Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn
Let me tell you a story about my blue-eyed girl’s blue-eyed rabbit.
A little over a month ago we brought home this teeny-tiny New Holland Lop bunny. He’s nothing but ears and a fluffy tail. In a flurry of activity, we bought a hutch (we couldn’t find our old one), food, water bottle, and shavings. Everything you’d need to bring a bunny home.
About a week later, we bought him a litter box since bunnies supposedly can be litter box trained. Our blue-eyed bunny decided that the litter box is just not for him and instead opted to use it as his new bed and proceeded to sleep in it. So, we bought a second litter box thinking that he could sleep in one and use the second one for its intended purposes. Negative. He naps in one then moves to the other. You can guess what he does in the remaining corners of his hutch.
What you’d might have guessed about me by this time is that I’m a little picky about things. I like my car clean. House cleaner. And bathrooms spotless. The blue-eyed bunny apparently didn’t get the memo. Or he ate the memo. We’re also an animal family boosting a pair of corgis and some bad attitude cats. We’re frequently visited by “stinky kitty” aka the skunk.
The blue-eyed girl’s blue-eyed rabbit is more than just a furry mess maker. He’s her first 4-H project. My farmer and I tried to talk her into showing a nice-looking February dairy calf. In other words, an animal that lives outdoors. No success. She said rabbits. We said okay and then asked if she’d consider cake decorating.
Like eight-year-olds before her she’ll make the trek to her 4-H meetings. Show clinics. Classes. And community service. My farmer and I are already thinking about fair and wondering if we can talk the fair board into moving the show until after the snow flies. Probably not likely. Instead we’re worrying about containing our big-little boy with no eye color, there are a lot of tractors and skid loaders at the fair. And the status of our digestive systems at animal haul away and clean-up.
Ignoring for a moment the status of our digestive systems after a week of delicious fair food, 4-H engages over 6 million youth, of which 1.8 million are from urban areas, like Cook County, in hands-on learning opportunities. As part developing leadership skills, 4-H members are given the opportunity to develop pathways and to undertake projects of their choosing. Like rabbits in the case of my blue-eyed girl. And dairy and beef cattle in the case of my farmer. Or rabbits in my case.
We have no idea if our blue-eyed girl’s blue-eyed bunny will be successful next year. Nor do we really care. Instead, we want her to have a positive experience. We do know that 4-H will open doors and exposed our blue-eyed girl to opportunities, new ideas, and new experiences. For my farmer, it’s especially heartwarming because our blue-eyed girl is now a member of the very same 4-H club he joined when he turned eight.