Rabbit Health: Common Health Issues

                                  This article may contain affiliate links.

Part of owning rabbits is being able to deal with any health issues that come up. Rabbits get sick very quickly and can go downhill very fast. If your rabbit gets sick on the weekend your vet most likely will not be available, additionally if your regular vet is not an exotic vet experienced with rabbits they may not know what needs to be done. You will have to learn how to be your own vet in most circumstances.  Being able to judge a rabbit’s symptoms and respond accordingly can save you money and save the life of your bun. This is a very critical skill whether your rabbit is just a pet or you are a breeder.

Due to Copyright issues, I do not have example pictures for every illness but I have included links to examples and you can always use google images to find plenty of examples.

One of the most common causes of death in rabbits is bloat. Bloat is an emergency situation and needs to be treated immediately. Bloat can be caused by multiple factors such as stress or changing the feed too quickly. So what is Bloat? It is an unusual amount of gas that distends the stomach and causes excruciating pain.  Signs and symptoms are bloated/distended stomach, not eating, teeth grinding, abnormal or lack of poop. You should Immediately remove all pellets and feed only hay and water, you should also give the rabbit baby gas drops (there are no dosage recommendations so use a little common sense).  You can give the gas drops in a syringe or the flavored kind from a spoon if your rabbit will lick it up. The herb Fennel can also be given to help with bloat. If you can catch bloat early you can save your rabbit, but if bloat has progressed to the point that your rabbit looks like a balloon the kindest most humane thing you can do is to euthanize the rabbit. When bloat reaches that stage it is irreversible and incredibly painful. Trying to keep your rabbit alive at that point is incredibly cruel. Prevention is best when it comes to bloat. Always change feeds properly by slowly introducing the new feed and decreasing the old feed. If you do not have a baggie of old feed for your new rabbit feed only hay and slowly introduce the new feed.

GI stasis is a problem caused when your rabbit stops eating. Rabbits need to be eating regularly to keep their gut moving. GI stasis can be a sign of blockage and can be difficult to treat at home. People who own Angora rabbits should be especially watchful for GI stasis as Angoras can get hairballs that cause a blockage in the stomach. Remove all pellets and feed only hay and water. If your rabbit is not eating at all then you should syringe feed Critical Care to your rabbit every couple of hours until your rabbit is eating on its own again. When your rabbit shows interest in food again be sure you are only offering hay and no pellets. You can also offer very small amounts of blackberry (the leaves and the fruit) to stimulate appetite. Marigold and the stem of a pineapple will also help support good gut movement. Again prevention is key. Regularly feeding hay with your rabbit’s diet will help promote good gut health.

Ear mites is a common problem and easily spread to the rest of your rabbits. It shows up as scabbing in the ears. If you have or buy a rabbit with ear mites separate them from your other rabbits as it is contagious. Food grade oil such as olive or coconut oil is an easy treatment. Apply in the ears daily for at least 21 days. Your rabbit’s ear should clear up before the end of the 21 days but you must continue treatment. The oil will only smother adult bugs but will not kill the eggs. Since 21 days is the life cycle of an ear mite you must continue the treatment to be sure you also smother hatching eggs. If you have a particularly nasty case of ear mites you can also add 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil into the olive oil before you apply to the rabbit’s ears.

Fur mites show up as flaky dry skin looking similar to dandruff. Separate your rabbit from your other rabbits as this is highly contagious. Treat with food grade diatomaceous earth applied on the fur every day until the skin appears normal again and lost fur has grown back. It is very important that you only use food grade DE as it is safe for the rabbit to consume while it is grooming itself.

Malocclusion is a condition in which the rabbit’s teeth are overgrown. This can have multiple causes such as injury or it can be a genetic issue. If malocclusion is a genetic issue you should not breed this rabbit as it can be passed down to future generations. You can clip the rabbit’s teeth with dog nail clippers. This sounds painful but rabbits have no nerve ending in their teeth and cannot feel it. You should be very careful when choosing this method so as not to split the tooth. Once the teeth are trimmed prevention is the best treatment. Provide your rabbit with sticks and branches to chew on to keep their teeth from growing too long again. If your rabbit has an overbite or an underbite their teeth will have to be trimmed regularly.

