How to Handle Your Rabbit

I got this infographic about how to pick up and hold a rabbit, in an email from Pets At Home, and while I know how to look after my bunnies, I thought it might be useful for anyone with a rabbit (or considering getting a rabbit) just to see one of the ideal ways to handle a pet bunny.  There are other ways you can hold a rabbit that will still bring them comfort and reassurance but this is definitely useful if you’re thinking of getting a beautiful rabbit (don’t worry about the “rabbits are calmer when they can’t see,” all of my bunnies like to see what’s going on when they get picked up). I think this is helpful whether you’re getting a bunny either as a houserabbit or a garden rabbit.  Bunnies are especially popular to buy over Easter time, and I urge you to wait until four weeks after Easter if you’re getting a bunny, because that’s when the shelters (and Pets at Home’s adoption section, where 3 of my 5 rabbits have come from) start getting inundated with unwanted Easter bunnies.  It’s a very, very sad situation and I wrote a story about it last year to show what life is like for a lot of rabbits, from the rabbit’s point of view.  People buy them, don’t understand how to care for them, then leave them in a tiny hutch and throw food at them once a day (if they remember).  If the rabbit is lucky, the owner finally admits they were wrong and gives the animal up for adoption so it has a chance of a loving home, but many owners of unwanted rabbits don’t bother.  No animal wants to live like that and I’d like to think that all my readers are compassionate enough to read my other rabbit care articles before getting a bunny.  It’s very tragic that the most popular rabbit article on my site is “what to do with an unwanted rabbit” and last year it made the top 10 after Christmas and Easter (and after Christmas this year).  Anyway, here’s the infographic. Click the picture to enlarge:

how to handle your bunny rabbit
How to Handle Your Rabbit, by Pets at Home VIP Magazine.

I don’t own the image, it’s copyright to Pets at Home, this post is not sponsored and no affiliate links, I just thought it would be a useful resource for people with rabbits who aren’t members of Pets at Home VIP club (if you live in the UK, I strongly recommend you join them because it’s free and you get loads of benefits such as discount vouchers and free magazines with useful information like the infographic above).  You can join in any Pets at Home store or online.

Would you ever get a rabbit?  Have you already got one?

Bunny Pictures: Fifer the Half-Wild Bunny

Fifer is half wild. That means, against all odds, he is also apparently half domesticated. That’s the bit I can’t believe sometimes.  Physically, it’s most obvious that he’s part-wild in his fur: of our five rabbits, he’s the softest, silkiest, snuggliest little bunny (which makes him slide out of your hands when it’s vet time and he doesn’t want to be caught), he can run the fastest and is literally invisible when he’s in the garden because of his colourings, and he plays by nobody’s rules but his own.  I love Fifer so much, he’s my little tinypon where Katie is my giant bundle of squishy.

He looks so regal.
He looks so regal.
And he loves Katie a WHOLE lot.
And he loves Katie a WHOLE lot.

Bunny pictures: Katie

My camera’s still not got a battery. Luckily, I took loads of rabbit pics this week. Today’s star is Katie. Someone dumped her in a box outside my vets. So we adopted her. Katie-boo is my biggest, squishiest rabbit.

Katie is poised to make a break when I come to let her out.  She always thinks she's escaping it's so funny.
Katie is poised to make a break when I come to let her out. She always thinks she’s escaping it’s so funny.
Katie is on the outside, looking into her run wistfully.  The open door is 3 feet away.
Katie is on the outside, looking into her run wistfully. The open door is 3 feet away.
Katie never stops eating.  Never.
Katie never stops eating. Never.  And she’s so cute when she eats.

Here is a vid that proves that she never stops eating:

Wedding Wednesday: The Entertainment

This week I want to tell you about the entertainment.  This post contains affiliate links for those people who don’t know about certain games I’m referring to.

Minimalists are often portrayed as serious, quiet, dull (dare I say brooding), innovative if a little bland, so it’s no wonder that keeping guests entertained is often cited as the biggest worry for brides who want a minimalist wedding.  The Swedish Design Collective Sven from How I Met Your Mother are minimalists. If you don’t know who they are, here’s a clip (sorry it’s the only one I could find on YouTube): Sven.

