By LYNNE IRONS
I hope I do not sound completely hard-hearted, but, thankfully, my last rabbit has died. I started out with two adorable Easter bunnies when the children were little. I was assured they were both females. You must be able to see where this is headed.
That’s right, before I could figure out what was happening, I had two litters and a third on the way. The female is impregnated at the moment of the birth of the first batch. She hides the babies deeply in a nest of straw and hair and never sits on the nest like a mother cat. By the time I finally had the male separated, the babies were having babies. Oh, by the way, the extreme right-wing moral types might have to change their thinking if they observed the behavior of male rabbits.
After giving babies to my used-to-be friends, I was still overrun. I decided I would eat them as that would fit with my lifestyle of feeding my family in a thrifty, efficient and healthy manner. After a few times picking the meat off the bones and lying to the children that it was chicken, I realized I was not cut out to kill Fluffy.
Rabbit is a really delicious lean meat. There is a reason for its place in the food chain. I still buy it occasionally, but used my rabbits for their high-quality manure instead. The amount of worms produced in a pile of bunny droppings is astounding. I dig shovelsful into my garden at three-foot intervals and have incredibly rich soil.
One time we had an angora rabbit named Bun-Bun. We trained him to a litter box in the house where he lived happily for years. For some reason the dog and cat tolerated him, although I think they would have killed him outside.
Once my deep freezer stopped working. The repairman left me a $100 invoice, the broken wires, and two little duties on the top.
The aforementioned ability of rabbit manure to enrich soil brings up two composting subjects. One is manure tea. Sounds delicious, huh? I put a shovelful of droppings into a five-gallon bucket, fill with water, and let steep for a week or so. A cup of the resulting “tea” can be mixed into a watering can and used for all the heavy-feeding plants on a weekly basis. I also mix liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer into the can. Not only is it a liquid food, but it has a limited ability to repel deer.
A proper compost has to have manure or grass clippings: something to “cook” the kitchen waste. A big pile of vegetable peelings, grapefruit rinds and eggshells is not going to give the desired results in a timely fashion. They also might attract vermin.
Compost needs to be turned often to let in the air. I used to build huge piles and just turn them the length of the garden. It would be totally dispersed by the end of the row. Back in my younger and stronger days, I would drive around to the various horse farms several times a week and pitchfork a truckload at a time. In those days, the farms were happy to see it go.
Mark Shapiro, author of Exposed, was on the Terry Gross radio show a couple of weeks ago. He began his talk by warning that the United States is losing global influence. Emerging economies like India are patterning themselves after the European Union, as the United States has not kept up. For example, when the government pays for health care as in the European Union, there is a powerful incentive for the government to work on cleaning up toxic chemicals in everyday products, be vigilant about food additives, and keep the environment clean. Keeping people healthy saves money.
What is our problem? We have socialized education which works very well for us. Our elderly enjoy limited socialized medicine. What about the rest of us? Why can’t our government take care of its own?
I have a little plaque found at a yard sale, which reads:
Do well thy work
It shall succeed,
In thine, or in
Thou lack the Victor’s meed
Thou shalt not want
The toiler’s pay.
— John Greenleaf Whittier