Sore hocks are wounds on the feet. A common misconception about sore hocks is that it is caused by wire flooring. It is actually caused by the rabbit sitting in an unusual position causing pressure on only one point of the foot rather than being spread over the whole foot. It is also caused by the rabbits sitting in filthy or wet conditions. To treat sore hocks you can use Blue-Kote or Vetericyn Wound spray. Be sure while the rabbit is healing that it has plenty of dry clean resting matts off of the wire. If your rabbit only potties in one corner of the cage you can cover the other part of the cage in hay. Be sure if you choose to do this you are checking the hay multiple times a day to be sure it is clean and dry. Prevention measures are easy and should always be followed. Making sure your cages are perfectly level is very important. Make sure to use a level when setting up your cages. Even if the cage is not level just a little bit it can cause your rabbit to sit abnormally to compensate. Cleaning your cages regularly can also prevent sore hocks as feces and urine or anything wet can cause sore hocks. Lastly always provide a resting matt or an area your rabbit can sit off of the wire if it chooses too.

Coccidiosis is a worm that attacks the liver in rabbits. When viewing the liver they appear like small white hard nodules in the liver. Signs and symptoms of cocci can be but are not limited to loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and loose or abnormal stool. Treat with liquid Corid in the water following dosing recommendations for at least 5 days. To prevent cocci or any other worms in your rabbits you can give regular doses of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) in the water along with a few raw pumpkin seeds. Treat wit GSE every 4 months using 5 drops per gallon of water for five days.

Rabbits are carriers of ringworm which despite the name is not a worm but instead is a fungus. When handling a rabbit with ringworm you should always wear gloves and wash your hands immediately as you can also catch it. Ringworm is very easy to treat just spray some Blue-Kote on the affected area as Blue-Kote is also fungicidal. Spray daily until the ringworm has completely healed.

Snuffles can be many things. It can be simple such as allergies or it can be very serious such as Pasteurella.  Pasteurella is very contagious and has no cure. There is a vaccine for Pasteurella but it only causes the rabbit to become a silent carrier. Being a silent carrier means the rabbit will be in good health with no outward signs but will pass it on to every rabbit it comes into contact with. Signs and symptoms are sneezing with discolored snot, goopy eyes, and heavy labored breathing. If your rabbit is a pet you can choose to get the vaccine but be warned your rabbit can never be around other rabbits. You also have to be careful when visiting friends who own rabbits as you can carry the disease to your friends rabbit on your hair clothes and shoes. If your rabbit is not a pet then terminally cull immediately and decontaminate all living areas the rabbit has come into contact with. Separate any other rabbits who were in contact with the diseased rabbit and watch them closely. Prevention is key. There is no way that I know to prevent a rabbit from getting Pasteurella however you can protect your entire herd of rabbits by quarantining any new rabbits or any rabbits coming home after a show for at least 30-45 days. Since stress can bring out the symptoms during quarantine you want to handle them regularly and perform regular health checks paying special attention to the eyes and nose.

These are some of the most common health issues in rabbits. Following steps for prevention reduce the risk of infection but sometimes rabbits can still get sick. The best thing to do is come up with an emergency kit just for your rabbits and keep it well supplied. Doing this will help you have the supplies you need already on hand rather than rushing to the store only to find they don’t carry what you need.

Disclaimer, I am not a vet. I am just sharing with you things I have found through experience that have worked for me. Please judge your situation and act accordingly.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

<——Basic Care of Rabbits.

Essential Oils Are Essential On the Homestead

You might be wondering what could essential oils possibly have in common with homesteading? I use them in my everyday life and they have become indispensable. I use them for almost everything. To clean my home and animal enclosures without using toxic chemical cleaners. To support mine and matt’s health as well as support the animal’s health. And even in my garden to promote growth and prevent pests. Essential oils have so many uses and are very versatile. I also feel it is very important to protect my property and the environment I live in by using as many natural methods as I can to replace using chemicals.

Bleach is a common household cleaner but can be very damaging to the environment. It stays in the soil and water for years and reacts with natural minerals creating many dangerous toxins. One of the most concerning toxins created is called dioxin. Dioxin can mimic human hormones which also may contribute to many health problems such as cancer and low fertility.

