Lesson 502 – A rabbit in the hen house

This is what a rabbit is supposed to look like:

Photo credit: Sue Lyons

Notice, the proud posture, the open green grass, and the happy demeanor.

This is what our rabbit: Vivian looked like this morning:

Notice the cage, the downtrodden look, and the lack of companionship. You can practically hear her scream, “I am not a number, I am a BUNNY, let me out.”

Which is why I have made another of my famous executive decisions, which for the most part usually includes getting a new animal(s), but this time it is about setting one free. Or at the very least, setting one free within an enclosed confined area. Yup, that’s right, this Spring, our rabbit is going to become a hen house bunny.

The woman who sold us Vivian said that she kept her bunnies in the hen house and while I thought it was interesting, I didn’t think I was going to do that. Afterall, I had two daughters who had BEGGED me for this bunny. They were going to play with her and take care of her and see to her every need.

But winters (even snowless winters) in New Hampshire tend to change young and impressionable minds.

It’s cold.

I don’t have any shoes on.

It’s not my turn.

In a minute.


And so while my daughters sit inside the (relatively) warm house watching reruns of Friends, the bunny sits outside in a cage wondering what all the hoop-la about life is. If life means you sit in a cage, occasionally getting a handful of food thrown your way but otherwise leaving no entertainment other than watching the sun come up over the house in the morning and then set in the back woods each evening, then maybe, just maybe, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Which is why come this spring, I’m going to crack that bunny’s life up. We are going to move her into the hen house to live with the chickens.

Hens and chickens have been barnyard buddies for a long time and I know of a few people who routinely keep bunnies in with their chickens. From an agricultural point of view, bunny poop (just like any other grain/grass eating animal poop) is considered a delicacy in the chicken world. It’s not gross, it’s the way it should be, the ultimate in recycling. The bunny poops, the chickens peck through it for the tasty bits and the remainder gets mixed into the ground. Natures own “Miracle Grow.”

So this Spring, when we are fully past the threat of snow, I am going to take Vivan out to the hen house and let her meet some new friends. I’m also going to include an area (much like we did for the baby chicks when we first moved them out) so that she can get away and be safe as I imagine there will, at least initially anyway, be some pecking.

I’m confident, however, that the chickens and Vivian will become great friends and the time will come when they’ll relax together at the end of the day and say “Isn’t that sunset gorgeous?”


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Rabbits

7 responses to “Lesson 502 – A rabbit in the hen house

  1. Great idea. Bunnies in cages make me sad, too. Terry Golson’s bunny seems completely at-home in the coop. Can’t wait to hear how Vivian and the ladies meet and greet!

    • Wendy Thomas


      Actually it was my remembering Terry’s stories about her bunny in the hen house that helped me make my decision.


  2. Our bunnies run free. Their not ours. They are wild. We have instructed them to stay out of our garden. More than that you do not want to know.

  3. Our eight year old non-genetic granddaughter with two mommies and two daddies visited us a few days ago. As she lives in the city, I am glad that she visits us in exurbia, pulls carrots from the garden, and collects eggs from the hen house.

    “Do you know what an omnivore is?” I asked her. The word was new. However as she knows the meaning of carnivore and herbivore, it was not difficult to explain.

    She said, “I like meat. I would not like to be a vegetarian.” Then she thinks about how meat gets to the table, and almost starts crying.

    A little later, she told me that her 2nd grade class is studying the French Revolution. She told me a little about the guillotine.

    We live in a very strange world. We are a very strange species. I suppose it is no surprise my granddaughter’s mind is a bit jumbled on these issues.

  4. We all live in interesting times. By the way, the phrase (whether a curse or not, I am not sure) is not Chinese. My cousin, though of Eastern European Jewish descent (as am I), became fluent in Mandarin and became a Taiwanese millionaire as co-founder of Graco (with her Taiwanese husband). Graco is a well known manufacturer of baby strollers, car seats, and cribs. My family is more interesting than I am. As far as I now, my cousin (no longer alive) did not keep chickens, and as far as I know, our hens do not speak Mandarin, though for a while my daughter had two cats who miawoed with an English accent (having been born in England).

  5. Raf

    Why not just let the rabbit live in your house?

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