When to throw in the towel?

I have been wondering about this a lot lately. Most of my self-sufficiency attempts are working well. I had no problem adding chickens to my lifestyle. Doing a compost heap worked almost textbook perfectly. The mealworm farm produced lots of bugs for the chickens to eat. Even after moving from Colorado to Oregon and not understanding the climate, the starts in the garden are growing like weeds. I’ve figured out how and where to forage for several items. I still have grapes in the freezer from last fall. The meat chicken experiment is going well and one week away from butchering day. Craigslist is showing me where to get several things that I can resell and so turn a profit.

But the rabbits? Not so much. I struggle with them. The wool on the Angoras is matting like crazy. I just can’t keep up with the grooming. I got clippers and buzzed their back ends down the other day, giving myself a frest start that I can maybe keep up with. But in addition to producing wool for me to spin, they are supposed to BREED and produce kits for meat. And that just isn’t happening. I’ve attempted to breed numerous pairs, and have only two dead litters to show for it. I also have meat rabbits, and finally have my first live litter, but that’s after months of doing this.

How much is enough? When do YOU choose to throw in the towel on an experiement that should work well but just isn’t?

None of my startup costs were expensive. But the feed is adding up. They are costing about $5 per week to feed these rabbits, and I am not getting that much back from them. But I keep trying because if I could just keep up with the grooming a little better, I could sell the wool and it would pay for the feed. (But not if I have to keep shaving them.) And I keep trying because if they would each just produce ONE litter this year, the resulting meat would pay for the feed.

I guess I’m asking how much in the hole are you willing to go for something that *should* work? Is it a dollar amount for you? Like you’d invest $100 or a $1000? Is it a time period for you? Like you’d give an experiment 6 months or a year?

I admit am emotionally invested in this generation of rabbits. They almost didn’t live and I had to get nurse does for them. Most of them have names. I know their personalities. So although they are livestock, they are also semi-pets, which complicates things. How much would that influence your decisions in when to throw in the towel on an experiment? I mean, when I moved, I wasn’t going to bother moving the mealworm farm, so I just dumped the whole thing into the chicken run and gave them all a huge treat, with no emotional impact whatsoever. But the rabbits feel different and I can’t just put them all in the freezer without a LOT of thought and being sure it was the right decision.

So how do you choose to make decisions like this, with and without the emotional aspect of it?

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4 comments on “When to throw in the towel?

  1. I think you’re doing a great job in all of your efforts, and it sounds like most of them are working beautifully for you. I’m emotional while my husband is logical – I get excited about, start, and plow gamely on in my chosen projects, while my husband helps keep our financial investment at a logical level. We live in a nice neighborhood in Lacey, and we are trying our darnedest to be as sufficient as possible. We have 5 hens (I just put 6 hatching bantam eggs under our very broody Phoenix cross hen, so we hopefully will have more hens), a compost tumbler, and we just started a raised veggie garden this spring. We’re also (against m dear hubby’s better judgment) starting with rabbits, that we will use for fertilizer, family pets, and to sell future litters as pets. I tend to follow my heart and forge ahead on things if it feels right and makes sense. To me, rabbits make a LOT of sense. My husband resisted, stating they would be MY project; he wanted nothing to do with them, but I’ve since caught him petting them šŸ˜‰ I keep at something, even investing past what makes absolute sense, if the payout is worth the risk. If I get too frustrated for too long and it’s no longer emotionally satisfying, I seriously consider letting it go. It sounds like, if you are able to keep up on the grooming, the angora fur will be more than worthwhile, and I have heard with the more exotic breeds, it can be much more difficult to get litters out of them. If this is their first litters, I’d give them more time – maybe contact your local Angora rabbit club to get some one on one info? I don’t know where you are in Oregon, but here’s the ARBA site: http://www.arba.net/breeders.htm, looks like the only one listed in OR for (English?) Angoras is: James Long/Catherine Redwine
    Eugene, OR
    orders@beaconbendalpacas.com
    541-302-9455
    beaconbendalpacas.com
    Hope this helps, and good luck – you’re doing great! šŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: Listeria sucks! A bad word for a bad disease. |

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