Tuesday, August 2, 2011

beans, beer, and sick bunnies

That there is a hill of beans. Well, a sprawling vista of beans, at least. This weekend I was able to put up four quarts of beans (blanching post coming soon), and brew two gallons of all malt stout for the fall. These are the first greens put to the freezer, and it was nice seeing some veg next to all those packages of chicken, duck, rabbit, and pork. A little something, something for the side. I hope to get more so I can add to the freezer bounty. I don't have a pressure canner so it's the only way to preserve these types of veggies. I might even freeze some of my tomato sauce to be safe this fall. Do you folks can, or freeze your harvest/CSA/market greens? What else are you putting up?

On a sadder note, the first litter of kits has come down with the same disease that took out most of last year's young. I'm not sure what it is, but I do know the only surefire way to stop it is to get these guys out on green grass, pronto. So at the first signs of showing ribs and diarrhea, and grinding jaws, these guys hit the grass. I hope it's enough.

Not to sound crass, but jeesh, of all the luck. I deal with a rabbit epidemic days before the meat rabbit workshop. I suppose this is good in some respects, as workshoppers will see how to spot failing health and how to deal with it, but it also has me worried. I want these kits well, and producing into fall. The good news is there are no rabbit diseases a human can get through ingestion (really) and so if they do recover by fall they will be fine for the table.

This morning everyone was fine but still sluggish. Every kit that was in a hutch was put outside. The rest of the herd is doing well in the comfy shade and hay-lined goodness of the barn. My plan is to get a hutch without a bottom I can move it around the lawn and keep them in one safe spot. They will recover, I just need to be quick about containment (of them) and healing of their woes. I am grateful to have the experience to deal with it swiftly.

Oh, and if you're coming up this weekend for the rabbit 101 class, email me for directions and supplies! Looking forward to meeting you all, several from the city!


Blogger daisy said...

Congrats on your bean harvest!

Praying for healing with those cute lil' kits.

August 2, 2011 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

I'm hoping to have some tomatoes for sauce too. I haven't had any luck finding a good recipe yet, would you be willing to share yours?

August 2, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

"there are no rabbit diseases a human can get through ingestion"

Can you point me toward more information on this? My husband disagrees - thinks he's heard differently elsewhere. We have a rabbit in the freezer that died from unknown causes, and he's afraid to let me cook it.

August 2, 2011 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I freeze most of the green vegetables -- broccoli, beans, zucchini, corn, pesto. I can tomatoes and salsa (no need for a pressure canner) it takes a little time, but it is so worth it. I can whole and crushed tomatoes so I can use them for anything, it only takes a few minutes to transform them into sauce. Having vegetables in jars as well as in the freezer is definitely a nice investment for the winter.

August 2, 2011 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

We tend to can tomatoes, peaches and applesauce, jam, etc.; dry herbs, peppers and some tomatoes; and freeze the rest. Freezing is tons easier, but then you can quickly run out of space.

I'm surprised you haven't been able to figure out what's ailing your rabbits. Have you mentioned it to your vet? Wonder if it's just a weird dietary thing or something to do with their physical space, rather than an actual disease.

We used to lose a huge number of bought hatchlings and never figured out exactly why. Overcrowding? Bad litter? Bad air? Bad juju? So frustrating!

August 2, 2011 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Casie said...

When I was raising meat rabbits the yahoo group (http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Meatrabbits/) was a great source of information. Very helpful group. They might be able to help you figure out whats going on with your kits and prevent it from happening again. Good luck! I know it's very disheartening when all of a sudden they go down hill like that.

August 2, 2011 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...


August 2, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Kelpie, I mean by eating them....

August 2, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

It looks like you have things under control. And the bunnies look happy and healthy out there.

I have frozen beans before but do not like the texture when they are cooked. Like all the umph is out of them. I do freeze whole tomatoes, corn, okra, apples. But I have to can the beans. I know they lose way too many good things when they are canned, but that's the way it is for me. I did can some corn this year for the first time. I know why I never did before. It takes 50 minutes in the canner at 10 pounds of preassure. Can't go anywhere while it's going. But it's so pretty in jars. I hope you get lots more.