Of course, anyone who really understands what minimalism is all about would laugh at the idea that a minimalist wedding has to be boring.  Our wedding was a far cry from the dull, short, grown-up affair that everyone was expecting when they heard our budget was £500.  Here’s what we did:

1. We had bubbles for people to blow instead of confetti.  A multipack of small tubs of bubbles costs surprisingly little, and keeps adults entertained through all those boring photo times after the actual legal bit.  Anyone who’s ever got married in the UK in a registry office (I guess US courthouse weddings are the same), you know what I’m talking about.  I was unbelievably bored with all the photography and it was my wedding!

2. We had our picnic at a public park.  While we weren’t near the apparatus, it was only a short walk away should anyone have wished to play on the swings.  Nobody did, which was a little disappointing but hey, apparently grown ups can be entertained without impersonating a pendulum.

3. We had an outdoor game called Kubb, which is a Viking game where you throw bits of wood at other bits of wood (as far as I could make out).  This kept guests entertained.  In addition, there was a re-enactment of the wedding ceremony for those people who could not come to our actual legal bit due to distance.  This was originally going to be for us to get all slushy and say our real vows etc but when we tried to write some we ended up with something resembling the wedding at the end of Spaceballs.  So we did that instead.

4. After the outdoor bit was done, we invited everyone back to our house, and loaded up Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U.  After a couple of hours of this, after my husband’s family had left, we moved onto Wii Spin The Bottle (ambiguously titled “Bumpy’s Party” for some reason, and doesn’t resemble the teenage house party game and no kissing or other ickyness is involved; I don’t know if this is available in the US), which is also highly entertaining for participants and observers.

And that is how we sorted out entertainment using things that we already had.  Total expenditure: £0.00.

You obviously won’t have the same games and console as us, but if you’re looking for ideas, here’s some other games and things that could provide entertainment, you may even have these already:

Indoors:

Twister Who doesn’t love Twister? This game is fun for children and adults, your gran might just amaze you (she also might refuse to participate, I don’t know, I’ve never met her).

Ticket To Ride Okay, so Ticket To Ride is a board game, but it’s really easy to understand.

Playing cards There are loads of possibilities with playing cards. There are loads of card games you can play with guests, the best idea is to get a few packs of cards because one pack won’t go very far even with the smallest wedding (unless it’s just you two and the witnesses).  Games you can play include any that you know the rules for, or are able to explain to someone else.  Beware: Don’t try to play a game that needs more explaining than it takes to play, because as soon as someone is bored of hearing the rules, they’re going to tune out and be bored of the actual game.

 

Outdoors:

Lawn bowls, Aka Bocce in the US. An outdoor game that you can often find at a reduced price at Aldi or Lidl type supermarkets, you roll a ball at some other balls a bit like a giant sized game of marbles.

Volleyball, all you really need for this is a big Inflatable Beach Ball (or an actual volleyball) and possibly a net such as a volleyball net or a badminton net, if you have one, but plenty of people play without a net if you’re not playing super-competitively.

Hide and seek (especially if you’ve got a big outdoor space to play with),

Sardines (variation on hide and seek – where the seeker who finds the one person who hides shares their hiding place),

Guitar/musical singing times (we considered an open mic but decided against it as we couldn’t find a park with a pavilion).

Treasure hunt (if you have exclusive use of the outdoor space, you could hide some items around the grounds, give people a list of them and even a map of the area, and get them to find the items.  A prize for the winner??)

Scavenger hunt (if you don’t have exclusive use of the outdoor space, you could make a random list of things for people to find, then they need to go around the area and find items to satisfy the list, a list for this would include things such as “a leaf” “an empty coke can” “take a photo of a person with blue hair” and if everyone gets the items, you could give out points based on how closely the items resemble the things on the list, so for example, for the empty coke can, if someone got a red and white empty Coca Cola can, they would get more points than someone who got a Diet Coke can, and the person with the Diet Coke can would get more points than someone who brought a Fanta can.

