Tortoise and hare? Nah. Girlfriend and rabbit!

So, a few of the wire ties at the bottom of the rabbit pen came loose since building it and last night, one of the rabbits got out while I was at work. 

Please keep in mind that we live in the woods and the treeline begins only about a hundred feet from the rabbit pen. My girlfriend chased down and cornered the rabbit and caught her with her bare hands. 

Take a moment and let that sink in. She caught an escaped rabbit that was headed for the woods with her bare hands. Do not mess with this chick. 

Anyway, the bunny is fine and almost certainly pregnant. The girlfriend says she could feel the babies inside while carrying her back. Also, there was some fur in the nest box, which is something female rabbits start doing in the last couple of days before birth. So we may have baby rabbits before the new year arrives!

Open sesame!

After many weeks of waiting for parts, and then weeks of trying to make parts work right, it’s finally done. The chicken coop has an automatic door on a timer so my wonderful, patient girlfriend can get more sleep!

It’s super basic. Retractable car antenna from Amazon, two 12v 5a power supplies, and some maguyvering. The antenna has three wires. You attach the grounds for both power supplies to the black wire, and the hot wires to the remaining two wires respectively. When they’ve both got power, the antenna is extended. When only one does, it retracts. Oversimplified, but you get the idea. So one power supply is on a timer and the other isn’t. 

Now, the door is a bit heavy so it’s having trouble opening all the way. I’m planning a counterweight system to fix that but it’s going to have to wait a little bit. 


For some more detailed instructions, check out this thread at Automatic pop hole opener on backyard chickens. 

Additionally, I have installed three nest boxes since the chickens started laying. And even better, they’re actually using them! We’ve had three more eggs since the first two, but what makes it cooler is the timing. 

On Wednesday, making breakfast, the girlfriend realized we were out of eggs and was worried she had to run to the store. It had been over a week since the first two so neither of us expected to have any, but lo and behold the Bielefelders are just that courteous. 

Soup and the pecking order

As many of you may know, we have multiple roosters. We have received many a warning that we will come home to a bloodbath one of these days from those unfamiliar with Bielefelders. 

But we also had one straight run Easter egger chick turn out to be a rooster, too. From his nasty attitude (compared to the Bielefelders. Compared to other roosters I’ve known, he’s actually quite sweet!) he earned the name Soup. 

Though he’s a bit of a jerk, he was also too small to cause any real problems until fairly recently when he decided he wanted to start breeding the hens. They, of course, objected. But even then, not a huge deal since we aren’t hatching eggs until spring. But one day he decided to try to get higher on the pecking order and managed to deliver a smack down to one of the Bielefelders. 

Nothing brutal, but a little blood on the Bielefelder and Soup strutting around he owned the place. He should have left it at that. But no, he tried to move higher and received a beat down in return. 

No fatalities, no serious injuries except to his pride. But that was sort of the final push that he needed to go. And I did have a plucker needing testing…

Well, the plucker works pretty well! That took roughly 1/4 the time doing it by hand did, and was a whole lot less frustrating. It’s amazing what a little brain over brawn can accomplish, and for very little cost. 

I do still intend to build a drum style plucker but for now this has made processing birds a lot easier. Though the actual killing is still hard for me, it was easier than the first one. 

We will probably take a Bielefelder next weekend just because there’s no need for that many birds eating food and not laying eggs. We want to keep just the best two for breeding. 

Happy Holidays from Huckleberry Hills!

As I finish my coffee and my wonderful girlfriend finishes some treats for our family party, I look around at this place I now get to call home and I am incredibly happy. The Christmas music is playing and the bunnies are running around like they’ve never been outside before. ​

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​The birds are being adorable and one of the cats has realized she can chase the dog away instead of being chased. 

We’ve had some ups and downs, but we keep moving forward. Even though 2016 has been a tough year in many ways, for us it’s been phenomenal. 

We hope that everyone out there has someone to be with this weekend, and if you don’t, find someone. Whatever your beliefs or background, we wish you the best!

An apology is owed. 

Several months ago, my girlfriend was having a discussion with a girl who was doing her toes. Because apparently girls talk about chicken eggs while doing pedicures. Learn something every day. 

Anywho, pedicure girl was going on about how she really wanted chickens and farm life and all that jazz, but didn’t want to “like go out and touch them and get dirty and stuff.” To which, of course, girlfriend informs her that chickens don’t deliver eggs to your doorstep. 

