A humorous story of a bunny's great escape
|Many years ago when my two adult children were young, I decided to purchase a couple of bunnies for them for Easter.
Not the usual stuffed animals, they were old enough now to take an interest in feeding and tending to a real live bunny.
A friend at work had some adorable flop eared bunnies. Oh they were so cute, the perfect surprise for Emily and Lorne, I thought.
They cost only five dollars each and I already had my husband build a small cage for them out behind the storage shed. Their new home was elevated off the ground and had two compartments, one side for eating and moving around and a small opening leading to the other side which contained a small plastic barrel with a hole cut in it for them to sleep in.
The cage was perfect, equipped with wire mesh floor and sides and little screen doors with latches to keep them safe inside. We had a tin roof on top to shelter them from the sun and rain. I couldn't wait to see the kids faces when they arrived home from school to find they had two bunnies to love and take care of. As they stepped off the bus that afternoon, I said "Come over here behind the shed I got a surprise for you." It was Thursday a beautiful spring day, they were happy that it was Easter weekend they didn't have to go to school on Good Friday.
They would have a long weekend to enjoy. As they crossed the yard coming toward the building I could see the curiosity in their
expressions." What is it mom?" said Lorne, probably thinking I had a chore for them to do.
"Oh its just a couple of things for Easter" I said with a hidden smile.
Then their eyes caught a glimpse of the bunnies hopping around in the cage. Running and squealing toward the cage they peered through the wire, poking their fingers through the mesh to touch the young bunnies soft fur and the long floppy ears.
"Oh.....they are so cute” Emily said “can we hold them?"
"Sure, just be gentle and don't drop them."
"Go ahead," I said as I open the small screened door on the cage.
"OH....it is so soft, and look how long his ears are!" Lorne said,
Then he ask with a puzzled look "why don't their ears stick up like a regular rabbit ?”
"They are a different kind of rabbit", I just loved those long floppy ears, that is one of the reasons I got them for ya'll. They remind me of Beatrix Potter’s characters "Flopsy and Mopsy"
Flopsyand Mopsy adapted quickly to their new home and the kids were always searching for some good thick patches of clover grass topoke through the cage door to feed them. They giggled as the little whiskers and pink noses twitched while the bunnies devoured the cool crisp clover.
The bunnies were growing fast. One day I happened to notice puffs of fur here and there inside the cage, and one of the bunnies seemed to be getting fatter than the other one. I told my husband about the puffs of fur and he kind of chuckled, "Oh well probably wont be long, you'll have more bunnies."
"Not this fast" I said.
"Oh yes, That's how fast they multiply" he said grinning from ear to ear.
The kids were all excited when I shared to news,
I wondered how many she might have since this was her first time.
One morning early I went out to check on them, the momma bunny was inside the barrel and wouldn't come out.
I put some food and water right outside the barrel hoping she would come out to get it. Maybe this would entice her, then I could see if there were any baby bunnies yet. Slipping behind the corner of the building I anxiously waited for her to make a move. A few minutes passed before she peeped out, nose and whiskers twitching, one paw at a time she slowly emerged and began to munch on the crisp green lettuce leafs and potato peelings. Slowly and quietly I crept up to the side of the cage and took a peek inside the small barrel, I caught a glimpse of movement in the midst of the tufts of soft rabbit fur the momma bunny had used to make her nest. I counted at least five babies but it was hard to tell how many there were, the fur was like a warm blanket surrounding these tiny new baby bunnies.
A child like excitement bubbled up inside me as I thought of how happy the kids would be when they see them. This is really going to be a fun adventure, we could start a bunny farm, my mind started racing with thoughts of building more cages. As fast as these two reproduced it would be no time until there would be more little bunnies. As I pondered where to build more cages I walked past another old building we had behind our house, it had an old chicken wire fence attached to it where we use to have a few chickens. Then an old dog house caught my eye, hum I thought, I can paint that old dog house and fix up that old chicken pen and have a big space for our Bunnies to run and play, who needs cages?
I had recently painted the sun room and converted it into a bedroom for our daughter, I can use that mauve pink paint to spruce up the old dog house. All day long I painted and worked with joy on this project. I could hardly wait for the kids to see the baby bunnies and to see this Bunny haven I was working on. I painted the old dog house with the soft mauve pink paint and white trim, transforming it into what resembled a storybook playhouse. Above the arched doorway I had proudly painted the name for my little bunny haven, BUNNYVILLE the letters arching over the top in white. This was going to be so much fun, I was anxious to show my husband when he got home from work. I just knew he would be excited too.
The children arrived home from school around 3:30, I watched from the front porch eager to tell them the good news about seeing some of the baby bunnies, but I was even more eager to show them the project I had spent all day working on. Just like me they were very excited about the new bunnies and really anxious to take a peek and see for themselves. Plopping their backpacks down on the porch, they took off through the yard toward the cage filled with anticipation, hoping to see the new bunnies. The momma bunny was back in the barrel as snug as could be, she looked out and saw the kids but wouldn't come out.
Lorne said, "Lets get her some clover Emily, I bet she will come out for some clover!"
