It’s incredibly difficult for me to admit I can’t do something. When I decide something should happen, it takes more effort to stop me than it does to just… help me do it right. My husband calls it being “bloody minded,” and it’s one of my defining characteristics.
However, it goes hand in hand with one of my other defining characteristics, which is… impatience. When I want something, I want it NOW, and in conjunction with the bloody mindedness? Well. Sometimes, that ends up with friends pulling up in a truck, delivering 15 rabbits while we frantically scrabble together makeshift cages for them as they’re being unloaded.
Fast forward through the winter, and I have learned more about rabbits than ever before in my life. I have learned how to sex them, how to breed them, how to do basic veterinary care, feed them, supplement that feed, clean cages, crossbreed correctly, butcher, store and prepare them.
I have also learned, however, that I definitely didn’t know the finer details of what makes an efficient setup, and in the process learned that I can spend up to an extra hour a morning on a frozen day making sure four extra pens have accessible water. I have learned that some of them are better housekeepers than others, and that some dumb bunnies poop where they’re supposed to sleep no matter what you do (and as a result, how to care for a rabbit yeast infection). I learned that even though family members are incredibly supportive of what I do, not everything that I find acceptable is to them as well. A lot of people put rabbits into the same category of animals as kitties or dogs, and the idea of eating bunnies is distasteful.
I also learned that, on a scale of poop stink, rabbits are horrible. And that meant that the weekly cleanings of their cages did not get done on a weekly basis, because the way the rabbit cages were set up meant that I was using my hands instead of a shovel – and poop at the end of a shovel is far preferable to poop in a trowel just at the end of your arm.
All of this aside, though, what it really came down to is that I wasn’t enjoying the rabbits. I had no desire to write a blog called ‘Rabbits of Our Lives,’ and I definitely didn’t go play ukulele to them on clear days when I need to practice in front of an audience. I wasn’t able to walk into their enclosure, sit down with them, and watch them interact with each other like I am with chickens and goats. In the end, that’s really what matters: you have to love the experience of farming, or you’re not going to succeed. As far as rabbits were concerned, I was failing. I mean, I kept them reasonably clean, fed and checked them twice a day, and kept them healthy, but that was the end of it. There was no joy.
So I put an ad out in one of the myriad farming groups to which I belong, and within a day, my offer of rabbits and their hutches was taken up. This last weekend we drove out to meet the couple, who took the whole kit, and we drove away empty handed. And it was really freeing. Now that the rabbits are gone, I feel a huge relief. My mornings are a joy again – the most aggravating part is waiting for the lady goats to finish their breakfasts before going back into the pen – and I am done in 20 minutes if all I’m doing is basic maintenance.
If I do rabbits again, I will be doing it very differently than I did – but I don’t really feel the need. Hubby and I have agreed to try a different approach to meat animals – namely, chickens – and so until that stops working, we’re just going to focus on the systems we have in place. And maybe get an alpaca. Or a sheep. We’ll see.