24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Archive for August, 2010

From the Twilight Zone…

Comes this very odd spider we found between the ligustrum and the rabbitry yesterday.

Spiny Orb Weaver

Isn’t it crazy looking? And it’s something like the size of a pea! Creation is amazing!

My cell phone camera just couldn’t do the job, so I had to find a public domain pic. Oh, well.

Our working bunnies so far…

I finally got some good bunny pictures so you can see our rabbits. All of our working rabbits are in 24″x36″x18″ cages so they have room to stretch out and stand up. It also gives enough room for the does to raise their kits to a point.

The first rabbit of our meat rabbit herd to come along was Thumper. He was abandoned by his family — set free outside. Many people think it’s humane and desirable to set a domesticated bunny free so they can roam wild and happy. Nice thoughts, but it doesn’t work that way. Usually, a freed domesticated rabbit will end up meeting a quick and painful end as prey for some dog, owl, or hawk. Those that don’t become prey establish feral colonies that then begin destroying people’s gardens and undermining their homes.

Thumper managed to survive for a couple of weeks before Shay finally caught him. For a while, Shay thought he was a wild rabbit because of his coloring. It dawned on him one day, though, that wild rabbits don’t have lop ears!

Thumper

I think Thumper was a 2009 Easter bunny, given to a child for Easter and then set loose when the family moved. He is a very sweet bunny, and likes to be held, and loves, loves, LOVES to be petted. He is a minilop, I believe, though I have no real way of knowing. He grew after we acquired him, so that’s why I think he is now about 1 1/2 years old instead of older. Thumper is our daughter’s baby.

A little later, we went to Craigslist and found Pearl, a Flemish giant cross. Our son just fell in love with the picture of the black-eyed white doe. So off to the farm we went, and bought her. She’s not as friendly as Thumper, but still is a big sucker for having her head rubbed. Pretty good for a farm bunny. Our son spent hours sitting in front of her cage playing with the hay and petting Pearl, and she warmed up pretty well over time. She has given us one litter of 8 so far, and is hopefully on her second now (we’ll find out in a few weeks!). She raised her first litter very well, and we processed six of them a few weeks ago. They were a bit older than they should have been, but we didn’t have the chance to send them to freezer camp before that.

Pearl

We told the kids they could each choose a doe to keep from that first litter to fill out our rabbitry. Unfortunately, they both picked immediately, way before I could tell girls from boys. Our daughter’s did turn out to be a doe, but our son’s favorite is a buck. So we’re looking for a home for him. Meanwhile, our son can pick a doe from the next litter (hopefully we get a female version of that buck). Anyway, the one our daughter chose started out chestnut like her daddy, but then slowly lost almost all of the red and brown, so that now she is chinchilla:

Squeak

Yes, her name is Squeak.  She earned it early on, being the only popple in the nest that would start squeaking when you picked her up.  She doesn’t squeak any more, though.  Now if only she were built like her mother instead of her father. *sigh* Maybe she’ll produce like her mama! :) We will be breeding her (hopefully) for the first time this weekend.

Looking for a home, with one ear up and one ear down like his sister:

Pinto - young buck in need of a home.

I had a lady lined up to take him, but she hasn’t responded in a while.  Maybe we’ll find someone in 4-H. Or maybe you would like him. Come on… look at him! He’s terribly cute!

I have told the kids that once we have our third doe, any of those four that dies will be replaced by a purchased or otherwise acquired rabbit that is more substantial for meat production. And, preferably, a purebreed, so that we can perhaps eventually show. So we’ve been looking at rabbit meat breeds that can still give us a color variety. :)

Olive oil fraud… who knew?

Have you ever actually tasted your olive oil? By itself? Yeah, I know… it would just taste… well… oily, right? That’s what I thought.

Until today. I went to our local spice company. Good heavens, is it glorious to walk into a store devoted to spices! Wow! Okay, I’ll take a little of this, and I’m completely out of that, and I’ve never heard of this… I’ll take a little to try. Salt free blends? Absolutely! I like having control over how much salt is in my food.

Pretty olive oils, they look like wine bottles. Not as expensive as some extra virgin olive oil I’ve seen, but definitely more than I pay. Ah, well, extra virgin olive oil is extra virgin olive oil. They’re all the same, as long as it says “extra virgin” on it.

