Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kits, Kids, and Growing Up Stubborn

This is one of those days when I'm really thankful for my blogging friends! Annette graciously wrote a guest post for me to share with you today. Life is full of challenging times, but we must learn to persevere and trust God to work out the details. Annette tells us about the challenges of raising rabbits, and how her son has been helping. Enjoy :)

One of the things I do is raise rabbits.  I love them.  They make great pets, excellent small livestock, and you can train them to do a variety of things from rabbit sports to therapy bunnies.   They are useful for meat, wool, hides, companionship, sport and competition.   They are such a multi-purpose animal and they come in so many varieties that breeding what you want and for whatever purpose is quite easy.

But with breeding animals, as with raising children, comes a great deal of responsibility.   You have this small livestock, that is a prey animal, and needs to be on a good diet in order to thrive, combine that with changing weather patterns, being an easily frightened animal, and it can at times spell disaster.

I've been breeding rabbits for more than 10 years and have run into my fair share of disasters, and now that I am raising a boy at home, I can help him to learn how to cope with disaster and think through problems.

Recently one of our disasters was the loss of a young doe. She was a first time mom, was finding the experience a stressful time, went off feed and then the weather changed. I could not get her restarted (using all my tricks) she just was one of those animals (just like you get with people) that when they get sick they just shut down. It left me with five eight day old kits to try to save.

Do note: I am NOT a vet. BUT I have lots of experience with raising animals. And since I have NO rabbit vets anywhere near me so I do my own vetting with the help of a great group of people on rabbittalk.com. What they don't know, I don't think a vet would know either. :)

Almost everyone in the rabbit world will tell you that trying to save kit under 14 days old is a real bear to do and that you will lose more than you save. Baby bunnies aspirate so easily and without mom's cecals to help stabilize their gut, even if you get them to 14 days you still risk losing them. Most breeders will chose to cull rather than manage the heartbreak of trying... but...we live to give things a good go.

So we fought to save the babies. The problem with fighting to save them is get attached.  And it's a hard one. It's hard work caring for wee babies.

We use goat milk.   I've saved babies with it before.  It's better than trying to do a formulation of kitten milk or cow milk.  Goat's milk is high in fat and that's what bunnies need.

Unless an animal is suffering I'll work with them. Here we have five babies. They quickly earned names... StarBright, Blue, Little One, Tongues and Stubborn. It's a bit of an experiment (hence the homeschooling aspect) to see what the kits will take to. We tried a sponge as apparently that's the NEW method of feeding baby bunnies.. COLOSSAL FAILURE. My lad was not happy. We tried the suck a towel soaked in milk thing.. so NOT working. Blue and Tongues couldn't figure out a medicine dropper so I raided our science kit and found a pipette!  WOOT WOOT!   It gave the needed control.   My son was delighted!   He managed to feed a baby bunny!

This is Tongues.   He was called that because he would ONLY drink if you put ONE drop of milk on his tongue at a time.  It took forever to feed him and it became apparent fairly quickly that something was wrong with him.  He couldn't "NOT" move.   The only time he was still was if he was snuggled up his siblings.      My lad and I took to the rabbit boards to see if we could figure out why and the best answer was that sometimes when moms die early, kits develop a neurological unbalance that if they do recover always have a tilt thing going on... and I wasn't going to subject him to that.    See in the pic how his head is at an angle?   I did very carefully medicate him to see if that would help him improve (in case it was an odd parasitic case), but alas it did not.      He was such a game boy though... got him to almost three weeks before it was apparent that it really wasn't in his best interest to continue struggling.

Special needs bunny this one.   Some bunnies, like people, just have a harder go of things and it takes time and patience to see them through.   They make you laugh and smile, and sometimes just plain break your heart.

What can I tell you about StarBright?  Wow this little girlie quickly stole our hearts.  Bright, eager, happy drinker.  Took to the pipette like no one's business.   I was so determined to see this little girl through..... and she broke my heart she did.   She was doing so so well and then she scoured on me.   Scours dehydrates bunnies so fast and it just wrecks their systems.

