Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tips and Tricks: Putting together new cages

It is wonderful how the Spirit of God moves us to take action.  Today I will talk about a few of those actions.  I often "feel" I need to do something, change something or stop doing something.  This is God showing you a better path.  Sure you can keep going as you are but the road will be easier if you just follow His gentle nudge.  And it is gentle most of the time.  Sometimes it is a huge push and there is no doubt.  But for most of us most of the time, we need to be "still" both physically and spiritually.  Sometimes that means study and prayer but sometimes that might mean just "listening".

So a month ago I felt the need to order cages for indoor.  My cages out in the rabbitry do not have a tray on the bottom.  When the rabbits urinate or poop, it falls to a tarp that drains the urine into a bucket and the rest stays in the tarp that I just use a long handled scoop to collect into a container and dispose of it.  This system is the absolute best.  Easy work.  When there are just the adults I can go 2-4 days without cleaning the tarp- if for some reason I can not clean them.  But once there are babies, like now I have 9, the tarp gets cleaned everyday.  Which takes less than 5 minutes.  Once a week or so I spray the tarp down with water which drains into the bucket.  This gets anything that has built up or stuck to the tarp. 

Indoor cages have to have catch trays and urine guards.  Since they are short term use, the size did not concern me too much but now that I have the ones I ordered, they are the perfect size.  The cages came from KW Cages.  They were not cheap but neither is the quality.  I really like the fact it has two doors: the typical front door and the whole top of the cage is a door as well.  This will allow me to retrieve my bunny without a "chase", add a nest box with ease.  The quality of the cage is much better than most I have seen.  The gauge of wire used and the galvanizing is heavier and will hold up longer.  The urine guards fit tight all around the cage and even under the front door.  Here is a picture.  Callie wanted to model this one for you!
 The cage came partially assembled.  The front door was attached to the floor and all the gray cage guards were in place.  I had to assemble the rest.  Notice the urine guards all the way around and how nice the front is cut out?   The company sent "J" clips to assemble the cage and at about 2/3 done with the cages, my hand was really hurting from using the "J clip pliers" (which I already had here from assembling my other cages).  Once you get the hang of these pliers, you will really like the J-clips.  I was surprised my hand was hurting so I thought to myself, could the J-clips from KW be of heavier weight?  Sure enough, I took out my left over supply of J-clips from my other cages and they were thinner.  I used them to finish the job and it went quicker and easier.  I will keep the tougher ones for another time.  I did not use the J-clips on the urine guards.  It was tough to get them to go around and it was really bending the guards so I used zip ties.  Get 100 ties for $1.00 at the dollar store!!  Best buys are always at the dollar store.  They dont have everything but everything they do have is only $1.00.  And usually it is worth the money and then some.  These zip ties were just the right size and fit the purpose perfectly.

I really like the latch for the front door.  It is easy to use.  I am using the blue dish you see to the right for Callies water because I have 7 kits in the cage behind her and they need the larger water bottles.  She will not spill the water like the kits will.  They climb all over everything, poop in anything they can get their butts into and make a mess of the blue dishes. 

I really love these dishes.  In the winter I use them because the water bottles freeze and cant be used.  With these dishes, they too freeze but I add a little water which losens the ice.  I leave it in the bottom of the cage for them to chew on because the new water in the blue dish will freeze pretty fast. They will chew the ice if they can get to it.  I have also seen them lick the ice.
The only thing I do not like about my cages so far is when I pull out the trays to clean them, the little paws of any of the rabbits can get snagged.  Today was my first day and I learned quickly.  I will line the floor of the cage with some paper or screen before I remove the tray to keep paws  and nails from falling below the floor.  This seems pretty simple.  I will give it a try and let you know later how that works.

Today is Thursday.  Sunday Callie is due to kindle so tomorrow she gets a nest box.  It will be a little tight with the nest box, but rabbits (unless they are our for exercise) like smaller places.  They feel they are "hiding" and that makes them feel secure.  This is her first time being breed and there is a chance it did not "take".  She might not be pregnant.  If Callie does not kindle by the middle of the week I will breed her next weekend.  Since this is her first litter, she might not do well.  But I feel I was moved to bring them all inside because of the heat and the bad thunderstorms we are having.  The stress of the heat could cause any of them to develop health issues.  Besides, gives me a chance to do a deep down cleaning on the rabbitry.  Not that it is bad but its good to do once in a while and the time is perfect when the rabbits are not around to get spooked.  Their cages will be sanitized, bugs and spiders will be removed and windows will be cleaned.  I am getting tired just thinking of all the work but I feel really good about providing my rabbits with the clean and healthy home, as much as it is possible.

So here are the tips and tricks if you are going to buy indoor cages:
  1. Listen to "that still small voice" and make improvements in your life as needed.  What we do today will be what makes our history good or bad and what we do today will shape our tomorrow.  Mistakes are only bad choices that we do not learn from and repeat.  Otherwise they are not mistakes but lessons.  Let the Lord guide your steps.

  2. PROTECT YOUR RABBITS feet when cleaning the tray by putting a screen, cardboard or something to keep their feet and nails from going below the cage floor.  When  you pull the tray out, their little feet and nails (especially the kits) can get snagged.  One upset rabbit will upset them all. 
  3. PROTECT YOUR HANDS by using a pair of gloves when working with the wire and sheet metal.     It can be very sharp.
  4. Own a pair of the "J" clip pliers and test them before you "need" them.  My pliers were not opening completely and I was very frustrated until I figured that out.  A little man power to open them a little more and now they work fine.
  5. Purchase a bag of the J-clips from Farm and Fleet or other source just in case the ones that cage with the cages are too tough to work with.
  6. Use zip ties on the urine guards.  This will allow for easy cleaning and removal of the guards if need be.  Its always nice to be able to take something apart for those tough to reach places.
  7. Order you cages well in advance.  I did not realize it could take as much as a month to get these cages.  They special make each order.
  8. Use everyday items to help you assemble cages.  I used clothes pins to hold parts together so I could use both hands for the pliers and clips.  I only had two pins come apart on me so that is good.  I love when things around the house fill new needs and purposes.
  9. Do research on different ways to clean your cages before they need to be cleaned.  Do you want to line your cages with shredded paper or paper towels for easy clean up?  Know these things before rabbits move into their new cages.
 Well that is all I have for tip and tricks for putting your new cages together.  Hoppin you enjoyed the read.  Please leave a comment so I know you where here or any questions if you have any.  Thanks for hoppin by!

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