Today was a big day for Trudy’s litter – they’ve been moved into another cage, leaving their poor mum looking slightly confused (didn’t I have some babies around here somewhere?) and relieved (phew, I can eat my own sowthistle without 6 hungry mouths muscling in!) They haven’t gone far – only into the two smaller cages next door – but the appetites of these starving gannets has been approaching plague-of-locust proportions over the weekend, with every scrap of food vanishing three or four times a day, so they’re ready for their own pads. I’ve not sexed them yet, since there’s no need to worry about any incest taking place before 6 weeks and they’re only 4 weeks old, but there’s now 2 cages of 3 rabbits, plus Trudy in her own cage. I’ll sex them in a couple of weeks and make sure they’re putting all their energy into growing, not breeding.
Research in the past has indicated that young rabbits grow fastest between 4 and 8 weeks, with quite a drop in the rate of growth after 8 weeks, and that the less competition they have for food the faster they grow, so I’ll be shovelling the greens in as fast as they can eat for the next 4 weeks, then I’ll weigh them. I’ll weigh them again when I kill them out and see what kind of gains they’ve made.
Fortunately, the haul of rabbit-edible grass and weeds off the allotment currently exceeds 15kg a day so I can just keep packing the cages with greens! They do still get a big helping of rabbit pellets and ad-lib hay as well, but fresh greens, particularly bore-cole, is the preferred food for all the bunnies.
On the allotment, we’re still eating the mange-tout peas and the podding-peas are coming along magnificently. New potatoes are keeping pace with our appetites, the bore-cole is providing the first few meals, the white alpine strawberry is ripening a couple of dozen berries a day (plus we have another plant at home and a whole heap of self-seeded youngsters growing up!), the onions and shallots are ripening well and I’ve started to lift any that allow their tops to flop. At home, the cauliflowers are nearly ready to start cutting a head or two, the purple sprouting broccolli is delicious, and the beetroot are looking very promising! The spinach has all bolted like racehorses so we’ve ripped it out and sown fresh.
The overwintered onions we grew at home are proving surprisingly small, compared to the spring-planted onions on the allotment, so we’re just pulling them and using them as we want them in the kitchen. The red onions from the allotment, on the other hand, are rivalling anything in the shops and we’ll be keeping them for later in the year.
The shallots will be pickled, once they’re all lifted and have cured for a few days.
The courgettes are now all planted out and today we pricked out another couple of dozen brussels sprouts and romescu cauliflowers, too.
The allotment committee have asked for us to keep a record of what we produce on the allotment, so we sat down and did a few sums today. So far, we’ve had a few kilos of potatoes, quarter of a kilo of strawberries, a kilo and a quarter of peas and quarter of a tonne of rabbit food! I haven’t weighed the onions or shallots yet – I’ll do those once all the harvest is in and we’re preparing the bulbs for storage.