I cannot believe the massive quantities of pollen that are currently being spewed into the air by all the plants around here right now. After a very mild winter (not quite as mild as last winter, but still), everything has just suddenly kicked into high gear. Even the oaks are pollinating right now, and I’m sure it’s way early for that!
I was convinced I was coming down with a cold. Allergies will sometimes give me a swollen, blistered throat in the morning, but it subsides during the day. If I have a swollen, blistered throat that stays around, or begins to creep down into my bronchial tubes, I have a virus.
Or so I thought.
Three of us had the same symptoms, and we thought we were all getting sick. Mom went to the doctor today. Nope, not sick. It’s allergies. It’s all this pollen! Ugh!
So in the midst of this pollen dump, it was time to refurbish the rabbitry.
Refurbish? Already? Isn’t the thing just over a year and a half old?
Well… yes. But we had some flaws in our rabbitry that needed fixing. I will say that I figured we’d get more than a year and a half out of the rabbitry before it would need an overhaul. But we have learned a few things.
1. Don’t use corrugated waste chutes, especially corrugated tin, if you do not have much clearance between the chutes and the bottoms of the cages. If you do, you will not be able to clean them well at all. If you use tin, it will rust quickly anywhere you are unable to clear the bunny berries that get regular doses of urine.
2. Don’t use 16-gauge floors. They bow between J-clips, and the whole floor bows, giving you even less cleaning clearance. We even had one wire break. We didn’t have problems just in growout cages, but even in the buck’s cage. It’s just not strong enough, unless maybe you’re raising dwarf rabbits.
3. Don’t have your top gutter come to the middle to drain. It makes reaching the cage below potentially very unpleasant.
4. Don’t use regular Bass J-clips. We ordered our cages from Bass (oddly, 14 gauge sides and top, 16 gauge floors — still trying to figure that one out), and they came with J-clips, which we used to assemble the cages. These clips are way too weak. They would fail occasionally, and we once had a bun get loose because three of them failed. She could have gotten hurt, or it could have happened with a litter of babies in the cage. The instructions said to put them at 6″ intervals. Shay put them every 5″. Still, the floors sagged and the clips failed. If the clip is weak enough for a 10-year-old with a pair of pliers to yank off in less than ten seconds, you need stronger clips.
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5. Once you have good J-clips, you will suddenly find you want a better J-clip tool, and you will suddenly realize why you need a set of J-clip removal pliers.
So it was time to correct the flaws.
Woody’s Wabbits sells cages with 14 gauge floors for just a couple dollars more. I just didn’t know that at the time. The floors began sagging pretty quickly, both overall and at the edges, between the J-clips.
I ordered replacement 14 gauge floor panels, heavy stainless steel J-clips, and floor supports from Klubertanz. I ordered precut panels, because I can’t seem to make more than 5 cuts on 14 gauge wire before my hands start begging for mercy (I can cut 16 gauge wire all day). I also didn’t want to ask Shay to do all that cutting.
I burned the cage floors with Shay’s torch to sterilize them, and then we pulled out all the 16-gauge floors. ILoveBunnies and Bunny-Wan Kenobi were responsible for this. Once ILoveBunnies began putting a new floor on Pinto’s cage with the new, hefty stainless steel J-clips from Klubertanz (very impressive things), all floor removal went to Bunny-Wan Kenobi.
I had heard on RabbitTalk about the nightmare of removing J-clips… that it was nigh unto impossible without the special removal pliers. I wasn’t sure why it should be so hard. Sure enough, I set the kids up with an array of tools to choose from, and within just a few minutes, they had perfected a fast removal technique. What was all the fuss about? Were my kids really putting to shame a forum full of experienced cage-building adults? It sure seemed like it.
Both of the kids could do it in less than 10 seconds. Once Pinto’s cage had the floor off, ILoveBunnies started putting the new one on. Suddenly, it was very clear why all the talk about J-clips being such a pain! These things were strong!!! Now it was abundantly clear that the regular Bass clips were not desirable at all in cage flooring. It was also clear that if I ever needed to remove these new clips, I was going to need that removal tool!
With the kids working on the cages, Shay began on the waste chutes and gutters. First, he pulled out all the corrugated metal. This was a pain, and he finally resorted to hammering them off from below — which, of course, sent all kinds of dried *ahem* stuff into the air. He probably should have worn a dust mask. Yuck.
(Over the course of the rest of the day, Shay gashed his hands on leftover slivers of metal from the old chutes. We would dash inside, clean it, dress it, and dash back out. We needed to have the rabbits back in the rabbitry before dusk, when the mosquitoes suddenly all come after you at once!)
Once the old chutes and gutters were out, it was time to install the new ones. For chutes, I had bought 10mm Coroplast 4′x8′ sheets from a local sign company for $26 per sheet, three sheets total. They cut the sheets in half for me. We bought some vinyl gutters both for gutters and for diverters.
Shay ended up removing them, and reattaching them as he installed the chutes. Don’t know why, but his usually flawless math failed him somewhat, causing him to cut to fit instead of cutting off a calculated triangle.
While Shay wrangled with diverters, Coroplast, triangles, and numbers, I spread pelletized lime under the rabbitry.
And it’s done! We bought a couple of heavy-duty squeegee heads, and a long handle. Shay cut the handle in half, and put the squeegees on the two parts. Time will tell how well this works, but I think it will be great!
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