I didn’t intend to leave you hanging with the next part of our adventure day, (I planned on sharing about it the following day) and I apologize for that, but didn’t get the chance to share the rest of the story at the end of last week. Now that you’ve seen the title and pictures, you know what the surprise was- a bunny!
Jeff and I have spoken for many years about a pet for Bracken. He has his chickens and ducks that he loves, but we had something else in mind. However, we were hesitant for several reasons. For one (and the biggest reason), we already have so much on our plates, that any other responsibility whatsoever just didn’t appeal to me at all or to Jeff for that matter. The second reason is that we are working to get some things paid off and didn’t want any more cost in the meantime. The third reason was the fact that it was such a relief for us when we downsized years ago and decided to keep fewer animals here, that we’ve been reluctant to bring more animals back into our life again. We’ve been spoiled with chickens, they’re so easy to care for (and they pay for their feed with eggs.)
So, those were some of our reasons to not get a pet for him. We thought about fish. Great first pet, right? But a bunny ended up coming first. At the Black Sheep Gathering, Bracken was in love with the bunnies. We thought about it then, we talked about it, we asked questions, but we weren’t ready to take the leap quite yet. Then, at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, the Bunny Barn was Bracken’s favorite place to be. I watched him talking to the bunnies, petting them, and going around to visit them all. It pulled at my heart strings. I talked to Jeff and he felt the same way and hesitations aside, we decided we would be getting a bunny for Bracken.
After asking around, we decided that we wanted a jersey wooly bunny. Bracken wanted an angora fiber bunny, but all the ones we saw were much larger than we wanted and I also didn’t want to have to give haircuts because it just wasn’t something I really wanted to tackle. Then we were told about a type of angora bunny called jersey wooly. The jersey woolies still give some fiber (not a lot, but plenty to satisfy Bracken), but only need to be brushed. They are also much smaller, which suits us better. Jersey woolies weren’t all that easy to find, though, and not as young as I wanted either, so we had to be a little flexible. We lucked out in having the right conversation on the right day and finding a source for a jersey wooly blend.
With his 5th birthday approaching, I wanted the bunny to be one of Bracken’s birthday gifts from Jeff and I. Bracken’s Rainbow Bridge teacher at the Waldorf School gave him their old bunny cage as a birthday gift, bless her heart. (I loved the drawing she did of a little boy with his bunny so much that I had to take a picture and share it.) That made it feel like a whole community was coming together to make his bunny wish come true. Two days before his birthday, after we left the aquarium, we drove over to Corvallis to pick up his bunny.
We picked a girl just over 3 months, with black on her head and a grey body. Her father was a jersey wooly and her mother was german or english angora. We were given some advice that if we wanted this bunny to be a pet for Bracken, to only get one. We were told that you get one bunny if you want it to connect with you and you get two bunnies if you want them to connect with each other. That made sense to me, so we decided on one. Bracken picked his favorite girl bunny, after getting to meet her mom and dad. I sat next to Bracken in the backseat and we carried her the whole way home while my mom drove.
Friends and family who knew that Bracken was getting a bunny for his birthday, often asked him what he was going to name her. I thought we should meet her first before giving her a name and Bracken liked that idea, since he didn’t have a particular name in mind. A few minutes into the drive, Bracken said that her name was ‘Honeyberry.’ He came up with it all on his own and said it so matter of factly. I had never heard a sweeter name for a bunny and we all thought it was perfect. Later during the drive, while he was holding her, he turned to me and with the biggest smile on his face said: “My birthday wish came true. You know why?! I got my bunny!!” I was like a puddle of mama mush, hearing him say that, the joy in his voice was just so sweet.
Neither Jeff nor I are “indoor animal people” if that makes sense. We’re both perfectly happy to have our animals outside. But we decided to have Honeyberry be an indoor bunny and we’ve been training her to use a litter box. (I didn’t know that was a thing either, you learn something new every day.) There’s only one downside (or maybe a few) to this happy birthday bunny story. It started with sneezing, then a runny nose. Then an itchy throat and itchy eyes. You guessed it, I seem to be allergic to her. Bracken’s nose has run after holding her and Jeff sneezes and his face itches. We all seem to be allergic to her. I was completely shocked. I have no idea why, but it never once occurred to me that someone could have an allergy to a bunny like you could a cat or dog. Admittedly, I had a moment (or longer) of panic while my mom was here, wondering if all our wonderful plans had been spoiled and my mind was frantically trying to figure it all out. (It also happened to be at the time with all the fiasco surrounding our running water so I was especially overwhelmed, but I’m trying to stay on topic here.)
I didn’t want to keep her outside because she would be lonely and I’d worry about varmints, even with the small openings of her cage. (I’ve seen the places weasels have squeezed through to get our chickens.) So I suddenly worried about what to do if we couldn’t end up keeping her in the house. My major allergic reaction happened after I brushed her for awhile, so in the future I may have to do that outside only. Hmm… still not really sure what to do about the whole allergy thing. Major allergies aren’t something I’m willing to live with every day, but if it’s only mild here and there? I don’t know… obviously, we’re still figuring this out. For the time being, we’re still trying to keep her in the house and we don’t want to keep her in a small cage all day so we’ve been letting her hop around.
Besides the allergies, (to risk sounding like a birthday bunny downer here), we do have some other concerns. A free-range bunny sounded so great until I noticed she chews on everything and saw her go up to an electrical cord to chomp down on it! I quickly removed her, but it made me wonder about how realistic that’s going to be. (I can’t exactly keep all electrical cords out of the way.) I only let her out when I’m keeping an eye on her, but it’s all much more complicated than I expected. She gets nippy and we’re hoping she’ll grow out of that. She is still really scared of people and being held, and we’ve gotten quite scratched. Though Honeyberry had been handled a little for brushing and nail clipping, I was afraid that it would be harder to get her used to being held since she was already three months old. I know she won’t warm up to us right away, and I know it will take time. (Maybe it was unrealistic to think she would magically potty train herself? Ha!) A friend told me she’d help me learn how to trim the nails and I’m doing my best to take it one day at a time and not get too overwhelmed.
But I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I thought her cage would need cleaning once a week, but I think I was mistaken. I can’t believe how much that wee bunny poops! There’s a lot more maintenance all around than I expected. (I know taking on a pet of any kind is not going to be completely easy, but since so many aspects of our life feels so challenging all the time, we just want something in our life to feel easy right now. Know what I mean?)
Bracken and I made a pen for her outside the other day (with an old baby gate) and watched her nibble the grass, that was really fun. Bracken loves to fill up her food dish every day and bring her kale from the garden. Honeyberry is so adorable and is so incredibly soft! She looks like a big, fuzzy mop hopping around the place (and probably does the dusting in the lower parts of the house.) I adore her coloring and Bracken already has a bag where he collects her fur (and already made his very first project with some.) We’re all in love with her. I’m attempting to stop my mind from spinning in trying to figure out some sort of solution right now, but instead to just take it a day at a time and hope that in time the perfect solution will present itself and it will all work out.