Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby bunnies

I hardly know where to start.  I have so many memories stirring in my head.

After reading Melanie's post about her normal weekend, I thought, again, how Caroline will enjoy reading her mom's blog and remembering all the fun, normal, exciting things that she did growing up.  She can do that because Melanie has taken the time to write it all down.  As I said in my last post, I am really hung on the horn of a delimma about how much to share of our lives with the www.

I've decided to just write King and Princess an email each week.  That way, I can keep a journal of our lives, but not publish it for the whole world to see.  Sort of like a private blog.  (gasp)  Such a novel idea.  Not.  I could be really retro and write with a pen and paper.  But, I type faster, so in the interest of actually getting it done, it will be in digital format.

One thing I will share: we rescued baby bunnies this past month.  King was shredding with the tractor at our school's barn and in the process, mowed over a cottontail's nest.  We found the nest the next day.  The mom had abandoned the nest, two of the six babies were dead.  We rescued the other four and, with milk from Hope, the nubian/alpine goat, we fed them with a baby eye dropper morning and night.  They were about 2 weeks old when we rescued them.  We cared for them a week and then the biggest two went to live with a friend.  She released them when they weaned themselves after several days.  They are doing great.

We kept the smaller two and continued caring for them until the biggest one weaned itself.  S/he was released in our back yard on Friday morning.  Our back yard always has cottontails - adult and babies - so I knew it would be a good release spot for them.  The last one, named Star, is still with us.  Star was the runt and is now thriving.  (We are assuming Star is a boy, but who knows.  We raised rabbits when I was in high school, so I know how to "sex" the rabbit, but I don't want to stress these wild bunnies and subject them to that indignity.  It doesn't matter which it is anyway.)  All the other bunnies stayed very wild, for which I am thankful.  Star is more tame now, so he will probably stay inside or close to our back yard.  It was not my intention to make Star tame, but he has been hand fed for so long that he has become comfortable with being held.

Some things I learned:
  1. momma bunny feeds twice a day, at morning/eveing.  Treating them like mom is best in order to help them thrive when released.
  2. baby bunnies nurse belly up, on their backs.
  3. it's easier to feed the babies if you wrap them in a soft cloth (I used microfiber) and keep their eyes covered.  Just uncover the mouth and nose.  Keeping their eyes covered helps them to relax and feel safe to eat.
  4. Keep the bunnies in a well ventilated box, in a dark and very quiet room.  I kept them in our garage, with the light off.   Only open the box to care for them twice per day.  Note:  I fed at around 9 pm and 7 am.
  5. Rabbit milk is very high in calories, so supplementation by our Nubian goat was perfect. 
  6. I did not add anything to the goat milk.  The goat milk was raw and unpasturized.  Their digestive system worked well without probiotics. 
  7. Do not squirt the milk into the mouths, but mostly let the rabbits suck it out of the eye dropper. 
  8. The line from the mouth to the nose is a great syphon into the nose.  Drat!  It was hard to keep the bunnies from breathing in the milk.  This got easier as they grew and the mouth was a larger target.  So, start feeding with a tiny tip on the eye dropper.  I was using my daughter's former baby eye dropper, so it had a fairly large hole at the end.  It was all I had, so I made it work.
  9. Baby bunnies eat a lot of milk at one time because God made them to drink milk only twice per day.  Don't be worried about giving them too much.  They will stop drinking when they are full (make sure that they have not stopped because they were scared by noise/movement).  Use the guideline below.
  10. Be sure that you feed them in a quiet environment so that noise and movement do not scare them.  They will stop drinking if they feel threatened.
  11. They loved, loved, loved Romaine lettuce.  I picked dandilion, clover, wild grasses to add to their lettuce.  I also gave them alfalfa pellets that I feel my horse.  The runt is the only one who seemed to like the alfalfa.  The older two that my friend released, immediately started eating weeds when they were released. Hooray!
  12. We released the older three in the morning hours so they could have all day to find a hiding spot.  We put out water and lettuce to give them something to eat while they were getting their bearings.

