Posted on August 22, 2022 at 12:29 PM by Cade Cameron
The 4-H program is special and unique because it allows a family to try new things together. The Bill and Mickey Blum family took full advantage of this when their girls, Ruchel and Leslie, wanted to try out the rabbit project area. Despite their first fair with their rabbits stalled in a horse barn where the sun beat down on the cages, the Blums became smitten with rabbits and wanted to spread the message that rabbits could be for everyone!
Rabbits quickly became part of Bill and Mickey’s livelihood as they grew their own colony at home. They started with Florida Whites, known for meat production. Mickey was content until she spotted a Flemish Giant at a rabbit show and knew that their farm wouldn’t be complete without one. “I begged until I got it,” Mickey recalled. What started out with one cage grew and grew to fill up an old hog house storing anywhere from 100 to 200 rabbits at a time.
Bill stepped in to fill a need as Washington County Fair rabbit superintendent and from the very start, he was “all about the kids” in everything he did. 4-H kids would come to their farm to look at potential rabbit projects. “He often sold the best one,” his daughters laugh now at how they didn’t even get first dibs. Often when it was time to settle up on price Bill would ask, “What do you have in your pocket?” and accepted only a part of the contents. He was instrumental in growing rabbit project numbers, spear headed tremendous improvements to rabbit facilities at the fair, built new cages by hand, and helped to align the show with the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) standards.
All the while, Mickey kept things going at home by taking care of the rabbit chores and helping their own 4-Hers prepare their projects for the fair. Their Sunday afternoons were dedicated to working with the rabbits as a family. With all this work, Bill still made time for play, too. He was well known for playing pranks and granting nicknames around the rabbit barn.
His softer side came out at the end of each Washington County Fair Rabbit show when the top rabbits were placed. A few tears would roll down his cheek each time a rabbit from his herd made it to one of the top spots. His daughters remarked that during their 4-H career, “We never won overall (grand champion). Never.” Bill passed away in 2016 and the very next year, his granddaughter earned top honors with the Overall Grand Champion rabbit at the Washington County Fair. Still today his family and rabbits from his original herd carry on his legacy.