Walking into the rabbitry, it’s more quiet than usual. The adults shuffle around and stretch up to greet me and the babies huddle around their moms waiting for the next round of hay.
The three month old mixed breeds are gone, off to what is gently termed “freezer camp”. Six who were born and lived in my care, all who shared the name ‘Dinner’.
Today, however, is full of activity. The growout cages need to be cleaned and sanitized for the next group of youngsters, a large group of pedigreed NZRs and those mixed breeds bound for freezer camp (FC) in six weeks. Water bottles to be washed, salt licks to be renewed, resting mats to be scrubbed and left in the sunshine, and the little wood shelf to be scraped and sanded. Water splashes on the floor as a wire brush scrapes the crusted calcium from cage floors where the rabbits chose to pee, sending a grey chalky water down the floor drain.
Inventory is taken–how many bags of pellets are left, how many pounds of oats remain in the 50lb bag, do I need to purchase more hay? I need to buy another canister of flake Old Fashioned Oatmeal, which I sprinkle in nestboxes when kits are about 8 days old, to help them transition to solid food. How many salt licks to I have available? Are the nail clippers where they should be? Is there enough sunflower seed for the does due in 10 days? Is the extra bottle of apple cider vinegar nearby? I get two wood nest boxes from storage and stuff them full of straw and hay, since the does are starting to dig at the corner of their cages.
Bowls and cups and ceramic dishes that linger on counters get taken into the house to be washed. I return to the rabbitry, water glistening on the floor, mostly gone. Now it’s time to dump poop pans and slides and give them a rinse off. The rinsing is done on the grass, which is why I have a luxurious lawn. The poop goes straight into the garden compost bin, to nourish the parsley, strawberry, basil, kale, and carrot tops that I will feed the rabbits. Slides and pans are returned to the appropriate rabbits and now it’s time to wield the shop broom and sweep up the fallen straw, hay, and lingering poops on the floor.
It’s time to assemble the Growout cage setup. The cage goes back into it’s slot in the Fortress of Rabbitude with three resting mats in it, the wooden shelf zip-tied to the back wire, two half-gallon waterers refilled and placed in their spots, the hay ring stuffed full and latched to the wire, the feeder filled to the top, the salt lick placed where the babies can stretch up and satistfy their cravings. All is ready to tranfer the six week old weaned rabbits to the next stage of their lives.
It’s the Day After, a cycle that repeats itself every three months or so. There are weeds to be eaten, tree branches to nibble, rabbit shows to attend, with sunshine and breezes to be enjoyed. New rabbits are born and older ones make the journey to new homes.
It’s life in their rabbitry.