Monday, 31 October 2016
Sunday, 30 October 2016
Did I ever tell you the story of how this blog came about? Oh right, I sort of did. Well...forget about that. Let me tell you again.
I arrived at the RRR back in February of 2008. I was looking for a pair of bunnies to adopt but, knowing nothing about rabbits, I wanted to volunteer for a few weekends to make sure bunnies were for me. Well, of course, they were. My only previous experience of volunteering was the odd Xmas party for senior citizens or bits and pieces for schools when I was younger. I was completely new to animal rescue volunteering but after just one afternoon I was hooked. For the first time in my life since I had left the teaching profession, my life felt like it had a deeper meaning.
I had an image in my head of what I expected bunnies to be from a few photos I'd seen of cute bunnies on websites and was not expecting the vast variety of breeds I encountered at the Rescue. Having only experienced cats and dogs in my own family it also took me a while to understand their personalities. The first bunnies I met at the RRR that I fell for were a pair of brothers that resembled the image I had in my head - Whisky and Harrison. They were not together as a pair though as they had been separated ready to find wives and I was a few months off building my outdoor rabbit accommodation anyway so I didn't consider them a realistic option regardless.
Eventually I did adopt a wonderful pair:- Santa and Jemima. Neither red-eyed-whites nor Rexes had appealed to me initially, but once I'd got to know them I wasn't so worried about their breed, it was all about their personality. They quickly became the most important part of my life and I loved them dearly. To me they were like children, so much so that my girlfriend of the time told me later that this was one of the reasons she left me - the fatherly love I showed them dwarfed any emotion I had ever shown towards her. Plus, she was continually frustrated at my repeatedly cancelling any plans we had at the slightest sniff that one of them might be unwell.
My enthusiasm for my bunnies was evident to anyone who ever asked about them. Like any excited parent, I could talk about them for hours. They made me laugh every day with their silly antics and I would enjoy just watching them go about their rabbity business. The trouble was, outside of the Rescue, few people I knew were interested in rabbits, so my stories of Santa and Jemima's adventures would be bottled up and explode out of me in long tales rambled at Caroline on a Saturday. Whilst she was happy to hear about them, I think it was probably a bit much and didn't help productivity on those days, so perhaps that's why she encouraged me to start a blog about it. We decided it would be good to have a mix of my own rabbits stories and those of the bunnies at the Rescue and so "Big Ears, Tiny Tales" was born.
Did you ever wonder why our URL was always bunniestotherescue when the blog is called Big Ears, Tiny Tales? When I was setting it up I had come up with three possible titles. As well as the one we ended up with, I floated "Bunnies To The Rescue" and "Chompin' At The Savoy" (a reference to an old jazz tune). There was no real preference expressed by the others in the team, so in the end I picked bunniestotherescue for the simple reason that I thought it was easier to pick out the words from the URL. I created the blog that way, but after a while the name "Big Ears, Tiny Tales" grew on me so much that I decided that was definitely the one. I guess I could have changed it to bigearstinytales, I probably should have, but it just didn't look right so I left it. And there you have it - soon it was linked from our website and referenced all over so it was too late.
In the early days, there were three blogs featuring rabbits that I read regularly. The first was the My House Rabbit blog. It was sort of a mix of what the rabbits in the author's family got up to with some hints and tips, care advice and general rabbit-related world news. Then there was Cute Overload, a general animal blog of cute photos with captions and short articles, it was a great site which both chronicled the evolution of cuteness on the web and directed it. Finally was the supreme king of all bunny blogs, Disapproving Rabbits. This was a simple "one photo with caption" daily blog, but the captions were so tremendously well written, often with references to literature and culture, it was regularly laugh-out-loud hilarious. This was the blog landscape I tried to fit Big Ears, Tiny Tales into (OK, I'm gonna call it BETT from this point on), but while it took some inspiration from those other blogs it remained very much its own thing - a (sometimes humorous) chronicle of the goings on at a UK rabbit rescue as well as my personal experiences of living with rabbits at home.
From the start, I had intended for the blog to be a group effort. Whilst I was to take the lead and likely be the most regular contributor, I set it up for a number of the volunteers, including Caroline, to be able to post. Whilst they were as enthusiastic as I was about having the blog, they rarely found time to write anything for it. Apart from a few times when I took breaks for work trips or when one of my fluffy family passed away and I couldn't bring myself to write about the joy of rabbits, the rest of the team pretty much left me to it.
The biggest change to BETT began in April 2012. I had been reading up on how to improve the blog and one of the most important pieces of advice that I found was that the blog should have regularly scheduled posts - if you want people to keep coming back, they need to know when to expect new tales. Around this time a number of other exciting rabbit blogs had emerged: Speedy the House Rabbit, The Zen of Bun, Two Bunny Blog, A Houseful of Rabbits. They were all great blogs, but Disapproving Rabbits was still ahead of them in two very important ways: Firstly it was daily - DR readers were returning every morning to see the latest disapproving face and read the hilariously fitting caption over their morning coffee/commute. Secondly, because it was driven by reader photo submissions, it had an infinite variety of stars. This was something the other blogs, generally based on the handful of rabbits in peoples own families, couldn't match. It occurred to me that here, with RRR being possibly the single biggest rabbit rescue in the UK and with a constant turnover of residents, we had something bloggable that no one else could match. As well as a large cast of long-term characters, we had a rolling line of new and interesting faces with their own stories to tell. So that was it - I decided to give it a go and on 20th April 2012 BETT became a daily blog.
