I started on this rabbit raising journey about 2 years ago. We got two rabbits, a black and white female Lop and a brown male of some sort. The first thing they did was make babies. Like in the car, on the way home. A few weeks later, they were born. We weren’t really prepared so only two of them lived. When those kits got old enough, we slaughtered and ate them and they were very tasty. We bred the older bunnies again and it worked, but the mama bunny miscarried this litter. By that time, it was winter, so we decided to wait till spring to try to breed them again. But, one morning, I woke up to find the male rabbit dead in his cage.
So I purchased a breeding trio (a buck and two unrelated does) of Velveteen New Zealands from a rabbitry. They were about 3 months old at the time, so I wanted to wait till they were about 6 months old before I tried breeding them. That would put us in Spring. But, one morning, before we had a chance to breed them, I got up to find one of the does dead. Okay. We still had the other doe, so we went ahead and attempted to breed her with the buck. Twice. Nothing. Blurgh.
At this time we were keeping the rabbits in wire cages, 30 or 24 inches square and 18 inches tall. The boy always seemed a bit crazy, so I started thinking it might be the little cage. Plus, they were on our back deck and that was getting a bit hard to keep up with cleaning. So back in March, I decided that we should build a big cage and keep the three remaining bunnies all together in a big colony. The morning of the day we were going to build the new cage, I found the remaining New Zealand doe dead in her cage. *sigh*
Okay, so that leaves me with the New Zealand buck and my original black and white Lop. So we build new house, put rabbits in, both are happy. Last month, I found a rabbit for sale on Craigslist near us and so we went and picked up another doe. That was April 10. So last Wednesday, May 6, I go out in the front yard and the new bunny and the New Zealand buck are both dead.
I can’t figure out what’s going on. Five bunnies,over two years. Different breeds, different ages, different living conditions. All healthy and fine in the evening; dead in the morning. But how? Is it disease? Improper diet? Parasite infection? And why isn’t whatever it is taking the Lop? Should we change her name to Connor MacLeod, The Hollander? Well, the dead rabbits still had their heads, so probably not.
I have to admit, I considered just giving up. I mean, is it really worth all this pain in the neck to have rabbit meat? Maintaining cages and feeding them. Then taking care of the babies once they are born, slaughtering them. But at the end of the day, I like taking care of the bunnies. I like animals. And now that I’m getting treatment for my allergies, I can be outside more. I mean, I’m not getting allergy shots just so I can lay around on the couch and breath, right? If I’m going to fill my body with chemicals and spray salt water up my nose, I am darn well going to do the gardening I’ve always dreamed of and never been able to tolerate. So the rabbits should be healthier with food fresh from our garden and yard.
I started thinking about what I want to do. The big parts of my life are easy. I know that God wants me in BSF leadership. I know we need to stay in this house, raise these kids. I know who I am and I know the big things that God wants me to do. But then there are the things that seem to be more…up to me, I guess.What hobbies should I devote my time to? Do I want to be a “gardener,” even on a casual basis? How far do I want to go with that? Small patch? Get the back yard in order and grow stuff back there, too? Just a big patch in the front? How big do I want our rabbit operation to get? Do I really want to build a rabbit house under the porch and give them run of half the backyard? That would house dozens of rabbits. It’s possible, but do I even want that? I don’t know.
I love the idea of a sort of homestead kind of lifestyle. At one point, my ex was looking at getting a job in a very rural town on the coast and the idea of having a little plot out in the country was very appealing. I’ve always wanted a garden. Before I was saved, I was a kitchen witch, making my own candles and dreaming of the herbs I would grow, if only I could handle being outside or around plants. Maybe it’s true that farming is in the blood. I don’t know.
On the other hand, I feel some disdain for people like that. Urban homesteaders, off-gridders, hobby farmers. People with bumper stickers that say things like “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” and “Live simply, so that others may simply live”. On one hand, it’s very personal. The idea of that lifestyle reminds me of who I was before I found Jesus. I don’t like the idea of courting that life again. On the other hand, it’s more social. There are so many people around me, in this hippy paradise, who obviously worship their simple lifestyles and their farms and livestock. And that was me. Before.
There are things about the old person that definitely need to be removed. Pride, lust, reliance on my own ability and competence. But, maybe there are things that I can take from my old self and redeem for my new life. And maybe, I can make my yearning to tend things and take care of them and make them grow into a reality now. Maybe God’s strength can do what I could never do on my own.
Well, not maybe. Definitely. I know he can, let’s see if he will.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.