Niele da Kine

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since Oct 15, 2015
Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
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Recent posts by Niele da Kine

Seven week old English angoras.  They will all have "V" names this year, hopefully "V" for Vaccine and not only "V" for virus.

Same babies at four days old.  The pink one will become white.

Six week old babies from a different litter.

5 months ago
If you have a moist area somewhere that isn't dead (i.e. has worms in it) they will probably go there and then you'll be able to collect them for your garden.  We get lots of them under the bunny hutches where there's lots of bunny manure, especially after washing down and it's more moist than usual.  I've always been amazed at how much wetness the worms really seem to like.  I'd have thought it was too soggy for them in several areas, yet those would be the areas which had the most worms.  Perhaps if you tried making a moist haven for them somewhere in the yard where there's likely to be worms you'll have a collection site.
5 months ago
I would say most likely the answer to "Is raising angora rabbits worth it?" is "it depends".  For us, yes, it is definitely worth it.  However, we don't sell fiber, we sell finished yarn.  We also sell rabbits, but the rabbit sales pretty much just pays the costs of feed and maintenance.  The profit comes from yarn sales.  We also have a place to sell yarn at retail rates and not wholesale rates.  So, if it's profitable to keep angora rabbits, a lot of that answer is 'it depends'.

Angora rabbits are technically a rabbit, but they're not really that much into 'rabbitness'.  They don't dig much or chew much, they do a lot of laying around and growing fluff.  They have never been a wild rabbit, they've always been domesticated.  The length of their wool keeps them from even being able to successfully breed very well unless they get a haircut.

We usually have a couple dozen English angoras at any particular time.  They produce about a pound of good fiber per bunny per year.  Depending on the condition of their coat at the time of harvest, it will either be plucked or shorn.  We have the type of English angora which can be plucked, not all of them can.  It's a lot like picking the hair off your dog when he's molting, they aren't hurt and don't mind being picked on.  Usually about halfway through the grooming, the bunny will start helping, especially once we've reached an area they've been wanting to itch for awhile but haven't been able to reach because of the dense coat.  Actually, in the rabbit world, the rabbit being groomed is top rabbit, so they like being groomed.  Well, except for toenail clipping and in the ticklish spots.  But, they are easily bribe-able to behave well while grooming.  The bunnies here are handled from the moment they are born, so they're very used to being fussed about with and that helps make grooming and coat harvesting easier as well.  

Temperament is also one of the major selection factors when deciding who to breed.  Fiber quality first and foremost.  Then health, conformation, temperament and fertility.

We frequently end up shearing the bunnies, just like micro-sheep.  If they are shorn, they won't need any coat maintenance for several months.  Then a little bit of combing with a long toothed steel comb (brushes don't do much in a dense coat) will keep the mats at bay.  FWIW, coat maintenance is one of the selection factors when deciding which bunnies to breed.  That's part of the fiber quality, since if it's matted, it's not going to make good yarn.  It's also because of the amount of bunnies we have, if they were the type with high maintenance coats it would take tons more time.

The bunnies are kept in wire bottomed hutches with 1" x 1/2" wire floors.  The bucks have a ledge to lounge on and the does have an assortment of nest boxes and ledges.  There's also big ceramic tiles when it's hot, although, again, this is Hawaii so we never really get that hot around here.  The bucks are kept in their own separate spaces, they don't do well living together, especially if there's females around.  They may look like a soft fluffy but they're got teeth and claws and when they fight they can draw blood and even kill each other.  We haven't had any bucks actually kill each other, but some of my friend's bunnies managed it.  The females can usually all live in a big herd, although sometimes there will be a diva who gets too bossy and gets her own space.  They enjoy being with each other and the buck spaces are side by side so they can visit with their neighbor, but there's a wire wall between them so they can't fight.

The bunnies here are part of the garden, we don't use any fertilizers other than 'bunny berries'.  The bunnies get all kinds of leaves, trimmings and such from the garden as well as the yard and their 'bunny berries' go back to fertilize and produce more greenery.  It works amazingly well.  Under the hutches is a great place for worms, too, so they get scooped up with the bunny berries and added to the garden as well.  Bunny manure is a 'cold' manure so it can be put directly on plants without being composted although it's usually set around under the hutches long enough to be composted somewhat anyway.