I figured I would run BETT daily for a while and see how it went. The first month was exciting as I started to learn new skills of listening to what our residents had to say and interpreting them for the blog. The photo part came easy, I was already taking sometimes over a hundred photos in a week trying to get good shots for the website and other things. The harder parts to it seemed to be rearranging the funny things the residents said to end on a punchline (bunnies don't always deliver their gags in human-friendly form) and editing down the words into the shortest possible way of reaching that punchline. Again, there was often a not-surprising amount of fluff and build-up the way they told it. Sometimes it even needed a complete re-write to deliver their hilarity in a way that made sense in a few frames and lines - lots of Googling literary references, quotes and the like. In fact, another surprisingly difficult thing was coming up with a title for each post.
To make things harder on myself, I even set some rules to follow for the titles:
- Never repeat a title
- They should always favour puns (to match the style of the blog's title)
- Where possible, the post title should be a pun on, or reference to, the title of a movie, song, book etc.
It's the sort of thing that starts out OK but just keeps getting harder as time goes on. You'll see this gradually being abandoned (to a degree) over time if you look back through the old posts, though I hope we never repeated a title. But perhaps if you hadn't realised about the movie/song thing you can have fun trying to spot them all! As time went on, we also had song lyrics, movie stars names etc.
One thing that did make the blog much easier to maintain was that, by the time it became daily, Whisky had moved into my house and become properly part of my family. Living with a house bunny with as much energy and character as Whisky had, I could never run out of tales to tell. Sure, he had a lot of medical things going on for the whole of his life to talk about, but mostly he was just a bunny who enjoyed himself and provided unlimited entertainment for anyone who witnessed it. He could have had his own daily blog and filled it if he'd wanted to, but his Sunday posts seemed a good balance of sharing his life and letting him get on with it. He naturally has more posts currently than any other bunny on this blog, as a result of those weekly updates, and I've been told was considered the heart of it by many of our readers. When Whisky died last December, I had to consider if I could continue BETT without him. Fundamentally though, this blog is for the bunnies of the RRR to communicate their thoughts to the world and thankfully Pandoren stepped in to keep it going.
Pandoren was the Animal Care Assistant employed to run the day-to-day workings of the RRR, as well as having been a weekend volunteer for some time, she was the natural choice and she seemed to enjoy it. Having myself dropped down to just two days a month regular volunteering, I was hoping to hand it over to her completely at that point, but it didn't work out. Maintaining a daily blog is quite a commitment for someone who regularly works long days like the ACA does, so with no one else on the team able to spare the time to contribute I filled the days on the blog she couldn't cover. When Caroline left the Rescue to pursue a different life for herself, Pandoren stepped up to become manager so she had even less time, though she continued to post when she could, but it meant again I took responsibility for the daily posting. Things changed again at the Rescue over the summer, with Caroline back and her family heavily involved in the daily running of the site, Pandoren felt it impractical for her to continue in the management post and gave notice. While she enjoyed a final blast of posts during her last weeks, again it fell to me to continue BETT on her departure.
One thing I must say about the blog, which has jumped into my head quite randomly as I am writing here, is that it is highly valued by all the volunteers at the Rescue. Mainly because we have terrible memories and without it we'd struggle to remember who all Mars' husbuns were.
With all the changes and improvements this year, there is now a new and very capable team running RRR, headed by Caroline and a few very dedicated volunteers and ACAs. It seems to me that, if ever there was going to be one, now is the right time for me to move on. You probably guessed that was coming from the length of this post, right?! It's not that I am breaking all ties with the Rescue (I can't - Sprat still sends me messages demanding treats - he really does!), but for now I am off the regular volunteer rota and my previous responsibilities for the Rescue are covered by others in the new team. It has been a long and educational ride being a big part of RRR and running BETT and, despite all the drama, challenges and tragedies, a mostly enjoyable one.I have one last post lined up for tomorrow before I depart, but besides that this is a 'goodbye' from me. At least for now. I hope you have enjoyed my posts here on BETT, I have certainly enjoyed and appreciated your comments and support over the years. I wish you all the best for the future and leave you (starting Tuesday) in the capable hands of one of the most dedicated volunteers I have met at RRR...but I will let her introduce herself!
Love and peace (and bunnies, always bunnies), BHV.
Oh, and if you start to miss me, don't forget you can always pop over to my other blog and leave me a comment!
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Thursday, 27 October 2016
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
BHV: Ah, sorry Mutley - firstly you've got to remember than bunnies only have 18 digits whereas humans have 20. The box is written for humans, so you have to allow for the two extra toes we count on - your calculations are out by two toes worth. Secondly, and I can't emphasise this enough really:- you can't read. Or do fractions. So I can't help feeling that maybe you're trying for a wool/eyes thing here...
