By Ann Flagg Campbell
It was one of those signs that you see sometimes in Maine, even in the less rural areas where I live. I first noticed it on my way to work one day almost 5 years ago, a crudely assembled piece of plywood nailed to a post with red paint that simply read “Bunnies for sale, 2 for $25.00, pets or food.”
At the time I had not one bit of interest in being a parent to a bunny I had 2 elderly Labradors and 3 cats and was a vegetarian at the time, so the idea of them as food was disturbing, but still I didn’t give it a lot of thought except to find it something I didn’t like to see on my daily commute.
After about 3 or 4 days of seeing it my husband said that I should stop by and at least look at them. He had rabbits as a boy, kept in the usual fashion then, outside in a hutch but nonetheless he had a long remembered affection. So that day on the way home I pulled in and the wife came out and took me around back to where they were kept. It was August and it was scorching hot. What I saw was unimaginable to me at the time.
Now knowing what backyard breeders do, I am used to seeing these upsetting setups, but I saw stack upon stack of wire cages, rusty, dirty water bottles and the bunnies…Californians of all ages, 8 to 10 to a cage, some with Mom, some just on their own, nothing but rabbits with not even the barest of creature comforts. By then I just wanted to go–I could feel tears coming and I just pointed at one tiny one in a corner with the mother and probably 8 other babies and another one in a cage with adults. I asked why, and they said she was “too fat” and took the milk from the other babies. That was my Chubsie. So I hastily gave her the money, grabbed the bunnies and managed to make it to my car before breaking into tears. I put them in the carrier, turned on the air conditioner and drove in silence to the feed store where I got a large cage, hay, pellets and they had a pamphlet there from the HRS (thank god) that listed vegetables to feed, so off we went to the Farmers Market, the whole time I am panicking, knowing nothing about bunnies.
Fast forward almost 5 years and 9 more rescued bunnies later. My Bun and Chubsie have grown into beautiful, loving, funny, amazing creatures, which is incredible considering they cowered when touched and hated humans for months. They love their balls with the jingly bells inside (usually at 3 a.m.!), they love their crinkle tunnels, their cardboards forts where they sleep and hide, their clean blankies and their sweet fresh hay and their twice daily salads. They love their ear scritches and silly songs and sitting on the floor with me for head bumps and movie time too.
They are not meat–they are love.