Sunday, April 22, 2012

Connecting to Earth Day: Rabbits are Great Teachers

Okay, ever since I was a little kid I was concerned about the environment.  It was the day and age of the dawning of the awareness of taking care of our planet and the messages were everywhere. Even in the suburbs, I can remember my dad burning trash in a metal barrel in the backyard. They weren't the only ones that did it, everyone did in the neighborhood-it was a common practice. I was real small then and didn't have a full awareness of why, it's more like it just "was". At some point I recall my dad mentioning the big word "pollution" and that trash burning became "against the law" (in my young head I imagined the police hauling my dad off to jail for burning trash in the backyard).

I also remember (perhaps it was on Earth Day) in the early 1970s helping my older teen cousins, who were probably about 4-6 years older than me (their parents forced me on them when I was a guest at their house for a few nights), clean up around and in a stream in their community.  I was thrilled! It was like what we were learning about in school and like the public service messages and news on television. I was too young to have done something like that with the young adults on my own, but it gave me an opportunity to be like the "hippies" and "students" I always heard about cleaning up areas in the environment. On TV, I heard about fish coming back to rivers that were once polluted with trash and chemicals. Oh how I long for television with more positive messages like that.

Now, what does all this have to do with my rabbits? I am sure you are asking that by now. Well,  I loved Richard Nixon telling us to conserve oil and gas, etc. (although I didn't understand the politics about it at the time).  I always took part in campaigns to help the environment through my years, but it was my rabbits that taught me so much more and almost the zen of the interconnectedness of it all! I have had other pets over the years, but the rabbits taught me how it all works.

First part focused on that these little animals were prey animals and that their whole psychological make up was different than mine, dogs or cats. Rabbits are on almost every animal's food chain. They are given those special ears, fast hopping legs and eyes on the sides of their head for a reason. It all helps them get away from their enemies. It is also why they have so many babies, it is a method of making sure their species survives.

It's a compliment when you earn a rabbit's trust. Rabbits are very social and the relationship is very mutually rewarding, but it all has to be earned and the rabbit is the boss. Rabbits teach us to be slow, patient and to pay attention to the subtleties of their behavior and environment around them. It's part of the zen they teach us. Their vulnerability as being a prey animal also helps us become protective of them.

Then as we learn about their diet and feeding them, we learn about chemicals, pesticides, and all that may come to harm them. They are herbivores- vegetarian! I'm the one on the block that goes out in my backyard ( I avoid the front yard because of the fumes from cars on our highly trafficked street near the center of town. I don't want my rabbits ingesting that residue) and encourages the dandelions to grow! I harvest them too, before the lawn is mowed.  I've had rabbits longer than I've had my own lawn and knew they would be sharing that lawn and yard with me. I have never used chemicals on it.  
As you can see, they get to munch on some long grass!

When they are outside in the pen with my supervision, they fertilize my lawn as well as eat at the all-you-can-eat salad bar consisting of the weeds (what most men consider trash is a bun's treasure!) and grass out there. Those bunnies have created some highly sought after fertilizer. One thing I learned is that because they are vegetarian and the way their specific digestive system works, their manure can be used straight from the rabbit to the garden. No time to let it season is required! Most other animals have certain bacterias (such as e.coli) and other things in their manure that would make it unhealthy either for the garden or for us unless it's seasoned over time. There are so many subtleties that the long earred ones make me pay attention to.

At first learning all these things might make some things seem nerve-wracking, but every time I learn something from these buns, it makes me feel closer to the earth, nature, the buns and myself. Having grown gardens for them and myself has taught me about the cycles of the earth. Composting and using their "bunny berries" in the garden has shown me how the old and used becomes the new and nurturing.  It even shows the reason for mold, certain bacterias and insects (such as houseflies). In their own way, without describing the process (I'm getting long here as it is), these things that annoy us help break down the old veggie cuttings and the like into soil full of nutrients!  I still hate mold, certain bacteria and houseflies but I know why they are here. (As an aside, to annoy you more about flies, did you know that they are part of the pollenization process to everyone's favorite weed to hate- poison ivy?).

Even animals & birds help mother nature spread the wealth with keeping the growth of plants on earth. They might eat seeds or get them stuck in their fur and then inadvertently drop them in their travels. The seeds they eat, when coming out the other end then may come out with their own fertilizer attached.  It's all part of the cycles. The bees pollinate, as  well as the wind.  Very interesting. Many of us have lost touch with the original meaning of the birds and the bees- but that's what it's about. The bunnies, the birds and the bees.

When we put toxic things on our earth, in its other inhabitants and in ourselves, we hurt a part of the earth. The bunnies have taught me about all different things. Ideas of weeds (weeds and their roots often grow more where the soil is bad and help keep the soil together instead of being loose to be blown or washed away by erosion) and some things being bad and chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, additives to food and most other aspects of our lives), as well as processing/altering things (food-removing and breaking down the healthy parts of food, GMO foods, etc.)being considered good all changes when you have rabbits and really get to know them.

I could write a lot about all this, but I think it would be too much. I've written a lot already. We need to take care of our Mother Earth! She's where all our quality of life comes from. What we put in is what we get out. I think I might start adding topics to this blog that address this as part of a commitment to help with living better in harmony with this world. Every time I look up stuff or research more, it will not only help me to keep my commitment but may help others too. We are all in this together.

Please share all your thoughts and ideas on this. My bunnies have helped me want to protect and preserve our earth more, for it's better for them. 

If you have bunnies, how have they affected your thinking about life? Have they changed the way you think??? I often think of them as a special gift from God to be cherished for all they have taught me.
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  1. Speedy's mum here.My hubby when we first start dating used to go rabbiting(Hunting wild rabbits)But then we got a house and I moved in with my first bunny called caramel (a lovely lop)with whom my hubby fell in love with and not long after that he stopped hunting rabbits.He still goes hunting but not for rabbit just the odd game bird but nothing goes to waste.But even though he doesn't hunt rabbits anymore sometimes when he's out he will come across a wild bunny with mixamatoses(I think thats how you spell it)in England we call it Mixxy for short its a nasty disease made by human I might add that does kill bunny's but very slowly and painfully that is the only time my hubby kills a bunny to end its pain and he hates doing it even though he's doing the right thing.Its very sad seeing a wild rabbit with this disease

  2. Hello, I am writing you from France to ask if possible information on your rabbits. I would like to know what the breed, the name of these rabbits, they look very calm and quite large! Here in France there are several kinds of rabbits, we tried twice to keep them but after a while the rabbits get a bit aggressive, while yours look very nice now I will be happy if you could m help .. Friends of France, marylin