Monday, 24 October 2016
Sunday, 23 October 2016
Up until the sad events of last December, Sundays were always my non-rescue blogging day where I would post about my own fluffy family at home. With that in mind, I am going to gloss over the fact that I have no RRR post prepared for today and tell you about this idea I had.
A few years ago when I started taking a vague interest in photography, I was looking for ways to improve my skills and this guy I know told me that what I needed to do was a 365 project. Take a photo a day for a whole year. The best way to get better is through experience and practise, he said. While I completely believed him, I also thought it sounded a bit tedious. Unlike Big Ears, Tiny Tales where the rabbits of RRR effectively write the posts themselves every day, I'd have to think about and make an effort to create the images myself. Every day. Every. Day. It sort of sounds like work.
But then last year I had a spark of inspiration - what if, instead of taking a photo a day of car wheels, children's swings and buildings from odd angles (these are typical 365 project subjects), I took a photo a day of bunnies?! I love bunnies! And what if instead of just doing my own 365 project, I encouraged other rabbit owners to do their own 365 project, offering tips and suggesting themes along the way?! It seemed like such a great idea that I created a new blog:
And then I forgot about it.
So to shame myself into action, to force myself to get off my lazy butt and start doing something with it, I am posting about it here. This makes it officially a thing. Please hop on over and follow it if you are interested. More importantly, I'd like the thing to be collaborative and for bunny parents and bunny friends to join me on a journey into better bunny photography and start their own rabbit 365 project. So come on, what are you waiting for?
Oh right, me to start blogging properly over there. I'll get right on that then...
In the meantime, here's Amaru looking grumpy for some reason.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
I LOVE Meadow and Stilton but sometimes they can be such fusspots when it comes to which veg they think is worthy of being called breakfast...
Your fuzzy-faced little wish is my command, oh tiny Rexy one!
Friday, 21 October 2016
Thursday, 20 October 2016
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
Monday, 17 October 2016
Sunday, 16 October 2016
I noticed that Sprat has been popping up on our social media pages more often than other bunnies recently and though I don't manage those pages myself it's probably partly my fault. And partly his.
I do know, Sprat, but you're SUCH perfect little models!
Saturday, 15 October 2016
I've seen her out during the day sizing up her neighbours, I've even seen her a few times at dinner, but for some reason Celine is one of the residents you are least likely to see at breakfast. That is, unless you know where to look of course...
I'd need to do more than a few sit-ups before I'd fit in a bunny-sized pipe, Celine! Good to know you are OK though!
Friday, 14 October 2016
Thursday, 13 October 2016
This year the RRR has been downsizing, in terms of resident numbers, in an attempt to shift to a more sustainable position. This has necessitated stopping intake and pushing re-homing until the target number of bunnies can be reached.
Regardless of our intake status though, the RRR always welcomes back former residents. We would much rather be slightly inconvenienced by the odd extra mouth to feed than the worry they might move on to an unsuitable home. You hear awful stories of unwanted rabbits being dumped, by guaranteeing from the outset to take the rabbits back if for any reason the owner no longer wants to keep them hopefully also means zero chance of an RRR fluff experiencing this dreadful fate. On the whole though, the people we re-home to are all responsible owners and the rabbits come back when there really is no other choice for the owner but to give them up.
So we have always had bunnies come back to us, but somehow it feels like we've had more former residents come back this summer than we usually would. It may be the economically unstable times we are living in or it may be that this modern age of social media means owners are more likely to remain engaged with the Rescue after adoption and seek help, I suspect it is a bit of both.
Well onto todays post. You might not recognise this lady without the little soon-to-be-jumbo mini buns hanging off the underside of her, but this delightful returning resident is Mindy. She originally came in August 2010 with a litter of cuties, only to give birth to a second litter shortly after. So she is actually the mother of resident Mimi, and former residents Mo, Mohito, Shandy, Google, Badger, Bing, ... and since she came in from our largest rescue case, probably related to many many others.
And the good news is that she was pretty much reserved by the time she arrived, so with luck she will have her own home again very soon!
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Monday, 10 October 2016
Meet Zeba and Stomper. Zeba is a Lionhead-cross and former resident of RRR, Stomper is her handsome blue standard-sized Rex husbun. I don't know the full details of why they came back other than that their former owner was a volunteer at RRR, absolutely adored them but is now working on the other side of the planet and couldn't take them with her.As well as being a gorgeous looking healthy pair, they are also super friendly and confident. I walked into their aviary to take their photos for the website expecting to be faced with that "I'm new here and I don't know you" cautiousness that bunnies are prone to, but no. Instead of hidey bunnies I got this:
See what I mean? I'd been in there two seconds. Sure, it helps that I smelled of snacks, but still...
So anyway, we are expecting this pair to be rehomed pretty quickly, which means if you think you might like to adopt them (believe me, you would) you'd better get your skates on and register your interest!
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Saturday, 8 October 2016
When I gave Browncloud his name as a baby it was because he was brown, fluffy and often found in the sky (or rather, high up somewhere having climbed himself into mischief). He's still two of those things, but I rarely see him climb these days.