Work on the wire framing was put off a little more to move Nutro outside for the last of the warm weather. We finished the door on the second cage, did the majority of the wire work on the lower two (sans stapling), and put Nutro outside.
You’ll notice a few changes in this picture from ours a couple of days ago… One; not only are both top cages finished but you can see the wire for both lower cages stretched across the front. Two; there are two rabbits out instead of one. Three; the boxes in each cage as a shelter, toy, chewing object or whatever else they need. And four; the tarp on top of the cage.
Conveniently we got a huge rainstorm right after we moved Nutro in (you remember how I said rabbits do fine if they are DRY and warm?,) but I already had a plan devised to keep the majority of the wet out. There are two blue tarps that come across the front of the cage. They tack down the grommets over a series of eyelets and with a few wire rings to hold them in place and the whole thing buttons down tight. Last night the rain hit and the wind blew but the tarps held majestically! It did not keep it AS dry as I liked but that may just be because the air is so wet right now.
With the warmer temperatures all the ice has melted but I wish it hadn’t. My back yard is a shoe-eating swampland and I will have to change the rabbits bedding quite soon because of the cold front coming in. I can’t have them damp because of that. But with so much water EVERYWHERE it’s hard to imagine things ever being dry again. My back yard has some spots of standing water six inches deep and I literally lost one of my heavy steel-toed boots walking through the muck today and took a whole step in a socked foot. BLECH. It’s also worth noting that what little grass we had has been covered by mud. It’ll be a miracle if my yard survives.
But lost shoes, mud and wet was worth it when I came out to feed the rabbits this evening and Nutro bumped my hand with his nose and then ran to dig in the bedding. It was almost as if he was saying “Hey! Look at what I can do! It’s great!”. Nutro has been stressed lately, refusing to let himself be touched and running away frantically, even hunching himself in a corner just stressing out. That he would willingly bump my hand and was so relaxed while digging is a great sign.
Evo is doing well outside also, practically mugging me when I bring out food and water in excitement. Rabbits going to the front of a cage for food and love when their caretaker comes in is what happy pet rabbits do. It’s what my lops do. And it’s great to see. Her cage feels a little damper but it’ll all be fixed before the cold front and the next rain.
Tasty got her last health check by me before I decide to re-breed her. I was checking for body condition and mastitis. Her eyes are clear, she has strong, thick, musculature with a layer of fat still and her teats are all a light healthy pink. No signs of mastitis at all. This means she is healthy enough to re-breed and I’ll be doing that soon. I was going to breed Evo but her cage was broken into while she was still housed in the garage across from Nutro. So who knows what happened there. I know they got into a fight as Evo had a nasty bite on her rear that is healing well. Bred or not it’ll be good to give them some time apart for now.
And Purina is doing great. Her litter is growing fast and has been eating more solid food lately. Today I fed her even more extra than she already is getting to make up for what the babies eat. I spent some time just petting her head and was greeted with the feeling of her teeth rubbing together as her eyes closed peacefully. In rabbits this is a sign of great relaxation and happiness. She just settled in and let me pet her, her babies, and even move some things in her cage a little without any fuss.
These rabbits seem to be happier and healthier than ever. They have all lost a small layer of fat because I free-feed hay… This is actually really good because overweight rabbits actually don’t breed well. The fat builds up around the uterus and keeps the babies from forming and the does can miscarriage quite easily. When I got these four they were a little over-weight on nothing but commercial feed. Now they get constant hay forage and after months of that their bodies are leaner but still plenty heavy with muscles and they are all quite active. Since they all have constant access to hay they’re never going hungry. They’re just not eating constant junk food.
In the end, it was great to see how well all the rabbits are doing today. They are so much happier in the outside hutches and I am glad. My weather-barrier works pretty well (except for the prevailing humidity which will go down) for which I am glad. And Purina is able to be so relaxed around me now that I can simply reach into her cage and pluck out a baby with almost no reaction. Today was a good day.