Verlannahill is the name we have attached to our homestead. But it is not a name so much as it is a concept. Not unlike the story by Beatrix Potterís Brer Rabbit and the story about his Laughing Place. The laughing place was the most favorite place where Brer Rabbit liked to be; it was right in the middle of the Ole Briar Patch, but it was his briar patch. When wily ole Brer Fox snared Brer Rabbit the quick thinking bunny tricked Brer Fox into throwing him deep in the middle of the briar patch in the belief the sharp thorns would rip the hide clean off the rascally rabbit. But instead the fox had been tricked into setting Brer Rabbit free in his most favorite place in the entire world. In a way that is kind of what Verlannahill means to us, it is our laughing place and the most favorite place we like to spend our lives. So in that way it is not the name we call our home that is important but rather it is what the name implies that reminds us what it is that makes our home so special to us.
Verlannahill Rabbitry right now is an idea under construction, a dream that each day takes on more form that in truth is a description for a place we want to someday arrive at knowing full well that making the trip will be the most fun part. We are very aware that to get there will take much work and with each step we must plan with careful attention to detail and function least we fall victim to the snares of wily Fox. Good planning is the key that keeps the foxes at bay and we learned early the value of reading the many good books on raising and caring for rabbits and the wealth of information available on the internet. Planning and problem solving has been at the heart of Verlannahill from its beginning in 1991 when we first bought the house and land. Through the years we have taken steps to improve the property and deal with the problems that came with it. One of those problems appeared in the form of a spring at the base of our hill. The spring flowed year around and when left on its own managed to flood large portions of the low ground to our west. To correct the problem we hauled in several hundred yards of earth to bring the level of the ground up high enough to allow us to build a containment pond to corral the excess water. We brought in large boulders and trees to landscape the area around the pond and made a stream bed that meandered from the pond across what had been the low area and down to the road where a second pond was built to catch the excess runoff during times of hard rain or melting snow. With a little planning and much labor we turned a problem into a beautifully landscaped yard and grounds that we all enjoy at Verlannahill. Other problems and challenges have occurred over the years and with each we have met them with the same determination and by working together have found ways of turning lemons into lemon aid. Over time we have learned that most often the problems and challenges that meet us are really only opportunities in disguise.
Our Rabbitry started out masquerading as a problem and how easy it would have been to have missed a grand opportunity. One day early last year we were rather unexpectedly presented with a lovely and very pregnant rabbit in bad need of a home. The animal shelter might have been a ready solution to the problem but it was not one we seriously considered. And if we had, what an opportunity we would have missed. By seeking the opportunity we rekindle old childhood memories of the Rabbitry my Father once owned and the enjoyment I had helping with the chores as a child. It was not long before we found ourselves in the planning mode that would eventually lead us to the place we are now. And what fun we have had making this trip; the memories we have recovered, some hiding on the pages of an old photo album others remembered as we did the work of designing and assembling the frames that would hold our cages. What happened to the homeless rabbit? Well, she ended up rediscovering the home she had come from with all ending happily, but in leaving she left behind a budding new Rabbitry that has been growing faster with every passing day and bringing all of us tons of enjoyment.
It is strange now as I think back on how all this got started because of one little rabbit. From our position now it is difficult to believe that we could even for a moment have considered her a problem. She never asked for much; a little clean water some fresh food and a clean place to give birth and rear her young. What happened to the babies? Well, she left her brood behind to be the seed crop that would get the Verlannahill Rabbitry started. I donít recommend to anyone that they should use our experience as the model for getting their own start with rabbits. In fact, if you check what we should have done going by the book we did just about everything wrong. Before ever bringing the first rabbit into our home we should have decided if raising rabbits was right for us and only then given thought to what breed of rabbit we might want to raise. But in our case had we waited to go by the book nothing would have happened and I would not be telling you this story. I think there is such a thing as over planning when nothing gets done unless every detail has been thought out to the last item and every possibility planned beforehand in minute detail. Living that kind of highly structured life is kind of like living in one of those planned communities where everything is highly structured, sterile, and sanitized and all so extremely boring. Many of the world greatest discoveries have been unplanned opportunities for discovery born out of a problem.
Nothing major gets done without the cooperation of the many and so it is at Verlannahill. Nancy is always at the ready to help with the tough chores of keeping the Rabbitry running smoothly. She is the type of person who sees what needs to be done and gets the job out of the way without ever waiting to be asked. Without her Verlannahill would suffer greatly. Connie, my daughter, is the Web Page builder and a source of inspiration and ideas for all of us. I am the engineer and the builder, the one who designs and builds the infrastructure and is responsible for seeing that it all comes together at some point. Together we make for a game winning team.
And finally there is Eileen, who, in only the way she can do best, keeps cheering us on with her Polly Anna way of finding humor in the worst of situations. She is the face of Verlannahill and can be seen on most any sunny morning walking amongst the trees and wild flowers following the paths that lead to the top of Verlannahill where in the springtime the sweet song of the meadowlark can most often be heard.
*Website created by Connie Jones Larson