There are so many toxins and chemicals in common household cleaners that it would take a series of books to cover them all in depth. I encourage you to pick up one of your household cleaners and read the ingredients list. Then do some research on the ingredients that it contains. You will be horrified at what you may find. After doing a lot of research and spending a lot of time searching I decided I was going to ‘kick toxins to the curb’ by switching to using essential oils.

I use Thieves almost every day. I clean my house with it and I also clean the animal cages and feeders and water bowls with it. It is safe for children to use as well. One time when I was cleaning the goat water trough my bottle baby came up and before I could stop him took a big drink out of the cleaning bucket.  I was soo worried. However, he never got sick or showed any signs that he had drank anything other than water. (I now keep the cleaning bucket out of reach, but if that had been bleach in that bucket he would definitely have gotten sick).

Tea Tree essential oil is excellent for helping to cure ear mites when they occur. I usually mix about 3-5 drops in olive or coconut oil and then apply directly in the ears. It is also very helpful for controlling dandruff. I like to mix about 5-10 drops in a mix of olive oil and castor oil. Then apply it to your roots and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, then shower as normal. This solution can also help with problems such as hair loss due to stress. There are so many uses if I named them all this would be a book and not a blog post.

It is very important that you don’t just pick the first/cheapest essential oil that you can find. The FDA does not see any difference between a synthetic lavender oil produced in a lab and lavender oil that was produced from the plant. So a company can label a synthetic EO as pure or 100% even if it is not. You even have to do some research on companies that do make EO’s from the plant. For example, When producing Clove essential oil many companies will use the leaves and stems to create to oil as it is cheaper to produce and sell. The problem with this is the highest concentration of the therapeutic compound called eugenol is found in the flower.

Which brings me to why I chose Young Living. I want the highest quality of essential oils to use for myself and my animals. Young living owns about 90% of the farms that produce their oils. They are the only company that I know that has the Seed to Seal promise. A process in which the pick only the best seeds and only pick the best plants. They also grow them in the best climates to produce the highest therapeutic qualities possible. They employ 13 Chemists to oversee testing at every step of the process and even pay for third party testing to cross-reference the results. If an essential oil fails testing it is poured out on the soil to return nutrients and hopefully produce a much better crop. They are also the only company that has an FDA-approved ingestible line of essential oils.

I love using my essential oils and I hope you will too. Young Living has a starter kit that you could buy that is worth over $300 but is only $160. It comes with 11 essential oils (Digize, Lemon, Peppermint, Thieves, Copaiba, Panaway, Frankincense, Purification, Stress Away, RC, Lavender) a diffuser and a few samples of other products. As well as information booklets. If you are interested in buying the starter kit you can find it here. Please contact me if you do so I can walk you through the process and also answer any questions you may have about how to use them.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

How to use Essential Oils to gain motivation and energy for your day —>

What to Look for When Buying an Off-Grid Property

Searching for that perfect place to make all your dreams come true but not quite sure what you will need? That depends on what you want to do with your property and how much work you want to put into it. You can find some really nice already set up off-grid houses for sale. But how much acreage does it come with and what is its water source? You can also look into buying a completely undeveloped piece of property as well, that is what we did. No matter what you are looking to buy some of the key factors will remain the same.

The most important thing when buying a new house or property with plans to live off the grid is to check what the state and county laws and regulations are. You don’t want to spend a lot of money only to find out later one of your major plans for living off-grid is illegal in your new area. There are some states where woodstoves are quickly becoming illegal to use, some don’t allow rain catchment systems. Some even require that you be hooked up to the local utilities. Another thing to consider if you have children, is it a homeschooling friendly area? A lot of research needs to be done before you choose where you want to start looking for land.

So now you have done your research and found the perfect area to live in to make all your dreams come true. When looking at properties in your area one you need to find where your water source will be coming from. If you are planning to live completely off-grid you absolutely need a water source for your water system. Does your new area get plenty of rain for a catchment system? Does it have a well, spring or creek? Has your water source been tested for drinkability? You do not want to buy a property only to find out your water source is unusable. If the water has not already been tested ask to see if it can be.

