Cool Your Rabbits!

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A couple of weeks ago the temperature got up to over 90 in our “temperate climate” in the Pacific Northwest.  Unfortunately, we lost 4 of our rabbits to the heat.  We had them shaded and in ventilated cages but it wasn’t enough.  Today as I was worrying about the return of the heat for our rabbits I remembered……I know how to make a non-electric cooler.

Since I live off the grid, everything has to work by itself and although I have known how to do this for years, I have never even tried it……up until now.

The way that people used to keep their stuff cool above ground is to have a cloth over a box and water dripping on the cloth.  Then as the water evaporated, the box was cooled…..and the stuff in the box.  So I used that principle to make the rabbit cages into coolers.

I took an old towel, got it wet, and hung it over a side of the cage.  Then I took a 5 gallon bucket of water and put it on the cage with a tube reaching from the bottom of the bucket to the middle of the towel.  I put a stick into the end of the tube so the water came out slowly to keep the towel wet and evaporating.

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The immediate relief was evident in the first cage I put it into.  It was 10 in the morning and she was already stressing…….but within a very short time she was breathing normally and eating.

The second rabbit pressed herself against the wire by the “cooler” and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.  The mother and babies in the third cage seemed to come alive…..they had been acting sluggish and lethargic.  The fourth cage was a double deck hutch which had a bunch of young rabbits in it.  They laid against the side of the cage next to both levels of the cooler.

The rabbits are now safe in a cool spot……but I was dying…..  I had to come and write about it so I had a chance to be in a cool spot for a bit.

Ok….It has been 3 hours.  The temperature is 83 degrees and I just went and checked on our rabbits.  The sticks in the end of the tubes needed pulled out a little because, as wood is apt to do, it swelled and slowed the water flow.  But only one towel was getting dry.  The doe in that cage was up against the drying towel and breathing a little fast.  I wet the towel thoroughly and adjusted the stick in the tubing and within a couple of minutes she slowed her breathing and went off to eat.  NONE of the other rabbits are showing any sign that it is roasting out there.

OMG….How I wish I had remembered how to do this before we lost the does in the last heat wave.

Last year we tried freezing 2 liter bottles of water and put those in with the rabbits.  And I had that started for this time……but the results were not as dramatic and cooling.  In fact it was so not memorable that neither my daughter nor I can remember what the rabbits did with the bottles.  A couple bottles got chewed.

I heard that a lady lost some chickens in the last heat wave.  So how can this be applied?  I would drape wet blankets over the coop and have a hose or sprinkler on just enough to keep the blankets wet.  Over your doghouses?  Over the goat barn?  I bet if I put a wet blanket over my car with a 5 gallon bucket dripping on it I might have a cool car several hours later.  Anyone want to try that?

How else could this be applied to make the lives of the animals in our care more comfortable?

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.

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