Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Baby Bunny Saga

4 weeks ago, as Jim and I were busy with visitors, and  trying to get things ready to take a "down & back" trip, I happened to notice a new born bunny on the ground near a couple of our outside hutches. I checked all the nest boxes, but there was no fur pulled in any of them. I had no idea which doe had given birth as they were all due at the same time.
I usually try to breed my does close together, so if I do have an orphan it will be adopted by another doe. But I haven't had an orphan born before any other litters!
I held it in my hand as Jim and I gave a quick tour to the visitors. When they left, I stood there trying to figure out what to do. I checked the other does in the back bunny barn/chicken coop to see if one had a litter back there. No such luck.
The bunny in my hand had gotten wet and damp, but not really chilled.I wasn't sure if I should start bottle feeding it, as that is a tough job to take on... especially if we were traveling.
 I made a quick nest out of sawdust and some left over bunny fur, and left it alone on our kitchen counter for the night.
Early the next morning I went to the hutches again to check to see which rabbit was having her kits. i had a flashlight (it was about 4 am) and checked the nest boxes. Success! I found the momma that had a litter. Unfortunately, it had rained the night before and somehow the box was wet inside. The last 4 bunnies to be born were chilled. This is not good, as a chilled kit doesn't usually make it. i brought them into the house, threw some wash clothes in the dryer to heat up. I turned my hairdryer on low and set it blowing into the box where they bunnies were, and ran outside to do chores.
I came back in and wrapped each kit in a wash cloth that was warm from the dryer. Then I changed the bedding in the nest box for the mother and the litter to be dry. Jim found the leak in the roof of the hutch and fixed it. I placed all 5 bunnies into the box. The chilled ones had warmed up a bit, and the one I had found the day before all snuggled down in the sawdust. That was all I could do at the moment.
We arrived home late the next night - about 36 hours had passed and I sort of dreaded looking into the nest box... But, much to my surprise, all the bunnies were doing well, full bellies and warm bodies.

The bunny that I had found on the ground was the only one with a white belt around it, the rest were totally gray. So I have been watching it's progress as it has grown: (I do refer to it as a "he" but we have not checked to be certain)

One week of age and the fur has grown

What a difference  10 days makes. His eyes are open and he is very alert. The bunnies stay in the nest box still.

He is now 4 weeks old. Eating with the rest, in and out of the nest box and doing well. His ears have grown so much.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bald faced Hornets

We have a nest of Bald-faced (sometimes called White-faced) hornets that we leave undisturbed. They have built a nest in the crook of our old farm wagon. It is made up of chewed wood and looks like paper, most
nests are shaped like a football - especially if hanging from a tree. Each nest contains one queen and anywhere from 100 to 700 male workers who are responsible for building and expanding the nest.

 They are an aggressive insect when disturbed - but to me, they are beneficial.

Hornets do not hover near and pollinate flowers as bees do, although the white-faced hornet are attracted to fall flowers such as the golden rod. They are not attracted to sugars in food and drink, as the yellow jackets are. They feed on insects and caterpillars.

When we first moved her, we had a screened room with a picnic table. Every day the hornets would zoom in, grab a fly and zoom out. I was amazed watching them take care of the pesky flies. And now, w
ith all of our animals around, these busy wasps eat a lot of flies.  They will fly into the barn, grab a fly and out they go...

I have been stung by them... one time on the top of my head as I walked under a nest that I hadn't seen. A good remedy for the sting is a paste of water and baking soda - less water, more baking soda. Within moments, the sting will feel better. (Unless you are allergic, which of course means you will need an  epinephrine injector kit - such as an Epi-Pen and go to the hospital as quickly as possible after being stung) 

For more information: Bald Faced Hornets