It is officially spring. Fooey on the flurries we had yesterday, things are budding, sprouting, and in the case of rabbits in my backyard, reproducing.
I have been saying for weeks I wanted to put the rabbit fence up around the bigger of our two raised veggie beds, to keep the rabbits at bay. We have waged battle with rabbits for years now. I should clarify that by battle I mean complaining, tossing occasional pots in the general direction of bunnies, and complaining some more. We don’t spray our lawn, we feed the birds and leave perennial beds a mess through the Fall and Winter to make habitats for critters. We force a truce between nature and our gardens by planting appropriately and fencing haphazardly.
I had rabbit war on the brain as I worked around the veggie bed, hauling large handfuls of old tomato plants, leaves, and pumpkin vine off the ground. I was engineering a bigger and better fence. Last year I looked out to see a rabbit the size of a Volkswagon stretched out sunning itself inside the garden, inside my fence. Not this year, I thought, as I scooped up more brush.
My thoughts were interrupted when the ground beneath my feet erupted and three tiny rabbits drunkenly popped up out of the garden. Their nest was no bigger than a small fishbowl, and as they scrambled panicked around my boots and scrabbled at the sides of the garden, I hollered for kid2 to get me a box. We had been playing with the cat in the kitchen with an empty box, she was back in two shakes with it. I knew there were more bunnies in the nest, and that when I moved my feet they would come spilling out. My stomach was in my throat because I was worried I had hurt them, but judging by their hops and squeaks all that was wrong was their first introduction to sunlight was via a rude awakening and with no mother bunny present.
Kid2 was delighted, as any six year old would be at the sight of adorable baby rabbits hopping around their mother who was trying to contain them. I scooped the first two up, placed them in the box and covered it with my vest. It was so sunny! Their poor new eyes… The third one was at the other end of the garden. When I stepped towards it, three more popped out of the nest and ran in the other direction. I was panicked at the thought of such tiny bunnies squeezing under the fence and onto the street, but got them all safely scooped up into the box.
If that had been the end of it, that would have been adventure enough. But now what to do with a box of bunnies and my horror at disturbing their nest. Never mind it was plunked right in the centre of my veggie garden. What to do? I left hubby with kid2 and the bunnies and ran for my iPad and the resources of Google. A quick search told me it was best to rebuild their nest and replace the rabbits. So rebuild we did. As best we could, we tented brush above the fur-lined pocket and nestled dry leaves above that. Then I took the bunnies two by two and squirted them into the opening to their reno’d new digs. As we were doing that, a seventh bunny popped out of the clump of brush! We scooped him in as well. The bunnies were knit together in their cup of warm so we put a lid of dry grass above them and stood back.
Now we wait.
According to some great sites like this one: http://www.messingerwoods.org/babybunny.htm we will check the bunnies in the morning. If they’re nestled, warm and it seems their lid was disturbed, we can trust their mother found them and they’re being cared for in nature’s way. I will admit I was never as glad to see a rabbit as I was tonight, when alternating between making dinner and hovering at the kitchen window, I spotted one in the neighbour’s yard.
I’ve always been proud to have a yard that is more natural than not. I also always appreciate irony and serendipity. That a mother rabbit nested in the very place I have fought to keep them out of is a bit of both.