When we first got our Indian Runner ducklings, they were a free gift from some fellow homesteaders who had dozens of them. They kept the ducklings with their chickens, and the adults free-ranged delightfully across their land. Andrew and I hadn't really thought about ducks just yet, but we figured we could learn from them and hopefully get some eggs, too.
It's interesting to me how rife our childhoods were with duck characters (Scrooge McDuck, Daffy, Donald, Daisy, Darkwing, etc) but how little we actually knew about them. Our city experience with ducks went so far as throwing bread crumbs to the mallards at Sea World when we were kids, but we were assured that they were easy keepers. So, since they were about the same size as our young chickens, and since we had only just gotten the coop ready, we put the two ducks in the coop with the rest while we figured out how to make them a better home.
Phew! The amount of projects going on at one time is somewhat staggering on the homestead. We feel like every day is full to bursting, and it is a joy to have such productive days, even if it results in us falling into bed, exhausted, at hours that would make a bingo granny say, "Isn't that a little early to go to bed, dearie?"
However, things ARE getting done, and infrastructure is slowly being built to accommodate our growing list of animals that are depending on us. One of those projects is our mobile rabbit tractor system, which, by the time I post this entry, will have been in use for more than a month! The rabbits we having living in there are really doing well, and are getting a fresh mix of browse (and the occasional treat!) every day.
If you missed part one of this build, check out the post HERE.
Every time we add an animal to our homestead, we endeavor to give it as natural and whole a life as possible. For us, that means free-ranging and pasture feeding, and treating with natural treatments whenever possible. We truly believe that these animals are well-designed, and that the best way to rear them is to let them function naturally!
We hope that through this practice, we'll be able to eventually breed and benefit from tough, robust animals that are specifically adapted to our specific land. The book Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shepard discusses this philosophy at length about plant-tending, but we are confident (and are backed up with the anecdotes from several other homesteaders) that this mentality also applies to livestock. We know there will be losses along the way as we inherit poor breeding choices, but our hearts are ready to take responsibility for the long-term health and vitality of our animals.
So, with all that in mind, when we decided to add rabbits to our homestead, we knew that they would be outside in the pasture to give them the best chance at living naturally. We're excited to benefit from their garden-ready manure (it doesn't need to compost before you add it!), we may someday be able to sell their offspring as wonderfully hardy pets, and we know our meat-eating animals can also benefit from a nutritious source of meat that doesn't come in GMO kibble form.
Andrew designed these rabbit tractors to give our rabbits daily access to fresh grass and herbs every day, while offering them protection from predators and weather. This video is actually several weeks old, and after observing the rabbits in their homes, I can attest that they are thriving in their little worlds. It's so nice seeing them munching on weeds in the morning, running up to greet us when we come by with treats, and lounging in the covered, back portion during the heat of the day.
This tractor can be built and moved by one person, so it's friendly to even the smallest homestead. Let us know if you have any questions about the design of this build, and we'd be happy to help!
Though there is so much going on at one time, especially during the summer, getting to share life with so many creatures really is a joy. In the middle of the building projects, wilderness-taming, and house building, seeing our foundling kitten starting to flourish and touch noses with all the other creatures (OH MY GOSH it's too much cuteness) is enough to give anyone pause for appreciation.
I hope you don't mind the short post. Back to work we go!
We've started a new series on our YouTube channel. Sometimes, we just want to be able to share an update with what we're doing, how the homestead is finding its feet, or what we're learning. Here's the first four episodes!
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
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Simple Life Homestead