We don't feed them hay since hay is too expensive around here (approx. $35 per bale of timothy or orchard grass hay) and it mildews before even a fraction of it can be used.  However, this is Hawaii, we have fresh forage all year.  They get a lot of various grasses, ti leaves and mulberry leaves along with high protein pelleted feed mixed with rolled grain of some sort and black oil sunflower seeds.  Depending on what you have in your area, you may be able to grow a lot of their food.  

They do need a lot of roughage to keep any ingested long hairs moving through their system.  They can't cough up hairballs like cats can so if they ingest too many hairs, they can become unable to process their food and that's not good.  However, since the bunnies here are fiber producers and we harvest their fiber three times a year we've not had trouble with gut stasis from ingesting too much wool.  With show bunnies who keep their dense fluffy coat on them for much longer, they are more likely to have these sorts of issues.

As for eating them, the English angoras we have are pretty small at around five to six pounds when fully grown.  They can be eaten, but they can also be sold for the price of two lobsters (which I think is tastier than rabbit), so the extra ones are usually sold instead of eaten.

Bunnies are pretty adaptable and flexible in their care and keeping arrangements.  You'll probably have a completely different setup that will be perfect for your space and your needs.
5 months ago
It's best to shear an angora before breeding so all the important parts can reach where they need to go.  Lately I've taken to shearing the doe first.  Then, I take the sheared doe and put her in the buck's hutch while he gets sheared.  It takes about forty five minutes to completely shear a bunny and trim their nails, so the doe is out in his space for an hour all by herself.  Surprisingly, she's really receptive to him when he is returned to his hutch.  So far I've tried it twice and both times the does were very eager to breed which isn't usual for those two does.  So, perhaps, if your doe is still not cooperating, leave her in his space for a bit by herself first and see if it works.
6 months ago
Thanks, Rufus!

It's 'just a rental' but it had seemed too small with the refrigerator hogging the whole kitchen.  Had we been planning on living in it, there'd be built in cabinets with drawers instead of recycled garage sale cabinets with shelves.  

Have you done things to your kitchen to make it work better?  I keep thinking a drain in the middle of the floor with waterproof cabinets and a pressure sprayer may be a good thing?  Commercial kitchens always have a drain in the middle of the floor with cabinets that can be mopped under.  Seems like it might be a good thing for a residential kitchen as well.
9 months ago
Have you gotten offspring yet?

FWIW, the bunnies here always get a haircut before a date.  Both males and females or they can't mate.  They also get fed a higher density diet before mating, although it's still pretty much roughage.  But some black oil sunflower seeds and a bit of rolled oats are added to their diet for at least a few weeks before they meet up can improve their attitude.

We have had some females who just didn't like specific males.  They would sometimes change their mind if they met up in a different space that didn't smell so much like that particular male, but it would always be somewhere other than the doe's space.
9 months ago
FWIW, when someone asks for a house rabbit or one they want to interact with, I'll generally try to point them towards a buck instead of a doe.  We've never really had a friendly outgoing doe.  Some of them will tolerate human interaction more than others and we're getting more 'friendly' does these days (we've been breeding for temperament as well as quite a few other characteristics) however, none of them would be any that I'd say would WANT to be around humans by choice.  Given enough bribes they will be more approachable, but they don't usually want to be picked up and petted.

We have had several bucks, though, who were really human friendly.  One of them, Sydney, was so anxious to be a pet bunny that we lent him out to some friends as a pet even though he'd been designated as a herd buck.  He's back and we're hoping to get some offspring from him, mostly because of his temperament but he's got some other good characteristics, too.  However, having a good temperament doesn't cover all situations.

Phineas Phogge's space had been the first one on the lower level with Sydney in the middle space.  I figured Syd would want to be able to visit with the bucks on either side of him so he'd prefer the middle, perhaps.

Even though he's a friendly guy, Sydney did manage to get through the wall between his space and his neighbor's space and steal the neighboring buck's doe.  I'd put a doe in with his neighbor, Phineas, watched to see that they got along and then took another rabbit inside to for a haircut (these are angoras, they get a lot of haircuts) and when I came back out an hour later, Sydney had pushed over the top of the wall, bitten Phineas and chased him over the wall to where Sydney had been.  Phin had a big bite on his rear end, too!  Poor Phin!  This was from a 'friendly' buck, too, so bunnies can act differently depending on circumstances.