An apology is in order, I believe. 

In fairness though, the second egg laid today was in the coop. Which brings me to my main point. 

The chickens have started laying eggs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course this is just the Bielefelders, so we can’t expect more than three at a time until the Easter eggers catch up, but it’s still super cool. Couple of days, we might have enough for one breakfast! 

Also, yes the birds have access to the front door. This is why guests come in the side door. Less chicken poo. 

Backbreaking labor

Well, the labor was harder because of my back. But I did manage to get quite a bit done in spite of that. 

First, I made a better gate for the rabbit pen. It’s just 2×2 but the corners have angle brackets and there’s a diagonal brace for stability. 

At the top is a simple clip to close it, and at the bottom is a pin going down into a pipe to prevent any larger animals from pushing it open. 


Look at the happy bunnies running around their big ole home! They aren’t phased by rain or snow but really enjoy the twigs and wood for shelter. 

Also got the lights up! Not exactly a homestead or farm related chore, but it sure does brighten the place up at night!

And finally, I built a chicken plucker. It’s not the big drum style I’m going to build, but it’ll do the trick in the meantime. It’s pretty simple. Four pairs of rubber fingers on a 4″ pvc pipe end cap secured to a threaded rod. 

Stick it in a drill and away she goes! We will be trying it out probably next weekend. The one non Bielefelder rooster has to go. He’s the only one causing trouble. But while at it, might as well cut down on feed costs for the birds by taking a couple other roosters for the freezer. Will do a plucking post soon. 

Hopalong 3: locked and loaded

Early last week, with one rabbit cage finished and plans for a pen ready to go, the gf drove to enumclaw to visit bouncing bunny. 

We found bouncing bunny on Craigslist, which directed to their website Bouncing Bunny. I was not able to go with her, unfortunately. However she did provide me with a glowing review!

They are a family operation just outside of Olympia and have quite a few rabbits. The kids socialize and play with the rabbits every day, so they are incredibly friendly and docile. They’re also big and healthy looking! Not only were the rabbits great, she had nothing but wonderful things to say about the family itself, and how great they were. 

Back to our setup!

We purchased three rabbits, very reasonably priced. Two does (black ears) and an unrelated male(all white). Until the pen was constructed they all shared the 6.5’x4′ cage quite happily. They are apparently just a couple weeks before breeding age so we will keep them all together for the time being. 

As discussed before, the pen is 10’x25′ with a 4′ tall fence. The bottom is almost entirely covered with welded wire fencing to prevent digging, and the bottom is tied to the sides every couple of feet. Eventually the cage I built will go inside of the pen so the male can be kept separate to space out litters, but for now it’s out just to give them the extra space. 

The gate… well, it needs some work. It’s functional for now, but barely adequate. It’s pretty secure, but a pain in the butt. However I was running out of light and needed to be finished in a hurry. 

I piled a bit of brush and branches on one end, and leaned a bit of plywood over some concrete blocks for additional shelter. They also have a Rubbermaid tote with a hole for an entrance, and an adorable little red shelter from petco that they’ll probably never use because I paid for it. 

I stuffed every shelter with hay for them to burrow, sleep, and nibble. So far they’ve really seemed to enjoy running around and being rabbits. There will be additional work to deter aerial predators but for now I’m counting on shelter never being more than a few feet away. 

What’s really cool is that Vasi doesn’t seem to view them as prey. The girlfriend has taken her out to see them (on a leash of course) and she’s very calm with them. The rabbits were afraid of her at first but seem to have accepted that she’s not a danger. When Vasi is on the deck, she really keeps an eye out and will let us know if anything comes near them. 

A fungus among us

Some time ago, my friend Susan gave us mushroom spawn. Unfortunately, time to actually use it was short in supply. Still haven’t used half of what she gave us, but with the help of my nephew, I did manage to get two logs inoculated with shiitake and two with oyster. 

The basic procedure is pretty simply. Cut a suitable hardwood (we used alder because we’ve got them growing here) log and let it sit for a couple weeks to let the tree’s immune system die. Drill 5/8″ holes about 1″ deep all around the log, stick in the plugs, seal with wax. 

It may take a year before they start producing mushrooms, but they’ll continue to do so for years and I can use them to inoculate more logs. Essentially, I’ve got free mushrooms forever now!

Got a lot of stuff done in the last few days, but I like keeping you in suspense so I’m spacing it out a bit. Bwa ha ha.