Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's Up, Doc?

First published in the May 30 issue of The Oxford Journal by Sara Mattinson.

I was out in the field behind the house snatching up sharp green shoots of new spring grass for the rabbits when I realized it had become awfully dark. The dog barked; she was standing at the door wanting in, not realizing I wasn’t in the house, all cozy warm and dry, but standing outside in the pouring rain. All to give the bunnies, tucked inside all winter, a taste of spring.
Whenever I give a tour of our property I get asked, “Rabbits! You have rabbits? Why?” 
My usual answer is, “My husband wanted them. He had them when his kids were little.” 
(Then when people see how big our rabbits are, they want to know if we plan to eat them. The answer is no.)
 But now I have my own reason for keeping  rabbits: I am keeping rabbits for the endless supply of poop. It’s nice to a greater purpose for that endless supply: it makes great fertilizer so I keep a scoop and a large bucket next to the pen in order to save the poop that gets cleaned up every day. Don’t laugh: There are now two full buckets waiting to be mixed into soil and spread over my gardens. 
I came across this gem of information about rabbit poop in a book about urban farming by Novella Carpenter. Apparently, chicken poop, which I also have in great abundance, is high in nitrogen and needs to be composted before it can be applied to gardens. Rabbit poop, on the other hand, is perfect, coming as it does out of the butts of herbivores. 
Here is something else the book told me about rabbits that my husband didn’t know: Rabbits like baguettes. Stale baguettes, to be precise, the hard, crunchy kind leftover from a Saturday night dinner party when bruschetta was the appetizer.  It is good for the rabbits’ teeth. Considering that Novella Carpenter is farming in San Francisco, days-old baguettes are a reasonable substitution for poplar limbs. 
So now when I go to the grocery store, I pick up a whole wheat baguette and leave it on the counter for three days. 
“Why aren’t we eating that?” my husband asks. 
“It’s for the rabbits,” I tell him and ignore his snort of disgust. 
Does that make our rabbits spoiled?
Of course they are. In the farming book, all the rabbits get eaten. 

Rosie and Daisy in their "cottage". 

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