Given a different environment, perhaps your doe will act differently?  With bribery and training, she may come out to meet you for treats, but even so, she may never really want to interact with you as a pet, some bunnies will always be shy.  

9 months ago
I'm really surprised nobody has mentioned a drill press?  It's a brilliant thing to have around, easiest way to drill accurate holes in things.  Usually the top will flip open and there's some belts in there so you can adjust the speed depending on what you want to drill.  You can put all kinds of drill bits or grinders in it and with jig or two, it can even kinda become a pseudo shaper.  Since the drill bit is held in place and the work can be clamped down as well, it's much safer than the hand held type.

FWIW, I no longer use a battery operated anything.  I'd much rather use a long extension cord (I can get to 300' feet from an electric outlet which pretty much covers everywhere on the property) than deal with batteries.  They're under powered, heavy, never charged when you want them and don't usually last to the end of the job.    

For a screw driver, try using a drill bit in a socket.  A bit of tape will keep it from falling out if you don't have the magnetized version.  It gives you a lot more leverage than a regular screwdriver.

I've welded new handles onto sledge hammers, rakes, etc.  A metal handle welded on to the tool won't rot or break off like a wooden one.  You can also make it the length you like, although you can do that with wooden ones, too.

Once you get the air compressor for the nail gun, brad nailer & staple gun, you may as well get an air sander, air grinder and even an air blower for getting the dust out of places.  It's also nice to put the air compressor in it's own sound insulated space if you can.  Those things are noisy.

And, for safety equipment, get a face guard for weed whacking (string trimmer), ear muffs for sawing, air compressors, etc. etc.  Eye protection for sawing and hammering and any time there could be stuff flying around.  Keep long hair tied back and contained, there's a lot of powered tools that are just waiting to grab it.  And, if you're doing something greasy, get a bar of soap and scrape it with your finger nails to get some soap beneath the nails.  That will keep grease and grime out from under your nails and be easier to clean.

Learn to sharpen things, sharp tools will be a lot easier to use.  This includes gardening tools, a sharp hoe or shovel works a lot better than a dull one.  Also, learn to oil and keep the tools clean and in working condition.  Change out the blades as necessary.  Tool maintenance is as important as buying the right tools in the first place.

For gardening work, one of my favorite tools is a Gardenway type garden cart.  Mine finally died after three rebuilds, thirty years and hauling way too many rocks.  Next one, I'll build it three quarter size and put a set of hand brakes on it.  My other favorite yard working tool was the back hoe, although we sold that when we moved to town.  IM(NS)HO, females are good with machinery, we don't break as many parts off as folks who are burdened with too much testosterone.

And, when going into a hardware store or tool store, act at least somewhat like you know what you're doing and you'll get a lot better response.  If you ask for a twenty ounce framing hammer you'll get a lot more help than if you just ask for a hammer.  This works for any gender and not specifically females, for that matter.  

I've still met the occasional misogynistic type who seems to think gender has something to do with purchasing things at hardware stores although there's less of them than there used to be.  Usually I'll know more than they about what I'm trying to buy and can generally educate them to this before I'm done.  I'm a tool user, they're just a store clerk.  Ha!  But, if not, I don't really care what their opinion is anyway as long as they have what I need in stock.

Actually, in our small town, it's really lovely to buy things at the hardware store.  What was originally "Ikeuchi & Sons" has become effectively "Ikeuchi & Grand-daughters" although they haven't changed their sign.  
10 months ago
We're renovating what may be a 'tiny house' since it's only 740 square feet.  Although when it was built in the 1950's it was more or less regular sized for a two bedroom house.

This picture was from when the house was still for sale since the Realtor's paperwork is still on the counter.   We got the little house after some squatters had been there.  They hacked out walls trying to make the tiny house feel bigger, although they almost dropped the ceiling on themselves.  They took all appliances as well as most of the light fixtures and interior doors when they left, but at least they left.  We've been fixing and upping for most of the summer but we work slowly.

The edge of the doorway opening there on the left side of the picture is the end of the wall that you can't see in the picture - which is the wall on the other side of the kitchen.  We want to leave that wall open without a counter or appliance so it can be a small dining area.  That really limits the locations for the stove and refrigerator.

