If you’ve read my story on how I found minimalism yet, you know that my main reason for pursuing a minimalist lifestyle was my messy tendencies. At one point, it just dawned on me that to get by in life one surely does not need this much stuff. Extending our family to include a couple of free range bunnies proved this point even further.
Our decluttering and minimizing process coincided with a major life change for us. A few months after we decided to refurbish our hallway, we became “bunny parents” to a a pair of rescue bunnies from our local animal shelter. Bunnies weren’t really on our radar, because we always imagined that we’d get a dog or perhaps a cat someday. I had grown up with bunnies, but I considered myself finished with bunnies after my last one died, and Chris had no prior experience with bunnies.
Vivi, the foster bunny
My consistent affection for bunnies, however, had kept me following some bunny groups on Facebook. And one day, our local rescue center posted about their sudden need for an immediate foster home for a bunny they had just taken in.
I don’t remember exactly how I persuaded Chris to go along with it, but soon after Chris and I were preparing a pen in our living room to be able foster this particular bunny called Vivi. We had the space, after all, and I felt in my hearts of hearts that we had to offer to help.
After a couple of months, Vivi was adopted. Yet, we knew for sure that if the adopter could not have her, we would seriously consider adopting her. She had stolen our hearts, after all. Vivi was a particularly destructive bunny and her new family couldn’t keep her, so she got back to the shelter. For different reasons, we decided that we could not adopt her at that time. And luckily, Vivi eventually found a good home with no less than three bunny friends and an adoptive mother that adores her.
More bunnies in need
Several months would pass, and around Christmas my dad told me about a bunny that wasn’t wanted by his family anymore. Scared that he might be put down if no one would take him, he aired the idea to us, knowing that we had fostered Vivi some months prior, that maybe we could adopt him. Not taking lightly the decision to welcome an animal into our lives (they live for a long time, after all, and we go all in when we decide to care for an animal), when we eventually landed on the decision to adopt this bunny it turned out that he had already been given to someone else and was to live his life on a farm.
Somewhat heartbroken, I informed Chris that since we already had decided to adopt him, there were plenty of other bunnies out there in need of a forever home. So, come January, rescue bunnies Kira (white) and Petrus (black) entered our home and our hearts.
Refurbishing and bunny proofing
We planned it so that we were able to complete the refurbishing of the hallway and all the bunny proofing we needed before their arrival. Bunnies lives best cage free, so to be able to have them free in the apartment, bunny proofing is essential.
The hallway was refurbished with wall-mounted shoe cabinets, jacket racks and a large shelf above for additional storage. The shoe cabinets proved very useful in order to keep shoes away from eager and curious bunny teeth. And this leads me to the how part of how free-range house bunnies made me less messy; if you value your belongings and want them to last a pretty good while do not leave them laying around in bunny height*.
(*You’d think ‘bunny height’ wasn’t all that high but bear in mind that bunnies jump good deal and pretty high at that, so ‘bunny height’ equals most surfaces, especially any kind of table or other furniture in your living room.)
Tucked away means not eaten
So, basically, if you don’t want your stuff eaten you put them securely away and out of reach. We learnt that the hard way. Even if I was fully aware of this since having grown up with bunnies, leaving the television remote on the table unsupervised is generally not a good call. One day we came home to find that two of the remotes had not been tucked away. This resulted in one remote completely without buttons and another only half intact.
Now, we always put the remotes away as soon as we’re done watching TV. And it’s the same for most of our stuff. All electric cords are also neatly tucked away in cord covers; either attached to the wall, or hanging freely (if it’s a standalone oven or fan that needs to be moved on occasion, for instance). Bunny proofing the electrical cords are especially important; you don’t want an electrocuted bunny or a house-fire, after all.
Thus, in living with free range bunnies, one of two things are bound to happen: 1) you either keep having plenty of belongings with itty bitty teeth bite markings (or well, let’s not sugar coat it; completely eaten up), or 2) you keep your living space surfaces clutter-free. We go mostly for the second option, although option one is hard to eliminate altogether, but that’s just added charm, though, isn’t it (I mean, our sofa is taped with black duct-tape. Not so charming but, oh well)?
The blessings of more floor space
With the bunnies also came the need for more floor space. Although bunnies can jump, the spend most of their time on the floor, hence floor space became a luxury. When I say luxury, I mean that in a 586 sq ft apartment, floor space is not found in abundance, as it were. And seeing that most of us are taught to fill up empty space with furniture, the same was evident here.
It was the desire to provide our bunnies with additional floor space that made us ditch our closets for wall mounted shoe cabinets. The same desire made us throw out our TV bench for a wall mounted shelf and a wall mounted TV. Wall mounted furniture, it turns out, does wonders for small living spaces.
So, this is the story on how living with free range house bunnies made me less messy. They keep me on my toes in terms of needing to tuck stuff away when leaving a room to avoid it being eaten. And they taught me that freeing up floor space is a blessing not only for the four-legged, but for the two-legged members of this household. As such, my minimalist journey grew alongside my getting acquainted with life as a free-range bunny “mom”.
Planning for a pet is important
I probably need to caveat this post by stressing this; Even if this post promotes the idea of how neat your house might be if you adopt two bunnies, don’t mindlessly go about adopting or buying two bunnies after you read this post, please. Bunnies are a lot of work, and they can live for ten years and counting.
And, even if I became less messy after adopting Kira and Petrus, bunnies in general do come with a lot of hay, dust, fur and poop. Stuff in which would have driven me crazy before. But, because of the tidiness that has been fostered through bunny keeping and minimalism we’re managing to stay on top of.
Adopt, don’t shop
If you do go with thoughts on sharing your life with an animal, however, I can say that reading up on bunnies can be a good idea. It’s more to them than you might think, both in terms of work and in terms of companionship.
No matter what animal you decide to be the right fit for you, I sincerely advocate the adopt, don’t shop policy. There are so many abandoned animals out there, and your new four-legged soulmate might be waiting for you at your local animal shelter without you even knowing it. Just remember that adopting an animal is a long commitment and a big responsibility.
A couple of animal rescue center links: