Andromeda’s litter is doing good. Phoebe’s litter is doing good. There is life here. It isn’t all death. I think I’ve just been very overwhelmed with the amount of loss. I try to be an optimistic person and keep my thoughts positive. This week has been a trial for that, though. I remember how well the first several litters went last year and thinking, less than humbly, that I wasn’t going to be one of the raisers who lost kits all the time or worse yet adult rabbits. My rabbits were always going to be healthy and I wasn’t going to have to go through what other people went through, through no fault of their own. 6 or 8 problem free litters will do that to a person. It was prideful and boy did I take that fall that comes after!
I have learned since that time that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you are good at it, if you have the best cleaning habits, the best bloodlines, if your temperatures are kept at optimum, and you have the best feed on the market. Rabbits kits are born on the wire, they squirm through wire, they aren’t strong enough to thrive. Rabbits die. That’s what they do. That’s why they have so many babies so often, because their losses are high. It took me a while to get my head around that. And to realize that for the most part, none of it is my fault. And what was my fault wasn’t through incompetence, but lack of experience. I have tried hard, researched many hours, and I have done well by my herd. I know this. But sometimes there is nothing more you can do. Sometimes none of it matters. Rabbits die.
If someone ever asks me for my thoughts on whether or not they should start up with rabbits, I think the first thing I will say is only if you can live with the fact that rabbits die. Not when you want them to, not when you have fattened them up for butchering, but long before that, or in birth, or for no reason at all. If you can deal with that, know that it is still worth it. They are beautiful, wonderful, adventurous little creatures and despite this horrible run, it is still so worth it for me to have them in my life.
And I have learned one more thing to add to my store of knowledge. When sexing kits, resex them often. I’d sex them at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks. I’d sex them before selling them. But that was it. Now I know to sex them again if I am going to keep them longer than 12 weeks. I will sex them weekly from that point on. I am not taking this chance again.
Now for little 5 week old kit, it is still alive. It did another feeding this afternoon, ran right up to the cage door when it saw me come in with its dropper and mug of warm raw goat’s milk. It drank 5.5 droppers and then cuddled on me. I think the thing thinks I am its new mother. Tugs my heart strings completely. I do love the little thing. I try not to do that, but it is near on impossible not to love the kits, even when they are dropping dead left and right. Fortunately their temperament changes shortly before butcher age. This one though…well, maybe I can sell it as a pet. She is so friendly it is ridiculous. And she is still playing very actively with the other 3 larger kits. She has gained .4 ounces since yesterday and is now up to 13.9 oz.
I will weigh Serenity’s litter and the rest of this orphaned litter tonight. They all seem to be doing well. There are no signs of diarrhea in the litter now, even with littlest kit. I keep wanting to hope it is gone. I keep telling myself to knock it off. When little kit gets to a pound and has been free of illness for 3 days I will drop down to just two feedings a day, then taper off from there.
Newborn kit is still alive. I had almost made the decision to foster it when we decided to try one more time to force nurse with its mother. This time it was strong enough and it latched on and drank enough to visibly see its tummy swell. I am glad, because that means it is getting colostrum. Little thing has dark spots on its extremities, probably where it lost a bit of circulation when it was cold. I’ve had this happen before in kits born outside the nesting box, but that we saved. They seemed none the worse for it, but I don’t know. This one has more of it than the others did. Mama did very well, but I hope she will be able to take over on her own. Still not sure if I should foster it. I wish just one more had made it. We will try another force nursing tonight. We decided to name the new mama. Even if we won’t keep her and we might after our recent losses of breeding does, she’s had babies now and is proven, so we won’t butcher her. Her name is Fiona. She gets an F sound since she is Phoebe’s daughter.
When I started this blog, I promised myself that I wouldn’t sugar coat things. I wouldn’t try to show only the good and never the bad. I don’t want to ever seem like I am just sailing through, that I don’t stumble, or even fall down. I want people to be able to maybe look at my words and know that when these things happen, they aren’t alone in it, and it is okay to hurt and to feel helpless and to try to keep a lid on hope, but still have it despite that. I am at heart a stubbornly hopeful creature. I also want them to know that there is so much good, too, even if right now it seems like its all bad. If you can learn anything from my experiences, than I call it a good thing, even when its a hard experience. But I would be very, very happy to have some good days now, please and thank you very much.