Folks of Fairview: The Rabbit Lady!

three white and brown rabbits
Kitty Lynch holding a harlequin rabbitMarrying into the community

“I married into Fairview,” Kitty Lynch, rabbit breeder, said with a chuckle. “It’s actually a cute story.” Lynch, originally from Upstate New York transplanted to Darlington, SC, graduated from Winthrop College, South Carolina College for Women (now Winthrop University). While she was studying there, she was set up on a blind date with a student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When she returned from the outing, her roommate asked how the date had gone.  

“I told her, ‘He doesn’t know it yet, but that guy is going to ask me to marry him!’”  Kitty Lynch, not a person who seems like a gushy romantic, smiled broadly, the faintest blush tinting her cheeks, “And eight months later, he did!” Kitty and Bill Lynch have been married since 1972; they have raised two children: son, Nathan, and daughter, Becca.  

Now, the whole family lives in Fairview, just a few steps from one another’s front doors. But Kitty and Bill did not start out there. Work took them all the way out to South Dakota, the home base for Bill’s federal job. By the time Nathan was two, Kitty was pregnant with Becca. 

Where the rabbits come in

“And that’s where the rabbits come in,” she said. Don’t worry, though. It’s not what you think. “Nathan was a needy toddler, Bill was traveling for work, and I was pregnant, tired, and frustrated,” Lynch explained. “One day, I buckled my son into our VW bus and went for a long drive.” It was then, along those South Dakota roads, that Lynch spied a sign: “Rabbit Show Today.”  

“I thought, ‘What in the world is a rabbit show?’ and I turned into to see what was going on.” From the moment they stepped through the doors, young Nathan was enthralled. One of the rabbits—a French Lop–caught his attention and its owner was kind enough to let the two-year-old hold it. “He sat there for two hours holding that bunny,” Lynch said, the wonder of it obviously still amazing to her. “My fussy, cranky boy sat totally still, completely charmed by his new friend.” While Nathan was occupied with the bunny who would later go home with them–named Incredible Hulk by the toddler–Lynch took the opportunity to walk around and talk to the exhibitors. She wasn’t thinking of become a breeder; she was just a curious person in an interesting place.  

From Zero to 17

harlequin rabbitBut that very first day, Lynch gathered enough information to know that she wanted to know more. “It was 1977, so of course there was no internet. If you wanted to know something, you had to go and find out yourself.” She’d picked up breeders’ business cards at the show and soon began going to rabbit clubs. Lynch explained that back then, breeders connected through rabbit clubs, meeting regularly in the members’ homes. “While I was at our gatherings, I would visit the homeowners’ rabbit set-ups and figure out what I wanted for mine.” 

Back home with Nathan and the Incredible Hulk, Lynch began creating her rabbitry immediately. She assembled all the cages herself and set up her rabbitry in their garage right where Bill normally parked his car. Back then, in the days before mobile phones, long-distance calls made communication costly, and finding a phone required a bit more than reaching across the dashboard. Bill knew nothing about the invasion of the bunnies until he returned home. “When Bill left, we had zero rabbits. When he returned, we had 17!”  

The rabbit habit

Lynch’s first garage rabbitry looked nothing like her current setup. Over the years, she’s tweaked her system, improving here, cutting back there. Today, at her Fairview home, she has exactly what she wants. “Rabbits need access to water constantly,” she said. “They can die from dehydration in less than 24 hours.” So, Lynch’s rabbitry includes an automatic watering system that runs behind the rabbit cages which are hung from the ceiling over manure beds. The rabbits are fed by hand and handled daily. “And everybody gets their toenails cut the first Sunday of the month!” Lynch said. Lynch is not exactly sure how many rabbits she has now though. “Less than 40,” she said with a shrug. “I only have room for 55 now anyway.” Only 55? Well, yes; she’s had as many as 250 at one time. Rabbits: they multiply. 

Rabbit people

Lynch has had various roles in the rabbit breeder community. She started by showing her rabbits in exhibitions like the one she happened upon in 1977. In 1995, she became a judge for the shows, a role she had for 15 years. As a judge, she traveled all over the US and even went to shows in Bermuda. Now she is back to exhibiting her own rabbits; the breeds Jersey Woolies and Harlequins are her specialty. She also has found true and lasting friends through the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA), the organization that oversees shows in this country. “We have common interests and similar problems. We get together and nobody minds that all we talk about is rabbits!”  

As much as she likes the professional aspects of her hobby, it’s the rabbits themselves that Lynch enjoys most. “I just thoroughly enjoy the animals,” Lynch commented. “I like holding them, training them, that sort of thing.” As for the Incredible Hulk, he lived to be seven years old (not bad for a French Lop) and had many successors—bunnies that the Lynches kept as pets. Lynch says that will never change. “I’ll be the old lady on the porch with a rabbit in my lap, a cat at my feet, and my knitting in my hands.”

wooly rabbit

Interested in your own pet rabbit? Here are Kitty’s suggestions:

 7 Things to know before getting a rabbit


Categorized as Friendship

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.