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Help! Ten Ways To Care For My New Easter Bunny

So, someone got you or your child a rabbit for Easter.
First of all, congratulations! You have just received a precious gift that will bring you years of enjoyment and friendship as long as you take care of them properly.

I am going to give you a few tips to get you started on the right path with your new friend.

1.  First, make a few calls and locate a rabbit savvy vet. Generally speaking, they are listed under 'exotic vet.' However, you can ask your normal vet about their experience with rabbits. Sometimes, it may work out. Anytime you think your rabbit isn't acting right, you need to call the vet. Rabbits deteriorate quickly. They can be fine in the morning, and deathly sick by evening, so don't wait. The most common ailment is probably gastric stasis. Anytime your bunny starts to not eat as much, or at all, not drink, and you see a decrease in poop amount, or size, it is an extreme emergency. Click here to read more about gastric stasis so you learn to recognize the symptoms and catch it early. The other issue is called 'snuffles.' Rabbits do not catch colds, so runny eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing is dangerous and needs to be treated by a vet with antibiotics. A good diet of hay, pellets, and fresh foods, and a lot of exercise will go a long way to building a strong immune system. I keep a product called VetRx Rabbit on hand to use if something happens during the night.

Nesting Boxes and Herbs

We have had a lot of people asking us today how we make our nesting box herbs. It is so simple! The initial investment is a bit high, but when you compare the amount you are making to how much you would normally pay for maybe six ounces, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

During the spring/summer/fall months, I supplement with some fresh herbs in the boxes also. I just really enjoy keeping the dried herb mixture on hand at all times. It is a great way to freshen up the coop when you have just added new bedding materials. It is also believed that it helps deter insects and rodents, as well as being a great way to soothe hens who are laying their eggs, or broody hens who are sitting on eggs to hatch.
If you purchase everything I have in my blend here, you will spend approximately $130.00 on Amazon; however, please realize that you will be making 8 pounds of mix. If you want to start a bit cheaper, purchase the peppermint, marigold petals, lavender, and rose petals. You can always add more to the mix later. 
(Complete listing is at bottom of post with links and prices to the Amazon Affiliate links to purchase them.)

I use a large rubbermaid container to mix my herbs in to avoid making a mess. Once finished I transfer them into airtight 2 gallon ziploc bags. Get ready to be in love with this scent. We have even used it in sachets in our drawers.

If you have any questions, post in the comments!

Egg Shell & Oyster Shell: The Great Debate

The Great Debate: Egg Shell or Oyster Shell?

Did you know that if a laying hen doesn't get enough calcium in their diet, their bodies will begin to steal the needed calcium from their bones?

 Which chickens need extra calcium?
Any laying hen needs to have the option of getting extra calcium by consuming either egg shell or oyster shell. We begin providing this for them around eighteen weeks old.
We do NOT mix it into their feed. Rooster, hens who aren't laying, and younger birds do not need the additional calcium. A laying hen will generally eat three times the calcium as a hen who isn't laying. However, you don't need to add it to the feed to get her to consume it. Simply adding a cup with the offering of egg shell/oyster shell is all she needs. She will eat as much as she needs, whenever she requires it.
 
Egg Shell
The makeup of a typical egg shell is 
95% Calcium Carbonate
5% Calcium Phosphate & Magnesium Phosphate
An egg shell is covered with approximately 17,000 pores, which are semi-permeable.
This means that bacteria, moisture, chemicals, etc, can pass into the egg.
Mother nature's way of combating this was to have the egg be coated at the last moment 
with what is known as the 'bloom.' This bloom has the purpose of sealing off the tiny pores so that nothing can pass into the egg. This is the reason  it is important to not wash eggs. Washing eggs removes the bloom, and opens the egg up to possible contamination.
Oyster Shell 
The makeup of oyster shell seems to vary a bit by brand.
The current brand I am using is Manna Pro 100% pure/organic
97% Calcium Carbonate
1% Magnesium
(last 2% not mentioned in ingredients)

Pros and Cons
Egg Shell
1. Egg shell, from your own eggs, is free.  (Pro)
2. Egg shell must be prepared- saved, washed, dried, crushed. (Con)
3. Egg shell may not always be plentiful. (Only available when eggs are) (Con)
(We have four cochins, who love to be broody all summer, and one girl who doesn't lay anymore. So there are five of our girls who are slackers and we can't depend on their eggs!)
4. Chickens prefer their own egg shell. (Pro)
5. You know exactly where your egg shell came from, and how it was cleaned/prepared. (Pro)

Oyster Shell
1. Oyster shell must be purchased. If purchased in 50 pound bags, it isn't expensive
and it will last a long time. (Pro)
2. Oyster shell is always available, as long as the store is open. (Pro)
3. Oyster shell is ready to use. (Pro)
4. Chickens will eat it in the absence of egg shell. (Pro)
5. You have no real idea where it came from, how it was handled, what it
was treated with, what it was cleaned with, why it is white, etc, etc, etc. (Con)
6. Last bag I purchased said Organic? So what makes the other not organic? (Con)

Good gracious, who knew this could be so hard?
So what is the solution?

We offer both, and mix them into their shell cup every day.
I figure this is the best way because they get their egg shell most of the time,
and it is mixed with the oyster shell. They are used to seeing and eating the oyster
shell, so when I am low or out of egg shell, then they are not being introduced to something new all of a sudden. I think our last bag of oyster shell lasted over six months, so we only supplement the egg shell with it. However, the hens can pick whichever they prefer.
These items are much cheaper at your local feed store or tractor supply, but
but just in case you are in a pinch, here are the links. 
Plus, this cup is simple, great, and stainless steel.

An Easy to Grow Succulent: String of Pearls

String of Pearls Succulent in a Chicken Planter
Southern Chicks Wear Pearls!

If you are wanting to start growing succulents, I would suggest beginning with this lovely variety known as 'String of Pearls.' This simple little plant adds so much whimsy to any area of the garden, porch, or indoors. And, if you don't have a green thumb, this is an excellent place to start! 

Many years ago, I used to have several pots of the odd, string of pearls, but for one reason or another, I no longer had them. I stumbled across this lovely planter at a local garden shop, and of course, the beautiful 'String of Pearls' was sitting right next to it. So, I had to start growing it once again, and yes, I have missed them.  After all........

"Pearls are always appropriate" ~ Jackie O.

String of Pearls is easy to maintain.  If it is over 60 degrees, I leave it outside, in the direct sunlight. During the cooler months, bring it indoors, and place them near a window so that it can still get light. I love putting them in containers like this or hanging baskets so the tendrils can grow long. Your new plant will start off very small, but with a little care, the tendrils can easily reach 2-3 feet in length.

A Few Other Tips:

1. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole. 
2. Don't over-water, this is a very drought tolerant plant. Watering once a week is perfect, too much water, and the plant may start root-rot.
3. The 'pearls' can be toxic, so make sure that your pets or children can't eat them.
4. You can grow more by taking a simple cutting and allowing it to take root in a new pot!
5. Trimming the ends will make the pearls more compact and healthier.



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