NOT! The proprietor pulled out a little bottle of what he described as one of the most expensive olive oils out there in the stores. Wavy little bottle, held maybe 6 ounces, and he said it cost $22. Yikes! He poured a little into a cup, and we tasted it. It had a mild rancid flavor, and, after about half a minute, it turned a bit bitter on my tongue. Blech. He gave us a taste of their extra virgin olive oil which was produced by a friend of his in California. You know, I had heard of people who drink a bit of olive oil every day for their health, and I could see how if they drink this stuff. Full, round flavor, mildly fruity. No rancid taste, no bitter aftertaste. It was wonderful! They sold me, and I bought a 17.5 ounce bottle for $16.

Still, was regular store-bought olive oil really that different? Maybe that was a very old sample he would pull from, so of course it could be rancid. Maybe it was very good at first? Maybe it didn’t even cost $22… how do I know?

So I get home and pull out my trusty bottle of Filippo Berio. Okay, I know that “real” olive oil aficionados (gracious, what would I do without spell check?) pooh-pooh store-bought olive oil, but I’m not snobby. As long as it does the job, I’m good. So I’m going to taste it. I pour a little into a bowl, and tip it into my mouth…

It was wretched! Almost immediately, a strong bitterness overcame my mouth, and I couldn’t even wait for the rest of the flavor. I spat it out and looked frantically for my Dr. Pepper to rid myself of the vile taste. How could I have been inflicting this odious oil on my family all this time without realizing it? Yuck!

Okay, okay, I believe the man now!

So… what does this have to do with fraud? I’m glad you asked.

It seems that a number of companies abroad that export olive oil to the USA and other countries have been doing all kind of things to increase profits, such as:

  • adding chlorophyll to sunflower or soybean oil and selling it as extra virgin olive oil (even in Italy!)
  • selling colored and flavored Swedish turnip oil as EVOO
  • selling canola oil as EVOO (I assume it was colored at least, since canola oil is very light)
  • selling hazelnut oil as EVOO
  • shipping the oil-du-jour to Italy and transferring it to Italian tanks, so that it can then be sold as Italian EVOO
  • mixing foreign oils with a tiny amount of Italian olive oil so that it can be sold as Italian EVOO
  • pressing oil from already fallen olives (overripe and beginning to rot), which is fine for use as lamp oil, then filtering and chemically refining it so it is safe to consume, mixing it with good oil, and selling it as EVOO

Californian olive oil producers have filed suit to try to stop the fraud.

Sources (besides the proprietor of the store):
Forty arrested in oil fraud
Olive oil regulation and adulteration
New Yorker: Slippery Business
LA Times: Lab tests cast doubt on olive oil’s virginity
Report on lab testing of imported olive oil

Sources for California olive oil:
California Olive Oil Council

Pearl & Thumper, Sittin’ in a Tree…

Okay, maybe not. But we mated Pearl and Thumper today. I think Thumper succeeded in his attempts only once, so hopefully that’s enough! (And hopefully he isn’t heat sterile!) We’ll find out in a month. And by then, our other doe will be of breeding age. Yay!

Thumper most definitely likes to mate, while Pearl most definitely does not. At least she has to put up with him only a few days out of the year. Maybe if he would just give her chocolates or flowers or something, she might be more receptive. ;)

Mostly finishing the rabbitry…

When I left off, the rabbitry wasn’t under roof yet, so I figured I’d better post the rest!

Shay started the roof off with a board screwed to the side of the building to which we were attaching the rabbitry.  To that he added the rafters, and then he capped the ends.

Rafters were screwed with metal hurricane ties to the board attached to the building.

Detail of rafters attached to the building.

Detail of cap attached to rafters, and rafters attached to the structure with metal hurricane ties.

Detail in the other direction. The backlighting of the sky was such that I had to modify the colors.

Another view. Shay spaced the rafters out more than you normally would, because they don't bear much load at all.

We set three posts along the front of the rabbitry into dry concrete mix.  This makes for a stronger concrete over time.  We poured some dry mix into the bottom of the hole, set the post in, and poured dry mix around it.  We used a rod to poke up and down in the mix to help work air pockets out, and also hammered the 4×4 to vibrate the mix (making sure we kept it plumb).  Once they were all done, we wet the top of the concrete down with a hose to allow the top to set quickly.  The rest sets over time, as it pulls moisture from the surrounding soil.  It results in a more dense concrete, and you don’t have to stop working to let it set!

View of one end of the rabbitry, with the corner post set in dry concrete mix.

Detail of a corner post set in dry concrete mix.

Detail of center post set in concrete. To keep the structure straight, the board you see across the doorway is a permanent fixture. I was afraid we were all going to kill ourselves on it, but, surprisingly, we all seem to remember the thing is there.

Umm… I just realized that I don’t have my pictures of the thing with the corrugated metal roof on.  I’ll hunt for them and put them in another post.