The next thing to consider is the community. Will you be living in the inner-city or in a rural area, or maybe even way out of the way? Being off the grid in a city is completely doable but homesteading might not be. For example, some places only allow three hens and no rooster, other places have a max animal count such as three no matter what kind of animal it is. In some areas having a food garden in your front yard could get you in trouble. A rural area would be more accommodating for homesteaders as it is not in the inner city. However, you still need to check your counties laws as there may still be some regulations on what you can and can’t have.  Completely being out of the way has the added benefit of privacy. We found a property about 25 minutes outside of town that was undeveloped and had no restrictions.

Next, you need to decide if you want an undeveloped piece of land or if you want a house already built. The undeveloped land has great potential and you can shape it into anything you want. The drawback is that building can become expensive. Between buying the needed tools and then the supplies. Not to mention it is very hard work and most likely hazardous to small children. Buying something with a house on it can be more convenient but it does have the drawback of possibly having to be completely converted from an on-grid house to off-grid, which could also become expensive.

Before you start looking for land you need to have a clear vision of what you need from your land and the area you will be living in. Once you know what you want it will be time to work on research. While these two things can be time-consuming you can take advantage and start selling everything you don’t need to bring with you and start buying some of the things that may be harder to come by once you move.

I hope your search goes well and that you can find the right piece of property to meet your needs and make your dreams come true.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

Several Options To Choose For Your Off-Grid Water System —>

 

 

Raising Chickens 101

Congratulations! So you have decided to add chickens to your homestead? Chickens are one of the easiest animals to care for and are perfect for beginners. I would suggest that the first timer buys chicks instead of trying to incubate eggs. Before you buy your chicks you need to check your state and local counties laws and regulations regarding chickens. Some areas do not allow chickens in the city, some places only allow 3 hens and no rooster. It is very important you know your laws first so you don’t make a mistake and end up losing your new chicks and possibly being fined as well.

Once you have received your chicks, it is a good idea to add some electrolytes and probiotics to their water. If you picked up your chicks in a store the same store will usually also carry these. These are especially important if your chicks were shipped and I strongly recommend you have these ready before your new chicks arrive at your door. You will also need to have a brooder set up for them.

A brooder can be made from anything that is secure. A well insulated shed, a plastic tub, or even a dog crate are all examples of possible brooders. I personally use a medium sized dog crate. You will need to have some sort of bedding like hay or shavings. Stay away from using any slick material as bedding as the chicks will not be able to get any purchase with their feet and it can also cause splayed legs (a deformity in which the chicken cannot stand and the legs are splayed out to either side).

You also need a heat lamp suspended over the brooder. keeping the heat lamp to just one side of the brooder allows the chicks to move away from the heat if they get too warm. The temperature for day old chicks should be kept at 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. Then you will gradually cut back the temperature by 5 degrees each week. In all honesty, though you don’t need to be measuring the temp every few hours or anything crazy like that. the chicks will tell you if they are too cold or too hot. If they are cold they will huddle close together and make loud chirping noises if they are too hot the will spread out and try to stay away from the heat and may even be panting.

My very first year raising chicks we didn’t have a strong enough energy system to run the heat lamp all day and all night. So we put the kennel right next to our woodstove because it was still chilly out. We probably only ran the heat lamp for about 5 hours in the evening. We would get up early in the morning to stoke the stove and we had the kennel wrapped in blankets. By the time they were starting to feather out we were having warmer days. So we moved them to the porch.  during the day I would unwrap the blankets and let them get some sun in the evenings I would wrap the cage up in blankets again, fill up the generator and turn on the light and it stayed on till the generator ran out of gas. I didn’t loose any chicks. I paid attention to them and if they seemed a little cold I would run the genny for an hour and heat them up with the heat lamp.

Once your chicks start to get a little older and no longer need a heat source its time to transfer them to their coop. Even if you plan on free ranging them I suggest having a fenced in a coop for predator protection at night. You will keep the chicks penned in the coop for the next few weeks as they get accustomed to it and learn that it is their home. Now you need to decide will you free range them, put them in a tractor during the day, or will they be penned permanently. Regulations and neighbors may be a deciding factor.