This is how it was with the initial layout.  We got the counters from a yard sale so they're being reused instead of recycled or worse yet, dumped.  The stove came from the dump and it cleaned up nicely.  People throw away the strangest things.  Not sure about a stove behind the door, though.  Plus the stove blocks the counter.  But a refrigerator there would block the counter more.  We put in a bit of wall back between the kitchen and living room.  Mostly so it could hold the ceiling up, but it was also something to put the refrigerator against.

There's the door knob barely in the left side of the picture and the wall between the kitchen and living room on the right side of the picture.  We will be putting a big slab of silky oak there as an eating counter, it will be about six inches above the counter height to hide a bit of kitchen clutter from the living room side.  

Oh, this house is in Hawaii and it's 'single wall construction'.  The walls are all vertical 1" x 6" T & G boards since we don't need insulation around here.  Probably it 'only' being a 1" thick wall is why the squatters thought they could hack out walls with impunity, but in single wall construction sometimes even the trim is structural.  But, that's why the 'wall' in the picture is only 1" thick.

The stick in the window is because the sash cord broke and the sash weights had fallen off.  BUT it's very fixable.  That's the nice thing about old houses, most things can be rebuilt without much fuss.  Repair and continue to use instead of replace or even recycle.

Another awkward layout picture.  This one shows the door swinging inwards as well as now the refrigerator is in.  It wasn't a big kitchen to begin with, adding in the appliances made it a lot smaller.  The refrigerator really split the kitchen into two sides since it was impossible to see past it.

So, to tame the refrigerator, we cut a hole in the wall and built a refrigerator 'niche'.

That's the back door that opens into the kitchen.  The yellow area is where we're gonna put the 'niche'.  There had been a water heater in a small enclosure there but we can move that elsewhere.  Probably over near the bathroom/laundry area.

The bit of cut out wall was useful to make a wall for the fridge niche.  It already had the structural 'racing stripes' on it, too.  Those bits of trim hold the vertical T & G boards together that make up the walls.  We also reframed the doorway since it had been a squatter hack job and rehinged the door to swing outwards instead of inwards.  We will probably build a screen door at some point that will swing inwards, but screen doors are usually kept shut so it shouldn't annoy the stove on the inside.

There's two vents in the floor so the niche will stay cool.  Refrigerators don't make cold, they remove heat so it's always good for the heat to have a place to go.  The fridge will run more efficiently if they have lots of ventilation.

This is pretty much the exterior of the finished niche.  There's a vent up above to let the heat out.  When the door is open, the door knob is past the end of the niche so it doesn't hit the niche.

Oh, those are three tab asphalt shingles being used for siding.  The little house was in terrible shape and it would have been almost impossible to get it nice enough to look good painted.  The shingles not only cover up changes in siding, but they don't need painting for decades and decades.  Our current house has sixty plus year old shingles on the sides of it and they're still in great shape.

It was a lot of work to niche the refrigerator, but it sure made the whole rest of the kitchen feel huge.  

Pretty much streamlined the food path, too.   Take food from the fridge, put it on the counter, wash and prep it in the sink, then cook it on the stove.  There will be an eating counter between the kitchen and living room on one side of the stove and the little eating area in the kitchen on the other side.  Maybe we will move into this tiny house instead of renting it out, the kitchen will be lovely to cook in.

Not sure what we will do with the ceiling yet, that will be one of the next projects.
10 months ago
We used to have loads of those snails around here.  I'd squish them when ever I found them, I guess that's the quickest way to dispatch them.  Now, several years later, they are almost rare.  I'm guessing they don't multiply terribly fast, if you just keep doing in all the ones you find, eventually there will be less of them.

For awhile, I had a bucket of salt water and I'd put them in there.  After a day or so, I'd pour them out somewhere I didn't want things to grow (because of the salt) and let the bodies decompose.  That left me with snail shells which were kinda fun.

There seems to be two versions of Cory's Slug and Snail product.  Cory's Slug & Snail Killer can be spread around and hopefully no more slugs and snails.  Cory's Slug & Snail Death kills them on the spot and there's dead slugs and snails visible after you apply it.  
10 months ago