How much to feed:
Newborn to One Week: 2 - 2+1/2 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day).

1-2 weeks: 5-7 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings per day). (depending on bunny..may be much LESS if smaller rabbit!) Newborn babies (if eyes closed) all need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate prior to or following feeding until their eyes open. (Except Jackrabbits do not). 

2-3 weeks: 7-13 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings). Domestic eyes open at about 10 days of age. Start introducing them to timothy and oat hay, pellets and water (always add fresh greens for wild ones).

3-6 weeks: 13-15 cc/ml each feeding (two feedings--again, may be LESS depending on size of rabbit! A cottontail will take so much less!! Half this at most.) Domestics are weaned about 6 weeks. Cottontails wean and release about 3-4 weeks and jackrabbits much later (9+ weeks).

Here is the area of my yard where I released my oldest bunny.  Isn't it a great place to eat, live and hide?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Blogging, Kindergarten and Mountain Lions

I have four blogs (here, here, here and here) that I love to read.  I was wondering what I like so much about them.  I realized that each of the bloggers writes about everyday life.  It's no wonder that I prefer those blogs because biographies are my favorite books to read.  Their blogs are like unfolding biographies, one chapter at a time - with no end.  The best sort of biography!  I feel sad when one of my bloggers quits blogging or takes a break.  I feel like I am missing a friend. 

Then I wondered how their kids will feel to have their lives written about to the world wide web.  This is the real reason I haven't been blogging the past couple of years.  Princess is older now and is a very private person.  I feel like I'm violating her privacy when I write about her.  After all, she and the King are my life.  They are what I do, who I serve and who I enjoy.  However, by not blogging, I am allowing the precious mundane days to pass without documentation.  Which is sad really, because I am so forgetful. 

So, I again stand here on the precipice of blogdom.  Do I document our daily life or just let it pass unheralded and unwritten.  Something to ponder.  For now, I think I will write. 

I was asked to be a volunteer kindergarten evaluator (spelling: -er or -or?) at my daughter's school.  Since I can't spell evaluater/evaluator, perhaps I should just resign now.  I went to the training this morning with some trepidation.  I did not want to be responsible for some precious future Nobel Prize winner to be labeled "unfit for kindergarten".  What if I made a mistake on the evaluation?  What if I blanked out and couldn't remember the alphabet?  (You know you sometimes sing it to yourself, too.)  What if I had a child that ran around the room like a banshee and couldn't do my evaluation?

Oh, the worry.  It's my spiritual gift.

But.  But.  Then I went to the evaluation training this morning.  Whew.  It's all standardized.  The whole evaluation.  They even spell out exactly what you are supposed to say and you must (MUST) phrase your questions exactly as they are presented on the evaluation.   No ad libbing.  They even give you the answers that the children should give and how to score every possible answer.  It's really well organized and straight forward.  So, even though I went in with great trepidation, I am excited to do the evaluations and I really look forward to it.  The wee ones are so cute and their answers will be so darling.

It has been so cold here which is very unseasonal weather.  Yes, I know it is December, but in Texas you can have 80 degree weather.  The lows are in the 30s all week with highs in the 40s.  Very chilly indeed.

The King has been adding things to Arielle's stall to help keep her toasty and well fed.  He does it to love on me, really. Sweet man. She has a wind break on the north side of her stall.  She has a wind break on the south side.  He installed a hay feeder and grain bin underneath.  The stall walls on either side are tall and make her have her own space.  Last night, after going over to the barn with me to check on her, I asked him, "Arielle really is the rich horsey, isn't she?"  There was a brown horse that used to graze on land that now houses the Galleria.

If you can imagine all the trees on the left side of this picture extending over the whole picture, that's what it used to look like.  This horse was grazing on some pretty pricey land.  Thus, we dubbed him the "rich horsey".  Now, Arielle is lavished with everything she could need and while the land under her feet is not quite as expensive, all her furnishings are very posh.  She still resides in the great outdoors, but her stall is very cozy, thanks to the King.  He lavishes the horsey because he loves me - alot.  I'm very grateful.

