The hobby farm dream is alive and well this spring. We’ve been living in Southern Utah for just over a year, and starting things for the second time is so much easier than it was the first time. I’m feeling more confident and more comfortable which means it’s a good time to expand the dream.

And expand we did! We got bunnies last week!

bunnies 3

We ran to the next little town over to pick up some more plants for the garden from a man who had grown all kinds of things in his greenhouse. While we were there he opened a door to a shed to grab a flat to carry my plants on and a whole world opened up. It was a large dimly lit shed chalk full of rabbits. This man had grown rabbits commercial for years and still hung onto some of that hobby. The kids were so excited and asked if we could have a bunny. He said they were $5 each and I said we had a deal. An hour later we had three mid-sized bunnies in a box in our yard and three very excited children.

bunny

The vision with the bunnies is to have them as productive pets. We are planning on making them some kind of bunny tractor (mobile pen) that is as wide as the rows of my garden. We’ll keep them in the garden, and they’ll eat the weeds in between the rows and fertilize as they go. We’ll just move them as often as needed so that they have fresh weeds to munch on and don’t have time to burrow out. I think down the road we will think about breeding the rabbits and using their off-spring for meat. Rabbits for meat are on our list of useful things to figure out.

I honestly don’t even know their genders of these rabbits, and for the life of me, can’t figure it out. You all would have laughed at my husband and me the other night if you were here to witness our first attempt at sexing the bunnies. We had out our favorite animal book (The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals), complete with pictures, had the bunnies laying happily on their backs, and had no clue what we were, or were not, looking at. I guess we’ll have to call in the local bunny expert or take them back up to the man we bought them from because I’m feeling a little clueless on the issue.

We also acquired four new chickens this week, two of which are roosters. They are spring chicks from this year, so they aren’t tiny but still about half the size of our other chickens. A friend’s daughter brought them home from school and now, a few weeks later, wasn’t so excited about having 4 growing chickens living in her kitchen.

When someone asks if you want free chickens there is only one correct answer!

We don’t want to put them in with the other chickens because of their small size, so we are thinking about making them their own chicken tractor and having them work down the rows of the garden too. They don’t really need nesting boxes since they are too young to lay, so we think it might be a great option for them this summer. I’ll let you how both of those adventures go.

The bunnies were in a box outside and inside at night for the first few days that we had them. One night Thomas woke up in the middle of the night to find bunny poo everywhere. The black and white one had escaped and was wondering the house making a mess. Did you know bunnies are nocturnal? I sure didn’t. After a thorough house cleaning we got a pen made for them outside. I’m just waiting on a waterer from Amazon and then we’ll move them over to the garden.

The chicks happened to show up the night that the bunnies were staying out in their new pen, so we just put everyone in there together. I was a little nervous, do chickens and rabbits live together? But they have sure done well for the last 2 days. I went out to check on them this morning and there was a chick sleeping on top of a sleeping bunny! It was the stuff Hallmark cards are made of, but of course they had moved by the time I came back out with my camera. We’ll separate them this weekend when we get everyone set up at the garden, but until then, they seem to be unlikely friends.

bunnies

And the last but not least. We have a pig!

pig

His name is Brownie and he lives at my niece’s house with her show pig for the fair. We don’t really do anything with him and have only gone over once to say hi. His purpose is to live a happy life and then we’ll put him in the freezer in the fall. I’m a little glad that we don’t have a relationship with him or have him on our property. Pigs have smart and knowing eyes and I think it might be harder for me to eat them in the end. So for now, my niece and sister-in-law take care of him and we are just paying for him and his feed.

I’ve also been planting my garden like a mad woman the last 3 weeks. It’s now safe, weather speaking, to put anything you want in the garden in Southern Utah and I’ve been doing just that. Thomas has been gone a lot so I have literally planted the entire thing myself, with the kids in tow. I wear the baby on my back and he falls asleep and the big kids help me plants a little (they planted three rows of corn the green beans), play in the mud a lot, and we bring bikes over too. It’s a fun hobby and I’m grateful I have the land to do it. I know my kids are going to have great memories of our mornings at The Shanty.