August 2, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger jennthepen said...

Are there electrolytes you can give the bunny rabbits? Would that even help? I know nothing about rabbits.

August 2, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

I'm sorry the rabbits are sick- hoping for a speedy recover now that they're out in the grass. :) Yes, using a water bath is fine for tomato products. Good luck with the workshop this weekend.

August 2, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Michael Smith said...

We freeze and can. We freeze creamed corn (silver queen mostly) and can Green Beans. We've bought a vacuum sealer this year and are running some experiments with vacuuming.


August 2, 2011 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Last year, I had a bumper crop of Amish paste tomatoes, when it was too hot to make sauce. So, I blanched them, removed the skins and seeds and froze them in vacuum sealed bags so I could make sauce in winter. I also had a bumper crop of basil, and froze some pesto to add to the sauce. Despite the fact that my sheep nibbled on my tomatoes and basil, it looks like I caught them in time and may get a decent crop after all. I'm also going to blanch some kale, chard and green beans and vacuum freeze those, too. I have about 10 pounds of blueberries in the freezer and hope to follow with raspberries and blackberries. I'm going to get my first canning lesson at your fall workshop.

August 2, 2011 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Stace said...

What kind of feed are they on when they start getting sick?

Congrats on your beans...Still waiting for ours here...the got put in late thanks to the storms that blew through in May and washed away most of our garden.

August 2, 2011 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Stace said...

It sounds like enteritis to me, when I wean kits I usually give them LOTS of hay so they have an abundance of fiber to help with the stress of weaning...which is probably why they do so much better on grass and none of the adults have caught it.

August 2, 2011 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Avolonte said...

I sincerely hope your rabbits get better; as soon as I talk my husband into chickens, rabbits are next...

I grow a small garden, and I blanched and froze kale and green beans. I froze grated zucchini without blanching, and I add it to chili in the winter to increase the veggies. I also like to make a double batch of the tomato soup from Cooks Illustrated, and add cream after defrosting. I make their freezer cream biscuits, too, in a large batch. In addition I can tomatoes, salsa, chili base (from a mix), peaches, applesauce and several pie fillings. I run around like a crazy woman, freezing and canning things this time of year--because I also work FT, take classes at night, and have a toddler. But it's so worth it to see your freezer and pantry full; it's a good feeling to be a producer and not just a consumer and "put food up", as hokey as that sounds!

August 2, 2011 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

By jove! I think I've got it!

I love research... so here it is. The rabbit mystery disease (hopefully) solved:


Australian meat rabbit raising site. See page 9.

Mucoid enteropathy and/or Enterotoxemia.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, rabbits die very quickly. HITS RABBITS AT 6-8 WEEKS!

Cause: Either the bacteria Escherichia coli, or LACK OF FIBER IN THE DIET!

Treatment: (If it's not the coli) increase fiber (just as you did when putting them on grass). "Stress, overcrowding and bad sanitation can incresae the incidence." Treated by increasing fiber by feeding grass or grass hay!

Prevention: Feed grower rabbits more fiber: 12% to 14% fiber in their diets. Fresh water and good santitation in the hutches w/ regular cleaning.

That sounds like it don't you think? I included the PDF site where I found that. Looks like a good reference.

August 2, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

If you freeze whole tomatoes the peels slip right off when they're thawed!

August 2, 2011 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger steak and eggs said...

Years ago we had rabbits. About 8 does and 1 buck. Each rabbit had it's own pen. They were 3 ft. off the ground and the poop fell to the ground for easier cleaning (most of it did). The does had their own nest box. Which we kept fresh hay in.

You don't know what you feed your rabbits or if this will make a difference or not. We used alfalfa pellets. Only baby rabbits we lost were a few newborns. Except once we had a cat eating the feet off the baby's and they died. Stray cat and sad to say I had to get rid of it. I hope your rabbits get better soon.

