I have some new friends. They are Rabbits. They are my guests, and they are my employees too.
Here’s the deal; I adopted them from Creature Safe Place. They needed a loving home. I built them a bunker. O.k., it was supposed to be a hutch but it is so predator proof that I call it a Bunker. It is spacious, has two living compartments with lofts (just shelves really) and feeding baskets suspended from the ceiling to loft height. I feed and water them twice a day and provide ice bottles against the heat for them to cuddle with, and they in turn make manure for me. Yes for me! That is some amazing manure.
Here is what I wasn’t prepared for, oh well, I wasn’t prepared for any of this really. I had been admiring the bunny residents at Creature Safe Place for years, but have never had a pet Rabbit in my entire life, and in the last decade through attrition (death from old age, and adoptions) in order to simplify my life I got rid of two Iguanas, two Conures, an Umbrella Cockatoo, a fish tank, and an Argentine Horned Frog. I had the house down to a respectable 2 humans, 2 cats, 2 dogs, and a koi pond. Life was much more manageable. I was not interested in jumping back into more animal husbandry, but I started my business The Compost Gardener which kept me near home more, and I was in need of a great deal more manure than I had needed before for just my garden. I noticed my friend at Creature Safe Place never asked me to shovel out Rabbit manure…. she was using it in her own gardens!
Last month I admired those bunnies one time too many, and went home from Creature Safe Place with 3 Rabbits for whom I had no housing prepared, and no knowledge of how one cares for them. Did I learn fast! For two days the bunnies lived in make shift digs in my porch. All females; two got along fine, and the other one, a very nice bunny to me was to other bunnies a thug, and had to be kept separate. In two days I had a temporary bunny house set up outside. It was not predator proof, and I moved the bunnies out of the porch every morning to the outdoor digs, and back in again each evening. Meanwhile I worked with a fever to get the outdoor hutch built. I had excellent help. Our young neighbor, recently married, and between jobs came out to help me everyday until that Bunny Bunker was built. I was working with one hand in a cast, and he having just gotten out of a cast himself was very sympathetic. He was a great help, not only was he strong and willing he was also a great thinker and together we worked out the problems and glitches I hadn’t prepared for in my building plan. Thanks Chris! My friends Wyn and Bob at Creature Safe Space donated the metal for the roof and helped my husband Danny get it cut down to size. Husband Danny prepared the roof metal against rust and put on a custom paint job. Chris helped me attach the roof.
By day I worked on building the Bunny Bunker, by nite I poured over everything I could find on the internet about Rabbit Husbandry, and emailed my poor friend Wyn at Creature Safe Place about every question I had for which I couldn’t find an internet answer.
So back to what I wasn’t prepared for. I grew up in a house with a dog. I thought I was a dog person. As an adult in a rented house that didn’t allow dogs I got my first cat. I found out I was a cat person too. OH MY GOD! I AM A BUNNY PERSON TOO! I love those bunnies. It seems to me those bunnies love me as well. Every time I come to the bunker they run to the door to greet me. Of course I always come bearing gifts. Bunnies are huge eaters. It is important to keep them in lots of nutritious food. After all they are, or their manure is feeding my soil. That is one of the reasons I think it is important to feed them from the weeds on my property as well as their staple, hay. There is a bounty of rich Rabbit treats in the weeds that come up in the garden, and the number one favorite weed of my bunnies is clover. I had a very hard time figuring out which weeds and plants that I had in the garden were safe to feed to the Rabbits. Although I could find lists of safe and unsafe garden vegetables, I never found anything on the internet about local weeds. My friend Wyn saved the day with a book she had on her shelf called American Wildlife & Plants A Guide To Wildlife Food Habits by Alexander C. Martin, Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. Stay tuned for my post about what I learned from that book about feeding Rabbits from our native plants.
Finally, I was not prepared for the volume of manure one can get from just three rather little bunnies. Those gals are pooping machines. I am deeply grateful to Wyn for placing those bunnies with me. They are a pleasure to visit with and care for, and they thank me with a bounty for my garden.