Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rabbits

I live in town, where backyard chickens are not allowed.  If I'm going to be serious about making my suburban yard as independent as possible, the gardening literature recommends raising rabbits.  I've done that once before.  I could do it, I've done it before.  Even if I just keep them for fertilizer.  But I hesitate.



In Monday's post, I wrote about how my sister and I each came to own a rabbit.  She had a New Zealand Black doe.  I had a miniature lop ear buck.  Around May of 7th grade, Sguth started wanting a rabbit of his own.  I had read up on rabbits, and I knew a little bit about breeding them.  So I talked it over with my parents, and got permission.  I followed the recommendations I had read, and about 4 weeks later we had a litter of 7.

[EDIT: Added photo 2/8/12]

We lost two early on, one of the runts for reasons unknown, and another whose back broke & the vet put to sleep.  We found homes for two more rabbits, with neighbors.  That left us with the original pair and three offspring.  One of whom, we quickly realized, was probably male.  He was immediately isolated to his own cage.

My father had this idea that I might try breeding more.  I wasn't sure about that.  Kawphy and Sguth could each claim a rabbit now, and that was the whole point of it, for me.  If I were to breed them, I was looking for fur quality and temperament.  My father, however, wanted physical perfection.  The sweetest of the offspring, with fur as black as her mother's and thick like her father's, Sguth's favorite, had cataracts in both eyes.  Kawphy's favorite was both mean and ugly.  But we weren't given a choice.  Even though I took care of them all every night, and used my babysitting money to keep them in feed, I had no say.

Two of the girls had to go, the mother and the one with cataracts.  Mom and I took them to the Humane Society.  We kept Kawphy's favorite.

The boy.  We were told the offspring weren't pets.  We were told that we needed to find a home for him, eventually.  Then one morning at breakfast, we were told that if he didn't have a home by lunch, he'd be slaughtered.

I was on the phone with a classmate when Sguth came in to tell me it was too late.  The classmate sent me a sympathy card, I still have it.  I think about scanning it in and posting it here, but haven't yet.

I tried going vegetarian for a few days.  My father insisted that if I was going to do that, I needed to research protein combinations to be healthy.  I gave it up.  About a month later, they pulled the meat out of the freezer and served up stew.  A month after that, they admitted that it had been rabbit stew.

So we were back to two rabbits.  A doe that I didn't like, and would not breed.  And my buck.

A few years later, when I was in high school, a dog got into his cage, and killed him.  One of my friends gave me two more does, and I took care of the three girls for a while.  They moved into Omaha with us when we had to leave base housing.  But when we moved to Indiana, I gave them to a neighbor down the street.