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Outdoor Hutch For Meat Rabbits

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

When I started raising meat rabbits over a year ago, I started raising my rabbits indoors so I could minimize the impact of external factors during my initial learning phase. This turned out to be a great decision since it made it easy for me to pursue things such as automatic waterer and artificial lighting during the winter months. Most importantly, it allowed me to use network cameras to observe the rabbits remotely so I could learn about their natural behaviors such as nesting, birthing, nursing, etc. The drawback to an indoor setup is the additional work required with ventilation and cleanup.

15 months after my venture into meat rabbits, my operation has expanded quite a bit in size and the daily cleanup of the rabbits’ litter trays has become quite burdensome. While this daily chore is not difficult for me, it is not something that I can expect anyone else to do. This has made it very difficult for me to go on extended leave lasting more than a couple of days.

This weekend I finally tackled a project that I have been mulling over for some time and began building an outdoor hutch for the meat rabbits. While the plan initially involved building a small rabbit hutch, it soon mushroomed to building a large structure in the side that can house not only the rabbits but offer covered protection for my gardening tools, mower, and chipper. This construction project would also offer great experience for future projects such as building a pole barn at the orchard and tiny house at the homestead lot.

I decided to build a 8 foot by 32 foot covered structure in the east side yard which is shaded for a good part of the day. With their dense coats, the rabbits tolerate cold temperatures much better than hot temperatures so this side yard is ideal. I wanted this structure to be well built and to resemble a pergola so that if I ever decided to move very little modification would need to be made for it to be repurposed from a rabbitry/tool shed to an attractive pergola.

My goal this weekend was to build out the first half of the structure as proof of concept and to work out any kinks in the design and architecture which I have been tossing around in my mind. I began by constructing the skeleton of the first half section (8 foot by 16 foot) by assembling 6 4×4 posts with 4 2x6x16 headers and 2x6x8 rafters.

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I then constructed the frame for the back wall with 3 2x4x8 per 8 foot section. This was done using Simpson strong ties.

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Once the back wall frame was constructed, I then attached corrugated roof panel. I chose these panels since they offer solid rain and wind protection. More importantly, they will not absorb moisture from the environment and from the rabbit urine. As such, they should be very easy to clean with routine hosing.

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I then tested out the hanging of the rabbit cages. After some trial and error, I settled on passing electrical conduits through the row of rabbit cages and then wrapping jack chain around the conduit to hang off of the overhead rafters. Each 24in x 24in x 18in cage weighs about 10 pounds and will have a total weight of about 20 pounds when holding a 10 pound rabbit. The row of 4 cages that I tested was hung with four sections of jack chain rated for 29 pounds.

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The proof of concept run this weekend was very successful. During the next few days, I plan on finishing the first half of the structure by installing the purlins and the overhead roof panels. This will be followed with side wall construction to further reduce wind draft. Once the first half of the structure is completed, I will be able to house 7 24in x 24in x 18in cages outside and have all of my 30 or grow-out meat rabbits relocated outside. This will leave just my 10 breeders indoors.

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Tiny House Article on CNN

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

 

 

CNN has an article on tiny houses. Even more interesting than the article are the audience comments. There’s definitely something to be said for down-to-earth, simple, self-sufficient living. I once downsized from a 1,000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home on 0.20 acre to a 300 foot in-law suite with its own small kitchen and bath in a house that sat on a 3 acre lot. Even with two large dogs, an L-shaped desk, and queen-sized bed, the space was very comfortable and did not feel cramped after I got rid of the unnecessary clutter I collected over the year. Looking forward to recreating this one day by building a tiny house on a very large tract of land in the middle of untouched, pristine wilderness where I can have my own garden, orchard, and dog park right in my backyard.

Categories: Tiny House

Purchase of Dog Park No. 2 Completed

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, I closed on the 2.5 acre lot.  Everyone at the closing was remarking in amazement at this deal.  At approximately $1,000 per acre, this was truly a deal.  Even in rural areas where land is cheap, one would be hard pressed to come anywhere close to $1,000 per acre.  So for this lot to be obtained at this price when it’s only 10 miles from downtown Atlanta, it is truly a bargain.

The seller’s agent told me that I had submitted my offer just in time.  Apparently the day after my offer was accepted, he received a call from someone inquiring about the lot.  When he asked the interested party what they intended to do with it, they said they were thinking of buying it and putting a container home on it.

Very interesting idea!

Sun, Rain, Earth: A Journey In Self-Sufficiency

January 1, 2012 Leave a comment

This blog will document my journey towards self-sufficiency.  I’ve always had an interest in living a more self-sufficent lifestyle and recently arrived at a point in my life where I can finally dedicate some time and the resources to this passion.  I started this pursuit in July 2011 with the goal of removing my dependence on meat from industrial farming due to its negative impact on human and animal health.

This first step lead to the raising of meat rabbits.  By Thanksgiving 2011, I had completely replaced my meat source with meat rabbits that I raised on my own.  Since then, I have only purchased meat from the stores for my dogs’ raw meat diet.

Shortly after I started raising meat rabbits, in Fall of 2011, I started a barter arrangement with two friends who run two different community gardens in nearby neighborhoods.  On a weekly basis, I supply them with the manure from my rabbits and in return they supply me with fresh, organic vegetables grown in their garden.  Soon, I was no longer purchasing my vegetables from the stores.

The beauty of the symbiosis further spurred my interest in self-sufficiency.  No longer purchasing meat and vegetables from stores, I became interested in growing my own fruits, as well.  Since fruit trees require lots of sun and space, I concluded I would need more space than my urban backyard to pursue this successfully and soon I came up with the idea of growing my own orchard on a vacant lot.

At this point, there is still some significant amount of work remaining before I am completely self-sufficient for my food consumption.  Some current and future projects I hope to explore and pursue for this effort are:

  • Convert my yard into an edible garden
  • Setting up rain harvesting to supply water for my edible garden
  • Use rabbit tractors to supply meat rabbits with natural forage
  • Convert a large, empty, 0.75 acre city lot to an orchard/dog park
  • Set up rain harvesting at the orchard as its only water supply
  • Capture and release wild rabbits into my orchard for vegetation control
  • Use friend’s domestic goats for vegetation control at the orchard
  • Establish wildlife food plots at the orchard for wild rabbits and domestic goats
  • Establish a pond in my yard for raising Tilapia
  • Raise worms (vermicomposting)
  • Raise chickens
  • Raise quails

In addition to being self-sufficient for my food supply, I am also very interested in being completely self-sufficient for my water and energy supply.  Some projects I hope to explore and pursue for this effort are:

  • Solar power
  • Rain harvesting for potable water
  • Convert a large, wooded, 2.5 acre urban lot into a totally self-sufficient homestead
  • Compost toilet
  • Tiny house

There’s lots left to be done and I hope others will enjoy sharing in my journey.

Sun, Rain, Earth: A Journey in Self-Sufficiency