June 2006


*******Special thanks to Vyvyane for originally inspiring the Hay Tower!*******

As bunny slaves we all struggle with hay. The buns love it and need it, but we hate how it gets everywhere. We’ve all trying a dozen different ways to curb the hay, making sure they get as much as they want while keeping it clean and confined to their space. My latest solution is the hay tower. I got the idea from someone at HRN though I forget who and will share how to make your own hay tower in this post. Thank you to the mystery person who first gave me this idea!!!

1. Get a cheap 8” flower pot. The ones that mums come in are the perfect size.
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2. Take the 8” pot to Home Depot and get an 8” cement form tube that fits in the pot. All 8” tubes are NOT the same so be sure to bring your pot and try it out.
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3. Cut a circle out of cardboard to fit inside the flower pot. You want it to fit snuggly so that hay does not fill the space below the barrier. This space will not be available to the buns so the hay there would get old and wasted.
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4. Cut a hole near one end of the tube about an inch or two from the bottom. Don’t make the hole too big or your buns will und up IN the tower.
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5. Put the cardboard circle in the pot. It you will not have something on top of the hay tower to hold it in place (mine fits snuggly under a NIC cube shelf) then you can fill the space under the cardboard circle with litter to weight it. If you do this, you will need to cut a second smaller circle to go in the bottom of the pot to cover the small water holes.

6. Next fit the cement form in the pot with the hole end nearest the pot.
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7. Choose how high you want the tower and cut to length. I use a razor blade to lightly score the sides. Just go round and round and round and eventually it cuts a nice line right through.

8. Cut a top out of card board and loosely tie rap it to the open end of the form. I use the razor blade to punch a hole just big enough for the tie rap. If you don’t put a top on it, again your buns will end up inside the tower. I don’t know how they do it, but they will!
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9. Fill with hay. Pull a little hay out through the hole so the buns learn where it is quickly.
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10. Give to buns. I have mine against the litter box now so they can munch and poo, but in their last area it actually fit inside the box.
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Enjoy! I hope this helps with someone else’s hay woes!

PS: In the last picture you get a rare treat. You can see Rocky actually eating hay with Savannah nibbling behind him. Rocky hardly ever eats hay so this truly is a treat for me to have captured. He’s also up to a healthy 2.5lbs after falling to 2.25 with the stress of the move. That’s my little boy!

So mom dragged us from Boston to Atlanta last month and let us tell you, we were peeved! We tried to hide in that big evil car but mom kept pulling us out of our hiding places and putting us back in our space. Then she had the nerve to fill in our hiding places with towels, or bags, or even a cutting board! She’s nuts I tell you.

Well we finally made it here and after moving into our new NIC palace, we suppose it is time to forgive her. We have far more room to play here. We can hop, and dig, and stretch, and we love running around the bunny room. Mom said something like the room was supposed to be a formal living room but we like this bunny idea much better.

Here are a few pictures of our palace. Dad says that one day he wants to build us the whole kingdom but we are loving the palace for now. It measures 4 Rockys by 10 Savannahs and is 5 Scouts high. Mom says that translates into 2 NIC x 5 NIC x 3 NIC. She only made it 2 NIC wide so it would fit through the door for cleaning even though we keep explaining to her that we like it when it gets like that. Humans. They just don’t get it.

So here are those pictures. Feel free to dote on us and tell us how lovely we are. Bye for now!

-Rocky, Scout, and Savannah (Jessica’s Buns: HRN long distance volunteer)

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Our 3 buns seem to have decided that their condo is the most marvelous place in the world and they don’t care to come out to play. (Thanks, Stephanie & Rachel, our bunnies really do love the place to pieces.) Now, I’ll admit that we also took up the giant 8×10 livingroom rug for the summer, so they don’t have all that traction. But hey, I got them a smaller 5×7 rug, that doesn’t count as a good spot to romp? I considered getting one of those woven grass or bamboo rugs, but I know it would just be automatic bunny food.

