24
Jul

How to Keep Rabbits Cool in Summer

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Keep Rabbits Cool SummerReally hot summer weather is not fun. We are lucky that we can go inside, crank the A/C, and relax even during the most severe heat waves. But what about homestead animals? The heat is tough on them too and they don’t have the options that we do.

When the summer heat kicks into gear there are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep your homestead rabbits cooler and more comfortable. I know there are some homesteaders who don’t feel as though one should take any steps because they want to breed out any rabbits that cannot tolerate heat. My stance is that if I lose ANY rabbits to heat stroke then I am a guilty of animal cruelty. It is not an option in my book to sit back and do nothing when rabbits are struggling in the heat.

Ways to Keep Rabbits Cool

Keep water bottles full – Rabbits drink more when the weather is hot, just as we do. Whereas you may have only needed to fill them once a day before, now you may have to fill them 2-3 times daily.

Give them shade – Rabbits should be shaded in the summer months as much as possible.

Frozen bottles – Keep a chest freezer full of frozen bottles…16 ounce, 2 liter, and gallon jugs. At mid point in the day stick them inside the rabbit’s cages where they can lay up against them to cool off.

Frozen ice – Freeze water in ice cube trays or other small plastic containers (get them at thrift stores). They love to play with the cubes and it helps to cool them down.

Ceramic tiles or a terra cotta pot saucer – Put a flat ice pack under the tile or saucer. It will stay cool with the ice underneath it and the rabbit can lay on it to cool off.

Fans – A rotating fan will keep air circulating, especially if they are in an enclosure and cannot feel the natural breeze.

Brush Them – Rabbits usually manage to keep themselves well groomed but it can help to brush them and remove excess fur.

Get them wet/damp – Rabbits don’t like to be submerged in water and doing so can stress them and make the heat situation even worse. You can get their feet wet or lightly mist them using a spray mister system or a misting water bottle.

Bring Inside – A pregnant doe or another rabbit who is struggling may need to come indoors for awhile. Having a special place for this in your house (extra room, basement, etc is super handy).

Hope this helps  you keep your buns cool in the summer heat!

22
Jul

Can-It-Forward Day!

by Tiffany in The Homestead

can it forward

Today is Can It Forward Day when we celebrate the art of canning and preserving your own food!

In past years, canning and preserving food was a way of life and necessary to survival.  In today’s modern society it is easier to go to your local grocery store and purchase canned goods and preserved foods.  Americans in particular spend large amounts of money on ready-to-eat foods that can be prepared quickly and easily.  Very often, the need for two incomes within a family leaves little time for cooking at the end of a busy day.  Purchasing food can be one of the major expenses in any family, especially if you have several children.

Canning and preserving your own food is a great way to save money and ensure that your family consumes only healthy, preservative-free foods that contain no harmful additives or pesticides.  While it does take some time to can and preserve foods, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort required.  Foods that are preserved at home are by far the healthiest you can provide your family.  You can save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year by canning and preserving your own food.  The process of canning food is not difficult and you can be an expert in very little time.  You will be assured that the food your family consumes is healthy and fresh, and contains no harmful ingredients.  You can control the amount of sodium in foods you prepare and preserve at home, which is a big concern for lots of families.

There are numerous benefits to canning and preserving your own food.  You can involve the entire family in the process.  Your children will love to open and eat foods they have helped can themselves.  By growing your own food in a garden, you can have a good supply of canned food that will last through the winter months.  The money you save will be an added benefit to the health advantages you receive by canning and preserving your own food.

Things to do on Can It Forward Day:

  • pledge to can-it-forward by signing up via the pledge page.
  • Tune in on July 22nd to watch canning demonstrations via Facebook Live from 10:00AM – 3:30PM ET. Each hour, viewers will have the chance to win a giveaway prize!
  • Ask Jarden Home Brands canning experts any preserving or home canning questions via Twitter with the hashtag #canitforward from 10AM – 5PM ET on July 22nd. Consumers can also share their own #canitforward creations with the brand on Pinterest and Instagram.

Happy canning!

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

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20
Jul

Build A Blackout Survival Kit

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Build Blackout Survival KitEven if you are not into prepping or survivalism having a blackout kit is one of those things that just makes sense for any and every household. Just about everyone experiences blackouts or power outages. With climate change and all the crazy weather that has hit our country in the past few years I think a blackout kit is smart. Anyone can be adversely affected by an outage due to severe rain and flooding, a snow storm, or an ice storm. It is best to be prepared and to do that you need to think about what you need now so you have in later.

So what items do you need to assemble to be prepared for short or long term power outages? Here is a list:

What Goes in a Blackout Kit

  • A waterproof bag or box to hold everything
  • Emergency radio
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries for all gadgets in the kit
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Small lantern
  • Glow sticks
  • First aid kit
  • Battery powerstation for mobile phone charging

Assemble all these items in a strategic location that the whole family knows about. You don’t want to tuck it away in the basement where it would be hard to get to in total darkness. Instead aim for an area more centrally located such as a hall closet or a kitchen cabinet.

