Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RIP Kinley

Kinley @ 2
Kinley, one of our prized angora rabbits, died this week. She was a REW (red eyed white) with the most silkiest, luxurious, 6" staple length coat that I've ever seen on an English angora rabbit. She was also had the sweetest nature while grooming. We missed breeding her this Spring because the weather went from frost to hot with little time in between.

I hear you thinking, 'that's life on the homestead.' That's true. I've at this a few decades and know it's true. My roommate, Mel, on the other hand, is relatively new to all of this. She had  found Kinley prostrate in her cage. Still breathing, but just barely. She had run inside to her air conditioned room with her wrapped in a bath mat. She had slammed the front door on the way in and yelled, "I've killed Kinley!"

By the time I made it to her room, Mel was lying on the bed, crying, and petting the rabbit softly muttering how sorry she was for not taking better care of her. For the past week she had been worrying about Tempest (named for her blue coloring and her temper). She had sores develop on her paws. She's the bluish grey puff ball behind Kinley in the picture above. So Tempest had been inside in front of a box fan. That too is the way life goes. The sickest get the most attention. That is how it should be.

Kinley in full bloom
Mel had told me earlier how Kinley was blowing her coat again. At the time, I thought it was strange because when I had played with her earlier in the week and her coat was only a couple inches long. It was too soon. But I made a mental note to check her coat in the morning before I went back into the garden. I was kicking myself too for not checking on her as soon as Mel said something.

We couldn't tell what exactly killed her. We had thought neglect or the heat. We debated it most of the night. All the time Mel was blaming herself. I was trying to be supportive and comforting. She was even designing the new cage system for the rabbitry/ chicken pen we are having delivered the end of the month. Just in case it was the heat, we were planning on an air conditioned space for them and us. We all might as well be comfortable while grooming them too. We planned the rabbitry portion to be 8x 21 so it would have enough space for them and us to work with them. If you didn't know, the optimum temperature for angoras is under 70 degrees not the 100+ temperatures we have been getting. We weren't taking anymore chances with future rabbits.

I mention to Mel that after Kinley's body cooled the wool could be plucked from it. Mel was horrified. I'm not heartless. Far from it. I just look on the practical side. A 100% angora wool spun into art yarn can sell for $45 - $65 an ounce. I made Mel go into her air conditioned bedroom while I tended to the wool. I had tears in my eyes as I plucked the wool from the lifeless Kinley's body. Her hair flew, as it usually did while grooming, into wispy strands. She's not the first angora I've had pass away on me.

Harvesting wool this way is far from an enjoyable task. All the while I was wracking my brain for a way to ease Mel's guilt and sorrow. I was also wondering what exactly killed her concerned about the other rabbits. I was praying as is my usual custom whether I butcher the animal or not. Many of you new readers of this blog may not know, before I was a minister and a chef, I was a life flight nurse. I was offered and retired after fifteen years at full pension when I turn 65. I'm close, but not quite there.

There I was plucking fur off this dead rabbit who was once the lovable Kinley. Carefully and unsuccessfully brushing fly away fur from my wet cheeks, when I notice what appeared to be her wide opened jaw. Or what I thought was her jaw. As I pulled the fur closer to the edge, I realized it wasn't her jaw at all, but a wound. That raised my medical curiosity. Although I treat even dead animals with respect as I would with any human, I turned her over for a better look at her throat. At first it looked like something had ripped her throat out. I gently pulled at the opening. Very little blood, so nothing had actually cut her. Then I saw it. A residual pus pocket of infection. Apparently, she had gotten a cut or scratch on her throat area and it enlarged to the point of rupture. There was no way Mel or I could have seen it with all her fur unless we had turned her on her back and touched the area under her chin (which all rabbits hate being prey animals). Cause of death- I'm chocking up to shock and heart failure. You can actually startle a  rabbit to death.

I rushed into Mel's room to tell her. Absolved of guilt, she can ease her grief a bit. Kinley was her absolute favorite angora of the bunch. Just as precious as my Buddy is to me. My heart aches for her. These angora rabbits were her children. For a childless woman, it's a hard blow. In the meantime, I'm praying for comfort for her.

Currently, I'm looking for loving and caring folks to adopt four Jersey Woolies/Lionhead mixed rabbits. In the near future, we will be purchasing new English angoras for breeding and selling babies, and wool production for the expansion of the rabbitry's income source, but not today. Today, we are in mourning for Kinley. May she rest in peace in a field of abundant clover and timothy grass forever.

Be blessed.

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