Saturday, September 7, 2019

It's Been a Long Hot Summer

Well, here we are coming close to the middle of September and I am so grateful that the summer is drawing to a close.  It has been wild ride for us here at the bowery.

We started our summer by power washing our barn and all the cages, mats, nesting boxes and supplies at the end of April.  We reorganized and replaced worn out equipment and installed some high powered fans for keeping our rabbits cooler this summer.  I also started collecting water bottles and cleared out an entire freezer just keeping ice and frozen bottles on hand and ready for hot days.

We made it through many heat advisory's and days up over 105 degrees by checking on rabbits three to four times a day.  And let me tell you, how quickly things can change from early afternoon to late afternoon.  We even had days where we checking on the rabbits hourly and ended up bringing some of them in the house at least twice throughout the last couple months.  The stories my children will have to tell about how many times mom sent them out to check the rabbits, or the afternoon that we spent too long running errands and ended up losing two rabbits to the heat because their ice bottles melted before we were home to check on them again.  That was a sad day for everyone, because when we got home we checked on the rabbits and my oldest two girls walked into the barn to find one of Seriah's nine week old new zealand kits dying, and another nine week old white new zealand doe suffering from heat stroke.  Unfortunately our white doe suffered neurological damage that she didn't recover from and we ended up putting her down a couple days later.

I think the hardest part of the whole experience, was that we were doing everything right.  The rabbits have shade 100% of the time, they have great ventilation and breeze from the fans, we were constantly out and checking and refilling water bowls if they were low or the water got too warm.  They had ice to lay against to cool off with and we even misted them on the super hot days to help them cool.  What was the children's take away from this difficult experience?  You go and check regardless of how hot you feel or how much you don't want to because you already did twice that day, because it can mean the difference between preventing something, treating something and mourning something.  They have been amazing helpers and we wouldn't have made through the heat with so few loses if it had not been for them.  My take away from all this is that some rabbits are a whole lot less heat tolerant than others as I watched our mini rexes struggle the most this summer, when I had expected to be the holland lops who did great.

We have been relieved to see the days lately where the temperatures have not been so high and are looking forward to our fall season because it means attending rabbit shows and seeing friends as well as starting up our breeding season, and enjoying nest boxes full of tiny balls of bouncing baby kits again.