Since this blog is a place of trial and error as well as success, i feel it fair to share with you a major error and trial. It’s kindling week in my rabbitry: Sake kindled TEN healthy kits right before my eyes and Bluebell and Strawberry are both extremely heavy and looking like large basketballs in their midsection. Bluebell was due yesterday but had not appeared to nest. And when i think back, i realized i had not provided her enough hay with which to make an appropriate nest. My job as rabbit keeper is to provide my rabbits with the essentials for a healthy life, and i let them down.
I stepped into the rabbitry yesterday morning and noticed some objects in Bluebell’s nest. “Good job” i told her then paused…. oh no. The kits were strewn about the box in a little hay and even less fur. Rabbits pull fur from their bodies to line and cover their nest and Bluebell had failed in the preparations. The kits were cold. So cold and nearly dead. I quickly brought the whole nest box into the house and did my best to revive the little things. Oh, and did i mention there were ELEVEN of them? What a fantastic litter, filled with some beautiful colors i was eager to watch grow in. I had read that running them under warm water was a good solution, so i did that. All but three responded well! They were squirming around immediately!But the victory did not last long. I decided to get them all warmed up on a heating pad before putting them back in their mama’s cage. This seemed to be fine, but then i had a visitor call. I had an appointment with a gal from the extension office to discuss the management of my pasture. Important, yes – imminent, no. I left the kits in the house…. with the heating pad. I failed my little charges. I returned from my appointment to find every single one dead. I’m sure i essentially ‘cooked’ them and it makes me absolutely sick.
I know that part of farming is failing. Part of life is making mistakes. I understand that, but i cannot stand that my mistake could cause the death of so many little lives. From a business stand point, losing that many kits that young is better than losing them after feeding them a month, but it also sets me back a whole month in production. From a caring stand point – i hate the loss of life for any reason at anytime. Yes, these rabbits are being raised for meat, but when their time comes to be harvested, it will be done humanely and quickly. I can’t imagine raising larger animals like cattle with such long gestation times. At least rabbits “breed like rabbits” and a new batch will come around in about 6 weeks…. but that really doesn’t make me feel any better.
To top off my day, i heard from my friend who purchased my adorable and super sweet broken red buck that he had escaped. A domestic rabbit is not going to make it very long in the wild, especially at 7 weeks old. I’m praying he’ll show back up, but am not overly optimistic. He was as sweet as a stuffed animal, so his loss is just devastating.
In the meantime, i cannot read Bluebell at all. She has gotten some milk in, which is dangerous. I’m feeding her peppermint to help dry her up, but i cannot tell if she’s in distress, pain or even relief at not having to tend 11 kits for the next month. I’m hoping Strawberry helps make up for the lost litter by having a large litter herself. She is seriously about 2 pounds heavy, so i’m crossing my fingers!
So, for now i will focus on the fact that all my breeders are healthy and alive. I’m also very excited about a new acquisition: Thistle is a gorgeous broken black buck with a lot of promise. And Hazel, my current senior buck: i could not be more pleased. His first litters were small, but that is to be expected. His second litters have so far been 10 and 11: fantastic!
It isn’t always easy to focus on the silver lining. Sometimes sitting on the porch, sobbing with your head in your hands is all you can manage. But have faith in yourself, this gorgeous planet and the energy that binds us all that things will even out. If you do your best and truly learn from your mistakes, things can only get more awesome.
Live and learn, move on and focus on the joy.
I am truly blessed with the life i’ve had and continue to live. Living isn’t just looking back or forward, it’s being a participant…. and it’s not always fuzzy and warm. Sometime there is pain, but it makes the next joy that much more joyous.
Have you ever faced a truly challenging day? What did you take away from it?