Echo and Lookout seem to love racing around together. Their relationship seems to have developed into one of older and younger sister. When in their cage, they can frequently be found flopped together on the bottom floor in the shade, Lookout using Echo’s flank as a pillow. I really have to get pictures, its priceless, especially after all the time we spent working on getting Lookout socialized. Don’t let yourself think that Beanbag is being left out, he’s getting his fair share of cuddly moments too. I always smile when I walk into the sun room and find the three of them piled together at the bottom of the second floor ramp, chilling out and grooming.

Holly is having a grand time as well. She’s becoming more comfortable with her life in our home. She’s gotten time to run around regularly and spends most of her time these days with her ears up rather than down. (This is a big improvement for a scared little bunny.) She stretches out in one of her two litterboxes (the one I have taken to calling her “safety box”, like a kid with a safety blankie), she leans her chin against the edge and drowses in the late day sun. When she’s out, she is very curious about what we are doing. She even tried to type by coming over and standing with her front paws on the edge of Matt’s laptop the other day. Its so good to see her becoming more active that I almost hate to discipline her when she does something wrong. Hopefully we will continue to see her coming out of her shell as she regains more of her trust in people.

I am happy to say that as a first experience with a bunny by fostering Damon for a week, I am already completely loving him and bunnies in general!

Damon

Damon is a sweetheart. He loves being petted and will lay still for as long as you want to pet him, he will even stay on my lap for a little while. Damon loves exploring when he gets to be out of the cage in the evening, and he has not been scared by our cats, it’s quite the opposite really! One of our cats is very intrigued and will come close to him, but is terrified at what the bunny could do to her!

Damon and our cat!

I am including a few pictures for your to enjoy. I think Damon would be a wonderful bunny for an owner with children, as I have never seen Damon show any kind of aggressiveness

I love this bunny, and he’s going to make his owner(s) extremelly happy!

Isaure

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Holly has started becoming comfortable enough with us that she is occasionally doing things that she knows she’s not supposed to do. Yesterday morning, she decided to dig while running around on the bed. when she dug, I would confine her gently and talk very loudly at her about how she knew that she wasn’t allowed to do that. When she did it 3 times (with that little look at me that said she knew she was doing the wrong thing) I put her back in her cage.

so, is this progress?

Matt and I were finally able to bury our sweet bunny, Fuzzface, today at Hillside Acres in Methuen. (Don’t get me started on why its taken 5 months to bury her. It makes me angry when I think about it.)

I still think about Fuzz on a regular basis. For the most part these days, the memories are nostalgic and a little bittersweet, but mostly happy. I’d been able to get some distance from my grief over the past few months. Today was really hard though, I don’t feel like I’ve lost her all over again, but I do feel freshly the sense of emptiness from her absence.

We buried Fuzz with a collection of Beanbag’s fur from his spring shedding, some fresh basil and mint from our garden, some dried blueberries, cranberries, and apple. I thought it might make her happy to be surrounded by some of her favorite things now that she finally has a place to rest. I got the chance to talk to her, I stroked her cheek and her ears one last time and told her about how Beanbag is doing alright now that he has other bunnies for company again, I told her about volunteering for the House Rabbit Network and how I would never have found my way here if it hadn’t been for her. I said the traditional mourner’s kaddish for her in Hebrew. Matt commended her spirit to God and told her that we’d be looking for her when our time comes. We both watched as they put Fuzz’s box in the ground. We each placed a shovel of dirt into the hole and stood by as the hole was filled and the grass was replaced on the surface. They put a temporary marker in the ground and gave us a set of keys to the gate so we can come visit any time we like. I’ve found a place where I can get a memorial stone made for her with a photograph of her etched into its surface. We’ll come back to visit, place the memorial stone, and plant a couple basil plants for her in a month or so.

I miss my curious little grey bunny. There’s just no way to fill the place where she fit into my heart.

Well, we made it. It can be done, but I don’t recommend making a habit out of it.

Two weeks ago I traveled with three buns, the dog, and my mom from Boston to Atlanta. My car was so tightly packed that I couldn’t have fit another piece of paper even if someone paid me!

The buns were in the back of the jeep in a giant dog litter box. Next to them were two plastic bins with two weeks worth of hay, food, litter, and our safe.

