The poster children for spring are surely rabbits and baby chicks, and despite the coldness of the weather the animal life at Emancipation Acres sure does make it feel like spring.
(Side note: We decided on a name for the farm, Emancipation Acres. It felt like a good fit because one of the largest reasons we wanted the farm was to break free from the toxic food being sold in so many grocery stores, as well as breaking animals out of the factory farm setting. We want to do things different and we want to do things right. And we do have 40 acres, although Joel’s equine allergy may prevent us from every having a mule.)
Our property was a confinement dairy in the 1980s. It has not been used for any real farming since then. It has been interesting work molding this building and property created for a type of farming I am 100% against into something that I wholeheartedly support.
Last summer I feel in love with fiber and fiber animals. I drove to the Michigan Fiber Fest in Allegan Michigan and purchased three french Angora rabbits. I kept them in cages and I wasn’t happy about it. I let them out of their cages a lot but still felt like they were not getting enough stimulation. I tried to find information about colony raising rabbits but there isn’t much out there and what there is is mainly focused on meat rabbits. Info on colony raising Angora rabbits is slim to non-existent.
In January my dad’s new wife, and my dear friend, Christine, told me about a colony raising rabbit class being offered in mid-February at the Micheal Fields Institute in WI. I excitedly signed up. There I met Julie Engel (firstname.lastname@example.org) who knows a damn lot about rabbits. After the class I still had questions (I think I asked the most questions during the class too. Hmmm…)and as Joel and I waited our turn in line to speak with her she mentioned to the woman in front of us that her circumstances were changing and that she needed to find a new home for her colony of rabbits. Joel and I just looked at each other and broke out in big smiles. We introduced ourselves and everything fell into place from there. Julie’s rabbits now live in our long barn. Joel and I watched her set up her system and then in the following weeks used her example to set up a system for my angoras. I am very pumped for spring to get going so Julie can teach me her system for pasture raising rabbits. She uses poultry netting and they eat grass all day long like a rabbit is supposed to!
Here is a picture of the barn pre-rabbits.
Here is the system Julie set up. The sides of the structure are made out of cages she had from before she started raising in a colony. The long rectangle shaped boxes are called cajachinas and the rabbits can sleep there at night, use them as a shelter ect. The triangle-shaped things are hay feeders. The rabbits are mixed breeds. The get carrots or turnips, alfalfa hay and sunflower seeds every day.
Because I had different materials I set up my system a bit differently although it is basically the same. And when I say “I” I basically mean Joel because he is the one that set everything up.The hay doesn’t tangle enough in the long wool of the angoras to be a problem and so far everyone has gotten along pretty well.
Fiver eating pellets. The other feeder is for carrots and other yummy perishables.