Hobby Farm Dreams

Here’s the already weedy garden. It’s about 1/5 of an acre. Can you see the chicken coop in the back ground? We move them over here for the summer to enjoy all the grass and we are planning on getting lambs again this year. Four this time instead of just two (are we crazy?!).

So far I have planted- lettuce, spinach, rainbow swiss chard, beets, radishes, carrots, snow peas, normal peas, green beans, pole beans, shell beans, sweet corn, 52 tomato plants, mixed bell peppers, jalapeno, zinnias, marigolds, cantaloupe, watermelon, winter squash, zucchini, yellow summer squash, basil, parsley, oregano, spearmint, sage, dill, rhubarb, celery, collards, broccoli, and potatoes. I still have popcorn, pumpkins, and squash to put in (tomorrow hopefully).

I love having a huge garden. I love cooking with it, I love canning and storing it, I love sharing it, and this year, I hope to sell some of the bounty at the farmer’s market.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a total hobby snob and I think I have the best hobbies around. Long live the hobby farm!

Now tell me, what do YOU have in your garden this year? What do you look forward to the most?

15 Responses
    1. Totally agree Jodi- I actually have a super classy piece of plywood over the top of the pen now so that they are in the shade. My big chickens don’t really like direct sun unless it’s early in the morning so I assumed the little guys and the bunnies would be better in the shade too! Thanks for the thoughts 🙂

  1. So exciting! This post makes me super jealous 🙂 You are amazing! Seriously, you are living the dream. I’m not planting a garden this summer, but hopefully next year when our house is done. I can’t wait to see how it all goes! We grew popcorn two summers ago when we were living in Oregon, it was so much fun! And the popcorn was the best popcorn I have ever eaten-so fresh tasting and chewy but still crisp. So good.

  2. devaughnwifey

    Sister raises rabbits. We used to do it commercially but she couldn’t deal with butchering them out any longer. Tips from us…
    ** You will need to move the rabbits around in the garden every day otherwise they will dig out. They dig lots and lots and LOTS of holes!!!! We call them ankle breakers, because they don’t just go down a few inches, these are holes to china…
    ** Rabbits are HIGHLY nocturnal. They will do most of their foraging at night if given the chance.
    ** They LOVE to jump. If your “walls” are shorter than thigh high, they will jump out, and you should still put a roof on your enclosure anyway.
    ** They get bored easily. When they are bored, they dig.
    ** Owls/hawks/eagles love them. Make sure any tractor you come up with is enclosed on the top.
    ** Rabbits & chickens get along very very well (as you’ve seen) so if it were me, I’d allow the rabbits and chickens to remain together until it becomes a problem, or till they outgrow the enclosure.
    ** Invest in a long handled fishing net.

    If you still haven’t sexed them my sister can tell you what to do, also you can youtube it. 🙂

    Yay for free chickens!! 😀

  3. Your garden sound amazing! I’m jealous of the growing space and climate that you have. Our garden has raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, chives, spinach, lettuce, carrots, green onions, green zucchini, yellow zucchini, peas, cilantro, dill and oregano. We also are trying corn and beets this year.

    1. Nelly! That sounds like an amazing garden! I’ve tried cilantro 3 years and it’s always so bitter… you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

  4. prekrasan

    Okay, so I know I’m a bit late to this party, but having raised rabbits (as pets) since late middle school (college now), hopefully I can help just a bit. So far we’ve had about ten rabbits, we gave some away, and still have one. If you haven’t sexed them yet, we figured out the gender of ours completely by accident (after a rabbit pregnancy) by pressing gently in the genital area. At the time we had two boys and a girl — nothing much happened with the girl, but with the boys, the genitalia popped up (no professional method here). Anyways, I’m mostly commenting to warn you — when our lone female got pregnant, she became mean. She started attacking and biting when she hadn’t done that before. When we realized she was pregnant, we thought that was probably the cause, but she was never the same afterwards. We couldn’t hold her anymore, even after the babies had found new homes. Every bunny will probably be different, and this may not happen at all, I just wanted to let you know of the possibility. Oh, and btw, you are awesome. Love your blog and especially your stories about your livestock and the projects you take on.

    1. Hhhmmm. Now to go bug the bunnies 🙂 I’ve heard that the females can get really mean! I’m crossing my fingers that isn’t the case. Thanks for all the thoughts friend!

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

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