And another round-up post….

Having enjoyed a very pleasant week visiting friends in the Northern Isles, doing a little .22 shooting on their range, spending a day afloat on Scapa Flow, a little gentle hiking and generally unwinding and relaxing, I’m back and caught up on things around house and garden again.

The bunnies are all fine, and Trudy was handed a nestbox last night. She’s an experienced mum so she hopped nonchalently into it, inspected it briefly, then went back to the hayrack. This morning there’s a little white fur randomly dumped in the bottom of it, which bodes well – hopefully Sunday she’ll fill it up properly with loads of luscious fur and pop her kits in it. These will be Silver’s first offspring, so I’m hoping all’s good!

Nothing I can do about it if otherwise, of course.

I think one of the frogs is out and about, there’s a suspiciously frog-like surreptitious submerging movement in one of the ponds from time to time, but I haven’t managed to spot the critter yet. No sign of the toad yet but then toads are like that.

I’ve had the mandatory inspection visit from the FLO (firearms licensing officer) and convinced him I’m a normal, sane, non-dangerous member of society, so a few more clay-shooting lessons and a bit more storage space and he’ll sign off on my application for FAC and SGC. I had an ammunition reloading lesson from one of the other club members yesterday – it seems basically a simple process, though requiring attention to detail, a methodical approach and a calm state of mind, so that’s another small brick of knowledge added to my enjoyment of a fascinating hobby. There’s a pre-season friendly competition on Sunday and I’ve been offered the loan of rifle and revolver so I can take part – I’m looking forward to it!

One of our chickens (we’re not sure which) has discovered that eggs are edible, nay delicious, so we’re taking steps to discourage the pastime. We’ve darkened the nestbox, presented them with a boobytrapped egg (two halves of an eggshell glued back together around a mix of chilli powder, garlic powder, curry powder and mustard powder) in the hope of giving the culprit a nasty surprise, and also put two “fake” eggs in the nestbox. They’re very realistic-looking but made of rubber, so any probing beak should bounce off unrewarded. So far, it’s working – we haven’t lost any more eggs since we bombarded them with this raft of remedies.

Fingers crossed the fix lasts – otherwise the only solution is to find out which one it is and wring her neck.

Apart from that, the weather is warming up, the wind has dropped (for now) and the spuds are chitting nicely. Further updates as and when!


11 thoughts on “And another round-up post….

  1. Sounds like you are having fun.
    Liked the bit about the bunny, must save a lot of time not having to go out for fresh meat.
    Funny, I still prefer wild to farmed for flavor. Got to be a psychological thingy.

    We had the same thing with our free range chickens only we filled the “blown egg” with ink and chili pepper mix. Three hours later we’d identified and dispatched the culprit, A MAGPIE.
    Bit of a giveaway was the blue all over it’s chest. Problem solved in seconds thanks to a well placed air pellet.

    • Pretty sure it’s not a magpie here – might be a jackdaw, but they’d have to fly down into the run, through the door to the inner run, through the pophole into the house, hop along to the nestbox and then get dinner….. mind you, I wouldn’t put it past a jackdaw to do that!
      I know what you mean about rabbit flavour – domestic don’t taste the same, though still very good! We’re still seeing a very patchy wild rabbit population here, after a crash a couple of years ago. With the shed full of domestic bunnies, we’ve about 11 months of meat in the freezer and haven’t bought meat for many months now, so it gives us a nice security buffer.

      • Good for you but what caused the crash, simple mixi or VHD? If it’s VHD you’ve got a long time to regret it, 3-5 years is typical in the wild.
        (VHD? Think Ebola for rabbits)
        Umm have you vaccinated your larder against it?

      • I haven’t vaccinated against myxy or VHD – I used to when I had 2 pet rabbits, £30 a bunny a year, but I’m not going to when I’ve currently 9 in the shed! If any get it, I cull the lot, disinfect and restock. That’s why the long buffer in the freezer’s so useful – gives us time to rebuild from scratch, new stock to finished meat, if it all goes pete tong on us.
        Fingers crossed, we don’t have VHD in the wild rabbits here (yet…. it will come) and the crash was myxy in late summer 2013, practically no bunnies around last year and the survivors are beginning to multiply up again this spring.

      • Had experience of VHD as a pest controller. Trapping ran down to almost nil for no apparent reason until i snared a bunny with a bloody nose. dead in the trap it wasn’t until i opened it for a quick field clean did i find out why, jeez what a mess.

        I later was told that the virus has a long persistence and all my gear needed to be destroyed to stop it’s spread. I listened. My mate didn’t and two of his favorite sites died within a week of his visit. It took 3 years for one to come back.

        No joke is VHD or, as said, Ebola for bunnies,

      • VHD is a horrifying way to die – excruciatingly painful, unbelievably infectious and untreatable. If it gets loose in a rabbitry, the only thing to do is cull everything immediately, burn all cages, or use a flamegun on metal cages, and disinfect every inch of the building with the strongest disinfectant available, also boots and buckets, since the virus can linger on those surfaces too. Then start again on a new site, with new cages, new equipment and new stock.

      • £30 x 9 for the breeding stock plus £30 for every kit over the age of 8 weeks, repeated every year, with a vaccine that’s only 80% effective, when VHD isn’t present in this area? Taking last year’s figures for kits, that’d be £2,460 on vaccinations every year against a low-probability risk. Sure it’s a no brainer? I don’t vaccinate against myxy because the only licensed vaccine in the UK can’t be used in breeding stock, btw.

      • Didn’t know about the law thingy but I would only be looking at protecting the breeding pairs at best. Wonder why it’s not for use on breeding pairs. Calling it Ebola for bunnies is one thing but could it be the vaccine is one that can mutate?? Interesting.

      • The VHD vaccine (both of ’em, there’s 2 licensed in the UK) is ok for breeding stock, but…. suppose I vaccinate the adults, and one of the kits is nipped by a VHD-carrying flea at, say, 9 weeks old, after the parental antibodies have stopped protecting them. I then have to cull all the youngsters, burn all the cages, disinfect the H out of the shed, destroy boots and buckets and move to a new site anyway, because all subsequent youngsters will be vulnerable to virus particles lingering from the 1 infected rabbit. I save my breeding adults, granted, though there’s a 20% chance they’ll catch VHD regardless, but I still have exactly the same amount of work to do before I can start breeding again and I’m £270 out of pocket annually into the bargain. A pedigree pure-breed rabbit only costs £20-30 if I have to restock so I take the calculated risk and keep an eye open for reports of VHD moving north. It’ll get up here sooner or later and then I’ll have to re-think, but until then I take the chance.
        VHD isn’t actually related to Ebola at all – Ebola is a filovirus and VHD is a calcivirus, they’re different families of virus. They just have a very similar effect – but then there’s lots of viral haemorrhagic diseases in the world.
        The VHD vaccines are both killed viruses, they can’t mutate – the myxy vaccine is a live virus so maybe that’s the reason for the licensing restriction. If you vaccinate against both, you have to leave 14 days between them or the second (usually the VHD) doesn’t take, and I don’t know why that is, either!

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