That's the way it is sometimes in schooling.   We think all is going well and then we are sidelined by health, criticism, poorly fitting curriculum... and we just fade away.  I hear of parents putting their children into public school because they just can't do it, they can’t manage what struggles come their way.  Of homeschool graduates who struggle through life due to parental choices and it's hard.

Blue, Little One and Stubborn
My little champions.
3.5 weeks old and I tossed them outside with a foster doe.
Immediately they all looked better and well cared for. I was stoked!   
Woot woot I was going to save three of the five and beat the odds.


But I forgot something important.
Baby bunny piles.   Babies like to pile on top of each other.
Blue... my little fighter blue got caught on the bottom of a bunny pile.
and so I kicked myself hard for forgetting that aspect of things.

Circumstances in life sometimes beat us down you know?  Through no fault of your own, it's just the weight of everything hitting you and if you have the strength you push through, and if you don't, well, it's just hard and sad. 

I continued to bring them in the house for supplemental feeding.
They were doing well.  
 Stubborn (who became little gentleman) was soon seen eating hay, drinking water, fitting in well.  
Little One was eating hay, nibbling on oatmeal, but water seemed to confuse her.
She wasn't transitioning well.
She started huddling off to a corner, shying away from the other kits.
When kits do that you know things aren't going well.
I started to worry.   I gave her more feedings, more care, and more hope.

But she just continued to fail.
That's the thing with bunnies right?
They are so subject to gut issues that if one thing goes out of whack, 
it can throw their entire body out of whack.
I found her dead.
A little girl who was SO hoping she would pull through cried.
She was such a hope for us.  

My Mom-in-law likes to tell the story of how my hubby liked school, thrived in school, 
until he got a teacher who was horrid to him.  
Product of a single mom home.  
She couldn't let it pass.
And bullied my hubby something fierce and it took him years to get past that.

ONE bad thing.
It's one of the reasons we homeschool.
Turned out well though, means I can homeschool my boy.  :)

and of course we have Stubborn.
Aka Mr. Gentleman.
Aka... ????  (turns out he's a she!)
One of five.

People ask me.. why Stubborn?
Because I could not get her to drink much of anything.
I kept wondering how she survived... on a wing and a prayer I think.
Most active of all the kits, we'd find her in the oddest places.  
She quickly transferred from the nest box to "under the chair"
So we put them in the cage (see above) simply to keep her contained.

When she finally did figure out the whole drinking thing 
(which is when she became Mr. Gentleman)
She would very prim and proper sit in my hand and LICK the milk out.
No sucking, no pulling, no biting.
Just a very neat lick.

She made me hoot.

So it's funny how
against all odds.
The one who fought the hardest my help
is the one who survived in the end.

I learned so much.
Some of it hard.
Some of it fun.
It's called the nitty gritty of raising rabbits.

Farewell Little one


Do continue to thrive Mr. Gentleman.... 
We really DO need a new name for you.
A good girls name...

Who am I?

Annette @  A Net In Time.
I homeschool my boy.
Encourage my pastor Hubby
and raise my rabbits at AT Home Pets.  :)

Here is an update: Stubborn needs your help - she want s a new name
 Annette is having a name the bunny contest and a book giveaway. (The book giveaway is only for Canada, but the name the bunny contest is for everyone!) 
You can read all about it on her blog at: review-and-canadian-giveaway-tales-of-bunjitsu-bunny


  1. I tried raising 7 once. It was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever experienced. I do think it helps make children compassionate to raise and learn from animals. Such unconditional love. My daughter thinks she should be called Snowfall

    1. Did you go over to Annette's blog and post your name suggestion?

  2. It's very hard isn't it Heather?

  3. Thanks for sharing your story! We think the name Joy would suit her since she has brought you so much of it.

    1. Make sure you go over to Annette's blog and enter the name in the bunny naming box!

  4. Wow, I had no idea that bunnies could have such a tough time of things. I really learned a lot!

  5. Carol...thanks for hosting this post. SnowFall became her new name. :) just thought I'd update you. :)