August 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Have you considered looking into pasture-raised rabbits? I've been seeing a lot more discussion about this topic in some of the websites and magazines I read and I think it's about time that rabbits are treated as humanely as pasture-raised beef, chickens, pigs, etc. and given space, access to the outdoors… Why is it that meat rabbits spend their whole lives in a tiny little cage? It makes no sense to me. You’ve blogged about the good that grass does for your sick rabbits; daily exercise, sunlight, and fresh air will help overall health too. I only have fiber rabbit one (soon to be 2 so he has rabbit companionship) and he’s primarily a pet but I make sure that, in addition to providing a hutch large enough for him to stand up in and hop at least 3 full hops, that each and every day he can feel grass under his feet, dig in the dirt, and hop around like a wild rabbit does. It’s the least I can do.
A Google search of pasture-raised rabbits will turn up a lot of information but may I also suggest for those readers with meat, fiber and/or pet rabbits that you may find this website interesting http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/ahutchisnotenough.htm

Good luck, Jenna! I hope all your rabbits recover. And as always, I love to read about life on your farm!

August 2, 2011 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I have a pressure canner - you are always welcome to borrow it.

August 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

Good point, Kira. Healthier, happier rabbits, better meat (or fiber).

Here's an article from an organic organization not too far from you Jenna in Maine (well, relatively I suppose!) Looks like good info, too.


August 2, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Working on it Kira, right now just not there yet. I'm setting up my rabbits the way I was shown and trained through mentors and such. I'm not opposed to it, but I would need to figure it out, hopefully by fall or sooner!

August 2, 2011 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Pinkylee said...

I can green beans and tomatoes. I have been canning long before they had pressure caners. I hate the texture of frozen beans. Tomatoes have a high acid level and no one where I live pressures them. I would rather freeze my tomato sauce base. I use it for everything. I blanch and freeze corn and greens like beet greens. Pickle beats if they last but I often roast them as fast as I harvest them. I live in Ohio farm country

August 2, 2011 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Oxray Farm said...

I belong to a site called www.rabbittalk.com they have tons of forums about rabbits from meat-fur-pet. From what I could find it sounds like Mucoid enteropathy. I think BeccaWA said the same thing.

I started feeding my rabbits a more natural diet and got them off pellets entirely with the help of the rabbittalk people. A grain mixture with free choice grass/alfalfa hay and plenty of fresh greens. The list on the site of edibles is impressive. We feed a huge variety from willow branches to cattails and every garden thing in between. I've never had a sick one yet and we don't get the stress issues most breeders do when they come off their mom at the 6-8 week age. I think it has everything to do with the high fiber diet.

August 2, 2011 at 5:21 PM  
OpenID 5c9e2164-8d56-11e0-999c-000f20980440 said...

We freeze our beans, sometime we let the snow and snap peas get so big that we shell them and just freeze the peas. For tomatoes, I can them. I'll blanch them to remove the skins and can them whole without the skins in boiling water with a little lemon juice and some people use the canning salt. I didn't use the canning salt and nothing went bad. I also, will just crush the tomatoes after i blanch them and can them, or make tomato paste or sauce and can that. I also, make stuffed peppers and freeze those, they lasted all throughout the winter. If you freeze stuffed peppers do not cook the pepper, it will get super soft if you do and not turn out well when you thaw out and cook. If you want email me at luvjewel2@yahoo.com and I can give you some tomato sauce and paste recipes for canning. Also, you can blanch the beans and can in rice vinegar with dill, super yummy!

