Broken and cracked eggs began appearing in the far left nesting box shortly after my last post. We did not want to accuse anyone of being a cannibal (I realize in the animal world it is not quite as taboo) but it had become evident from the type of break we were seeing that someone was "pecking" them open. Sometimes it was a small hole...as if she had been caught in the act and chased off...and sometimes only the white and yolk remained of the egg and even more disturbing...sometimes the entire thing would be gone with only a yellow stain as evidence. I had decided that we needed to be diligent about collecting the eggs and catching the offender before all the hard work was for not.
So, we waited and watched. Now, like my friend Mrs. Darling said...a watched hen does not lay...well, a watched hen does not eat either. No matter how often we checked, we could not catch the eater nor keep her from devouring the eggs. I began to resign myself to the fact that an eater was in the midst and there would be little I could do about it.
Then, one day...just by chance...I opened the door to the nesting boxes and low and behold there was Lola happily feeding upon another's egg. You see...all of the other girls (Maddie, London and Hannah) are laying eggs...beautiful, round, soft and creamy in color...but Lola has yet to produce even one. I thought that maybe this was a one time thing. After all, it couldn't always be Lola...right? But...we caught her again...and again...and again.
Now, between the egg eating and kid biting, I was getting rather frustrated with Miss Lola. I even began to research chicken soup recipes or maybe pot pie. And...I began to ask other "chicken people" (did I just say that???) what they thought. Some thought we should blow out an egg and fill it with mustard, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Some thought that perhaps it was a lack of grit...but they are outside most of the time with rocks and such. Perhaps a plastic "fake" egg would help. Finally, the lady at the feed store suggested oyster shell. I had already been contemplating that this might be it (calcium deficiency) so I bought a few pounds and held my breath.
Since? Not one hen pecked egg. Some can get cracked just being layed but absolutely no eaten eggs to be found or even remnants of eaten eggs left behind. And Lola? Well, she lives to bite another day...
Now, rabbits. I have never owned one until now. I've always liked them...thought they were cute...but I remember my grandfather raising meat rabbits for food. And it goes without saying, I never really thought of them as pets.
A few months ago, my sister asked me if I was interested in a rabbit. Her friend had a really cute doe (female rabbit) that she was trying to find a home for. Hmmm...I wasn't really interested. I had turned down several bunnies already and was not on the lookout for another pet anyway (we already had 13 animals to feed at home). Her friend was having to change her living situation and could not take the rabbit with her. I felt bad and told her if when she moved she had not found a home, I would take her in temporarily until I could find a home for her. I was sure I could find someone on my home school list to take her in and give her a wonderful home. I really thought she would find someone else.
The end of summer was here and fall was arriving when I was told she could not (or had not) found a home for Oreo the rabbit and could I please take her. Around the same time, a friend asked me to work at her farm/pumpkin patch for the harvest season leading school groups through the barnyard, to the fishing pond and the pumpkin patch. I jumped at the opportunity. And, I had exposure to rabbits in a rather different light. She has beautiful rabbits. Show rabbits...big rabbits...tiny rabbits...lop-eared rabbits...even a one-eared wild rabbit she rescued. And they were cute...and sweet and not at all wild like the ones I remembered as a child. I got to hold them and handle them and they were fun.
Back to the rabbit that needed a home...
Well, I had a different perspective. I told her I would gladly take her and within a few hours had decided that I would not be finding her another home.
I began to ask my friend with all the rabbits lots of questions so that I could provide a good home for her. She asked me all about the rabbit. She loves to breed rabbits and sell them...especially to 4H homes. She just so happened to have both a Dutch Lop buck and a Minature Lop buck. She wanted to know if I would bring my doe over to see what kind she was and wondered if I was interested in breeding her. Maybe...
Today was the day. I brought her over and they thought she was very cute. We decided to go ahead and try and breed her...after all...feed stores often take baby rabbits but I was sure that I could find plenty of home school families who would love them as well. A buck was chosen and they were paired up for their first meeting...imagine our surprise when it was Oreo who took the lead! WHAT?!? Oreo was a GIRL! Perhaps she didn't know her role...she was confused, huh? No...turns out...Oreo was a HE!!!!
Are you kidding ME???
Nope...it's true...Oreo is really a buck. Apparently, the person who had him had never bothered to check or had been told he was a she (and like me) didn't question it. But Oreo was most definitely NOT A GIRL! Whoa! Back up! WHAT!? So, things are not what they appear to be...a good lesson in knowing what you're buying...or getting...or adopting or whatever.
We absolutely love him just the same and it would have made NO difference in our decision to make him part of the herd...but it would have been nice to know that kind of information BEFORE I subjected her bunny to that!
Well, the kids have decided that with a new identity he should have a new name and keeping in the tradition of wanting to name their animals after Disney characters (chickens: Lola, Hannah, Maddie and London and goats: Zack and Cody) he is now...Mr. Moesby or Moe for short. It fits him...it just screams, "I AM MALE!" No mistaking now...