomorrow, another year, another generation. Let’s make it happen. Visit the campaign and find a perk – you’ll see your money work right here.