Rabbits everywhere

Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits!  For the past three years Jay and Lori Straight have been raising New Zealand rabbits by the hundreds in the above barn. It’s an old barn, built in 1890 by Elisha Mahoney, with the overhang added 25 years ago for a tractor and other equipment.

Elisha Mahoney’s father Stephen and his wife Margaret settled in Maryland in the early 1800s and planned to join a group of Latter Day Saints going west when Margaret died suddenly. Undaunted by Margaret’s death, Steven headed down the Ohio River by steamboat with his 11 children, stopped in Kanesville, abandoned traveling further west, married a young woman who had helped him care for his children on the trip, and bought this farm in Harrison County.

One of six children of the second marriage, Elisha, born in 1860, became a farmer, stock raiser, and breeder of Norman horses, in addition to building a 30’ x 30’ home and the 50’ x 50’ brick barn seen here. Building a barn with two gable peaks was most unusual and building it of brick was also not common, but he operated a brick kiln so that made it easy. He even covered it with stucco and also added a brick wall down the middle. His Norman horses lived in high style.

The Straights bought the farm 46 years ago, removed the brick divider, and have adapted it for raising cattle and hogs, auctions, and the weddings of two of their children. They participate in rabbit shows in Iowa and surrounding states and win many ribbons. The New Zealand breed exists in five colors: black, blue, white, red, and broken (white with patches of red, black, or brown). Pick a color, they’re all here, and every six weeks over 100 are sold to Tom’s Meat Market in Omaha. It’s a great barn, filled with rabbits everywhere.