In addition to having a kit ready and waiting, you should also be prepared in a few other ways. Make sure freezers are full or add 2 liter bottles of water in the empty spaces to preserve frozen goods as long as possible. Have 4-5 gallons of fresh drinking water stored for emergencies. Have a backup plan for heat if you live where there are harsh winters…ie a generator, a wood burning stove, etc. Build a firepit in the backyard for cooking. Have a 10 gallons (or more) of gasoline stored in case it is a large blackout and gas stations are closed.

Hopefully you will never have to worry about a long term blackout but you just never know. I have never experienced a blackout that lasted more than a few hours but just 10 minutes away from me a suburb in my city went without power for about a week. It is always best to be prepared…just in case.

14
Jun

Feeding Rabbits on the Homestead

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Feeding Rabbits on the HomesteadLike all pets, rabbits need a balanced diet in order to thrive. Because 20% of a rabbit’s entire body weight is occupied by its digestive system, diet is especially important to a bunny’s health. Many of the pellet foods that are provided in the US market contain everything that your rabbit will need nutrition-wise. They are also the simplest option – even though some of them are high in calories compared to what a rabbit would eat out in the wild. They can be kind of pricey though. If you are raising rabbits for their manure or for eating then you have to consider the return on your investment. Are you getting enough meat and/or manure to justify feed costs? If not, how can you reduce costs and still make sure they are eating a balanced, healthy diet?

Pellets lack essential water content, which is crucial to a rabbit’s urinary tract health and so are disliked by some. Even so, if nutritious pellets are chosen, they can be very beneficial. Bunny owners should look for fresh pellets that are high in fiber, contain sufficient non-animal protein, and have very little calcium. The best option will probably be some sort of soy free, non GMO rabbit pellet.

Pellets should not be the primary component of any pet rabbit’s diet. Because of their nutritional value and water content, vegetables should be offered in abundance. Most rabbits should receive between 2 and 4 cups of vegetables a day, depending on the bunny’s weight. Veggie food scraps can be given to rabbits and you can also dedicate an area of your garden for homegrown bunny food. The classic carrot is a great vegetable to feed your homestead rabbits, but other healthy options include romaine lettuce, pumpkin leaves, broccoli, turnip greens, sweet peppers, and parsley. The best vegetables to feed a pet rabbit are those that are grown organically to avoid exposure to harmful pesticides – something that smaller animals such as rabbits are particularly susceptible to.

Although fruits should play only a limited role in a bunny’s diet, high fiber fruits are good to offer in limited amounts. These fruits include peaches, nectarines, apples, strawberries, plums, tomatoes, and pineapple. No seeds or pits.

That brings us to hay and grass. All rabbits should be given some type of hay on a daily basis. In a rabbit’s diet, hay is the key source of fiber, which helps to ensure proper functioning of the digestive system. Additionally, hay is great for bunnies to chew on and promotes healthy teeth. The most nutritious hay is timothy hay, although oat and alfalfa hays are also fantastic options. You can make your own hay from grass too. Let your grass get a little higher than you typically like, mow it, and spread the clippings out on a plastic tarp to dry in the sun. Once dry, feed it to your rabbits. Don’t forget that they can eat weeds too. Clover and dandelion are bunny favorites.

During the summer months rabbits can do quite well on grown produce, grass, weeds, and supplemental hay. During the colder winter months you will not have the garden or the lawn to source from. In the winter you can grow other types of fodder indoors such as sprouted wheat grass. I buy non GMO wheat berries and I sprout them in sprouting trays. After only a week or so in the trays they can be sectioned apart and given to the rabbits. If you have enough trays and keep them going you can feed your rabbits this home grown fodder a couple times a week in addition to hay and pellets. In the photo below you can see one of my trays with wheatgrass on my kitchen counter…

A photo posted by Tiffany Washko (@tiffanywashko) on

With some good planning you can reduce reliance on pricey pellets while still making sure your buns have a healthy diet! Enjoy!

15
Mar

DIY Herbal Mouse Deterrent

by Tiffany in The Homestead

DIY Herbal Mouse DeterrentMice are part of life in many parts of the Midwest. This fact was a big eye opener for me when I moved to the area from the Southwest. We have so many agricultural crops here that mice and other vermin make their homes among the crops and then come harvest time they decide to move into your home. I just can’t share a home with them so if they do decide to make an appearance we break out the traps. Before it gets to that point though I always like to try and deter them first.

The following is a DIY recipe for deterring mice with herbs and oils. Once you make the mixture you can soak cotton balls or strips of cloth in the strong scent and then place them in and around entrance points. They also come in handy in kitchen cabinets and drawers. No one wants a mouse in the kitchen!

Herbal Ingredients:

1 C water
2 Tbsp Basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp Peppermint leaves, chopped

Essential Oils:

12 Drops Peppermint
12 Drops Rosemary
12 Drops Clove

Boil the water and pour over the fresh herbs, once cool strain them out. Add the essential oils to the herbal liquid and mix. Use this repellent along with cotton balls or cloth strips every 2-3 weeks.