The Tunnel of Winter

So we finally closed on our house just a few days back. The rush of changing things over to our name and bringing in contractors has begun. We are especially lucky because we don’t have a mortgage to worry about or any loans for home repairs. Amidst all of this chaos I find my excitement waning a bit.

Some time back my “boyfriend” (and I use this term loosely as we are more of life partners at this point) and I decided to start our farming venture with rabbits. We decided this based on a number of factors…. Rabbits can be productive in the winter time, whereas chickens and ducks are far less productive beyond summer. We also have rabbits already. Not meat rabbits mind, we own a pair of holland lops… One a sort of rescue from my sister and one purchased as a companion for the first some years later. Since we will begin purchasing certain things (like food and bedding) in bulk this will essentially remove the bills associated with our current rabbits and wrap them into the bills for the meat rabbits. All around meat rabbits seem like the best idea, especially since fall this year hit us like a sledgehammer to the face and getting chickens seemed like a bad idea. The real tipping point was a rabbit I cooked for our dinner one day and my beau flipped. It was one of the tastiest things we’d ever had and he was previously concerned that he would not enjoy rabbit meat.

I was really excited… I figured I’d finally get to start farming. Then september hit and we still hadn’t closed. It took all the way until the first week of october to finish closing… Now we won’t even be moving in until the end of the month.
Then another obstacle stood in my path. I have a desire to raise not just your standard white meat rabbit but I want rabbits with some color on them so when I use the furs I won’t just have white and more white. I wobbled back and forth between breeds… Did I go for the slightly less productive and more subtle-boned Palominos rabbits? Should I go for the Silver Fox, rare and beautiful? The American blues? Champegne D’Argents? Well in my search for each of these things I found out the north east ohio is a dead zone for interesting rabbits. Nobody has them. Nobody. I can find New Zealand Whites and Californians… And many pet breeds such as hollands and dwarf hotot… Even a few Rex rabbits (famous for amazing fur pelts) but no interesting meat breeds.
Well eventually I ran into a lady some miles away who was willing to deliver VIA driving to the area I live in and getting paid for gas and services. And lo and behold… She was breeding New Zealand reds! A beautiful specemin of rabbit-y perfection. Lovely looking fur with all the awesome meat production associated with the whites. The downside? The litters my rabbits will be coming from aren’t even kindled yet. This means two months before they can come home, six before I can breed them and nine before I start getting production from them. And six of those months are the dreary of fall and winter on the lake… Thick blizzard snows with bitter cold winds, tromping into my back yard every day to feed these rabbits that aren’t even breedable… It’s looking a little bleaker than I’d like for my farming dreams.

While a part of me knows there is a light at the end of this tunnel (as in, spring) I also know it’s a long way off. I may end up settling for the Boring White Bunnies for meat temporarially and keep growing the fancier bunnies for next year. Either way this winter is going to be a long and hard one with lots of work and very little rewards. And it sure  make me wish we had gotten our house sooner!

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