Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Watering Hole

...was a bar my dad used to go to before I was born. Now, it's a nifty backyard watering system.

This keeps the chickens and rabbits well supplied with clean, fresh water - very important when we're having a heat wave, and hard to do when I'm on call so much. Two births in 24 hours this week!
The central feature is this bucket, which clearly needs a more stylish hat. The hose coming in at the top is attached to a float system that keeps the bucket topped full all the time. From here, the water is gravity fed out two hoses that fork off to the rabbits and chickens.
I cannibalized the chickens' old auto-watering trough to build this, but I hear you can do the same with toilet float parts.
The chicken's watering bar is now the coolest place to hang out in the coop. It is a PVC pipe with five saddle type nipple waterers.
We tried to "teach" the chickens how to use them, which was hilarious and entertaining, but didn't seem very effective...but when I looked out the window an hour later they were all drinking from the founts. Go figure.
The rabbit system features smaller clear tubing that runs the length of the hutch, with forks every two feet that go to little metal drinking nipples. I ordered those direct from China and ended up with 20 of them for much less than the cost at Klubertranz or Bass, but no instructions and weird sizing. Overall, it probably wasn't that great of a deal, especially since I only really needed five or six of them.
All in all, I think it cost a little over $100 to build, and a couple of days to put together (including troubleshooting and drying time for silicone sealant). Each morning this week I've checked to make sure that the water is running and there are no leaks, and so far everything has been working wonderfully. It is a huge relief and I think it was well worth the money! I'm hoping that all the animals will be healthier and happier too with clean water all the time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Doula life

Last night I got home late from a long birth, had some top ramen (I added some miso to make it more like real food) and fell into bed for eleven hours. I'm usually a light sleeper and can handle sleep deprivation and interruption fine, which is good or I wouldn't be able to do my job, but it was a beautiful luxury to know that I could sleep as long as I needed.

I have the house to myself for a few days and that's really good too. I love my little family, but after a tough birth, I'm all out. I don't have any social graces or giving left in me, so it's better if I can putter around by myself for a while and process all that happened, good and bad, to make me a better future midwife without having to explain what I'm feeling by telling someone else's story.

This afternoon I was supposed to go to a workshop on preventing postpartum hemorrhage, but it got cancelled and I am so deeply relieved that I have a long afternoon of alone time stretching out ahead of me, with no more pressing concern than whether the lovely cared-for feeling of having food brought to me in a restaurant is worth the tradeoff of having to talk to anyone who isn't a cat. Usually after a birth, I treat myself to one good meal of whatever I feel like I need, but today I can't figure out what that is, so I'm having a Sapporo for breakfast while I think about it. My muscles feel like they've been massaging someone else for 20+ hours, so it's medicinal!

I love my work, and I mean that in all ways, cynical and not. I'm almost to the end of doula work before I start going to births with the midwives, though, and it will be such a relief to be dealing with birth in a less interrupted, artificial way, and not feeling such a weight of fighting for so much with so little actual power. It is amazing to be there with families in their moment of transformation, but it is frustrating to be caught up in a model that I don't believe is right for 90% of the women in it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Finally, after a long delay...the rabbits get their new habitat.
A couple of weeks ago I lost one bunny - she had cut her foot on something, and though I cleaned it up and doctored her well, she died a couple of days later - maybe tetanus, or some other infection? I felt really bad about it, and it upped my motivation to get the bunnies out of their slumlord hovels and into a better place.

The cage wire was the most expensive part - 20 feet of strong galvanized 1/2" x 1" wire cost about $100. The wood struts - all the blue in the photo - are furring strips, so that was about $20. Everything else was salvage - the roofing is made out of cabinet doors from dismantled built ins (have I mentioned the previous owners' extreme fondness for badly designed built in furniture?) and the sides and inner shelves from old pine 1x12" boards.

The doors were the fun part - they are also salvaged cabinet fronts, and I decided at 10pm that night that they should be fun, so I drew designs freehand and cut them out with a jigsaw. The trees are my favorite, though they took the longest. It kinda makes me want to buy a scroll saw, so that I can do better versions for the house.
Serendipitously, I was given another girl bunny a few days ago. A woman nearby who gardens in an empty lot found this rabbit hopping around in the yard of the house next door after the owners moved out and left her. So far she and Marta the flemish giant mix seem to be getting along well - they have two big sections of the rabitat with a connecting door. Charlie Boyfriend has a section to himself at the other end.

Still to build is the automatic watering system, but that will have to be another post for another day! I'm working in the midwives' office 3 days a week now, so I have a lot less time for building crazy stuff in the backyard and finding new and creative ways to injure myself.