Steady progress on the animal front, and a few hard lessons as well…
Our baby rabbits are now weaned at six-weeks-old, having fun in their own cage next to mummy. They are doing super well on tagasaste and cut herbs and grass.
The average weight of the rabbits at weaning was ½ a kg
We are not going to buy another buck because all rabbits we buy in have been fed industrial pellets and hay, and do not seem to be as strong and healthy as our rabbits are now. We are on generation two of “no industrial feed, only daily harvested organic tagasaste and herbs”, so we’re keen to use our own buck. This will bring us back full circle to line breeding with our rabbits, which is how most of the old time animal breeders operated. Mother – son, and father – daughter, but never brother over sister.
The chickens have also done super well, we have six hens and all of them are still laying in mid March every day, almost!
The guinea pigs have been a learning curve. The holes in our netting were to big and first guinea pig escaped out the bottom and now the cat is putting his paws through quite small grids as well. We have come to the conclusion that the wire netting needs to be 20cm hexagonal or square netting (hexagonal is way cheaper and we made two cages out of 1 5m roll) to keep guinea pigs in when young and also to keep cat paws out! We have also found that the guinea pigs can get the grass up just as easily through tiny holes as big ones, so it doesn’t seem to matter.
We’re still looking for more females so if you know of any body with spare short haired females please let us know.
The guinea tractor system seems to be working very well, they are certainly the easiest animals to take care of and feed, and if there is no off site food such as tagasaste available in your urban area then guinea pigs will be the best option for you.
Our bees in good form. They began the season as a weak swarm that we a lot of trouble with but is now almost a large enough hive to over winter well and get off to a good start next spring.
All of the fruit trees are growing steadily, getting lots of vermiliquid and mulch and compost and vermicast from within the system, and we will be putting up espaliering wires around the entire fence area shortly for training. Lots of forest garden support trees and plants to go in next. The guild including the orchard herbal lay we planted under our single lemon tree last month is now away, the beans are climbing, the artichokes visible, the alfalfa is up and the tree lupins away along with the comfrey, sorrel, chicory, milk vetch etc.
Our biggest issue this month was that we did not get our succession of seedlings in in time to have them ready when our summer crops came out and we now have nothing to harvest in the veggie garden!!This is a major problem if that is our food, and a big learning curve for new gardeners. Getting the replanting of seeds and successions right is a bit of an art, and comes with experience!
Our outputs in February were as follows and I think we can easily double that next time around…