Raising Rabbits for Fun and Profit, the booklet title read. My brother and I fell hard for that one. We read the book. We did the math. We got excited. We managed to negotiate a trade of I-don't-remember-what to get a rabbit hutch with eight or so compartments and a white rabbit in each. We must have talked our parents into footing the bill for the feed. And just like that, we were in business!
Multiplying rabbits turned out to be really easy. All the math and care instructed in the book was really unnecessary. We just dropped the buck into a female's cage for a five minute visit and in a few weeks, we were rich in baby rabbits.
I know you get the biology part, it's the profit part that you want to know about. Well, it so happens, we want to know about that part too.
Our expectations of prosperity did not exactly go as planned. It turned out finding a market for a gazillion rabbits in rural northern Minnesota in the 1970's was, let's just say, challenging. It was farm and hunting country, for crying out loud. There were wild rabbits in abundance everywhere. And everyone we knew lived on a farm … where they raised their own livestock, including rabbits if they so desired. Okay, it was not challenging, it was ludicrous.
In a few short months we had more rabbits than we could imagine how to get rid of. Our dream of affluence had become our bane. So, we made the only wise move left to us. We released the rabbits.
I wish I could say that was the end of the fiasco, but it was actually just the beginning. Rabbits have two annoying hobbies. You already know about the multiplying one. The other is, they burrow into anything soft. Not that anything soft in Minnesota was important, like insulation.
At this point I just heave a deep sigh as I recall the relentless rabbit “witch hunts” we conducted. If only we had eaten those first eight rabbits, I might still enjoy a meal of rabbit now.
The last vestige of the rabbit plague was routed on Christmas day. The well house was their final stronghold. And yes, it froze up and we lost water.
I'm not sure it's fair to blame the well house fire on the rabbits, since technically they were gone. We were just thawing the pipes out with what we called a torpedo heater. It was a long day by the time we got the well house rebuilt.
Every once in a while someone will offer me free rabbits. I just smile and walk away.