August 2, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

I can tomatoes whole in a water bath and use them to make sauce during the winter. Not enough freezer room for everything and plain tomatoes are safe to water bath can. I can lots of fruit(sour cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, applesauce), jams, relishes, and pickles. Think outside the box and follow recipes like those from the Ball canning guide or an online guide from a University Extension service for safe water bath recipes. Salsa is safe if you follow a recipe and add the proper amount of vinegar or lemon or lime juice. Along with salsas some of our favorites are chutneys, ketchup, green tomato mincemeat, hot dog relish, dilly beans, pickled beets, and homemade juices (V-8 type, currant, elderberry). All are perfectly safe done in a water bath. I have a pressure canner but don't use it all that much because the vegetables are just too over cooked and mushy for my taste. I do occasionally pressure can some old spent laying hens or old tough turkey. I do this when the freezer is too full. It's handy to have some jars of meat for a quick meal. If the power goes out for a long period you won't lose all the meat either. I used to freeze a lot more veggies, but since I started using a local CSA that continues through the winter I'm eating more stuff fresh. Granted during the winter it's a lot of potatoes squash, roots and hearty greens, but it tastes better to me the stuff pulled out of the freezer. Corn is an exception, that tastes pretty good frozen and we never seem to freeze enough. Mostly my freezer is full of meat and frozen berries(that would go all mushy if you can them). I want to try more fermenting. Sauerkraut, dill pickles, and homemade cider vinegar are easy. Kim Chee is on my future list to try along with hard cider that will keep without turning to vinegar. Oh, don't forget to freeze a few jugs of unpasteurized local pressed cider. Mulled cider in the winter is great!

August 2, 2011 at 6:56 PM  
OpenID Allison said...

Beans taste like warm plastic when frozen. I tried it for 2 years, and they were horrible. This year, we're making dilly beans only. Much better.

August 2, 2011 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

girl for about $12 you can take a poo sample of the rabbits to your vet and have it tested. Once you know what is up the treatment is usually easy. But at the very least dri-tail? it is a med to treat bunny runs

August 3, 2011 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger phaedra96 said...

We always fed our rabbits grass hay. They also had a leaf of straw in the winter to burrow in to keep warm. We had all our friends save the liter and 2 liter soda bottles, filled them 3/4 full and froze them. Put in each hutch about mid-day, replaced when the temps hit 90s. They laid against them to keep cool. Hauled them back and forth to the fair, too. Always mid-90's fair week! Keeping rabbits cool is much harder than keeping them warm!

August 3, 2011 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Molly Piper said...

You might love this, we have found putting up food this way is delicious, vital and nourishing ~ http://www.wildfermentation.com/
Also very easy to do.
Just discovered your blog, like it a lot!

August 3, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I freeze beans and don't have any problem with taste or texture. Weird. I love them *almost* as much as fresh. :-)

August 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger mferre11 said...

There is an article in Hobby Farms July/August 2011 issue about pasture raising rabbits. You might want to read that. You maybe able to request it from your library. Just a thought.

August 3, 2011 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

What did I put up? 60 lbs. of pickled squash and cucumbers. 2 doz. pks. of frozen squash. About the same of green peppers. 12 jars of salsa, 17 jars of corn, 33 jars of green beans. Also had enough to share with neighbors and family.

August 3, 2011 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

Can everything from peach preserves to pickled okra, pumpkin, bbq sauce and more. Freeze a lot too, sweet corn, peas, and all types of beans. I love vacuum sealing food; my parents preferred this method to canning while I was growing up. In the past I’ve used it more for meat, but have gotten into veggies as well.
Good luck with the rabbits. They do look happy on the grass.

August 3, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger Doug Pitcher said...

We love finding free fruit. We are freezing and canning Saskatoon berries right now. We've put up 7 gallons so far this year. Here's a picture of what a Saskatoon berry bush looks like. http://www.thesimplefarm.com/2011/08/sasquatch-in-saskatoon-patch.html
We always find free pears and apples in the fall and do apple juice along with dehydrating them for snacks.

August 5, 2011 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger The Urban Rabbit said...

Hi Jenna,

If your interested Nature's Harmony Farm has plans for rabbit raisers on pasture that they have on the internet. Just a thought. I hope they get better. :) Have a great day

August 5, 2011 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger susan said...

Re: Your sick rabbits:
Give each sickie, and each survior a ml of OxyTetracycline. (LA-200 or the like)

Do it!
Do it again in a coupld of dayss

August 5, 2011 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

We raise meat rabbits too. The only thing I can think of is their food being mildewy. A mama can tell and won't eat it but the kits can't so when they eat it they eventually die. I was told in the summer to keep their food inside because in Iowa it's a humid heat wave. Good luck!

August 5, 2011 at 9:41 PM  

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