On Friday morning, I went out to the barn to find that the rabbits had begun building an ark.
Okay, not really, but it might have been better if they had. It had been raining all week long. The low spots in the yard had become sloshy mini-ponds, and when I entered the barn I found that it had completely flooded, with about four inches of water covering the floor. Thankfully, Husband had finished the second story of the chicken coop (and the chickens had not figured out how to get down to the bottom floor from the top), and most of the rabbits were in cages high enough off the floor to be safe.
Licorice (our breeding doe) and her not-quite-week-old babies, however, were in the water.
I ran back to the house to get Husband’s help. We first got the babies out. Still in the nest box, and most of them still alive (the ones who had died probably would have anyway, even without being flooded out), we got them to higher ground. Husband retrieved a cage from the barn loft and put Licorice inside, along with her babies. The poor girl was pretty wet, and I felt bad for her. She looked a little cramped in that cage, especially after having been in a nice big pen for quite a while, but she is such a mellow rabbit that she seemed to handle the transition fine.
The next task was to get all the wet straw out of the pen. Husband said it was a priority because “this is how barn fires start.” I was confused, but he explain that wet straw composts and heats up, and then a fire starts. That hadn’t occurred to me, but it made sense. So we (mostly Husband) worked on getting the heavy, wet straw out of the pen and out of the barn. We also needed to clean out the bottom floor of the chicken coop. All that wet stuff went into a big gray bin, and once the compost has aged a while, we’ll put it on the garden.
In the meantime, we are considering how urgent and important it may be to build a new barn since the current one seems to be in just about the lowest spot on the property. Its location has caused two different types of problems. In the late winter, when the snow melted and then re-froze, the track in which the door slides became frozen. I had to had the neighbor help me once, and a couple of Husband’s employees help me another time just to get the door open to feed the animals. Twice it has flooded: once in early spring as the snow turned to water and earth thawed and the rains began, and once this past week. Certainly this week’s rains were unusual, but I anticipate that we will have to deal with the flooding every spring.
One thought is to put a new barn on the concrete pad that currently makes a basketball court. Except that the basketball goal is broken and that’s where we currently store the Beast (our gigantic mower), the snowblower, and the tiller. It is higher and the ground around it was not as squashy as the ground around the barn was. Husband mentioned building a timber-frame barn in order to get practice in timber framing before he builds the house. I’d be okay with a cute pole barn with a gambrel roof and an enclosed lean-to like our neighbor has. Either way, we’d make the barn bigger than the current one so that we can have more room for animals and hopefully some space for the mowers and other machinery.
Plus then we won’t have to rescue wet rabbits anymore.