I personally free range my flock during the day. A free-range bird needs very little feed. I feed mine a little scratch grains to make sure they stay home. During the winter time when there is little to no bugs, I will supplement the scratch grains with pellet feed. During the winter months when egg production is low is also when I worm them for the year.

Chicken tractors are a small mobile pen that you can put your hens in during the day. You can move the tractor to different parts of your yard throughout the day. This option allows your birds to eat some bugs and greens and still be contained. I would feed birds in tractors a mix of pellets and scratch grains. All though they may get some bugs they will not get a full diet of them like free-ranging chickens will.

Keeping your birds in their coop permanently may be necessary depending on your area and your personal needs. I would provide some amusement. Maybe a bucket of sand for them to scratch in and get a dust bath, I’ve seen people build their chickens swings. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest. For permanently penned chickens they will need to be fed at least a 16% layer pellet. garden scraps are a great treat as well.

You need to be able to protect your flock from predators. A good way to do this is to have good strong fencing and have the fencing extend down under the earth to prevent predators digging in. You will also want the entire coop to have netting over it to protect your flock from owls and hawks.

Chickens are an easy starter animal for a homestead. They are also fun to watch and give us yummy eggs and eventually meat. I would suggest getting and reading Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry. They go into more detail than I did and even include a few coop designs.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

Ever Feel Like You Just Don’t Have Any Motivation or Energy?

I woke up this morning having one of ‘those’ days. Coffee just wasn’t doing it for me. I still just wanted to go back to bed and watch movies all day. Sometimes I do just that and take the day off. However, today I didn’t have that option. I’m leaving for vacation on Monday and I have a lot of things I need to get done first. I’m sure you have had days like this too where you just don’t want to do anything! Well, I knew I needed to get a lot done. I also knew that trying to do it in the mood I was in meant I would try but get very little of it actually done. Energy drinks were not an option cause I would have to drive 30 minutes to town just to buy one! I did, however, receive my essential oil starter kit in the mail a month ago. So I did a little digging around and found out that I could use EO’s to help boost my energy. So I gave it a try.

I put one drop of Lemon essential oil in my water and it tasted soooo good! Always be sure when ingesting EO’s that they are high quality 100% therapeutic grade. I then applied some coconut oil (as a carrier) to the back of my neck and to my temples and then rubbed in one drop of peppermint. Within just a few minutes I felt like I could climb Mount Everest! It also lasted all day! I was able to put my asparagus, swiss chard, broccoli, and sunflower seeds in the ground. I also fed all my animals and cleaned a few of their pens. I accomplished so much today that I wouldn’t have before I used the essential oils.

I chose to use Lemon and Peppermint because they came in my starter kit but here are a few other options that you could use to help motivate you for your day.

Bergamot
Grapefruit
Lavender
Rosemary
Geranium
Cypress
Neroli
Coriander seed
Palmarosa
Ginger
Cardamom

I cannot explain to you just how much essential oils has changed my life, and not just today either. I now use thieves as a cleaner for both my house and my animals. I use my diffuser at least every night, and sometimes more. I am soo in love with essential oils I just can’t keep quiet about them! If you would like to learn more about the Starter Kit and how you can use essential oils in your day to day life you can request to join my Facebook group Here.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily

Several Options to Choose for Your Off-Grid Water System

When we first started out we were hauling water in 7-gallon jugs from the creek, and we had to make daily trips. We ended up trading for a 300-gallon IBC tank. We also bought ourselves a 65-gallon tank that fit in the back of our vehicle. We would pump the water into the 65 drive it up the hill and pump it from the 65 to the IBC. It took several trips to fill it up but it would last us for a couple of weeks. We now have two 300-gallon IBC tanks and a homemade pump that has enough power to pump our water from the creek straight up our very steep hill and into both our tanks. Now, all we have to do is go turn it on.  (I will write more about our pump and how it was made in a different post)

Our system works very well for us and we are very proud of it, but it might not be the best option for you. To decide how you should get your water you should first evaluate your property and see if you have any available water source. Do you have a creek, or maybe a spring, a well, or maybe even plenty of rain? Once you decide your source you then need to decide how you plan to use that source.