Speaking of Arielle, she's sporting quite a mohawk.  We are letting her bridlepath grow out and it's looking a bit ridiculous!  I'm guessing, but it will probably take a year for it to fully grow out.  Hopefully in a few weeks we can braid that portion and she won't look quite so silly.

See her look intently off to Princess' right?  She has a reason to be vigilant.  A mountain lion has been sighted near the property recently.  Actually, several times over the past couple of months.  I wish she could tell me what goes on at the barn in the middle of the night.  She stays at a barn near our house, but a couple of blocks away.  I can hear the coyotes at night near the barn, but those darn mountain lions are so quiet and sneaky.  I hate them.  The most recent sighting was just before Thanksgiving in the greenbelt just behind our house about 300-400 yards away from our back yard.  Insert heebie jeebies. Go away kitty, kitty.


Thursday, December 01, 2011


Sooo, I'm still alive.  My blog was wondering.  September was the last post?  Well, let's catch up.

I've been training Arielle and taking care of Channel Partners.  Princess is becoming more responsible in school and earning the best grades she has ever had!  So proud of her.  She is also taking horse riding lessons from a dressage instructor.  She has regained enough confidence to ride Arielle again.  She rode her this week and did a fabulous job!  King is getting ready to release version 4.0 of our software.  We are very excited about that!  He was able to go hunting with some friends and got a nice little buck.  They were hunting for "cull bucks" to take out the genetically inferior bucks from the ranch. 

Speaking of venison, I made chili the other day with some of our ground venison and it was especially yummy.  I never follow recipes very well and this was no exception.  I actually made the entire recipe, so I need to write it down in order to reproduce it.  It's our favorite chili so far.  I am not a recipe girl, so I put in a little of this and a little of that.  The below measurements are guidelines and approximations.

Crockpot BBQ Venison Chili

4 lbs venison (processors mixed with ground beef to give some fat)
1 32 oz Box Beef Broth
1/2 C dried minced onions
2 TBSP Sea Salt
3-5 TBSP Chili powder
2-4 TBSP Cumin
1 TBSP Garlic powder
1 can Rotel
1 can cream of corn
4 TBSP ketchup
1/2 C Rudy's BBQ sauce
3/4 C Stubb's Hickory Bourbon BBQ sauce
1 large can yellow hominy

Place venison in crockpot, pour broth over, sprinkle with onions, salt, chili powder, cumin, garlic, ketchup, BBQ sauces.  Cook on high for 4 hours before adding additional ingredients.  If venison is frozen when put in crockpot, cook for a couple of hours and then mash it up to help it cook evenly.  If venison is not frozen, stir/mash after an hour or so.  Add Rotel and hominy about an hour before you plan to eat.  Total cooking time from frozen: 8-9 hours.  Total cooking time from thawed: 6-7 hours.  Serve with cornbread or French bread, sharp cheddar cheese, 0% fat greek yogurt (can use sour cream instead).  Can be served over fritos, too.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As I assumed, my C25K road is long and bumpy.  I have enjoyed a change in body shape after only 4 runs, but my connective tissues are not enjoying the change.  I last ran on Saturday and while my right knee ached some at first, I was not in pain through most of my workout.  Afterward, my knee and leg began to ache and have continued  to be painful for 3 days now.  I have refrained from running, but have continued my work at the barn.  Last night, I could definitely tell that the lower interior part of my knee was swollen and painful to touch.  To add a creep factor, when I bent my knee it made a gritty sound. After a couple of Advil, I woke to no swelling and my knee feels good.  I hope a couple of more days of Advil and rest will allow it to run again.

