Sometimes there is no answer. Sometimes that little one in the litter just doesn’t grow. Why are all it’s littermates twice the size? Why is it so weak, so docile? It’s eating and drinking, what’s the matter?
We had our first kit die this weekend from failure to thrive. It had the same access to all the same resources as it’s siblings, and yet, it didn’t grow. There have been recent growth spurts from the rest of the litter, so now the one that seemed to be a “little behind” was now definitely behind. On Saturday all the five week olds went into the grass growout cage and the little one ate the veritable feast below it’s feet and drank from the water bowl, resting at the sides of the cage. The next morning my daughter found the little kit dead. She buried the little kit in our rabbit cemetery, near one who had died two months ago in a cage accident.
Failure to thrive is exactly what that sounds like. Generally, kits who are afflicted with FTT have something genetically wrong with it, somewhere in it’s DNA. Possibly this kit was damaged at birth, perhaps stuck too long behind the kit who died at birth, while it’s mother struggled to give birth. Maybe there was a DNA coding error, a protein not manufactured in appropriate amounts. Maybe there was just a fatal flaw somewhere in it’s biologic design that couldn’t cope with growth. I don’t know.
All the rabbits that are born into Soaring Goose are cared for from the moment of birth to the moment they go wherever their destiny takes them. It’s frustrating to see a potential life wither away and there is nothing I can do about it. No medicinal plant, no amount of probiotics, nothing I do can make a FTT kit be the kit it should have been. It makes me sad. It makes my daughter sad too. I hope she knows that I feel sad too. And that I am thankful for her tender care of those who have passed beyond the realm of the living and safely ensconcing them into their earthen graves.
She has a big heart and it shows; she is thriving where some of her charges have not.
Rabbit meat used to be as common for dinner as chicken is today. My family and grandparents all grew up eating rabbit, and raising them in their backyards. It is the protein source that got many families through the tough times of the Depression, and in Europe, WWII, according to our surviving family friends. One […]
This is a five gallon bucket full of dandelions. Every single one of them came out of my front yard. This picture would delight the local Yard Service Guy or horrify the neighbors that use a weed-n-feed to stave off invasion. Picky horticulturalists would note that the tap roots are not attached to the dandelions in the bucket and shake their heads, commenting, ‘What a waste of work’.
This is the second bucket of dandelions I have popped out of my front yard. I will be honest, I hadn’t expected them to be so everywhere in the lawn. Insidious.
When we first moved to this house the lawn could have been an advertisement for ‘Barefoot Grass’ of yesteryear. Lush, deep grass, full of single bladed grass from edge to edge. Green so deep you it seemed you could swim in the grass.
By the second year (and no yard treatments) the grass was still proud, but the invaders had begun to edge in. I knew what was going to happen and said a silent good-bye to the lush jungle that use to be the Yard to Envy to the neighbors.
The third year the grass receded and made way for dandelions, clover, plantain, sow thistle, and it was a raggedy lawn. I put down a weed-n-feed fertilizer in desperation, and after it recovered from the burn of too much, it looked great–in spots.
The fourth year we got our first rabbit and I began to do research. The back yard was struggling, having had the same lawn treatment as the front, but it was now infested with white grubs, aka Japanese beetle larva, and wherever they were, the grass died and didn’t come back. That fourth year we let the rabbit out on the back lawn and I noticed that wherever she hung out, the grass brightened up, fortified by calcium pee and bunny poops. That winter we got more rabbits and I started to save the rabbit poop to add to the flower beds the following spring.
Late winter and early spring of the fifth year I began to rinse out the rabbit poop trays and chutes on the back lawn. When spring turned into summer, the back yard exploded with verdant greenery. Last summer we had to mow the back twice as often as the front and the white grub problem went away. Last fall I raked the thatch out of the back lawn and applied a generous layer of rabbit poop to disintegrate over the course of winter.
It’s now May 4th, the beginning of our sixth year here, and our back yard lawn health rivals anything the Yard Service Guy could accomplish.
Seeing the magnificence of the back yard, I have turned my attention to the front lawn, poor struggling thing. I have begun to rake the thatch out and wash the rabbit pans in the front, although it’s inconvenient. The garden beds that have received rabbit poop for the last two years? You can see where the nutrients from the beds have washed down into the lawn, a veritable green tide of health spreading down the slope, a darker shade of green than the rest of the front lawn. Don’t get me started on how amazing the flower and vegetable garden beds are.
Which leads me to dandelions. The dandelions have benefitted from the non-management of the front lawn. They’ve got deep tap roots and compete with the plantain for space in the front and the treelawn (also known as the devil’s strip and just “lawn” in other parts of the USA) and that’s okay, because those weeds are free food for rabbits. Me, too, if I really needed to eat. I went into a local grocery story back in December looking for dandelion for my nursing does and the store wanted $7 for a handful of organically grown dandelion leaves!!! Now look at me–I’ve got ten gallons of dandelions for free!!! Plus their nutritious, vitamin C packed flower heads!! Over the course of the last day and a half, the rabbits ate the first bucket of dandelions (except for the roots). So today I went out and plucked another 5 gallon bucket of dandelions from my lawn. I left the tap roots–I want them to come back so I can keep feeding the rabbits all summer. When the rabbits eat the dandelions, they poop, and I take that poop back to the nutritionally starved front lawn, which is really starting to love the rabbits and is greening up quickly.
My daughter found a small white flower the other day and asked me to identify it since she’d never seen it before–it was a wild white violet. I see the occasional Johnny Jump Up popping through the lawn. I’ve planted crocus in random spots in the front lawn, so we can see when spring arrives in Ohio. Tonight, as I look over my mostly dandelion free front yard, I think the Yard Service Guy would still be horrified. There’s clover, alfalfa, fescue, violets, plantain, and all sorts of other ‘not-grass’ growing in amongst the fading ‘barefoot’ bluegrass. It’s a diverse ecosystem of a lawn, something for Everybug.
The plantain (a member of the spinach family and can be prepared the same) is getting bigger and should be ready to start harvesting soon. It is the one of the safest, most perfect food for rabbits and babies starting on greens for the first time ever. And it’s a great bug bite remedy.