Bastard Rabbits

Every morning, after I get the children off to school, I do chores. I feed and water the chickens and usually chase the escaped hen back into the chicken run. I spend a lot of time chasing that hen back into the run. *sigh* I then feed and water the rabbits, currently we have over fifty. (Yes, I said fifty.) I then check on any new baby rabbits and pet and cuddle any older, baby rabbits. I check any pregnant does and give scratches, hay, treats, and willow branches to everyone. I clean out cages and coops, and shovel rabbit poop into the garden beds, as needed. After that I let the dogs out and feed and water them. I do this every morning and again after school. In the summer you can add multiple trips to the freezer to retrieve frozen 2 liter bottles of water, to help keep everyone cool. This process takes anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours.

Today it was pouring rain.

I decided that everyone could wait until there was a break in the weather.

That was a bad decision on my part.

This is not one of the rabbits in question. This is Otter, he's
one of our bucks and our pet. 
If you are a personal friend of mine on Facebook, you've probably gotten a chuckle out of my #urbanfarming posts where I tell you about some of the funnier yet more frustrating aspects of raising our own food. Mostly, I post about rabbit's kindling (giving birth), chicken walking with a harness (yes, it's a thing), and about rabbits escaping. That's what I'm going to share with you today.

We have what's called a grow out pen. It's exactly what its name implies, a pen used to house rabbits while they are getting bigger. The rabbits are put into one of two grow outs, after they are weaned from their mother. This first grow out is for smaller rabbits and the second for the larger ones that are closer to butchering age/size.

PSA: We eat rabbits. We also raise the rabbits that we eat. Yes I know that they are cute and fluffy and that many people have rabbits as pets, we have a couple that are pets also BUT the entire reason we got into rabbits was to raise them for food. It doesn't mean that we don't care for our rabbits, quite the contrary! Our rabbits are well cared for and very happy. We love them and treat them respectfully. To us, they are livestock, just like a cow, pig or chicken. 
We also live in a rural community, so we really don't have to explain this to many people but I know that many of my regular readers are not from rural areas and this might be a foreign concept. 

One of the problems with our large grow out pen, is that we designed it hastily and with materials we had on hand. The other problem with our large pen is that rabbits are bastards and are never satisfied with the food, hay, treats and willow branches that are freely offered to them. No! They want the stuff that is OUTSIDE the pen, like my garden of garlic and chilies. Did I mention that they're bastards?

Typically, the rabbits only try to escape when they are out of food and they have gotten out before and required me and the children to catch them. But recently, they've been getting out... whenever the hell they feel like it! See? Bastards!

Last night, I didn't sleep for whatever reason. So with the rain tapping gently on my roof, I decided that this morning was the perfect morning for a little nap. So of course I received approximately FIVE BILLION phone calls and or texts and one tentative knock on my door. I answered the door to find my very sweet, backyard, neighbor letting me know that there were little, white, bunnies hopping all over my yard. I thanked her (at least I hope I did, I was kind of half asleep) and put on my boots and grabbed my fishing net.

It was time to round up bunnies!

My rabbits are handled quite a bit. My children love petting them. I love petting them. The neighbors love petting them! So most of them were more than happy to hop over to me and let me pick them up and return them to their grow out, rewarded with an alfalfa cookie and a fresh bundle of hay. But I have four rabbits that prefer the "free range" life and I spent the better part of an hour slipping and sliding around my muddy yard in an attempt to apprehend those evil, bastards. Oh, and did I mention that it was P-O-U-R-I-N-G rain?

I hate those four rabbits. I know they are the brains behind these escape attempts. I know they only escape to torment me! NONE of my other litters ever tried to escape from the grow out. Ever since their birth, they've been unsatisfied with their lot. As soon as they were big enough to look over the dividers separating the kindling boxes they would try to hop the wall into another doe's box, There they would eat the other doe's pellets and sometimes even nurse from their "surrogate" mother. Sneaky, sneaky, opportunistic, bastards...

After an hour, I returned to my couch. Muddy. Tired. Wet and defeated. I left the four of them to hop around the backyard all day, along with one escapee chicken until the children arrived home from school. Then, with the children's and my backyard, neighbor's help, we rounded up the last of the bastard rabbits.

They won this battle. Today, victory was theirs.

*bastard rabbits*

Peace Out!
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