Learning With Lily

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My daughter and granddaughters moved in with us this spring, and we’ve spent most of the summer trying to rearrange living quarters to accommodate everyone’s needs. Having three generations under one roof is sometimes a challenge, but I wouldn’t miss a minute of it!

Another challenging aspect of the move has been adding another species of indoor pet to the kennel room. Before Lily, my oldest granddaughter’s sweet little Angora bunny, moved in, my two dogs and two cats shared a 4-by-25-foot storage closet that we transformed into a “critter castle” complete with its own heat and air conditioning that keeps the room from going too far below 50 or above 80 degrees. There is also an attached outdoor area with about the same amount of floor space that is safely screened in for our four-legged fur-babies to enjoy when we are at work or sleeping.

When Lily arrived, I remodeled the top shelf in the kennel room to create a 10-by-2-foot hutch for her. On the shelf underneath the hutch, I placed four worm bins to collect and manage the poo and spilled food that sifted through the hardware cloth floor. Underneath the bins is the floor area that the dogs use as their sleeping quarters.

I constructed an enclosed nesting box for Lily, thinking she would need a dark, quiet area to rest. The floor and walls were thoughtfully lined with hard plastic I salvaged from the worm-bin lids. I took extra time making sure she couldn’t get to any of the edges with her teeth, to keep her safe. I also made another partially enclosed area for her to rest that had a smooth, plastic floor to give her feet a break from the wire floor whenever she wanted. That floor is slanted so the urine and poo would roll down into one of the bins below. I was pleased with the results, but Lily was not impressed. Apparently she is a “private pooper” and doesn’t like to do her business out in the open.

Her first week in the hutch was miserable for me and probably not much better for her. I couldn’t keep the tiny nesting box cleaned out fast enough. I found out the hard way that rabbits drink an enormous amount of water every day and make just as much urine. In addition, they produce at least twice as much poo! This wasn’t working out for either of us.

So, I boarded up the entrance to her nesting-box-turned-toilet and hoped she would begin toileting in the area with the slanted floor. She seems to be quite content with this new arrangement, and so am I. Now, I just rotate the worm bins each day to make sure all the little wigglers get their fair share. Potty problem solved.

Because I love to crochet and have always wanted to learn to spin yarn, I’d considered adding fiber animals to our little burbstead sometime in the future. Even though I wasn’t quite ready to make that leap, Lily’s arrival is turning out to be a great learning experience. She actually seems to enjoy being brushed, and the amount of wool I get with each brushing is amazing!

The dogs and cats love to investigate the process and nudge my arm to let me know they want to be brushed too. Each one, including Lily, roam around in the kennel while waiting for their turn. It’s amazing how quickly they’ve all accepted each other. Even so, I always keep a watchful eye and keep their supervised “play time” at a minimum.

Although this summer hasn’t gone as planned, and my blogging has taken an unexpected break, I’m happy to be one step closer to my burbsteading dream with our first little livestock animal, even if she is also a sweet little pet. I’m also enjoying having little ones in the house again, even if only for a while. Hopefully, I’ll be able to blog more regularly now that everyone is beginning to get settled in.