Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a little while. It’s been an extremely difficult month, then last week I finally had a week where everything seemed ok, although I was purposely avoiding the internet last weekend because I can’t stand seeing Mother’s Day crap all over the place (even before my parents died, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have always been the worst four days of the year. I wish the UK and US holidays would synch up so I only have to go through half the heartache each year… guess it’s another argument for emigrating). I was going to catch up with everything after that was done. But then, the whole universe had to fuck off again because our oldest bunny, Cleo, died on Sunday. She had just turned 12 years old.
She died peacefully, in her favorite spot in the living room; beside the food bowl. Barely half an hour earlier, my Dearest had fed her some carrots. She’d been having a bad morning but she was still wandering around and showing an interest in all her favorite things, right until the very end.
We have buried her in the garden with Banacek, because they were a bonded pair before he died.
The strangest thing is, about three nights ago, I went to the bathroom and when I came out I looked in on Timmy in his bedroom, and I swear Cleo was sat beside him. It was the weirdest phenomenon. I don’t know if it was wishful thinking or a trick of the light that my brain interpreted or what, but it wasn’t just a shadow; it was a brown rabbit with pert ears and bright eyes, snuggled up with Timmy.
Night night, little bunny. We will miss you so much.
We took over about 1/3 of our garden (the third with the lawn in) and turned it into a little bunny village that could originally hold all 6 of our rabbits (when we actually had 6 rabbits), it was designed to be a self-contained play and living area for them because we didn’t want them getting cooped up in unfamiliar hutches while we went on our holiday driving around Europe in summer 2014. This way, all our designated rabbit feeders had to do was feed them, the rabbits had toys, companionship with other groups (they were three pairs) and lots of room to exercise. The third hutch was at the back of the run but we threw it out (actually it’s still partly standing on the concrete, wood is always useful) when Fifer got Katie because she was too big to share his first hutch.
When we came back from Europe, we moved the 2 rabbits from the shed back into the house (Banacek and Cleo) and bought Fifer and Katie a new deluxe 2 storey hutch that was 5 foot wide and 18 inches deep, Katie adored it. We took the downstairs hutch doors off so they could have 24/7 indoor-outdoor access, which all the rabbits were used to by this point, and we’d already removed a couple of bricks so rabbits could get from the brick shed into the main run. The floor of the shed I covered in straw so it was basically an extension of their rabbit hutch. At this point, the rabbit run was still sectioned into three parts and Banacek and Cleo had the back of the run now when they wanted to play outside, which was slightly awkward for carrying them because Banacek never got used to being handled.
When Neville died, leaving Sebastian behind, about 18 months ago, I thought it was best to let Sebastian live out his days in the hutch we got him in, since he was very small (Netherland Dwarf) had a whole shed to himself (the wooden one) and a garden, and I wanted him to have continuity. Unfortunately, about three months ago with the really shitty weather we’ve had, the bottom of his hutch started to go rotten. I ripped the whole thing out one afternoon and redesigned a second hutch – the spare one we’d kept in the kitchen, that was going to be Banacek and Cleo’s outdoor hutch until Banacek died – and gave that to Sebastian. It’s the exact same hutch that Fifer and Katie (and now, Fifer and Poppy, who live part-time in the house because Poppy likes being inside but Fifer doesn’t like being an indoor bun) have in their shed, with a few slight differences because this hutch was a £30 fixer upper and the other was in pristine condition for nearly £100 (with discount vouchers). More info on how to design an inspirational rabbit hutch
The most important thing to talk about is the type of fencing to use, to make sure the rabbits really can have 24/7 indoor/outdoor access. You need a fencing that is really rabbitproof (insert joke about Australia’s rabbitproof fence here). We used different types of fencing in different areas to make the most rabbitproof run without having to spend 100 years making it:
The top of the run is made out of chickenwire.
The chickenwire replaced this miserable plastic crap that my husband brought home.
Apart from where it’s against a fence, the chickenwire starts at 4 feet high because rabbits WILL chew through chickenwire, even the coated green stuff. The chicken wire replaced that awful lurid green stuff that was made of plastic that my husband bought, and which has been an eyesore for 18 months. Don’t use chicken wire anywhere that a rabbit’s mouth can reach unless there’s something behind it, and AVOID that stupid plastic stuff at all costs, I was against it from the moment I saw it, and when we were removing it, Poppy came out to explore, got tangled in it before we could stop her, and she nearly died. £600 of vet bills later she’s ok but it was the most harrowing experience.
At the very bottom of the rabbit run we have put this thick and relatively inflexible metal the squares are about 1.5cm wide each, so rabbits can’t get their noses through.
A little bit higher, we never had a problem with the green squares until we got Poppy. She’s a gorgeous Dutch bunny with a slightly more petite bone structure than our other rabbits, and being a bright young thing she will leap up and climb through these two levels of squares so I had to wrap this green wire diagonally to stop her getting out. I wouldn’t mind but it takes her too long to get back in because her bum gets stuck, and if a cat was in the greater garden it could very quickly eat her.
Toys are important to me for the bunnies, as important as grass I can’t stand the idea that they ever might be bored in their bunny village, so I like to give them as many things to do as will fit. I did make a little climbing frame for them but we had to take it apart when I replaced some of the fence panels earlier this year, so the components (such as this ladder) are still around.
