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Food, Breeding Like Rabbits and RelentlessAsYou

March 4, 2015
Glimpses of SlowMoneyFarm - relentless!

Glimpses of SlowMoneyFarm – relentless!

Sometimes it’s easy to get focused here, and sometimes despite it I hear of things readers may enjoy or enjoy watching for. Today I’ve had both!

A little bird told me of a contest from Valent USA that recognizes growers that exemplify relentlessness in every aspect of their lives, specifically in their community and farming operations. The contest will be called “Relentless As You” and five winners will be chosen nationwide, with a $1,000 grand going to the winner’s choice of charities. It runs through, appropriately National Ag Week on March 21. I know there’s other farms who read the blog here as well as non-farmers, and this is a challenge that speaks to me.

So what does that have to do with “breeding like rabbits” in the title? Persistence. Relentless!! It might sound like an easy task – after all the term “breed like rabbits” is met with snickers of how hard can it be? Put two together and a month later there’s 40 right? That’s my turn to laugh now. That’s not how rabbit math works. Rabbit math is kind of like ag math only with an edge and, usually, smaller numbers. It’s sometimes related to sock math – you know how you put 10 pairs of socks in the laundry and 18 socks come out? It’s kind of like that!

You have two does and a buck. A month later you might have two does, a buck and 15-20 babies. Or you might have two does when the buck dies unexpectedly in his pen before breeding! This year my does are stuck on 7. New Zealand white doe in December had 7, then a New Zealand black had 5. MiniRex cross this month had 7, then another had 6 and killed 2 (which, unfortunately, sometimes happens). A MiniRex had 7, then a daughter of that miniRex had 7, then another crossbred doe had 7, then an American Chinchilla had 6, all of which she killed. A brown New Zealand cross first timer had 7, another MiniRex had – yep – 7 then a Giant Chinchilla had 5 and two are white (so have salvation in meat rabbit production).

When you start adding 7 + 7 + 6 + 7 and so forth, it adds up in a hurry! It means a push for space, and some that will be providing meals soon, while others will be sorted to go to an ag day at the end of the month in hopes of selling to others wanting to raise their own meat rabbits. It means in about 3 weeks if we don’t lose any in the 70+ degrees today to mid 20s tonight and if the remaining few due don’t add to it there’s 50+ little mouths that will be adding to the feed bill and between now and then it’s a push to make that happen.

There won’t be sales of all of them – one square little white doe I’m eyeing to pull out and mark to feed for a replacement for an older doe we lost a couple weeks ago. The black litter is growing well and the little fuzzies are looking good so far. The brown doe with 7 had them “on the wire” – although she has a nest box she didn’t know to use it, so we had to put the babies there, get some fur to give a little warm pouch, and place her in the nest a couple times per day so she learns to feed those babies and relax in the nest box.

One feeder rabbit recently “sent to freezer camp” was provided through the sponsor program to someone needing a hand up – a few meals. We’ll have some others that, with continued support, will have a similar use, while others will be sold and others retained, meaning we need to make more cage space. Add to this getting support for our community projects, plus feeding birds, planning seeds and itching to start planting and there’s still more outgo than income.

Our baby Saddlebacks will look like this by fall!

Our baby Saddlebacks will look like this by fall!

Relentless. Keep pushing, keep believing, keep juggling. In transit and arriving, we hope, tomorrow will be Saddleback Pomeranian and brown African goslings. The Pomeranians are a distinctly marked farm goose, while the Africans are common but grow to be noisy “watchdogs” that will be ’employed’ in back, making necessary more fencing before they are grown enough to turn loose. Yes – relentless!!!

As a friend often says when I’m frustrated, “if it was easy everyone would do it.” Farmers of any size must be relentless, and that’s true whether small scale juggling markets and tasks or large scale with a few similar crops and a bigger income/outgo!

Add to the ‘normal’ keeping an eye towards engaging customers both directly, as we do, and indirectly, as larger farms do, there is a relentless pursuit to live, eat, drink, breathe and sleep farming. Yes there is down time. Yes there is watching movies and listening to music and other popular culture, but we all must be relentless because there is hundreds of millions of people counting on having their food choices available and represented.

Even rabbit enchiladas or fresh eggs or hot sauce or specialty peppers. Yes, it’s all important. And it’s why we all must be relentless! If you’re a farm (or know of a farm!), check the contest out. If you’re not a farm, check the entries out and see why we push as we do. While most here are more interested in eating than how it’s produced, there are decisions and campaigns every day that seek to define just that.

Now to get ready for goslings and plan the next round of breeding next week! Seven is a good number!

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