Rabbits 1964, by Jess Scott
4-H Project Story

back to Scott Hill Farm

It was 20 below outside, and there was almost six inches of snow on the ground.   In that biting cold it seemed like a mile between our house and the little shed where I kept my rabbits.  Actually it was hardly one hundred feet.  I shivered as a strong gust of wind blew cold air and icy snow up under my coattail.  It took the vapor from my breath and from the pail of water out across the field.  Soon I got to the shed, opened the door and hurriedly stepped in to where it was noticeably warmer.

Even though it was warmer in the shed, the water in each rabbit's trough had frozen solid since I had fed them last, 25 hours ago. I had to sympathize with one rabbit which had ice on his whiskers.

  One at a time I opened each rabbit's cage, got the ice out of the water pan and filled it up with warm water.  Then I filled the feed cups with ground corn and soybean meal, and closed the cage door.  First I put the buck then the two young does in separate cages and finally the old doe with her seven young in a cage together.   Of course I had to pet the young ones a little.  Though it takes little time to tell about this, it often took twenty minutes to perform the actual chore.  It could be difficult to get the ice out of the water pans, and sometimes a rabbit would need fresh bedding.  As I went out the door I checked each cage making sure that the door was shut.

Any one that didn't know the history of these cages would have said that they were a sorry lot.  Many of them were empty for the winter and unkept, but I am proud of them for I have built them myself.  In some ways this was not an ordinary feeding time.   Some days I replenished the feed supply.  Some days I removed the manure.   Some days I repaired cages.   Some days weren't cold.  Some days were quite hot.  But in other way this was an average feeding time.  As I look back , I regard my rabbits as sort of a spirit and a pleasant memory.

I didn't make much money on my project, less than 20 cents an hour.  For that reason I let my other projects crowd it out.  I wish I had time for the project again next year, though, because the rabbits were mine.  What I mean by this is that unlike a dairy project where my father told me whether I was doing right or not, I had to learn more by experience or go to books.  For this reason when I saved a litter of seven young rabbits or made an improvement in a cage, I felt extra pride in myself.

While I have had this project I have learned how to raise rabbits.  This sounds simple but if one has ever raised rabbits he knows that it is the little things that count the most.  For instance, the book says that when weaning rabbits, put the does and bucks in separate pens.  That didn't sound real important so, when a doe came up with two young which happened to be a buck and a doe, I put them together at weaning time.   Before they were big enough to kill, the doe got sick and died. On examination I found that she had been clawed to death.  After that, I left a buck and a doe together only when I was around.  I also learned a good deal of carpentry while building the cages.  Some of the cages were quite ingenious if I say so myself.   I built them out of scrap lumber which didn't cost me anything.  Another benefit I got from the rabbits was meat.  We have had a many a meal built around rabbit meat.  One has missed something unless he has eaten rabbit pie. 

I am sorry to say that I have received no awards or recognition for this project, for there are no divisions in our county fair for rabbits.

1963                              Monthly Record of Rabbits

  On Hand
first day
of month

Used at
On Hand
at end
of month
Oct. 12         8 8.00 4
Nov. 4   1         3
Dec. 3 7           10
Jan. 1964 11             11
Feb. 11     3 2.75 4 4.00 4
Mar. 4 4           8
Apr. 8 12           20
May 20   1 1 1.00 2 2.00 16
June 16 4   7 7.00 4 4.00 9
July 9 8           17
Aug. 17         1 1.00 16
Sept. 16         4 4.00 12
TOTAL   35 2 11 $10.75 23 $23.00  

Breeding record

Date Name or
Date due to
Number of live
young born
Jan 19 2 Willie Feb. 8 none
Feb. 2 1 Willie Mar. 4 4
Mar 2 2 Willie Apr 1 5
Mar 2 3 Willie Apr 1 7
May 12 1 Willie Jun 11 4
Jun 29 2 Willie Jul 29 3
Jun 29 3 Willie July 29 5
Nov 15 4 Willie Dec. 15 7

Expense Record

Date Item purchased or furnished to you Number
Feb feed 33 lb 1.93
Mar feed 31 lb .72
Apr feed 43 lb .98
May feed 88 lb 2.01
Jun feed 69 lb 1.36
Jul feed 42 lb .89
Aug feed 20 lb .42
Sep feed 145 lb 3.00
Oct feed 217 lb 4.50
Nov feed 25 lb .59
Dec feed 25 lb .59
Totals   788 $16.99