 

One thing worth remembering is that your guests don’t need to be entertained at all times.  They’re not at a holiday camp, they’re (for the most part) independent adults who like to have time to talk and wander off and check their phones.  There is a danger in over-entertaining your wedding guests because entertainment can get in the way of social interaction.  That said, nobody likes to be bored.  And there is often a limit on the number of players of indoor games, meaning people could feel left out or people could take the opportunity to talk to each other.  It’s entirely up to you where you strike the balance between the two, as you know your guests better than someone who has never met them, who writes wedding articles (I hope).  You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on entertainment or hire an expensive local band or get someone to release 1000 doves to have a great time on your wedding day.

Help! Rabbits Ate My Grass! How to Fix Your Lawn

Rabbit Care: How to Fix the Lawn

When the wooden bit was the entire run, we didn't have any problems moving it every three weeks to keep the lawn growing.
When the wooden bit was the entire run, we didn’t have any problems moving it every three weeks to keep the lawn growing.

So you got yourself a little pair of flufflets and you’ve put them outside during the day in a safe rabbit run or bunnyproofed garden so they can play and explore a new environment. The only thing is, they’ve ruined your lawn.

Why it matters:

Even if you don’t care about having a prize lawn, you need to care about fixing your lawn before it all dies because your rabbits will have nothing to nibble in their run if they’ve overgrazed all the grass. It takes surprisingly few rabbits to kill a lawn, as I’ve found out over winter. Even if they’re swimming in hay and straw, they still have a strong urge to graze outdoors.

What to do about it:

In the first instance, constantly moving the rabbit run around the lawn to stop overgrazing. Do it before the rabbits are playing in a patch of barren mud, so the grass has a chance of growing back.

If it’s happened over a longer period of time, or your rabbits don’t have enough grass to avoid it, or if your run is particularly large, or if it’s winter and all the grass couldn’t keep up with what the rabbits were eating (they don’t hibernate), you will probably need to look at replacing your lawn.

Having five rabbits, I like to ensure that the three outdoor ones have 24/7 access to their play area because they don’t keep the same circadian rhythms as humans (the thing that makes animals and people wake up or go to sleep), so they like to play out at odd times of the day. This means all of our lawn (which is half of our garden) has been a bunny village since August last year, when we used the panels of modular rabbit run to divide up the lawn for our bunnies. The two biggest outdoor bunnies have over winter had two thirds of the garden because the house rabbits haven’t wanted to go out at all. This means that Katie, who is above average size (but not giant) has overgrazed those two thirds of the lawn and the grass is all dead.

If this happens, you have two options:

1. Buy pre-made turf

Generally this option is only available in late spring/summer. Garden centres sell little patches of turf that you can unroll onto your lawn, stamp down, and water until it takes root and it should just keep growing. A good choice if it’s the right time of year and you need grass fast. The cons are that it’s fairly expensive to cover a garden, and it takes some time to get it to establish, and there’s no guarantee of quality; usually it’s better if you can get it first thing in the morning because by evening the rolls of turf tend to look like hay.

2. Buy grass seed

This is the hardest option, takes ages to work, but sometimes it’s your only choice. There’s no turf for sale anywhere near my house at the moment so I had to buy grass seed. I scarified the lawn by getting a garden fork and digging it into the soil, and turning it over to aerate the soil (which has become quite compacted). It’s always funny to me that grass seems content to grow in places with no soil where you don’t want it, but seems to have a hard time growing in its ideal conditions. I planted my seeds 6 weeks ago now. They were supposed to be a lawn by now because I bought fast growing seed. After 2 weeks, I got three metres by three metres of nothing. Not only that, but my rabbits are peeved that they can’t go into half of their rabbit run at the moment because I closed it off to ensure the seed had the best chance of growth. After 4 weeks, we got some sparse stubble – I would say about 40% of the seeds I planted actually sprouted. After 5 weeks, we’ve got some longer sparse stubble. But no more of the seeds have sprouted, and I still can’t let the bunnies on it because it’s not looking edible yet. I did make the mistake of trying to get them out there between week 3 and week 4, as some grass grew in, although I think it was just the original lawn reanimating itself into patchy zombie grass, but when they went out there was nothing edible. There’s still a lot of ungerminated grass seed sitting around in the soil.