The dog had 2/3 or the back seat. He has a sling so he doesn’t fall off the seat onto the floor (which was packed anyway so really the sling kept him off the stuff) and a seat belt, which luckily he doesn’t mind. Next to him was an air conditioner (forgot to have the movers take it and my husband wanted to bring it incase out AC were to go out,) two weeks worth of doggie stuff, and anything that I had thrown together after the movers had already come.

Most of the front was people space though I did thoroughly pack that little space between the seats and I admit that mom did have a bit of stuff (directions, water, purses) at her feet. Luckily dad was meeting us there so we didn’t have to fit two weeks worth of people stuff too!

Everyone was amazingly well behaved. We broke the trip into three days of ~7 hours each so that I wouldn’t subject the buns to movement any longer. I’m not sure if it is better to force more time for few days, or less time for an extra day but that is what we chose.

Jazz slept pretty much for three straight and the poor buns found any tiny space they could squeeze themselves into. No matter how many times I thought I had filled every nook and cranny with towels, gates, books, anything, every time we stopped, I found either Savannah or Scout wedged somewhere.

The first night the buns spent in the car in my cousin’s garage because her dog would not have liked them. There were very few poops and not too much munching going on. The second night they were in the hotel bathroom and all those poops started flying (though not in the litter box!) They explored the hotel room hopping on and off the beds and zooming around enjoying their freedom.

The next few days they were in a dog kennel at my best friends house with two cavalier king charles spaniels barking at them. Jazz was adorably protective of them and pinned one of the spaniels when he was aggravating Jazz’s buns. Then onto their new house!

Instead of a formal living room, we are going to have a bun/reading room. I finished up their NIC palace last night and the buns are thrilled to have a new, large, multi level, home. They are all over it and are even keeping it relatively clean! I’ll put up pictures of their new palace in the next few days. I think they know they are home and their evil mom won’t be throwing them in the car again for any long long drives so they are relaxing.

For now, everyone is doing well. We do miss Boston and are a bit lonely but I can’t complain for a second about the beautiful warm dry sunshine we have been having. The house is great, neighbors are wonderful, and our frig arrived today. What else could I ask for?

Jessica: HRN (long distance) volunteer

The bunnies played tag last night. Not, the I’m-chasing-you-to-prove-that-I’m-in-charge game, but honest to goodness tag! It was a riot to watch. One bunny would zoom around a bit, then bump into or flop next to another bunny who would take off and zip around. Even Beanbag got into the act and kicked his heels up. At one point, Lookout did a lap around the coffee table and then bumped into Echo and kept going. Echo, having been bumped into, decided to run with Lookout. The two of them looked like a couple of greyhounds or race cars going around a track. Lookout also seems to be having a logical disconnect about the door of the new cage. She ran into it face first once last night, thinking she could just hop inside. Echo also had a funny moment; we were using the cage and a 5 gallon bucket to block the bunnies from going into the sun room, Echo tried to hop on top of the bucket without realizing that there wasn’t a lid. Echo ended up inside the 5 gallon bucket which is where we keep our hay!

Holly got some time out of her cage as well. (Her out time was of course separate from the other buns.) She didn’t seem too inclined to cuddle, she just wanted to explore. She nosed around, mostly staying close to the coffe table for cover. It was good to see her exploring. When it came time to go back to her cage, she put up a real fuss. She most definetly wanted to stay OUT! She was pissed when I finally tricked her into letting me grab her.

I tend to really like it when the simple pleasures are what I have to focus on in my life.

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The babies’ eyes opened a couple of days ago. They’re moving around, but mostly they are just sleeping. They are so cute a furry right now.

Dakota is doing great. She’s quite rambunctious. She had a little bathroom problem from too much cabbage. We had to give her a bit of a bath after she decided to flop in the mess she made of the floor. How lady-like huh? Here she is wrapped up in her towel.
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And here are some pics of the cutie-pies. They’ve all been named after candy: Charleston, Hershey, Tootsie, Rollo, (jelly)Bean, Juju B, Skittles, and Reeses.

