Stress (Noun): The mental state caused by having too many bunnies in too small a space.
They’re fine in the hutch with Mom while they’re still tiny and cute like these little two week olds. But the litters of baby bunnies hit 4 weeks, and then 5, and my guilt meter at having them all crammed inside there was exploding off the top of the Richter scale. They needed a new enclosure. There were too many babies this time to all fit inside the one pen we used with the last litter. With Alice gone it was up to me to build a duplicate pen so that each set of babies could have its own 6 by 6 foot space to run around in and eat grass. I moved Snuggles and her nine(!!) offspring out to the one run, and set about building a second for Margot and her six.
In this first picture, you see the state of affairs as I gathered my supplies and examined my model to copy. I used the table saw in the barn to cut the boards to (approximate) length.
This is how far I got during my first attempt at building:
You’ll notice that not much has changed in comparison with the first picture. This took me some serious time, and my results were minimal: I got about three 2×4’s shakily screwed together before the drill ran out of batteries and I ran out of long-enough, unstripped screws. I learned a couple things, though, through trial and error.
A few days later, stress level mounting, I resolved to devote another evening toward bunny construction. We had gotten firewood delivered to the yurt that day, so after my 9-hour workday I went home to help Jen (my new roomie) move a cord and a half of split logs. Somehow, after all that, through sheer force of will I decided to continue on in my Carhartts and do the building that I’d planned on instead of changing into jammies and going immediately to sleep. I brought two drills plus extra batteries, a full set of the kind of bits that drill holes, a magentized-extendo-Phillips-head screwdriver drill bit thingy, a couple clamps, more screws, and the staple gun from the barn out to the yurt. I resolved to get the bunny house done tonight. I had my headlamp at the ready.
It was so much easier with my little bit of extra preparedness. I kept two different bits in the two drills so that I could alternately make holes and sink screws without switching the bits all the damn time. I used the clamps to hold things up since I do only have two hands, and propping things on my head wasn’t working. The pieces felt like they were fitting together more solidly and using the drill felt a bit more natural. It still took time though…. and with it being September 21st and all, it got dark out by the time I even reached this point:
And then I went to put the chicken wire around the outside and discovered that the staple gun was out of staples. But oh well. I cut the wire to size and made all the other finishing touches. Sinking screws through the sheet metal roof and attaching the hinged top door were both extremely gratifying tasks. It felt like building with Legos or K’Nex like we did when we were kids, the way the pieces and attachments just fit together effortlessly. I was having fun and thinking about future construction projects!
I went to bed. Then I woke up to this:
Looking out at that breathtaking sunrise gave me a feeling of happiness in my heart. Similar to the feeling I get when I look out at this:
The completed rabbit enclosure, with Margie and her babies (they’re teenagers at this point, really…) enjoying a newfound ability to stretch and scamper around and eat grass and veggies.
I wouldn’t want to build bridges over the Grand Canyon or anything whose structural integrity was important to the well-being of myself or others. But if I need to build an animal enclosure or a greenhouse or a wash table on my future farm, I feel like I am on the way to being able to do so competently. I am learning on the fly. But I still wish I had seen the value in that woodshop class back in middle school.