As many of you, we have often have visitors to our barn. What precautions should you take when visitors come? Should you even allow a visitor in your barn? I was doing some reading this week and had a chance to read this well written article by Kristen of Keepís Rabbitry. I think youíll be able to relate well to what she is saying, and she has some great tips for keeping visitors out of your barn. Be sure to visit her website, Keepís Rabbitry and also subscribe to her blog Keepís Rabbitry Blog.
This is a much debated topic, believe it or not!On one hand, most people want to see your set up and all your rabbits. Seems innocent enough, right? After all, they just want a pet, and you may be worried that theyíll think something is fishy if you donít let them see your set up.On the other hand, youíre inviting a total stranger to your house. While they are there, not only can they look at everything sitting in your rabbitry, they can see what kind of lock you have, if the rabbitry is blocked from view by trees, etc. They may notice an expensive bike sitting outside that belongs to your child, your purebred dog (I know if people ask, I do admit my dogs are purebreds), etc.Iíve heard many, many horror stories. People coming by ďto lookĒ at rabbits, deciding theyíll come back later, etc. Next day, our breeder goes outside, notices the lock busted off the rabbitry, the door torn open, etc. They rush inside only to find a entire litter gone, or worse, rabbits running around the floor of the rabbitry to confuse the breeder- this way, they donít know WHO is gone yet.We had a lady call to inquire about our pets when we still lived in Graham- and stupid, well-meaning Tim told her where we lived! Iím outside cleaning cages and packing bunnies up to go to a overnight show, and suddenly this strange woman shows up and comes in to the back yard!I stop what I was doing and asked if I could help her, she said she called about bunniesÖ.well Tim told me that lady just asked what we had, said ďokĒ and hung up the phone. No mention of visiting, asking to visit, anything, just wanting to know where we were located. Anyway, I show her what we have, and she happens to see a pair of mini lop babies fresh out of the nestbox- at a whopping 2 weeks old.
She wants the solid one. I told her no way and tried to herd her back to the 8 week olds I had for sale.
ďOh, but I had one smaller than that once! I got him from somebody and kept him in my pocket and hand fed him and he bonded to me!Ē
I looked her straight in the eye and said ďThen youíre extremely lucky because Iíve never successfully hand raised one. I wonít sell one that young, these are the ones for saleĒ, and pointed back in the direction of the ďsale rabbit cagesĒ.
She left without buying anything, and since the bunnies were on a back porch with a crappy door & screen all around it, before we left we took EVERY mama with a baby(ies) and locked them in the house. I didnít know her, and I wasnít about to trust that she wouldnít come back and steal a baby I wasnít willing to sell.
Thankfully, she never came back and we never heard from her again.
Now that we are here in the parsonage, with a much more secure barn, my policy on visits has had to adapt a little. We get tons of church folks that just want to come and ďvisitĒ (*sigh* This is not a petting zoo, please donít poke the rabbits). We also have had several people want to buy pets. Iím more willing to trust someone that I see on a regular basis. So we do allow people to do supervised tours. However, sometimes folks drop by uninvited and bring friends.
This is NOT acceptable. I may know you, I donít know them, and I wasnít exactly planning on giving tours today, thanks. I really donít like bringing tons of people, it upsets the rabbits and itís harder to watch 4 kids than it is to watch one. I offered to let some kids give ONE rabbit hay, and the next thing I know there is hay all over the floor, crammed in half the cages (that we had just cleaned! ARGH) and Iím having to say ďSTOP!Ē
Mostly, if itís a non-church related sale, I try to give pictures of what we have available, then meet the person in a nice, neutral area, like a parking lot. Sometimes they can come to the house, but the rabbits are in carriers in the living room and I make no mention of where the rabbits live- for all they know, the rabbitry is located in the upstairs bathroom!
My preference is definitely to not have people visit my home. Iím a mildly paranoid person at best and not thrilled with the idea someone can come in and see everything we own- and we definitely donít have a Dodge Viper sitting out back and a solid gold toilet, if you see my meaning.
On the flip side, I LOVE having trustworthy rabbit breeders that I know come visit. I love visiting other people and seeing their set ups. Itís all about trust. I donít trust someone I talked to on the phone for 5 minutes and I donít trust someone who emailed me twice with some amazing literary work such as ďyou still got emĒ, no punctuation, no greeting, no name and no specification as to what ďthemĒ is. Iíve thought Iíve had GREAT rabbit homes lined up, only to meet the person and seriously regret my decision.
If you donít want someone to see your rabbits, I have several stories I tell, which are usually kind of true at the least.
ďI have does about to kindle/with babies in the nestbox and I donít want to upset themĒ. This is a good one. I usually DO have does about to kindle, though sometimes it may not be for another 3 weeks. I try only to trot this one out when itís true though, I donít like lying.
ďThere are a lot of crazy people out there, and Iíve heard too many
stories to be comfortable allowing visitationsĒ. This is a good one too,
though you may want to tone down the wording a little :) . I try to let
the person know that while I donít personally think THEY are a nut job, I
make it an overarching policy. I also use this story when explaining why
I donít accept checks for rabbits.
If you havenít done so yet, be sure to stop by Kristenís blog and read some of her other articles!