Livestock, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

A Perilous Beginning

“A beginning is a very delicate time”

Frank Herbert

Honey, one of our Champagne d’Argent does, came to us already bred.  Unfortunately, the exact day wasn’t noted and we were left to wonder exactly when Honey would kindle.  I built her nest box a little over a week ago and she obligingly filled it with the soft hay I provided for her.  Her belly grew sleek and full and she eagerly demanded more food at each feeding.  Two days ago I noticed that the welds on one of the floor wires had broken, leaving a 1″ x 1″ opening in the floor.  I made a note to patch the floor lest we lose kits through, but somehow or other, I never got around to it.  As Honey had not pulled any hair for her nest, I assumed I still had a few days before the critical moment came.

During chores on Friday night, Tony urgently called me from my task of straining the new milk.  I walked outside to find him excitedly looking at something on the ground.

“I think she’s had a kit!”

There, on the ground about three feet from Honey’s cage, was a sad sight.  A tiny gray kit was lying curled up on the cold, damp ground.  Surely it was dead after a fall of three feet and such a long crawl.  It’s tiny body was cold when I picked it up, but it’s little legs swam and it’s too-large head pushed against my hand.  It was alive!

A dip in warm water quickly warmed up the kit.  The dried off baby was then tucked into my bra to further warm while I fixed the cage floor and thought about what to do with it.  Since no hair had been pulled, it was possible that this was the only kit Honey was going to have and she had decided she wasn’t going to care for it.  The fate of a newborn kit not raised by it’s mother is generally pretty grim.  Since we had to make a three hour trip that evening, I decided to take the kit with us.

Of course it was raining when we got home.  It does seem that every critter chooses the least hospitable time possible to have their young.  While we were gone, Honey had been hard at work.  A large bunch of hair had been pulled and was bundled up in the nest.  I offered her some more soft hay and she eagerly jammed it in the nestbox.  I carefully placed the warm, wriggly kit in the middle of it’s mother’s fur and hoped for the best.

I checked for kits on the wire every few hours during the night.  A rabbit has very sharp teeth and cannot move her kits, so they stay where she has them.  A tiny kit lying exposed on the cage wire would soon succumb to being chilled.  No more kits appeared outside the nestbox and I felt more than one inside the fur lined nest, but I couldn’t tell exactly how many.

In the light of the next morning, we checked on the litter while Honey was happily eating her Fodder.  Five fat squirmy babies were pulled from the warm nest.  There was also a kit who had not developed correctly and had either been born dead or died quickly after it entered this world.  I tucked the live babies back into their bed and left them for their Mamma to care for.  I couldn’t even tell which kit had been the one we nearly lost.

What a lucky baby.


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