Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bunnies and chickens

Our family's foray into the world of pets has been creeping and cautious. When our oldest daughter was four, I bought her two goldfish, which we kept in a small fishbowl and which she named Mary and Joseph . Two days later, Mary was belly up on the water; Joseph followed a day after that. We weren't sure why they died so soon, but our daughter didn't seem terribly upset, only dismayed and confused.

As for me, I was scared to try it again with a pet she might actually bond with.Thankfully, we didn't have to do any sneaky parenting maneuvers, al la Adam Gopnik's "Death of a Fish" in the New Yorker's July 4th 2005 issue--they didn't put it online, but there's a bit about his marvelous piece here .

Last spring, three years after the goldfish fiasco, we bought a Holland Lop, a one-year-old male, whom we named Basil and who has been delightful, tame, cute, fluffy, quiet, and all that. We built his hutch ourselves, a structure that gives me pleasure every time I walk past it. There is something mightily satisfying about a physical structure that exactly answers its ends, a structure whose utility is expressed in every line and joint. We drafted the plans based on these charming English hutches:

We even got him litter-box trained(!) and so he spent the winter as a house bunny. We loved having him inside with us, but now he's out in his hutch again for the pleasant months. Having successfully adopted a bunny into the family routine and affections, I think we're ready to branch out a bit more yet.

April 4th is Chick Day at our local Feed and Seed, and I've signed us up to get four Rhode Island Red pullets. We haven't built a hen house yet, but I've constructed some nesting boxes, and I feel hopeful that we can house them temporarily in the basement in a large box with a heating lamp. Yes? Blain is tagging along behind me in this venture, but the kids are all aboard. They've even named the chicks: Puck, Cluck, Chick-Bell, and One Chicken.
Wish us luck!


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