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!


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.


Top 5 Reasons Country Living is Better

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Top 5 Reasons Country Living is Better

The debate over which is better, country or city living has been raging for years now. However, moms who love nature will tell you that packing up, hiring a moving company, and hightailing it to the country is a great way to go. No, you don’t have to choose a cabin that is way out in the middle of the woods, but wouldn’t it be nice to live more than 50 feet away from your neighbors. If you are a mom who is on the fence and debating whether to move out of the city or suburbia and make your home in the country, read on below for some of the top reasons that living close to nature could be the best for your family.

A More Nature-Involved Upbringing

There is nothing like a walk in nature or a BBQ in the backyard with the birds singing to bring home just how important nature is to raising a family. When your children can walk outside and see the sky blanketed with stars instead of just the foggy haze of the city, the twinkle in their eyes should make you happy you decided to take up the country life indeed.

Kids have Fewer Allergies

While it hasn’t been scientifically proven, studies have shown that children who are raised in the country have fewer allergies and a lower risk of developing asthma. This is enough of an incentive for any mom to move her little ones from the city to the country in a hurry.

Kids have Room to Run and Grow

This one is of course a no-brainer. Kids cannot get a ton of exercise in a tiny apartment with a busy street in front of the building. Kids need the room to stretch their limbs so that they grow. While a child can grow up just fine in a small space, it is great for a mom to be able to see her child run free and not have to worry about cars or other hazards in the country.

Helps Develop the Imagination

There are things that can develop a child’s imagination in the city, of course, but there is nothing like being free in the country to encourage a child to be creative. If you have a child that is sensitive, there is nothing like the quiet of the country to get their imagination started and to put them on the path to problem-solving with the best of them.

Reduces the Symptoms of ADHD

Studies have shown that being in nature reduces the symptoms of ADHD and ADD in children quite a bit. Even city kids who have taken a walk through a green park often calm down quite a bit after communing with nature, so how well must living in nature full time help those with these same problems?

Time to be Together as a Family

One of the biggest benefits of moving from the city to the country is the increased time it allows you to spend with your family. When you live in the country you don’t have rush-hour traffic to sit in for hours on the way home from the office and unless you want to drive a long way, you aren’t signed up for a ton of extracurricular activities. This gives you the time to spend with your family that living in the city just can’t and that is the most important thing to any mom.

These are just a few of the reasons that you as a mom should move from the city or suburbs to the country. From spending time together as a family to developing the imagination of your impressionable children, country living is just better and every family should give it a try. So what are you waiting for? Move your family to the country today and enjoy everything that nature has to give!


20 Herbs to Grow For Medicinal Home Remedies

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

20 Herbs to Grow For Medicinal Home RemediesAs you make your garden plan for spring and you order seeds from catalogs take a moment to think about plants you can grow for their medicinal properties. There are plenty of safe and effective herbs you can grow and use in homemade remedies for everything from first aid uses to illness.

Learning about herbs and all their uses is actually quite fun. It is a perfect way to pass time during the dreary, cold winter months. Make a plan now to come to know the following herbs and plant a few. Then when spring and summer comes try your hand at making herbal remedies. You can create your very own homestead apothecary! Enjoy!

20 Safe Herbs to Grow and Use

Aloe – A succulent prized for its thick gel that is perfect for soothing burns and skin irritations.

Burdock – This tenacious weed is great for skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Calendula – Beautiful flowers that promote cell repair and growth in rashes, sores, and burns.

Chamomile – Gentle but effective in treating colic, indigestion, infection, and more.

Chickweed – Soothes skin irritations and calms itchy eyes. Great eating too!

Dandelion – A great liver tonic and blood purifier. Good for digestion.

Echinacea – Stimulates the immune system and fights off cold and flu in the beginning stages.

Elder – Helpful with fevers, viral infections, and frequent bladder infections.

Goldenseal – Can be used to fight off illness and conjunctivitis. Makes a great mouthwash.

Hawthorn – Can help with cholesterol levels and blood flow.

Jewelweed – Excellent for dealing with poison ivy and poison oak.

Lemon Balm – Helps with depression, memory, focus, and digestive issues like colic.

Licorice – Soothes inflamed tissues such as sore throats and ulcers. Also good for adrenal fatigue.

Marsh Mallow – Lubricates dry coughs and moisturizes the lungs. Also soothes skin.

Nettle – Helps with joint pain, allergies, and hay fever.

Plantain – Often used for wounds, bites, stings, and blood poisoning.

Red Clover – One of the very best vitamin and mineral supplements you could ever take.

St. John’s Wart – Helps with stress, depression, nerve damage, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Valerian – Helps with insomnia and nervous system disorders.

Yarrow – Helps with swelling after injuries, soothes menstrual cramps, and reduces heavy bleeding.




Raising Rabbits – Colony or Cages?

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Raising Rabbits Colony or CagesOnce you decide you want to raise some rabbits on your homestead (congrats!) you will ultimately need to decide if you want to raise them in cages or in a colony. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, neither is right or wrong. You just need to figure out what is right for you. You need to consider how easy or hard it will be to clean up after them, breed them, round them up as needed, and what is best for them “healthwise”.

Raising homestead rabbits in cages is exactly what it sounds like. You have multiple cages for your rabbits, each pretty much getting their own cage. A colony is one large pen or caged in area where all your rabbits (or most) live together as a group.

Rabbit Colony Benefits and Advantages

  • Can be easier to clean – Instead of cleaning out individual cages you have one open area, usually on the ground which you can rake, mulch, etc.
  • Feeding and watering is easier – Just try to set out some food and watering areas in a couple different places within the colony to avoid fighting but depending on the size of your herd this can be easier than filling bowls and water bottles in multiple cages.
  • A colony is a better opportunity for rabbits to socialize and play.
  • The setup cost is usually cheaper because you don’t have to buy so many cages, feeding bowls, watering bottles, etc.

Rabbit Colony Disadvantages

  • Rabbits in colonies are not handled as much by human caregivers so they tend to be more like wild rabbits. They are often skittish and more apt to scratch and claw you up when you touch them.
  • Rabbit fights can happen and this may lead to injuries that you must then care for.
  • The ease and cost of one pen for a colony is diminished when you need other pens or supplemental cages for rabbits that need to be separated due to fighting or for grow out purposes.
  • Rabbits in colonies are more susceptible to parasites and diseases because they are on the ground. Having all the rabbits together makes spreading those illnesses much more common.
  • A colony typically requires more room than cages so if you are limited on space this may be a problem.
  • A pen will usually need to be moved to access new greens and not oversaturate the area with waste.

Rabbits in Cages – Benefits and Advantages

  • Collecting manure for your garden can be much easier when using cages.  You can place trays underneath the cages to catch the waste and then once a day or so just empty those trays into a bucket which can then make its way to your compost bin.
  • Handling the rabbits is much easier because they cannot run away and this makes some daily/weekly one on one time easier to achieve. They get used to used to you and being handled in general. You avoid being clawed to death ala Monty Python.
  • You have total control over breeding. No surprise litters! You have to feed and care for all those critters so having control over the size of your herd is a big benefit.
  • Less space is required to raise rabbits in cages.
  • Cages are often more secure from predators than a colony pen.

Rabbits in Cages – Disadvantages

  • Can be harder to clean at times.
  • Cages are usually less aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
  • Cages provide less protection from the elements (snow, rain, wind) so you need to build covering over them if they are outdoors.
  • Less playtime with other rabbits.

Figure out what will ultimately work best for you and take the leap!