Ben Scribner is an author who has been living off the grid in Northern Idaho for four years now.  He started out with a 12×15 cabin and has since added a 16-foot addition. In his area, wells need to be dug anywhere from 3-500 feet deep and cost around $12,000. After all the work and money spent to dig a well, you would still only get 5 gallons a minute. So instead he planned to do a rain catchment system but winter set in quicker then he could set it up. So for the moment, He is thawing snow in a 55-gallon drum in his bathroom. Since winters are harsh in his area his plan is to have his rain catchment system finished this summer with a 300-gallon holding tank. To prevent his water from freezing in the winter he is going to build a shed for his storage tank off the back of his cabin and cut vents in the cabin wall to allow heat from the woodstove to prevent any freezing.

Geoffrey Stein has lived off the grid since Feb 1, 2011. He is a ski/mountain bike instructor, and a big fan of remote control vehicles. His entire house is off-grid and is also for sale. He currently has a shared well that is shared with one other house. His well is connected to a pump house that pumps the water to both of the houses. The water line entering his house is connected to a canister filter that the water flows through before going to his sink or shower.

 

The owners of Vela Creations have been living off-grid since 2001 when they started to build their own home. Since then they have learned many things and have even built their own cistern to store the water they collect. If you would like to learn how to build your own cistern to store water in you can read their article here.

One of the most interesting interviews I had for this post was with Jay Swanson. He uses his spring to supply his drinking water, but he plans on using his creek to provide his power. He is currently building his own water wheel and almost has it completed!

Rain catchments, wells, creeks, and springs are all common off-grid water sources. I strongly suggest you have your water source tested if you plan on drinking it. You also need to be aware of your state and counties laws. In some states rain catchments systems are illegal in other states you have to hire a professional company to drill your well rather than do it yourself. You should also check to make sure you have the water rights to your source before using it. I have heard of some properties that were listed for cheap because the previous owner sold the water rights.  Make sure you do all your research before making your decision.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily

<— What To Look For When Buying an Off-Grid Property

Why You Should Choose to Raise Rabbits for Meat

When many people think of rabbits they think of a cute cuddly pet. The thought of eating one can be quite despicable to some. What most people don’t realize is that rabbit meat is one of the healthiest meats out there. It is one of the few types of meat that heart patients can safely consume, is low in calories for dieters, and high in protein as well as the vitamin B12.

The following comparisons are based on the average serving size.

-Cholesterol             ~ % of Fat        – % of Protein       > Calories/Lb. ________________________________________________________________

  • Rabbit       – 164mg                       ~ 10%               – 20.8%                   > 795
  • Chicken    – 220mg                       ~ 11%                – 20%                       > 810
  • Beef           – 230mg                       ~ 28%              – 16.3%                    > 1440
  • Lamb          – 250mg                      ~ 28%              – 15.7%                    > 1420
  • Pork           – 230mg                       ~ 45%              – 11.9%                     > 2050

A few more reasons to choose meat rabbits are, they are small so don’t take up much space, relatively inexpensive to start, easy to care for, and great producers. One trio of rabbits (one buck, two does) can produce 600 pounds of meat in one year. The average meat produced by one yearling steer raised for meat is about 400 pounds. Considering the fact that rabbits eat much less than a cow and take up less space these numbers should speak for themselves.

They make one of the best green fertilizers for your garden! What I mean by green is that the moment the poo falls from the bunny is the same moment it can go in your garden. It does not need to be composted first. It is very rich in Nitrogen and Phosphorus, two minerals that are excellent for growth and yield when gardening.  I personally have seen at least a 20% increase in my personal garden yield since I started using rabbit manure in my garden.

In addition to all of these other benefits, rabbits have the potential of being a profitable business.  I have heard of people who raise rabbits on the larger scale and send them to be processed and sold. I personally do not do this. Instead, I’ve sold a few rabbits here and there to cover my cost of feed. I have also sold excess rabbit manure to other gardeners in my area.

Another benefit is the byproduct of fur. You can save your furs and use them for projects, line boots and jackets, and even make a blanket. If you have a fiber breed like the Angora rabbit you could also spin your own wool from the hair that comes off during brushing.

