learning · rabbits

Bunnies! 6-2-2012

Monday, July 2, 2012.

    Babies of any kind are wonderful.  There is just something about babies that makes everything seem right in the world.  Today, Sally, our Broken Satin doe rabbit had eight baby bunnies, all healthy, all adorable.  We were not for sure if she was even pregnant.  Breeding rabbits is crazy, blink and its over.  So, when we put Sally in Louie’s cage the whole process took only about three minutes!  It’s hard to trust that it took, if you know what I mean, when the breeding is so simple.  The girls have been watching Sally to try to determine if in fact she was bred.  They would come in from the barn and say things like, “She sure is fat, mom.” or “She sure is calm, mom.”
(Rabbit does settle down when they are bred.)

    About a week ago we put a nesting box in the cage with her.  Everyday the girls would look for signs that she was about to give birth.  When a pregnant rabbit is due they build a nest in a nesting box by pulling out their own hair and forming a nest from the hair and hay.  We provided the nest box and hay, and Sally would do the rest.  For several days Sally did nothing in the nesting box, and the girls were almost convinced that we were wrong, Sally was not pregnant.  Then all of a sudden, 24 hours before she gave birth, Sally built the most magnificent nest.  The hair and straw hay in her box looked like a bird’s nest, a soft bed of warmth and safety, and we were amazed at the site of it.  Excitement began to build!  We did it, Sally did it, her nest meant that we were going to have baby bunnies at any time!
    Caroline went to the barn the morning of July 2nd, and she came out with the biggest smile on her face.  I was on the back porch drinking coffee, and I could see her smile from where I was sitting.  She immediately went and woke Adalay and Sophia.  Sally had given birth to seven baby bunnies early that morning, although they looked more like wet rats.  The excitement and joy was tangible.  When daddy called to check the status, everyone was so excited to tell him.  He was feeling the joy of new life, too.  It was a great day.  Now if we can keep the rabbits alive in this intense Texas heat.  Slade put a sprinkler on the roof of the barn to come on automatically during the hottest part of the day.  We have other rabbits also, and it is important to keep them from getting too hot as well.  

     Rabbits are a wonderful learning experience, and a significant part of our homeschool life.  One unique benefit is that the girls have the opportunity to learn about the natural process of procreation in a safe environment.  With animals, it is what it is, and there is little room for embarrassment or awkwardness.  The facts of birth can be observed without any moral judgments or complicated explanations.  Rabbits also provide an opportunity for the girls to observe the frailty of life, but also how amazingly resilient and strong the life force is.  Caring for Sally in her time came naturally for us all, it is amazing how we as humans know innately that we must protect life.  We are caretakers by nature, and raising animals, even caring for pets, helps develop that instinct in my kiddos.  They are learning to be stewards of life through observing nature and the life cycle.  Hopefully, they too will build nests as magnificent as Sally did when it is their turn to have babies and care for them.  I know I am speaking metaphorically, however all the lessons learned in the Bunny Barn are real, and I am thankful for them.

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