Things I’ve learned about grass seed:

1. It makes your hands green.

2. It just sits there. It doesn’t even try to grow. How it’s survived as a dominant, hardy species I don’t know.

3. You need to rake it into the soil, and you need to stamp it down, and your garden looks awful while its growing.

4. You need to water it regularly while its growing. I am literally using about 5 buckets of water (2 gallon buckets) on that lawn every second day (you can’t water it in the sun so you have to wait until it’s shady, and I tend to forget) and I HATE wasting so much water but it’s the only way to get the stupid stuff to grow.

5. It doesn’t remotely grow at the density that you planted it at. I would say only 40% of the seeds I covered the lawn with have grown through as grass.

6. The rabbits will not stop chewing it at a reasonable point, they will eat it down to the soil, so to enable it to grow back, you have to stop them going near it until it’s growing in and ready to eat.

Whatever you do, it’s going to be expensive and time consuming, so as I’ve learned the hard way, the best thing to do is get the rabbits off the grass over winter so it stands a chance of growing back in time for spring. If you have little runs, moving them around the lawn is a good answer. Unfortunately, if like me you gave the bunnies the entire lawn to play on, you will need to monitor the situation carefully to make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew.  But hey, look on the plus side – now you have rabbits, you will probably never need to mow the lawn again!

Wedding Wednesday: The Venue

The venue (aka: WHAT IF IT RAINS?????? WRING YOUR HANDS AND GRAB A SAUSAGE!!!)

Note: I am going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert this evening and have a trial shift at a new job tomorrow all day, so I have pre-scheduled this post and tomorrow’s.  Comments might take a while to get an approval/reply.

I looked at a lot of venues. One thing no-one mentioned about planning a wedding is the sheer amount of time you’ll spend looking at crap you’ll never have. I felt like I’d had several weddings by the time mine rolled around. Reading other people’s weddings, particularly on Offbeat Bride, was a big thing I spent my time on. They have some of the most beautiful and unique weddings on there, and I don’t regret the time I spent looking; it didn’t mean I was going to change my plan, but I felt it was definitely important to look into alternatives and second guess myself just to be sure that I was getting the wedding I wanted rather than the wedding that was easy, cheap, least stressful, or any other independent factors.

The nicest venues I looked at were Gray’s Court Hotel and The Hospitium, in St Mary’s Abbey. We actually wanted to hire the gardens, but you can’t do that, apparently, and because the whole place is classed as a public park, the gates would get locked at 5pm which would have been a serious party killer.

I didn’t want the package on offer, however, because I didn’t really want a “bespoke wedding service” where someone else selected caterers, entertainment, etc and let me choose who sat where. There were no vegan friendly caterers in my city, and my future-husband-to-be had vetoed El Piano because he hates their food.  A package wedding wasn’t remotely appealing, so the need to have control of my own wedding (and to not feel pressured into expensive extras) took me elsewhere, although the pictures of the inside were beautiful. Also I wanted it to all happen outdoors, and I got the feeling they were geared more towards indoor weddings.

The stress on finding a venue was compounded by a LOT of relatives at Christmas (like, two weeks after we set a date, six months before the wedding) who kept asking question after question after question. We ended up divulging the vaguely held plans we didn’t really want to discuss and the structure of the conversation went something like this:

“Laura’s wedding was in a really nice place. Where are you having yours?”

“Well, we’re going to have the legal bit in a registry office because we’ve already booked it. Then we’re having a big party somewhere, but we haven’t quite decided yet.”

“What about hiring a hotel? There’s some really nice ones in your area!”

“We didn’t really want a hotel, they’re so corporate and impersonal.”

“They’re not all expensive! You can get packages starting from £3000.”

“Our budget is £500. But that’s not the point…”

Dead silence.

