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Sweet tubs make great water bowls for my rabbits

Water bowls made from sweet tubs

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I am a great fan of recycling – and if you can reuse something first – even better.  This is an excellent example.  Sweet tubs – the large ones everyone gets for Christmas containing a selection of chocolates – make great water bowls for my rabbits.  They are reasonably easy to clean – and you can replace them with new ones every January!

 

 

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Spring plants that rabbits like

There are lots of spring plants that rabbits like and, fed in moderation, they are really good for them – too much green stuff can upset their digestion – but a few leaves of a few different plants  every day is fine – and they really enjoy them.

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Comfrey leaves and flowers are a favourite – not to be confused with foxglove which has the same shape leaves.  Comfrey is very easy to distinguish at this time of year as it’s in flower and foxglove is just leaves.

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Foxglove is digitalis and very poisonous so make sure you pick comfrey plants with flowers.

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Rabbits like most herbs, these are chives which have a slightly onion smell.

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Another spring weed in garlic mustard, or Jack-by-the-hedge which has a mild garlic scent – rabbits like flowers and leaves – smaller plants are most tender.

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And of course the dandelion, just leaves and again in moderation – just two or three leaves a day.

I like to give each rabbit a choice of leaves and see which they eat first – they don’t all choose the same ones first.  Dandelion likes comfrey and Fiver likes chives.

Every day I get real pleasure from picking a few choice titbits and watching the rabbits enjoy eating them – the hens like some plants too, particularly the brassicas, but their favourite is always bread and they come running when they see me carrying a basket.

 

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Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot

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One of my favourite spring flowers is coltsfoot – unusual in that the flowers appear before the leaves.

The Christian word ‘Easter’ is derived from the pagan word ‘Eastre’.  Eastre or Ostara is believed to have been the Saxon Goddess of the Dawn, hence the reason why Easter is celebrated at the time of the Spring Equinox.

The connection between Easter and the ‘egg’ symbolising new life also originates from pre-Christian times but fits perfectly with the Christian belief of the resurrection.

Although our youngest son is now 15 (and the others are 25 and 22) we still have an Easter Egg Hunt each year – but now with cryptic clues and riddles they have to solve rather than a trail of tiny Easter eggs.  Clues like:

What has to be broken before you can use it – and where can you find some?  The answer is of course – eggs – in the hen house.

Family time is so important – and often so difficult to organise with so many computer distractions – but it’s always worth it.

 

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The days are getting longer

The days are getting longer, Spring is in the air, with the promise of summer to come, there’s a great sense of excitement in the garden, you can almost feel the grass growing and the daffodils bursting into brilliant yellow splashes of sunshine.

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Here is Charlie with his foster-mum – Mrs Grey – and I’ve called the other chick Ebony – I think he (or she) is a pure  is a pure Vorwerk.  If so (s)he’ll look like one of these when (s)he grows up:

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This is Captain Von Vorwerk with Violet, they are quite impressive hens and they lay little white eggs.

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What Happened to Amber?

What Happened to Amber?

After the squirrel episode yesterday, when I went to let the hens out, I looked for Amber, half expecting a squirrel to be in her pen again – and all I found was a pile of feathers!  The door of the pen was open and the protective wire had been ripped off the bottom of the pen.  Amazingly Charlie chick was OK but cheeping pitifully.

I put him in with the other broody hen who has two chicks and watched with my heart in my mouth to see if she would accept him – quite often hens will not have anything to do with chicks they haven’t hatched themselves – but thankfully she let him snuggle down with the others under her feathers and he stopped cheeping.

So what had eaten Amber?  I’ve seen foxes rip open wire pens and get through really small gaps but foxes generally carry off their prey and eat it somewhere else.  A polecat maybe?  I know that I didn’t leave the door open because there’s a picture of the pen on this website that I posted yesterday – so what opened the door?

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A Squirrel in the Hen House

A Squirrel in the Hen House

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This morning when I went out to feed the hens, Amber was making such a commotion, so Betsy and I went over to see what all the fuss was about.  Amber is in a pen on her own as she has just hatched one chick and it’s only two days old.  I couldn’t see the chick anywhere and Amber was squawking like mad.  When I opened the door of the pen, there was a squirrel inside!  Betsy soon saw him off and shortly afterwards the chick came out of hiding and calm was restored.  But how did the squirrel get in?

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Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the Air

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It was a beautiful frosty morning, the sun glinting off thawing raindrops.  I love this time of year when it’s just warm enough – and hopefully dry enough – to get out in the garden but not much is growing yet, so you can catch up with clearing up the vegetable patch.

It’s a rare ‘window of opportunity’;  time to get rid of all the perennial weeds like docks, nettles, buttercups and the perennial grasses.  I give the weeds to the hens – they love scratching though them looking for worms.  By the beginning of February there’s a sort of hopefulness in the air, the birds are singing, showing off their bright spring feathers and busily looking for nesting places and the air is alive with the promise of things to come.  It’s exhilarating just getting outside and living and breathing – and becoming part of – Spring.

 

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November – the woodpecker is back looking for peanuts

Novembers_DSC0054 – the birds are all getting their winter colours, the robins have their Christmas waistcoats and the woodpecker is back enjoying the peanuts.

Clematis, flowered so late in the year, wonder how long it will survive the frost?

Clematis in November survived the first frost

This clematis survived last night’s frost but won’t be here much longer – looking at the forecast.  It was planted last year and I’d forgotten about it, then suddenly  a few wispy tendrils appeared climbing up the hen house.  I thought it was much too late to flower but then a few days ago it produced this beautiful bloom, just in time for the frosts!  So need to make the most of it, treasure it, whilst the sun shines!

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New Zealand White Rabbits

New Zealand White Rabbits

New Zealand White Rabbits

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Rabbits form an integral part of my recycling programme as they like the plants my hens and ducks do not like so I can recycle nearly all the weeds in my vegetable garden and the peelings (eg apple) and trimmings (eg spring onion tops). Also any surplus vegetables provide food – my hens love courgettes – and marrows if I’ve missed one! And the ducks and hens love slugs and snails – and caterpillars and other insects that damage my plants.

Every day I get real pleasure from digging up some choice titbits for the hens, ducks and rabbits and watching them enjoy them along with their regular food.

Food plants that rabbits like: * feed in moderation
*Apple – whole fruit, peelings,
Twigs and leaves of most fruit trees including hawthorn
Borage – young leaves and flowers
*Brassicas – broccoli, sprouts, cabbage,cauliflower, kale – feed sparingly to avoid urinary problems
Carrot tops and thinnings (contrary to popular belief, rabbits are not keen on carrot roots but they do love carrot tops)
*Celery
Chickweed (although I find hens prefer this – particularly chicks – hence the name!)
Chives
Clover (they love Clover)
Coltsfoot
Comfrey
*Dandelion
Grass
*Groundsel
Jerusalem Artichoke
Kohl Rabi
Leek
*Lettuce
Marsh mallow
*Nasturtiums
*Parsnip tops
*Parsley (useful tonic)
Plantain – young leaves only – avoid roots and seeds
Raspberry – young leaves – good for pregnant does (as we humans have raspberry tea when birth is imminent!)
Salad burnet
Sage – young leaves useful for digestive upsets – in moderation
Shepherd’s purse – also useful for digestive upsets – ad lib
*Sorrel
*Spring onion and onion – green tops
Sow thistle (not common or creeping thistle)
*Spinach thinnings or young leaves
*Strawberry – young leaves