Rabbits are just awesome to have on a homestead. They have many uses and are quite lovable (sometimes, some are just plain old mean). I would recommend them for both the beginner and the experienced homesteader.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

<— Basic Care Of Rabbits

Our Off-Grid Outdoor Shower

 

When I first started living off-grid staying clean was pretty complicated. For the first week, I was washing up with a bowl of warm water and a soapy washrag then using a gardening bucket to pour water over my hair so I could wash it. As you can imagine this wasn’t doing it for me, so for the whole first summer I ended up bathing in our creek. It definitely wasn’t ideal and wouldn’t last through the winter, but at least I was clean.

Fall came and re-introduced Matt and I moved in with him. For a short time, we took baths in a water trough meant for livestock. Winter was fast approaching, so Matt built a shower house. We moved the water trough inside and cut a drain. Outside we heated water (using a rocket stove) in an 8-gallon pot that had a hot water spigot attached to the outside. We ran a water line to the shower house and attached a small 12V pump that we ran off of a tractor battery. The showers were short only lasting about 10-15 minutes, but it worked. We now use the old shower house as a storage shed.

 

Now have an outdoor shower that was very simple to build. It has what feels like an unlimited supply of hot water and I can now take a shower for as long as I want to. We built it off the deck of one of our cabins for easy access. 

*We sank 4×4 posts in the ground and cemented them into place.

*We took leftover metal roofing from another project and built the walls with it.

*We covered the ground with heavy duty plastic and layered over it with pea gravel and a lovely giant flat stone from our creek. It is open in the back so we have a gorgeous view off of our hillside of the trees. I absolutely love showering in it!

The Hot water setup was very easy. We are using a propane on demand hot water heater. We had to cover the top of it with an extra sheet of metal roofing because any breeze or slight gust of wind would blow out the pilot light.

We hooked the hot water heater to our 12V on demand water pump (which means you don’t have to turn the pump on or off you just simply turn the faucet and the pump kicks on).

Be sure to never let your water pump run dry. Running the pump without water in it will destroy it.

 

 

 

The hot water pump is hooked to a battery using alligator clips. When the shower is no longer in use we will usually unhook the pump so it doesn’t keep taking a charge from the battery, but this is not necessary when it is plugged into a full battery bank.

 

I absolutely love taking a shower now! It is just as good and even better than some on-grid systems. My younger brother and sister came and visited me for a few days and they loved it. They live on the grid and they said it gets much hotter than their shower in their house.

I was really proud of the work Matt and his brother did on this outside shower. I hope this will give you some good ideas for your own outside shower. I would love to see your pictures and ideas on your own design.

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

 

Basic care of Rabbits

So you have decided to raise rabbits. Whether you decide to raise them for meat, fur, or pets they all have the same basic needs. They need food, water, and shelter. Before you bring your new rabbit(s) home you need to already have a pen or cage set up along with food.

For cages, I strongly suggest going with all wire cages. When I first started in rabbits I built my own first cages. They were made with home-milled lumber, chicken wire, and wire mesh. They looked gorgeous and I loved them, for about the first month or so. I quickly discovered that rabbits can chew through chicken wire and destroy the wire mesh, I was constantly catching escaped rabbits and patching holes. Their urine also soaked the wood and rotted it, no matter how often I scrubbed the cages. I now use all wire cages, most of which I built myself. You can also set up a colony style instead of cages. This is more like one very large pen big enough to hold several rabbits. There are upsides and downsides to both which I will cover in more detail in another post.

Rabbits have very delicate digestive systems so it is very important to feed them the correct diet. They need at least 16% protein and 16% fiber in their pellet. Pellets with these portions are considered complete pellets. When feeding a complete pellet it is not necessary to feed hay but I highly recommend it. Feeding hay will prevent boredom and help keep their teeth short. It is also good to always have some fresh hay on hand in case you need to remove pellets and feed hay only. If your pellet has less then 16% fiber it is not a complete pellet and hay is necessary for a complete diet. For pregnant and nursing does I suggest feeding a pellet that has 18% protein and 16% fiber along with free choice hay.