Crickets chirp.

Forced laughter.

“We always said we would help pay for your wedding. We have £3000 saved for your wedding so you don’t have to settle for something you might regret.”

“Thanks, but we want to do it ourselves. But that’s not the point, we really don’t want a hotel.”

“But you won’t be able to have a wedding for that amount. Sometimes it looks like things are cheap but in reality when you add the costs up it’s quite expensive.”

“We were thinking of taking a LOT of the cost out of it by having it outside.”

“OUTSIDE???????”

Dead silence.

More crickets chirping.

“But… but what if it rains?”

“Um… We haven’t really looked into it yet.”

These conversations went on and on, round and round in circles. I will dish about how I dealt with this constant erosion of my confidence in my vision of our wedding day in a later article, because it deserves an article of its own.

Anyway, I really didn’t care if it rained. But I recognised that some guests might care. Namely the ones raising the most objections during the planning phase. So I started to research solutions.

First was the suggestion by a well meaning relative to hire a bus and have the party on the bus.  I was so desperate to stop the constant questioning on and on and on with the underlying implied judgement, that I ignored the fact that I get profoundly bus sick on the best of days and emailed two bus companies for quotes.  I’m really glad that one was trippin’ on their pricing structure (who in their right mind pays £5,000 for a day’s bus hire????  Oh that’s right, I mentioned the word wedding) and the other never got back to me.  I didn’t follow it up.  Instead I stopped answering my phone and I moved on with my research.

I saw a lot of suggestions online for gazebos, so I looked into them. The ones you buy from places all cost over £100 and it’s not like we would ever use a gazebo again. We’re not really gazebo people. So I looked into hiring one. They also cost over £100 to hire. And during the research, I realised that if we’re not gazebo people in our everyday life, then why would we want to change to being pro-gazebo for our wedding?? This might sound trivial, but when you’re spending one fifth of your budget on something, it’s got to be right.

So I was back to “what if it rains?” It echoed round and round in my head and haunted me for weeks.  I’d been thinking a beach wedding but the rain conundrum really threw me.

My next thought was that we could maybe get a tent of some description. We might not be gazebo people, but we have occasionally been known to stay in a tent. Since we’d dismissed the beach as being too far away at this point, we settled on Rowntree Park as it had good opening hours and was near a lot of non-park public open space, so even if it closed there was a plan B.

We went to Go Outdoors and looked for tents. There were some nice ones that were a good size, and we nearly spent a couple of hundred on a big party sized tent that we could do some serious camping in at a later date. The problems were that you’re not allowed to pitch tents in public parks, and the tents were ridiculously heavy (like, 40lb). In the end, we changed our mind and didn’t bother.

I have to say a big thank you to Vince and Ali for sharing their amazing story on the internet, about how they got married in the rain and had an awesome time, which gave me the confidence to go ahead with our wedding outdoors regardless of whether it rained or shone.  I wish I’d found this amazing article before all the months of drama (although there’s a bit of the “it’s in the last place you look” going on here), because once I’d found it, I knew exactly what to do if it rained – and it was what had been in my heart all along and had the confidence to press on.

So I went to the Pound Shop and bought all their zebra print umbrellas. They only had seven, I figured the people who gave a damn could share or bring their own. Total cost: £7. I also added a note on the wedding invites telling people this was an outdoor wedding, and that if they were the type of people to get upset by rain, to bring a coat or something just in case.

And THAT’s what to do if it rains on your outdoor wedding.

I think the real problem here was that people were throwing their selfish problems at me and I was taking them on board and trying to ensure everybody was looked after and catered for and not feeling left out, because I knew that, even though my wedding was going to be under £500 and minimalist and vegan, it was also going to be well-mannered and polite.  That would have been fine except the same people then found something else and something else and something else to criticize.  When I realised this was MY wedding day not theirs, it took a lot of the stress out of wedding planning and I started to find my own opinions and listen to them regardless of what other people were saying.

Also: It didn’t rain. I was slightly disappointed after I got totally psyched about rain wedding pics.