Warning: This post may be too disturbing for some readers.
You may have noticed I made some changes to my blog. I am by no means a real homesteader, but I seem to be posting a lot lately about life here growing things through gardening and raising rabbits, ducks, and chickens. I would love to fill this acre of land and truly use it. It is not enough to merely own a piece of property if it has no real purpose. For us it's main purpose is to provide a great place for our kids to grow up. We started with 3/4 of an acre that we purchased with our home, but added a 1/4 acre so our kids would have a bigger backyard to enjoy. That is our MAIN PURPOSE. Included in that main purpose is the idea that learning to use that acre for the benefit of our family just goes along with our original plan. In the future we may have a chance to add to our property and, if so, we will. Anyway, I decided it would be fitting to add "on Our Little Acre" to my blog header. So, off to my real topic....
About a week ago we had another "round of death" here. It can be so depressing which is why I started not to blog about it all. The reality is that it comes with the territory of raising animals. And it seems to come in surges or "rounds of death". It started one Saturday with me spotting two young pre-teen boys wandering around behind our house. They looked suspicious, but I was did not want to overreact. Oddly, they quickly ran off into the tiny patch of woods behind our house (and by tiny I mean less than 4/10 of an acre..... you have to keep in mind we live in town). Later that evening we discovered a gun dart in one of our mid-sized chicks. Fortunately, it survived even though the dart went in about three inches. One of our laying hens was missing, though. Two days later we found remnants of her body and it is safe to assume that the boys probably killed her and an animal of some sort found the carcass. I was beyond aggravated that something so senseless happened to my chickens. Parents need to really think about what they are doing when they buy their children these type of "toys" (weapons!) without teaching them to have a healthy respect for said "toy"... and a respect for others and their animals/pets.
The second thing was our little rescued wild rabbit. Oh, he was doing so well! I had feed this little guy with a dropper 3 times a day. He was precious and he had just started eating rabbit food and I had weaned him from his dropper feedings. Because of this he was not wanting to be held as he had before. I was started to question how wild he actually would be since it is not a normally domesticated animal. One day Savannah notice something was wrong with our little guy, Easter. Easter had been attacked it appeared through his cage and his back leg appeared to have a puncture wound and appeared crippled. I was hoping it would heal, but it looked bad. That night he was attacked again and I am in awe of how anything could get to him in his cage with such small hole openings. He was completely mutilated and we suspect a cat did it. I am so glad my husband found it first because it was awful and he was able to clean up the area some. The kids were heartbroken.
The next thing a tiny baby bird... probably a day old that my husband was given at his school. His students called him "their hero" for his willingness to attempt to save it. It had to have only been hours old when they found it and he brought it home to me to save. I made it a little nest with a nightlight as a warming light and set to feeding it raw eggs with a dropper. It did not make it throught the night.
And the most devastating thing.... Patch... THE rabbit that started it all around here. After buying two California rabbits and realizing that was a mistake (one died due to heat stroke & we returned the other), we had some friends offer to give us their pet rabbit. They had not been ready for the responsibility of the rabbit, but knew Savannah and Sierra were. Patch was their first rabbit and she gave birth to many babies that the kids cuddled and adored. It was a big deal here to have "a rabbit that looked like Patch" because they really just had a love for her that they did not have for some of the other rabbits. One Sunday morning we were heading out for church and the kids went out to feed the rabbits before we left. Patch sits on top of her nesting box a lot, so she jump off, but landed wrong. She landed on her back and died right away. Apparently, she broke her neck/back. What a crazy freak thing to happen. Savannah was beside herself with grief.
For the most part that was it... the "round of death", but we really have had some more, also. You kind of get used to some of it even though it is still unsettling. We had a litter of baby rabbits born a few days ago to our momma rabbit, Mary. She had 7 living and one dead. For some reason one baby was still in it's embryonic sac. This seem to happen a lot. I don't know if the momma gets tires or if they don't realized they have missed one. Maybe they mistake it for the placenta. Sometimes one or two do not make it due to this. After realizing we had a new litter I began checking the other female rabbits cages. We had bred 5 females at one time... allowing them several days to mate. I discovered another horrifying scene in Miracles cage. Miracle is the rabbit that was dropped twice as a baby rabbit. It damaged her and clearly she will never be "whole". We have tried to let her have babies three times now, I think. The first time the babies all died and we thought it was due to heat or something. Her second litter did not make it, either. It was as if she did not know how to care for them. We started to not ever try again with her. We decided we would give her one last chance. And it must be said that she is the sweetest rabbit. I feel so bad for her. This time whe resorted to cannibalism.... sorry, I just do not know how to say it any milder. I don't know if she thought she was eating away the embryonic sac or the placenta. I truly hope that is the case. She is partially blind due to her falls. All that was left behind were the heads of three babies. (Sorry) I disposed of them and told the kids about it later and we discussed that she will not ever be bred again.
And that is how it is when you raise animals I guess. A month or so ago we lost all three of our bantam hens.... each in a different way, but by predator attacks. We also had a new chick drown in her water dish and another chick smother under the wait of her little flock of six. It seems to just happen in "rounds of deaths", I guess. It makes you very melacholy, but life does go on and you have to just keep doing what you are doing. It is hard, but it teaches us many things, as well. I think my kids are developing a better understanding of death than I ever did. And death is part of living. Everything that lives will one day die.