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~ Erica, HRN volunteer, fosterer

We put our 3 bunnies in their condo cage this Friday night. They explored, there was a little dominance behavior, but mostly, things were calm. Everybunny spent the night in their respective cages, and on Saturday morning, we put them back in the condo together.
On Saturday there was much less dominance behavior and most of it was based on mixed signals. (AKA Lookout puts her head down to be groomed, Echo gets scared, Echo chins Lookout’s head tentatively then runs away, Lookout chases her till she’s in a different part of the cage.) The buns spent most of the day in their condo together and we got the pleasure of seeing Beanbag curled up enjoying the sun, Lookout standing on the top floor watching the world go by outside the windows, and Echo dancing and kicking her heels up all over the rug on the top floor.
When it came time for us to head out to dinner (with fellow HRN members Erica & Andy) we put the buns back in their respective cages. Upon returning from dinner, we looked in on the bunnies and noticed that Echo was acting strange. We watched her for a few minutes and determined that her behavior was based on loneliness. She sat as close as she could to the divider between her and the other bunnies and she was acting rather sad watching them together. Interesting suprise…
On Sunday morning, we plopped all the bunnies back in the condo again to see what they would do. This time, there was no dominance behavior. Echo and Lookout are still cautious and wary around each other, but they are getting along even having occasional grooming moments together. If nothing else, we saw everybunny comfortably loafed up in different spots on the same floor of the condo enjoying the sunshine. We left them together all morning and when it came time to get ready to go out for our plans for the day, we couldn’t bring ourselves to separate them. Everyone was behaving well, so we decided to take a chance and leave them together unsupervised.
We got home after being out of the house for about 5 hours and found that Beanbag and Echo were trading grooming while Lookout watched from the litterbox. Matt stayed home with the bunnies for an hour while I went out for a meeting. When I got back, he said they had all been good as gold the entire time. We got ready to go out for dinner again, leaving the bunnies together in the condo unsupervised for the second time that day. When we came home 4 hours later, everybunny was napping. There were no stray tufts of fur to indicate any fights, most of their pooping and peeing had been done in the litterboxes, but they had made a mess with their hay. We swept up the hay and the stray poops, sprayed down the one spot where they had peed outside a litterbox, and generally tidied up a bit while keeping the bunnies on the upper floor. When Echo and Beanbag came back to the floor I’d cleaned, they decided that it smelled all wrong. Echo promptly peed right outside the litterbox, she and Beanbag both stepped in the puddle with their rear feet, then they zipped past the front of the cage and flicked their feet, spraying both Matt and I with pee. Gee, thanks guys, memo taken, don’t change the smell of “your space” when you worked so hard to get it to start smelling like home. Sigh, that’s gratitude for you!
In the end, the bunnies spent the night together last night in their new condo. When I got up this morning, Echo was loafed up in the middle of the second floor and Beanbag and Lookout were loafed up side by side at the other end of the floor. Everyone looked happy and contented with life and there were no new puddles to be cleaned up.
While they still have a bit farther to go to integrate everyone into the dynamic of a three-way bond, I believe we are now safely at the point where we will begin to dismantle the divided NIC condo. With Lookout and Beanbag, even once they were bonded enough to start sharing a cage, it took another month or so for some of the herding behavior to stop. I’m sure we’ll see more development of their dynamic as the summer goes by. I don’t think we will be putting them back in separate cages again. Hopefully, the dynamic between the three bunnies will continue to develop in the direction its been heading so far. Lookout seems to be taking her role as “top bun” seriously; she watches over the other two and tries to herd them to safety when she perceives danger. Beanbag and Echo seem to be equitably sharing their roles at the bottom of the pecking order. Beanbag has become a bit more active and outgoing since we added Echo into the mix. With a 3rd bunny to change the dynamic, Beanbag seems to bear less of the burden of Lookout’s need to keep the bunnies in her warren safe. Beanbag seems to be getting bullied less and because of it he’s been coming back out of his shell again. He’s such a gentle soul that dealing with a bunny who is really dominant makes him stop doing everything without permission. Echo seems to be giving up her scaredy-bunny routine and becoming more social. She is still feeling her way in the relationships with both of the other bunnies, but she is definetly motivated and wants to become friends.

I guess I wouldn’t call us done with this bonding process yet. But I can safely say that we have reached a major milestone.

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