Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How we save money!

Our rescue group, Huntsville Friends of Rabbits, runs on donations, and our budget is very tight. However, we are proud to say that we make every penny count! As the Education Bunny for HFR, I make it my business to ensure that every donation is used in the best possible way. Most of our donations are used for vet expenses, and we have found ways to keep our other costs way down.

One way is to buy our hay directly from a local farmer. He grows an orchard grass/Timothy mix hay which is just delicious! Because we buy directly from the farmer, and pick the hay up ourselves, we get it for $5 a bale. If we bought a bale's worth from the pet store, or even an online dealer, it would cost a fortune! And we go through bales and bales of hay! Getting our hay direct from the farm greatly reduces our costs.

Here is the barn where "our" farmer stores the hay. Look at that beautiful grass! It's so green and lovely up at his farm!

And here is our truck, filled with delicious hay! 

My chauffeur, Dr. Bruce, helps load it in and drives it home for us. It gets stored in our garage, in a cool place where there is good air circulation so it doesn't mold. This cut was brown, but usually it's a soft green color.

What else do we do to save money? Well, let me tell you about our bunny garden! 

My personal gardener (who is also my secretary and wardrobe assistant) has a wonderful veggie and herb garden. This cuts our veggie expenses significantly. In addition, the garden supplies us bunnies with herbs and gourmet lettuces we otherwise wouldn't get, as they are too expensive for us to buy at the grocery store. We grow several types of basil, mint, fennel, dill, salad burnett, sorrel, oregano, and three to five varieties of lettuce. We even grow edible flowers like roses and violas. Everything is organic with no pesticides.

Because my gardener grew up in New England, she knows how to extend the growing season into the winter, so sometimes we even have kale and lettuce in December and January. Check out these mini-cold frames made out of old cages and clear shower curtains - yes, that's kale, growing under the snow!

We use old cages to protect the young lettuce plants, too. We have a resident groundhogs on our property who don't seem to understand that the lettuce is just for bunnies, so we have to make sure they can't get to it. That's right, folks - at the main foster home the lettuce is caged and the bunnies run free!! 

Here is a photo of one of the youngest of our salad stealers. Isn't she cute?!

Another way we cut costs is by using newspaper to line our litter boxes instead of Carefresh or other commercial litters. It really works just as well! We are always happy to take donations of newspapers!

One unusual way we save money is by having one of our members, Dr. Bruce, do our coccidia tests. He is a biologist, and can do the fecal float tests needed to check for these nasty parasites. If we had them done through our veterinarian it would be quite expensive, as every bunny who comes into foster care needs to have them, and we do periodic checks on our resident bunnies as well. The test also picks up any worms we might have.  It's very important!

These are just a few of the ways we make all of our donations go as far as possible. We want our donors to know that we appreciate their help, and we stretch their dollars in every way we can. If you have donated to us, thank you sooooo much!!! We foster bunnies just love you!!!

Mrs. Brighton
Huntsville Friends of Rabbits Education Bunny


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Seatbelt Your Bunny!

As the Huntsville Friends Of Rabbits Education Bunny, I feel very strongly that people need to be educated on the importance of regular check ups from a rabbit savvy veterinarian. All bunnies need check ups to make sure their teeth and intestines are in good shape, and as they get older they need to be checked for arthritis as well. 

But how do you get your bunny to the vet? I'm sure most of you take your bunny by car, and I have been horrified to learn that some people just put their bunny on the seat next to them! This distresses me as I have known two different people who have had accidents with animals in the car. In one case, the woman's kitten was thrown from the car and was never found. In the other, the rabbit was ok, but rescue workers were hindered by trying to figure out how to contain the bunny so he wouldn't escape while they helped his mom. 

And while traveling this past summer my secretary almost hit a little kitten who had escaped a car when her people stopped by the road to get something from their trunk. Her people were running all over the highway trying to catch her, which they eventually did. But they almost caused some major accidents!

So let's be smart about taking your bunny to the vet (or to the pet supply store to buy some new tutus!) Want to know how I, and the other Huntsville Friends of Rabbits foster bunnies, travel?

First of all, my chauffeur sets up my carrier. I like these flip top carriers as it's easier for my chauffeur to put me in and lift me out.  And notice that our name and phone number is on the carrier. This makes it easy for your vet to match up the right carrier with the right bunny, in case your bunny has to stay overnight. If there is an accident, or your bunny has to be evacuated in the event of a disaster, she'll be easy to identify. 

You could also put a luggage tag on the carrier. Or look at these nifty homemade tags my chauffeur made from laminating plastic and the closure to a bag of hay! You can out your name on the front and address/phone number on the back.

My chauffeur puts a soft fleece or towel in the bottom to help me get my footing. Because we don't have paw pads like other animals it's hard to get our footing on the carrier floor. I just hate sliding around! The towel also absorbs any urine that might somehow mysteriously appear in the carrier. I just don't know how that happens, but sometimes it does!

Don't you love my carrier blanket? It was made specially for the HFR bunnies by the lovely folks at The Cozy Cavy! It's fleece, and it's extra absorbent. You know, for when that urine mysteriously appears!

My chauffeur also puts some hay or veggies in. I might get hungry on the way, although many bunnies don't eat while the car is moving. A small water bottle hooks to the front of the carrier. My friend Gatsby sent me this picture of him in his carrier - look at that stylish red water bottle!

I prefer this little pink one, which can be wired to the front.

When my carrier is ready my chauffeur puts me in and makes sure the top entrance is securely closed. Then she puts me in the back seat of the car. And this next part is very important - she seat belts me in!!

You may think this is silly, but think about it. What if she has to slam on the breaks to avoid another car or a kitten running down the highway? My carrier might get thrown forward and off the seat. I could get hurt rolling around like that!

To seatbelt me in, she puts the seatbelt through the handle on my carrier and then clicks it. I'm not going anywhere! To be extra secure if there is no front seat passenger, the front seat can be put back so that it holds my carrier in place. This isn't really necessary, but only takes a second and give my carrier a bit more support. 

And there you have it! It only takes a second and will ensure that if something awful does happen, your bunny will be secure. As your bunny's chauffeur, it's your responsibility to make sure she is safe!

Now, go take your bunny for that vet check up!!

Mrs. Brighton
Education Bunny