The rabbit population of my backyard has been reduced by six. Humanely, tenderly, and with my kids’ help (see the post before this one for the back story, if need be).
Our story picks up the Saturday morning of Easter weekend. Driving rain, thunder and high winds lent an epic feel to things as I pulled on my rubber boots and went to check the nest. Like Google had told us, we rebuilt it as best we could, and put the baby rabbits back inside. I had made a pattern with leaves and twigs to be able to determine whether the mother rabbit came back. I raked the earth all around the nest to be able to see rabbit tracks. I channelled Elmer Fudd. And Lorne Greene. But not Mutual of Omaha because those didn’t tend to have happy endings, and we were definitely gunning for a happy ending.
As I crouched to reach in the nest, my umbrella blew inside out. With my kids watching from the upstairs window, my heart sank when I felt damp bunny fur. The buns moved listlessly at my intrusion versus the frenzied hopping of the day before. Two signs Google said meant they were hungry and starting to fade. I suck at rebuilding weather-proof nests that encourage mother rabbits to come back. We should all have such insight.
So operation rabbit nest rehab became operation rabbit rescue. The freak coincidence in all of this was an e-mail I had received just two days before about a fundraiser being held for a local wildlife rescue centre. I went inside and called Sandy Pines. The very nice lady there listened to my story and didn’t hesitate before she agreed the buns needed help. So instead of taking a box to the garden to gather cherry tomatoes, pull carrots or wonder why I planted so many beans, I went to harvest rabbits.
The kids came with me. They were being serious and calm, one held a new umbrella and one kept the blanket lining the box from blowing back. I repeated my actions from the day before, hand raking away the pile of brush. Then I popped baby rabbits two by two into the box. I had lined it with our red fleece car blanket, and the magic bag was under that. I scooped up some of the fur and grass from their nest too, hoping it was the equivalent of a security blanket for the baby rabbits. Cupped in our hands, they were so tiny and so sweet. I had another pang for the times I had stampeded after their mother or cousins, throwing sticks and growling because more veggies or strawberries were gone… Onwards!
Sandy Pines looks like a wildlife centre should. It’s filled with the sounds of various animals and birds, but seemed peaceful at the same time. Julia from the centre filled out some paperwork, peeked at the rabbits, and graciously accepted our donations. The kids had put in $5 each along with our $20 towards supplies for the rabbits. We also dropped off paper towels, toilet paper, another blanket, raisins and dried cranberries – all things the centre mentioned needing on their website. They’re a not-for-profit organization and I was so thankful to have someone to help the rabbits that I wanted to help them help me.
As we ate McDonald’s breakfasts in the car on the way home, the kids were reflecting on their adventure. They were super proud they helped the rabbits, and were talking about how they would be helped to reach a certain age then released back into the wild. Kid1 thought maybe they would come back to our yard, because it is such a great place for wildlife. We joked about what we would have named all six rabbits (Rex, Velveteen, Rose, Hopper all made the list) and we agreed it was a happy ending. I am relieved to report the Easter bunny remembered to visit our house this year. Perhaps because we treated his kin with kindness.