While Princess was at volleyball practice, I took Arielle for some desensitizing (is that even a word?) training.  In our role to help her be a confident gal, we have to expose her to lots of "scary" things.  On the booger buffet yesterday was the 7th and 8th grade football practice.  Blowing whistles, clapping, yelling, waving arms, numerous running "predators" ... it was exciting.  It was especially exciting when the play involved 6 boys running in our direction.  If someone had yelled "BOO" at that point, she could've orbited the moon.  I am teaching her two "calm down cues" which are 1) drop her head even or below her shoulders and 2) lick her lips.  Both of these help a horse relax.  When their head is high, like in the picture below, it is impossible to fully relax (although she is pretty chilled out here).

In the picture below, Arielle is relaxed.  A horse naturally relaxes when they lower their head.  It releases chemicals that relax their body.  The phrase in horse training is true, "Where their body goes, their mind will follow."

I am happy to say, Arielle listened to me and despite several spooks, she did really well.  Our deadline is Friday when she will be the horse on display at the first grade festival celebrating Indian Day.  The plan is for them to paint her with washable paint, clip feathers in her mane and pet her.  I hope to get pictures!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Couch to 5K, Drought and Cactus

I ran with King on Saturday morning.  Delightful.  What a great way to spend time together!  This was my second C25K run.  It was not as easy as the first run, which surprised me.  My muscles are just weird.  It must be the Periodic Paralysis, but I start getting sore about 2 hours after I strenuously use my muscles.  Within 24 hours of my muscle exertion, I am almost not sore anymore.  I ran on Saturday morning around 8:45.  By 11:00 a.m. I was really sore.  By Saturday night, I could hardly walk/use my muscles.  By Sunday morning, I was a little sore, but walking just fine.  Totally odd.

I rested on Sunday.  Today is Monday and I worked in the pasture at the barn.  The drought is just debilitating.  One thing that was alive - cactus!  So, I spent an hour or so digging up prickly pear.  It was a good way to use my upper body muscles and let my lower body muscles rest.

With the drought, we have many animals coming up in the barn area for water.  We do not currently have any barn cats, so the rat population has exploded.  With an abudance of rats and a lack of water, you have snakes in close proximity.  Hopefully, a local pet adoption agency will come through for us this weekend and bring some feral cats for the barn.  The kitties will really like all the rats that we have available.  With less rats, we hope to have less snakes.  And with less snakes, we will have a happier Queen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

C25K shoes

So, I decided that I need some new running shoes.  I counted up and I've had my other sneakers for 3.5 years.  :)  They are fine for wearing around, but I know that my feet & legs need more support if I am going to be jogging.  I am very excited about this new running program - couch to 5K.  Honestly, I am not married to the idea of running a 5K.  I just want to help my muscles be as healthy as possible. 

Working at the barn is very good for my muscles, especially my core muscles.  Between hauling water buckets, mucking the stalls and sweeping, I am really working my obliques and back muscles.  I haven't been riding much, but when I do, I can tell that my abs get a workout as well as my legs.

Between riding, barn work and jogging/walking, I hope that the spring of 2012 finds me in much better shape.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Walking in the Neighborhood

This morning, Arielle and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  Arielle needs to be exposed to many different sights and sounds.  She did very well until a dog spooked her.  Then the rest of her walk was a little antsy.  It's so helpful to see the world from a horse's perspective.  Everything is out to eat them or kill them.  It must be exhausting to always be on the alert for "horse killers".

The highlight of the walk was meeting an elderly lady who was watering her lawn.  She had never been near a horse in her life - only seen them in movies.  She was so afraid of Arielle, but to her credit, she came near and pet Arielle several times.  The lady was adorable with her wonder of the horse and her delight with everything Arielle did.  I can just hear her on the phone with her friend/loved one today, "I saw and pet a horse today!"

We also met a young mom with two little ones in her truck.  Arielle walked up and let them pet her - to the delight of the children. 

It is so fun to take Arielle out and walk her through the neighborhood.  We have about 4,000 people in our neighborhood, so we always have plenty of opportunities to meet people.  The best part for Arielle is to have many things to desensitize her and from her perspective - to live to tell about it.