I absolutely hate when people bring me bunnies. They are the worst of all animals to try and save. If you get 3 out of 10 baby bunnies to the point of release, you are lucky and in the meantime it’s a depressing struggle to get them to eat. If they do eat, they will still drop dead just to piss you off.
I know this. I have watched it happen. I fed the rabbit, the rabbit was fat and sleek and after I put him back in the cage, he looked up, flipped me off with his tiny little paw and keeled over. They especially like to croak when your back is turned or you leave the room, so you come back and they are still warm, but dead.
They are wicked little buggers and if their eyes aren’t open yet should be put directly in the freezer. And yet…..people beg me to take them. They beg me to try. Sometimes they get angry or guilt me into taking them and it always ends the same. Sometimes after a day or two. Sometimes after weeks. It’s so frustrating and really depressing.
But people don’t see that. They just want to feel better because 99% of the time it is because they hit the nest with the lawn mower or their dog got into them or they just don’t want them in their yard (THAT I can understand), but they will never admit it.
So I take them and even though I know they should go in the freezer, I try……and I fail. Then every once in a while I get lucky and hit the right combination and they survive to release. Yay! now they are food for something else or they are in my garden eating MY food.
I hate bunnies. There. I said it.
But sometimes, the stars are in alignment and I have one of my domestic rabbits nursing a litter. (yes I raise and eat rabbit. I never said I hate the way they taste.) When the Gods of nature smile down on me and this happens, I take the babies (they need to be within a week or so of the domestic litter) and give them to the nursing mother.
The stars aligned this week and the Gods smiled. My best doe (my favorite because she doesn’t try to kill me every time I reach in there), only had two babies in this last batch. I already had one baby cottontail that had moved on to grass along with milk, that was the only survivor of 4. Then I got in two more that just barely had their eyes open. The domestics would open their eyes in a day or two, so I took the chance.
I put the two babies in my shirt so they would smell like me. I went out and scooped up the Doe’s babies and put them in my shirt too. I stood there for a moment thinking how glad I was that this was Brown Bunny instead of the Black-Bitch-From-Hell in the other cage. I still had all my fingers. Then I put all 4 back in the box and waited. Brown bunny sniffed them, gave them a quick lick and went about her business.
The next morning, everything was still fine and then the call came for three more. These were even younger. Shit. Could it possibly work again? When they came that evening, I stuffed them in my shirt and then slipped them in the box with the sleeping pile of fur. I had no idea if she would ignore them, throw them out or have a nice little snack. (bunnies do that sometimes, but haven’t we all had those moments when we look at our offspring and thought, “I know why cockroaches eat their young”?
She did none of the above. When I checked in the morning the older babies were washing the younger ones and all were fed and warm.
The lone baby was looking pretty sad and I knew he was about to flip me off and flip over. So I thought I had nothing to loose and took him out to the rabbitry (I think that’s a real word). He immediately jumped out of the nest box and ran to a corner. It was as if I had insulted him by putting him with the nursing babies. I didn’t have much hope as he put his face to the wall.
That was three days ago. Now all of them have their eyes open and sleep in a big pile in the straw. It looks so odd to see these two huge babies (the domestics) with the litter of tiny, odd size cottontails.
I have been spared. No struggle. No sadness. No fuss. In about 5 weeks I can take the wildlings out of the pen and release them. They will be healthy, happy and ready to raid my garden.
Last night, as I was tucking everyone in for bed, I looked out and saw the last moon of summer rising above the trees. I made a cup of tea and went out to sit on the bench by the chickens to bask in it’s rays. Like a crystal, I soaked up everything she had to offer. Sophie came up to sit next to me and I shared the blanket, It wasn’t long before the cat joined us. Unfortunately, that didn’t leave much blanket for me.
It wasn’t terribly chill and I wiggled my toes in the dew wet grass. Sipping my tea, I looked back over the summer moons. Sometimes it seems that my life, like so many ancient people, is measured by the moons.
I start to come alive with the full worm moon in spring. The snow is almost gone and I can get my hands in the dirt. The baby squirrels have not yet started falling from the trees, so I end up with whole litters of red squirrels that people find in their garage or attic or grill.
The pink moon, signals the serious start of baby season and gardening. The cold hardy crops like radishes and peas are all up and growing and I am debating if the last night of frost has passed to plant more. Babies are everywhere in the studio. Early coons, more squirrels (is there ever an end to lost squirrels?), every sort of baby you can imagine, including my favorites….the little abandoned porcupines found by mushroom hunters. I’ll get to see a lot of this moon as I get up in the middle of the night to feed babies.
I hardly get to notice the Strawberry Moon in June, other than I know that the last of the fawns will be dropped and the pen is full. I usually get to see this moon when I do my last feeding of the night (around midnight) for these tiny fawns. I love to lay in the straw with them and listen to the stars.
The July moon is when I start my walks at moonrise. I go around the yard checking in on everyone and making sure they are secure. So often this moon bears a ring, signifying rain is on it’s way. If it is warm, I’ll go in the pool before bed to cool off and unwind.
We had a bonus moon this year. The early august moon that I grew up calling the “Green Corn Moon”. It was a time when the Native Americans would hold corn roasts. I only got three ears of sweet corn this year as the squirrels beat me to them. (sadly, all my flour corn appealed to them as well) No corn roast here this year.
The August moon signals the time for letting go. The early squirrels have already been released (and thus, no corn). Now is time for possums, skunks, fox, the last of the raccoons and others. The porcupines and fawns are still getting bottles, so they will get to stay a bit longer. If I don’t have tiny squirrels from the second batch, I get to sleep through the night. Yet somehow on that night of the full moon, I don’t sleep. It usually signifies the ending of summer and I am reluctant to see it dim. Last night though, we got our bonus summer moon. Still warm enough to listen to crickets and watch the bats fly. Perfect for sitting in the yard in my pajamas with a cup of tea and the dog. I wonder if she and the cat realize that soon, they will be the full focus of my attention without competing with the wildlings. By the next moon, they will all be free.
I sipped my tea and reviewed the summer. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I wanted, but I never do. It was a summer of loss and face masks and missing friends. There were no gatherings over the Fourth of July, no pop in guests of friends and family and I missed the children. There were so few children here this year. The tomatoes got blight, the cucumbers failed and between the garden’s resident rabbit and squirrels, pickings were slim.
Yet, there was more to this summer. There was a deep gratitude of being alive, of Jimmy having a job when others don’t. The appreciation of abundance from the land in meat, eggs and growing things. There was the love I felt every time I saw my family or friends. A love that comes from the realization of just how fragile life is. The knowledge, that we have “enough” and that enough, is really all you need….food, shelter and love.
As the moon wains and the summer turns to fall. I wish you all “enough”…and if you happen to have abundance…be joyful and share. If we all did that, then everyone would have enough and the world would be a fine place indeed.