Thursday, November 06, 2008

34 stories for my 34th birthday, installment 7

28. My sister and I raised rabbits as pets for two years, as a business. We raised Holland Lop and Mini Lop rabbits. They both have floppy ears. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. The bunnies are astoundingly cute. Here's a photo. Here's another. The bunnies sold for between 8 and 14 dollars each to the pet stores, who then, I suppose, sold them for a lot more. If I had it to do again, I'd focus on selling them directly. The mother bunnies pull lots of fur from their own chest area to line the nesting box with. The pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as the young bunnies, eat astounding amounts of food. Which is only to be expected, I suppose. Of course if it's to be expected, it's not astounding, is it? Ah well. When the babies are born they are actually really ugly, like little hairless rats, with closed eyes. But after a couple weeks they get fur and their eyes open, and you can hardly stand to part with them. Except that there are just so *many* of them. The does would have 5 to 8 bunnies per litter, and they could have multiple litters per year.

29. My sister raised male dairy calves for a while, and I helped. You can get them basically for free from the dairies when they are 1 day old. You have to buy 50 pound bags of powdered formula, which you then have to mix up and feed to them by bottle 3 times a day. You begin with a two quart bottle, but eventually you graduate to a 2 gallon bucket with a big nipple sticking out of the bottom edge. Finally there comes a day when you convince the calf to drink out of the top of the bucket, rather than the nipple. This is a great day because then you can just sit the bucket down and let them drink. You must be very careful to keep the whole area clean, or they will get sick. This, no doubt, is related to the fact that they are not drinking their mother's milk--becasue *we* are drinking it. Which is a bit horrible, if you think about it. When they get to the right age, you call they butcher, and he comes and kills them, and hauls them off to his shop where he chops them up and wraps them in butchers paper and freezes them. Then you put all that beef in you chest freezer, and you have plenty of beef to eat for a long while. All sounds a bit vicious, somehow, doesn't it? We always named the calves names that would remind us of their eventual fate, like "Cheeseburger" or "Stroganoff". =)

30. I was a fan of a lot of books in my childhood that I never read anymore. I liked the Hardy Boys books, and I liked all Marguerite Henry's books, and Jim Kjelgaard's books, and the Sugar Creek Gang books, and (ah groan, here comes true confessions) Janette Oke's books, and Frank Peretti's books, and I actually read the first several Left Behind books. Don't stone me. And Albert Payson Terhune's Lad books. And many Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books. Among all those, I wouldn't mind at all revisiting the Kjelgaard's and Henry's books. The Big Red Series and the Chincoteauge series are just delightful. I wonder if someday I'll be admitting, with groans, the books I tend to currently like? I doubt it.

31. I'm very good at math, and always have been. In grade school, learning long division and muliplication left me weeping with frustration because I got it, completely and thoroughly got it, way before it was over. Which mean I kept having to do the homework, and the long sets of problems, long after it had lost all interest to me. That's a brutal thing to do to a child, in my opinion. I loved algebra, and trigonometry, and geometry, and mathematical proofs. Maths is one of the more beautiful things in the universe. I remember back in 2005, doing Calculus 2, and coming to understand the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and just being wowed and mesmerized by its simplicity and beauty and power. It was at university of Washington that I finally ran into a maths that was really really hard for me, in the form of differential equations, which I dropped out of (and hence didn't finish the math minor, alas). But I still totally want to go back and do diff EQ sometime. After Arabic, perhaps =).



Martin said...

I majored in math, but luckily got involved with computers. I don't remember being a good student. How I got through I don't know. I wish I knew math.

Anonymous said...

Going to your house and holding the tiny baby bunnies is one of my favorite memories!

~Jennifer (Lloyd) Kaiser

byron smith said...

I know that you are actually learning Arabic, but I can't help posting this. :-)

Anonymous said...

ben, i'm in the same boat as you regarding having read janette oke + frank peretti books back in the day (much to my present-day chagrin). i swear i became a bit relationally impaired from the janette oke books, thinking someone was going to fall into my life + sweep me off my feet.