Friday, January 18, 2008

Kids in the Rabbitry

Over the last several weeks my three wonderful boys, Brandon, Keith, and Jonathan, have been helping me out in the rabbitry. They get into bed early the night before, and then I wake them at the crack of dawn before the sun comes up to go out and tackle the morning chores. We have chickens (the remaining few that are left after the mink episode:( ), but the bulk of the work right now involves the rabbits---dumping and refilling feed and water dishes, thawing them if necessary, passing out hay, knocking poop out from under the cage floors, and sweeping up the floor when the whole thing is finished.

The guys have done a great job since they started. They have been very careful to keep cage doors latched when transporting dishes back and forth, and they have definitely gotten the hang of keeping adventurous, over-curious babies from spilling out over the edge of the cage door, LOL. They have begun to realize how important it is to be meticulous when caring for animals because if you are careless or overlook one on any particular day, someone could go without water or miss out on critical early care if a medical problem suddenly pops up. They figured out all by themselves that it was a good idea to first dump the dishes and refill them, but then to start again at the beginning to check every cage systematically in order to make sure that no one got missed. I continue to measure the food out to make sure everyone gets the right ration, but Jonathan (my youngest) pours it out into the dishes himself and then squeals everytime the ravenous babies push him out of the way to jump into the pile and dig in:).

Here is a picture of Keith (age 10) carefully unscrewing a water dish:

And this is Jonathan (age 8) tending to one of Morwenna's babies:

This is Brandon (age 13) who is tall enough to reach the top cages now and generally adopts the same section of the rabbitry to take care of each morning.

All in all it has been a ton of fun having the kids come out with me every morning and best of all, it has cut the time that it takes to do chores in half:-). Once the weather gets warmer (and running water becomes readily available again) I plan on teaching them the glories of pan dropping (!!) and other fabulous rabbit activities, but by then the garden will be starting and we will have chickens again too (I hope), and there will not be enough hours in the day to take care of every little thing:(.
Children and animals are a match made in heaven, IMO. Many farmers and livestock people have their children out way younger than I do, but there is nothing like the cause and effect of livestock raising to teach them common sense, logic, consideration, attention to detail, and responsibility. It's a time-honored, wonderful way to grow up:).
More next Monday, and have a great weekend!

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