And the most important thing in our giant rabbit enclosure is to make sure they can’t escape, because there are a lot of neighborhood cats and there are local foxes who have shat in our greater garden (bag it using 2 sandwich bags so you don’t touch it, clean the area with neat jeyes fluid, rinse with boiling water) so we know they are aware of our rabbits. So we fasten the door (an old garage side door we got on Freecycle) with a lock and a piece of wire. Before we used the wire, the vicious northern winds had been known to blow it open which can be very dangerous at night. I do let Fifer and Poppy out into the wider garden regularly (Sebastian doesn’t like going out of his run) they eat all my weeds it’s amazing.
So that’s our bunny village, currently housing Fifer, Poppy and Sebastian! What do you think? Have you made anything similar for your rabbits?
My latest Youtube video is here and I also need some photography advice.
Petit bébé lapin “Timmy” joue avec le ballon.
Piccolo coniglietto “Timmy” gioca con la palla.
Whichever language you speak, it’s freaking adorable (also I feel so proud I translated the title and description into French and Italian for Youtube)! Enjoy cute bunny video (sorry about the wobble):
By the way (and this is why I tagged photography, sorry if that’s going to annoy people I promise I don’t usually do this), does anyone have any tips for photographing fast moving objects that startle if you move too close?? Any tips at all even if they seem obvious? I find it hard to get my focus etc sorted before the rabbit moves again and he’s so movable! And when he moves, the light levels change from where he was to where he is, and then I need to change all the settings on my camera by which time he’s moved again! What do other people do?
Sunday was Banacek’s funeral. We buried him in a cardboard rabbit carrier, with his favourite toys; the chewy hemp carrot, the chewy sticks, his first cuddly rabbit (stuffy), as well as his drinking bowl. We rested him on a piece cut from his favourite blue carpet out of his bedroom, then we tucked him in with his favourite towel, the one he kept pulling under him after he got neutered. We read him the story of Snuggle Bunny, our rabbit book puppet with the adorable bedtime story (hey, I don’t judge YOUR insomnia tactics). The book still has a little nibble out of the spine from the time Banacek “investigated” it.
We dug a big hole and gently laid him in it, then covered him over with soil, it was absolutely pouring it down with rain and we fenced it off with rabbit run panels so he doesn’t get dug up by foxes. He’s next to Katie and Neville.
The cynical part of my brain observes that there is literally no room left for vegetables in the garden. I was going to put in a picture of him in his little box, but WordPress crashed when I tried to upload the picture (why didn’t they put an “add pictures” button in the ‘New Posting Experience FFS), and I had to restart the whole internet to restore this backup, so I’m going to leave it with what’s already in this post.
It’s been colder in the house since he died, and we all keep expecting him to run up and down the stairs, to hop into the living room and investigate the food situation, or to try to get into the bathroom or kitchen. The house just feels so big and empty now. It’s like the colour has just disappeared out of the whole house, and everything is much greyer and duller than it was before.
As the days have gone on, we have realized that we’d built our whole life around Banacek; everything from how we organize our day to the furniture in the house, the fact that we redecorated the living room with adhesive tiles to stop him chewing the first two feet of wallpaper, the stairgate-type barriers in the doorways of our bedroom and the bathroom, to stop him getting into danger. He had his own bedroom in the house, a room which was predominantly his giant 6′ by 6′ rabbit hutch, and his upstairs toys scattered around. Every corner of the house has a sawdust litter tray so he didn’t have to get caught short, and our Hoover is the special pet one to pick up his fur from the carpet. The kitchen is full of a variety of dry rabbit foods, toys and accoutrements that were in rotation so he never got bored, since he didn’t have an outdoor run any more (Fifer kind of stole it), and we specifically chose and modified our furniture and electricals to make a safe, accessible and stimulating environment for him. We only got Cleo to be his friend because he was getting lonely, and we worried that we’d have to cope with his grief when she died of old age, since she’s 11 and he was only 3. Before we adopted Cleo, we used to take Banacek on bunny playdates with other houserabbit owners so he could socialize with members of his own species.
Nobody really gets this, but this is definitely harder for both of us than losing the baby. I think the reaction from other people, that “meh, it was just a rabbit” response, has made it so much worse, because it’s made us realize Banacek’s profound impact and amazing presence didn’t really extend past our house. Banacek was so central to our life that not having him here to greet us, wait for us, harass us for things he doesn’t need, to give us affection, to focus our attention on, to adore and lavish with love and snuggles… All our little every-day rituals, all the songs we’d changed the words to so Banacek was the focal point, all the tiny bunny crockery for his different nibbles… He was interested in literally everything we did, and everything that he did was naturally awesome. I even started this blog so I could share the delight of Banacek with the world. And everyone who came to the house was always so taken with him; how can people be so fickle and heartless about such a wonderful bunny?
The house just feels empty. My soul feels empty. Everyone in the house feels the same right now. My Dearest explained it best this morning, when he said “I keep putting the central heating on, but I feel so cold on the inside.” The house is a balmy 16 degrees right now and I’m huddled under a blanket in my dressing gown, and I’m still freezing.
Banacek was the life and soul of the party. And now the party’s left, and we’ve just got a big empty venue to clean up, and that one sick girl to look after who drank too much.
How do you find meaning and purpose when you had it, you were happy with it, and it got taken away from you?
Now he’s gone, I’m coming up with nothing.
We’ve lost our best friend, our confidante, and our baby bunny all in one. Banacek was our world. If you think that’s hyperbolic you just didn’t know how amazing Banacek was.
I promise my next post will be something upbeat, but today I needed to tell the world about how important Banacek was.
Very sad times; we are struggling to even comprehend how this happened. Cleo is doing her best to make sure he gets a good send-off, we will have his funeral tomorrow in the garden unless it’s too flooded. This is pretty much all I have to say about it: