If you were going to listen to a bed-time story about Peacebunny Island, who would you want to be the narrator? I'd pick Stephen Lyons. With a rich, warm voice, I'm thrilled that he agreed to be the celebrity who tells the fictional story that was inspired by our real 22 acre oasis for rabbits on the Mississippi River. Of course as a piece of storytelling, not everything is true (like talking rabbits and how calm the water is on this impressive river) but I was very pleased to work with CALM in the creation of this tale. The rabbit characters in the story are real, all of which are Comfort Animals trained to engage with people in calming, caring ways. They ride in wagons, sit atop blanketed tables, and seem to thoroughly enjoy extended time being stroked and cuddled. I train young rabbits that I call "Kinderbunnies" out on the island -- it's perfect because I don't need to worry about them hopping away or getting hurt. Likewise, last summer's pilot project proved that land predators stay away too. So my plan is to bring up to 24 rabbits in training at a time when we have volunteers out there on the island. The island isn't generally open to guests, but we are having a contest to win a trip to go island hopping with us
Huckleberry Peacebunny (Flemish Giant blue buck) traveled 100 miles with me on the maiden voyage of our newly purchased 43 foot houseboat last summer; I still picture his enormous ears and lanky paws that you knew he'd eventually grow into. And he has. He's fully mature and muscular now, and his face has lost the baby look. He still loves running on the dock, playing along the shoreline with the gentle waves, and snuggling in his captain's blanket box on the houseboat. If you ever wondered if rabbits are smart and have memories I have proof: even with the extended winter and spring stay at the Peacebunny Cottage, he remembered exactly where places were from so many months ago. Anyone can see his joy as he "binked" high into the air and darted around bonking familiar places with his nose. Where he was more ginger-footed and playful last year, he is strong and confident but still silly at times. NEW VIDEOS ON TUESDAYS We spent so much time together on the boat from June-September 2018 as we explored the river and lived on the island together. Last year at the Minnesota State Fair as a young buck, he beat out his twin brother Twain to win the blue ribbon for his breed & gender; his mom Feisty (whose name says it all) was Best of Breed and I was so proud to see her displayed on Champions Row. Huckleberry is a wonderful companion all year long, going to lots of events to bring others joy. I'm so thrilled to have this 18 pound boating pal on the next phase of our island hopping journey again this year. Come see him at the Minnesota State Fair over Labor Day weekend.
Bandit, a black and white striped (Magpie Harlequin doe) was named that way because she completely stole our hearts when she was baby. Her breed is large too -- she weighs 8 pounds - and she is a true lover. So mild and gentle! Like people, rabbits have distinct personalities and she's just always been super sweet and engaging. Her marking are the distinctive Harlequin pattern of striping but the true standard as described by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) calls for the lines to be even more clean and for the face to be half and half with the opposite ear matching. Her Grandma is the same way -- both are favorites when we bring them to events. Thiw photo of Huck and Bandit together is super cute, but honestly it was a pretty fast photo opp. In the audio story these two rabbits travel together, but in real life, the story would have been more like the Love Boat! So no, that part of the story couldn't be real. One of our most important jobs is keeping the males and females separate, so these two would never be allowed to be free together on the island. Because we actually own several islands, we have some creative options to let different rabbits out to play.
A question we get asked a lot -- "so why don't you spay/neuter all the rabbits?" Quick answer: we raise endangered breeds. When I first started raising rabbits I began with stock from reputable breeders who raised Heritage Breeds listed with the Livestock Conservatory. Some are champions and some with really good lineage. We began adding a few exotic purebreds and a few rescues, but the Harlequin was one of these amazing breeds I wanted to help ensure didn't go extinct.
Now several years later, I'm so pleased to share that with intentional conservation this beautiful breed has now moved down in ranking to just being "studied." As a member of ARBA and the Livestock Conservancy, I am a registered breeder I have found a way to create demand for these breeds as we train the sweetest ones to become Comfort Rabbits. The rest have a great life at Peacebunny Cottage but they won't be taken to events.
SIDE NOTE: We are open to listening to ideas, so feel free to contact me. PeacebunnyIsland@gmail.com Change and improvements come from conversations, education and willingness to learn, so thanks for contacting us directly with suggestions or questions.
Ah, yes, more about my sweet Paxton Peacebunny... Pax was my first endangered rabbit, an American Blue purebred who I truly believe adopted me. People talk about saving animals, but he saved me right back. He is this rabbit after whom the island, the farm and our programs are all named. This breed is still on the "Threatened" list but his line is doing well and thriving at the Peacebunny Cottage.
PLEASE VISIT OUR SITE AGAIN! Through this blog we'll be posting more photos of the sleep story's characters including Pax over the next two weeks as we share more of the inspiration behind the fictional sleep story. We'll be posting weekly videos from the island and sharing our adventures. You haven't even heard about our goats on boats yet, the Firefly Wishing Well, the Raspberry Fairy, Snails Rest and some other magical places.
Because our rabbits are a visible lesson in genetics and showcase biodiversity, check out programs that bring our rabbits hosted by STEMbunnies educational nonprofit.
We hope you'll check back soon because we'll be posting about Paxton Peacebunny, Wachamacallit, Lionardo and Wyatt and the rest of our Comfort Rabbits. See you again soon!