As anyone who has paid attention to the weather reports for next week knows, next week will be brutally cold, with vicious wind chills. They’re talking -7F actual temperatures, with anywhere from -23F to -40F wind chills.
What this means for a Texas-bred hothouse weed like myself, prone to storm-triggered migraines, is spending an hour a night defrosting frozen water bottles to get the rabbits cared for until the deep freezes stop is … not feasible. Even in the relative “warmth” of the last couple of nights, the metal tubes on the waterers have frozen shut (or nearly) between the house and the “barnyard.” I’ve been using the heat gun to defrost them once up there, long enough for the rabbits to get SOME water.
But it’s not been enough.
Which means that this morning, I put in an order for three short-ish wrap on heat cable for the main watering system lines, and a heated waterer for the one cage not with the main hutch. It took FAR longer than it should have to get going to go pick these up and to acquire the rest of the materials necessary for the planned project/upgrade. Given I spent most of the morning fighting with a migraine and trying to get a different website updated, I can’t say it was wasted time. It just feels like it.
But finally got out, and acquired everything. Got back just in time to start doing the work with half an hour to go before sunset. :\
Get up there. Discover another kit, same litter, has gotten out of the nest box and frozen to death. This time, the doe was sitting beside it, her entire posture one of confusion. She knew she was supposed to do … something … about this situation, but wasn’t sure what. That’s a quarter of her litter, now, in two days. I once again did my best to warm the baby up, in the hopes it wasn’t actually dead, but to no avail. It’s her first litter, and a cold winter litter at that, but if this trend continues into warmer times, I will cull her. I can’t afford to feed a doe who loses that many out of stupidity.
Anyhow. I have a frozen kit tucked into an interior pocket of my parka while I try to get everything for the waterer prepped. It took … three hours? A good two hours, at least, with a break about midway, because my regular rubber boots have zero insulation, and I was losing sensation in my toes. I came back in to defrost before finding the arctic rated rubber boots and alpaca wool socks. Finished out wrapping heat cable along the main lines, and wrapping foil tape around to help keep idiot rabbits from chewing on wires. Re-attached to the cages, re-attached to connecting pipes (winding extra heat cable along non-main lines), and appear to have the whole thing back up and running. I gave up on the kit right before I came in to defrost myself.
In the process of this, which included a lot of “shimming in between hutch and chainlink exterior fence to wedge towards the middle” again and again and again, I decided that the two-tiers on both sides of the hutch just isn’t working. I had never really intended to do it that way in the first place, for much the reasons I’m deciding it’s not working out now. The slope of the ground combined with the close quarters for placement are just making it impractical. So as soon as the weather is conducive, I will be rebuilding/building hutches.
Besides, there’s like a law somewhere or something, that you never have enough cages for the rabbits you have. 😛 And that is accurate now. So I need more cage space, even though there’s one or two does who will be culled soon. But I will keep a replacement or two from each one’s litters … assuming the litters survive that long.
Tomorrow will be a push to do what I can to do some more insulation and wind blockage for the entire area. Hopefully I don’t spend the first six hours of my day with an “unable to stand upright” migraine, thus losing most daylight to work with.