Tag Archive | rabbit treats

Hazelnuts In Bloom

The three young hazelnut trees I’ve planted in the orchard all survived the winter and are in bloom.  Each plant has male and female flowers.  The males are long catkins filled with pollen.  The females are tiny, round, bud-like forms with projecting bright red styles.  Hazelnuts are wind pollinators, which explains why such copious amounts of pollen are produced.  The plants must cross-pollinate to produce nuts, they are not self-pollinating.  The woods are full of wild hazelnuts in bloom; some of their pollen could also easily reach my little trees.

The largest hazelnut bush grows in leaps and bounds every year.  This spring I trimmed out some of the oldest, least productive limbs.  I gave the trimming to my rabbits.  Bunnies love hazelnut wood!  This largest plant has produced a crop of nuts for the past 3 years or so.  This year it is covered in blooms, so if all goes well I will have hazelnuts to eat in September.

The other two trees are smaller.  One, the same age as the the largest bush, is only starting to thrive after its transplant a few years ago.  The other hazelnut survived the second winter.  The white bags on this tree are an experiment I conducted over the winter.  Last year, the poor sapling was nibbled by deer.  The original leader was nipped off and a side branch has become the new leader.  I had heard of placing human hair in cloth bags and tying them to the branches to deter deer.  When my husband got a haircut last fall, I collected the hair and tucked it in some small muslin bags I had on hand.  To my surprise, the tree was not touched by the deer last winter, although they had plenty of opportunity.  So perhaps this strategy actually works!  I’m glad, since this was an expensive little hazelnut, purchased from Stark Bros. nursery.  The other two were quite inexpensive and came from The Arbor Day Foundation.  I bought the Stark tree because it is supposed to produce large nuts.  Hazelnuts are my favorite for eating, so I’m rooting for these trees to do well.

 

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Organic Wood Gnawers

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Apple Wood Gnawers

Rabbits have teeth that grow all their lives.  To keep those teeth from getting too long, rabbits must chew on hard materials to wear and break the teeth off.  If they do not, the teeth would continue to grow until the rabbit could not eat or close its mouth.  Nature gave the rabbit a strong urge to chew.

In the wild, rabbits and hares are constantly nibbling on hard food like stems and bark.  If their teeth did not grow, over time rabbits would have no choppers, the teeth would be worn down to stubs.  In captivity, rabbit keepers have to assure their charges always have a supply of something tough to gnaw.

At Phoenix Farm, the angora rabbits all have a short plank of untreated pine board in their cage for resting on and munching.  As an added treat, I cut fruit wood branches for them.  Apple is the staple. We have a couple hundred apple trees in the orchard, a nearly endless supply of fresh trimmings. Rabbits prefer their wood fresh.  They like to chew off and eat the sweet, juicy bark.  My rabbits are so spoiled they turn their noses up at dried out tree cuttings.

The angoras’ absolute favorite is pear wood.  We only have four pear trees so the supply is more limited.  They get very excited when they smell fresh pear wood.  Rabbits also enjoy nibbling cuttings from the highbush blueberry plants, poplar wood, lilac and crabapple.  The fresh, organic wood often has lichen attached, a growth of symbiotic algae and fungus that is harmless to rabbits.

Because my rabbits like fresh wood so much, I figured other bunnies would as well.  Many people keep rabbits in city or suburban environments with very limited access to organic fresh wood cuttings. So several years ago I began offering the wood for sale in my online stores and named the product Organic Wood Gnawers.  They have been a real hit.  I have many happy little bunny customers who have nibbled through hundreds of pounds of trimmings from the trees.

The wood must be pruned anyway to keep the trees healthy.  When I sell Gnawers I go out to the orchard, no matter the weather, to gather fresh wood. I’ve even cut apple wood in a snow storm on Thanksgiving Day to fill an order.  At least, instead of chipping the prunings up for compost, I sell the wood and make a little money from the farm to help pay the land taxes.  Everyone is happy.

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Pear Wood Gnawers

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Highbush Blueberry Gnawers

Citrine the angora rabbit loves Gnawers

Citrine the angora rabbit loves Gnawers

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Apple Trees in Bloom