 

Your breeder may have sent you home with transition food. For the first day you will give one serving of it, the second day you will start mixing your choice of food with the transition food. Each day you will increase your food and decrease the transition food. If your breeder did not send transition food for the first day you will only feed your new rabbit unlimited hay. The next day you will give them a very small amount of your choice of feed. Each day you will slowly increase your feed until the rabbit is eating a full portion every day. If your rabbit appears bloated, is grinding its teeth, or has abnormal or runny poop stop feeding pellets immediately and only feed hay for a few days until symptoms clear up. It is very important whenever you switch feed brands or even introducing treats to do it very slowly. Introducing new foods too fast can cause bloat, GI stasis, and in extreme cases death. Don’t worry as long as you pay attention to your rabbit and catch the signs early you can save your rabbit and it will make a full recovery in no time.

Water! Water! Water is VERY important. If your rabbit does not have enough water it will stop eating. When I first started rabbits I used water bottles, they are cheap and easy to use. However, now that I have 25 breeders (that’s not including kits) I have switched to a gravity fed watering system. When you are first starting out with just a few rabbits water bottles or even bowls should work fine. Be sure in the heat of summer you are checking the rabbit’s water a couple of times a day and filling them as needed.

Rabbits are prey animals and can scare very easily, try not to set them up next to any barking dogs or any construction areas. You will also need to protect them from predators. Neighborhood dogs will be your main concern, also raccoons and other small omnivorous animals can also be a threat. If they are in a colony setting they will need protection from hawks as well. You can do this by either covering the whole area with netting or providing plenty of hidey holes for your rabbits.

Some breeds like the fiber breed Angora needs to be brushed daily. Most rabbits, however, don’t need much grooming at all. In fact, the extent of your grooming should be clipping their nails once a month. You should never bathe your rabbit. If you receive a rabbit in poor condition that has dirty fur, instead use baby wipes to clean them. Giving your rabbit a bath will cause undo stress, hypothermia, and even death.

Basic care of your rabbit can sound daunting but is actually quite easy and even enjoyable. I love spending time in my rabbit barn doing chores. My chores often take more time then needed cause I often pause to watch them. There is nothing like seeing a kit with just opened eyes hop out of the nesting box and explore their surroundings for the first time. Your first day home with your rabbit you should make sure your rabbit is set up and comfortable. Now it is time for you to relax, allow your bunny time to get acclimated to his new surroundings before you start doing any health checks, grooming or socialization. Enjoy your new rabbit(s), the adventure begins now!

I hope you are having a great day,
Emily.

Why You Should Choose To Raise Rabbits For Meat —>

How do I start Homesteading?

What are your dreams about homesteading? Maybe you want to be completely independent of your grocery store, or maybe you just want to provide better food for your family. Whatever your goals are, just remember they won’t happen overnight. Instead, try to start out small. Set one small achievable goal at a time and when you finally achieve that goal move on to the next. If you try to do everything at once you will fail.

I started homesteading because I wanted to not only become self-sufficient but I also wanted healthier food without all the additives. I first started with chickens. Chickens are a very good starter for a beginner. Always be sure to check what your local laws and regulations are about owning poultry before you get them. For example, some counties only allow a certain amount of hens per household and no rooster. Be sure to check before you start. After chickens, I added meat rabbits and within a month I also had goats. I quickly became overwhelmed.  I had all these new animals that I had no previous experience with. Sure I had read the books but it’s not the same as actually owning them.  Our first set up for the animals was also not ideal. I was spending a couple of hours every day just trying to feed and water them all. I have since made some huge changes and have improved on my previous designs. It now only takes me about 30 minutes every day to feed and water my animals and I own well over 100 of them. I have also recently reached my goal of not buying any meat in the store! I haven’t had to buy meat for almost three months now!  My new goal is to not have to buy any fresh veggies in the store.

So maybe livestock isn’t really an option for you right now. You could always start somewhere else like trying to grow a garden to feed your family. Then maybe your next goal could be to grow enough extra to also can the veggies. Try to make it your goal to can enough to last until the next harvest begins. Maybe you have a little extra produce and canned goods? You could then use these to barter for meat with someone who raises livestock. This is just an example of where you could start. Where you truly start is completely up to you and what you are ready for. Just remember to set one goal at a time. Before you know it you will reach your dream of being a self-sufficient homesteader.

I hope you are having a great day,

Emily.