A to Z Blogging Challenge.
My friend’s rabbit just had babies. I quickly wrote a comment to her post about their birth.
“My advice as a former child rabbit raiser. Do not touch the babies unless the momma is super comfortable with you. If the momma would allow you to hold/cuddle/pet her pre-babies, try to pet her first. If she does not allow you to pet her, do not go near the babies. If she lets you pet her, pet her for awhile to get plenty of her scent on your hands and then touch the baby. Rabbits are super sensitive to smells on their babies and will think nothing of killing and eating them for something as simple as a different scent on them. Experience talking. I have seen things. For me, Monty Python got the rabbit right. Besides in a few weeks when they don’t look like hairless rats they are even cuter. ”
Afterwards, I chuckled and thought “Wow! I know a ton about rabbit husbandry.” My next thought was about the word husbandry. Isn’t it a weird word? I had never given it much thought and suddenly I had so many questions.
What does it mean? According to Dictionary.com:
Husbandry [huhz-buh n-dree] Noun
1. the cultivation and production of edible crops or of animals for food; agriculture; farming.
2. the science of raising crops or food animals.
3. careful or thrifty management; frugality, thrift, or conservation.
4. the management of domestic affairs or of resources generally.
I had always believed it basically meant a midwife for animals. Technically my thought appears to be a small part of the meaning of the word. The addition of all the thrifty and management details is completely new to me.
The science dictionary says it is “The application of scientific principles to agriculture, especially to animal breeding.” This tells me in practice the word is pretty much synonyms with midwifery only for animals.
Where does it come from? I love some etymology in the morning! From etymonline.com:
Husbandry c.1300, “management of a household;”
late 14c. as “farm management,” from husband (n.) in a now-obsolete sense of “peasant farmer” (early 13c.) + -ery.
Why husbandry when it is usually the wife who deals with birth stuff? It appears the midwife is defined as the one dealing with the birth of children. Husbandry started out meaning the men dealing with the birth of the animals on the farm. I guess it makes sense since women dealt with what happens in the house and the men dealt with the crops and animals in the division of middle age labor. Of course, that was when the men weren’t busy fighting Vikings while the women mucked stalls, milked goats, assisted in cow births while birthing a baby.