Rabbit care is my responsibility on the farm. My brother Theo used to look after them but he fell out with Mum and Dad about pay so I volunteered to take over. I must admit the work load is creeping up so I’m beginning to see where Theo was coming from.
Rabbit Care Duties
At first my duties were just feeding them, checking their water and locking them up each night. Now rabbit care involves cleaning them out too and being responsible for providing branches to nibble on, watching their behaviour and how they treat their young. I tell you, rabbits are not just the cute cuddly animals you might imagine!
We have a cage at the back for Roger our boy; he is supposed to have one doe in with him every now and again in the hope of babies. Recently that all went wrong as one of the babies from last year, that Dad had declared a girl, turned out to be a boy. I had my suspicions when I caught him doing….. well you know what….. with the other rabbits when I went to feed them that evening. I told Dad, and after a second inspection, he agreed it was a boy. Now we had 2 cages at the back with boys, they can’t go together or they would fight.
We were short of babies for spring so we didn’t worry too much about the undiscovered boy. However it soon became clear he had done his work when a litter appeared in the nesting box.
Over the next few days we watched the babies develop. I could tell who the mother was as she was often in feeding when I went to lock them up; all looked well. Then suddenly Dad went to open the rabbit house with the guests at the end of the feed run to find them all dead and shut the door again pretty quick! When I say dead, I mean half eaten and all over the rabbit house, it was like a scene from The Transporter. We don’t know why it happened, but Mum had this theory another more superior mother was also pregnant and due to give birth and wanted the nest for her own. Dad always laughs at her theories but I thought she might be onto something and set about making a second nesting place.
A genius idea
I took some old ply board from our Carnival float last year, cut a hole and nailed it to the back open storage area. I left a space at the top to add sawdust and look inside and then took another piece of wood from Dad’s shed, nailed some smaller pieces on to this and made a step ladder. Now if Mum was right 2 rabbits could have a litter in 2 different places.
I have seen rabbits coming and going to my new hide out but so far no one has made a nest in there. Mum’s theory about the massacre might have been right though as just a couple of days later there was another litter born in the original nest. These have continued to thrive, though we still can’t work out who the mother is. There always seems to be a different bunny on feeding duty.
They were just old enough to be handled by the Easter holidays and Mum took lots of photos of the children with them. I’m quite attached to them now, but I know Dad will soon be letting them go home with the guests and trying for some new babies.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.