Our house stinks.
I don’t mean that I’m a horrible housekeeper (although I am), or that there are papers piled everywhere (although there are), or even that there is a thin layer of dust on just about all our possessions (although…you get the point).
I mean, our house literally stinks.
And if Brett and I can smell it, then it must be truly terrible.
After seven years of bunny ownership, our sense of smell is virtually decimated. I’d go so far as to say we thought we might have lost our olfactory senses all together.
Owning house rabbits is rewarding and satisfying, but it does not come without sacrifice.
Rabbits keep themselves very clean. In fact, if you plunge your nose deep into a rabbit’s coat, you’ll smell sweetness, sort of like cocoa butter.
Oh, but what they produce!
I think Peyton’s foster mom said it best, “They’re the cutest little poop machines on four legs you’ll ever love.”
It’s true! It still boggles me how little they can eat, and how much they leave behind. And the smell is horrendous.
Now, before you begin to think of our house as being altogether putrid, I’ll assure you that the litter box is changed frequently, and the smells last only briefly before the exchange is made.
However, even for a few hours, it’s pretty unbearable. But, like all things, we’ve lived with it so long, it’s become ordinary. We barely notice it anymore – and if we do, it’s like the Bat Signal in the sky warning us to change the litter box.
Recently, however, we’d begun to smell something else. Another…odor…although that word seems complimentary when compared to the smell itself.
It was as if a small rodent had died.
After creating a will requesting his body be wrapped in raw sewage and rotting vegetables and then buried deep in our wall.
Get the picture?
We tried for days to figure out where “it” might be coming from.
Our sense of smell is so fried, thanks to the bunnies, that we wandered around sticking our noses in places where noses definitely do not belong.
We started with the garbage. I stuck my head deep inside the can.
“Anything?” My husband asked.
“Oh, it’s garbage,” I assured him. “But not our guy.”
I should add that we’d been watching Law & Order Criminal Intent and had begun to refer to our mysterious odor as “the perp.”
“Maybe, it’s my shoes,” Brett said, thrusting his sweaty size 16’s in my face.
“Nope.” I confirmed (before dry heaving). “But what do you DO in those?”
“Nothing!” My husband replied defensively, before climbing the stairs to sniff the bunnies’ hind ends.
I joined him in the laundry room and checked the litter box. Just normal, stinky bunny smells.
We wandered around the house, picking up random objects and forcing each other to smell them.
Ah, the joys of marriage they never tell you about.
We’d just about given up. I was army crawling under our bed, my nose buried in the carpet, when I heard Brett call up the stairs.
“I found it!’ he was shouting triumphantly.
I flew down the stairs and found my husband standing in front of the fridge, the door flung wide open.
“But we checked the fridge!” I exclaimed. And I had! I’d taken out every container and thrown away anything even slightly out of date on the off chance it was our culprit.
“Yes! But did you check everywhere?” my husband (apparently enjoying the suspense) dramatically yanked the produce drawers out from the bottom of our fridge.
Underneath, a murky brown liquid, easily two inches deep, was blooming with bright green mold and crusted over animal fat.
I can only say we both instantly referred to it as “meat juice.”
It was indeed the smell we’d been searching for. The stench washed over us as soon as he removed the drawers.
We hastily closed the door, and huddled around the end of the counter whispering conspiratorially as though the Meat Juice could hear us.
“We’ve got to clean it up.” My husband whispered, practically.
“Ewww! How could we not know that was THERE?”
“We can soak it up quick and then do a full fridge clean.”
“Ugh! I’m a horrible housekeeper. Oh, you too! You’re bad, too. How could they ever sell us a house! What were they thinking? Don’t you have to pass some kind of a test?!”
“Honey, do we have paper towels?” Brett was searching the kitchen as my hysteria grew more pronounced.
“Maybe we should just get rid of the fridge. I mean, we’ve had it for seven years. Seven years is a good life for a fridge, right?”
“We’re NOT throwing the fridge away.” My husband announced rolling his eyes. “Get a hold of yourself.”
The his eyes narrowed. “You’re afraid if it, aren’t you?”
“Aren’t YOU?” I challenged. “I mean, we both know YOU’RE not going to be cleaning it up.”
“I can’t help it,” whined my big baby of a husband. “You know how smells affect me.”
It’s true. Strong smells reduce my 6’4” husband to a quivering, sneezing, sniffling, gagging mess.
I’m 99% sure it’s an act, but that 1% of doubt owes to Brett’s performance – which if it IS a performance is truly worthy of an Oscar.
We both knew I’d be the one on my hands and knees, immersed in moldy meat juice, while Brett offered encouraging remarks from the sidelines.
“Hey, babe, you just got some meat juice in your hair. Careful now!”
The smell seemed to intensify, muting our argument for the moment.
I decided to take one for the team.
I drove to Target, picked up non-toxic cleaners (all we had were toxic cleaners from 2006 – and yes, I know what that says about my housekeeping skills), and headed back to tackle the meat juice head on.
It took me three hours to clean every inch of our fridge. The meat juice put up a heroic fight – at one point turning to meat sludge, a noxious chili-looking substance. But with the help of my husband’s strategy of throwing paper towel grenades into the fridge, we conquered.
Now, our fridge is spotless. In fact, it’s clean enough to eat out of.
If one were predisposed to doing so, that is.
The gaseous meat juice odor is finally gone.
I never thought I’d say this, but we are actually grateful to be back to just plain old awful bunny stink!
You never know what you have until it's gone.
Farewell, meat juice. Farewell!