Emily happily agreed as they rushed to pull up handfuls of lush green clover then dashing back to the cage they unlatched the screen door and spread the feast out in front of the barrel. The smell was to much for momma bunny she came out a little faster this time than she had for me. Clover was her favorite.
As she swirled her little mouth around and munched down on the clover some white clover blossoms were hanging out of her mouth like strands of spaghetti dangling. She was devouring the clover while the kids took a look inside the barrel.
Emily said, I see three little babies. Oh wait there is two more.
Lorne began to count out loud while pointing at each little mound of fur that wiggled, seven, eight...I counted eight! he exclaimed.
Let me look, as I took a closer look I began to see the other little fur babies moving too, I think your right there is eight!
Well this is great, because I have a good place all prepared for them. Follow me, I want to show you "Bunnyville." I think they will love their new home.
Emily and Lorne followed me through the backyard toward the old shed where the chicken pen use to be, as we approached the chicken wire fence they saw the dog hose had been painted pink and the name " Bunnyville" over the little entrance. Well what do you think kids?
This is perfect mom, they will have plenty of room and we can see them play and they will have a bigger house to live in too, Emily said.
When can we move them over here? Lorne asked.
It all depends on how fast they grow but I would think in a couple of weeks. I will ask you Dad when he gets home from work. He knows way more about this than I do.
My husband let me know that putting rabbits in a fenced in area on the ground might not work.
I was puzzled and ask "Why not? Rabbits in the wild live on the ground."
Yes he said, But these are tame rabbits. The wild rabbits dig burrows in the ground or have the natural instincts to hide. If you put these rabbits on the ground they will dig under the fence and get out all the time.
I said But can we at least try it and see how they do?
Ok he said but don't be surprised if they don't all get out.
Weeks past quickly and before you knew it was time to move them. The cage was way to small and cramped for ten rabbits.
The first day in their new environment was on a Saturday morning. I wanted the kids to be home from school so they could help carry each little bunny to their new home. They were up bright and early and ready to see how this was going to work out. The momma bunny was first to get in the pen, she jumped and kicked and ran around sniffing ever inch of the place she even went in and explored the Bunny house. I had pulled clover and placed in inside the door to entice her and it worked like a charm. Then we carefully carried two bunnies at a time until all the young bunnies were reunited with their momma.
My husband suggested we leave the male rabbit in the cage for a while, he was a rascal and didn't like to be picked up, he would use his hind legs and feet to resist and leave some scratches on you if you tried to handle him.
The first day was filled with giggles and excitement as the kids watched the rabbits run, jump, tumble and play like never could before. The ground inside the old chicken pen had plenty of grass for them to munch on and the space was big enough for all of them to have lots of running room. The momma bunny was the most energized we had ever seen her. She had space to get away and a big house to rest in.
I was feeling pretty proud after the first two weeks of the rabbits being in their new home.I asked
my husband "I think they like it don't you?'
"Oh I know they like it honey, I hope it works, but I just know how rabbits, pigs, chickens, well just about any animal will make the break if they find a way".
Another two weeks went by, still no trouble with escapees. The kids were out of school for the summer now it was June and the garden was coming in nicely. We had lots of bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, green beans, cabbage, and squash planted. The plants were so big and beautiful and we had been getting plenty of green beans, sweet peppers and squash already. My husband took pride in growing our garden each year. It was just off our front porch over on the side of the house not far from the rabbits pen.
I always enjoyed having my morning coffee on the front porch and looking over at the garden. I was enjoying my coffee as usual that Sunday morning when I begin to see the leaves in the squash moving up and down like something was bouncing on the stems. Then the peppers plants started shaking as if something was tugging on them. I thought maybe I better take a closer look, I walked over to the edge of the porch and there she was, momma Bunny. Uh Oh ! How did she get out. Then I saw another smaller bunny, no it wasn't one of her babies it was a wild rabbit.
I set my cup of coffee down and slowly moved toward the garden, thinking I might could catch momma rabbit and put her back in the pen before my husband finds out she had been in his garden.
Too late, here he came out the front door. "What are you doing?" he ask. “Um I well I saw a rabbit in the garden and thought I better scare it away,” about that time momma rabbit appeared at the end of a row of corn.
"Oh I see the rabbit" he said with that I told you so look in his eye. Let me get my shoes and I'll help you catch her.
Here he came with flip flops on, in the morning dew covered grass. He pointed and said you get at one end and walk this way and I can grab her. We soon found out that strategy wasn't going to work every time one of us got close she would veer sideways through the rows and zigzag like a bolt of lightening, there was no way we could moved fast enough.
My husband said wait right here keep and eye on her I'm going to get my dip net out of the boat.
In a few minutes he came back with dip net held high ready to capture the illusive fugitive bunny.
I saw her dash through the corn as he approached and so did he, He took off after her in a frantic chase through the rows of corns, his flip flops flying side ways wet with mud and dew, he nearly lost his balance as he tried to side step in front of the excited rabbit. She just kept getting away, I finally had to go sit on the porch and take a break I was out of breath from this futile attempt to capture the escapee, and get her back where she belonged.
Ricky wasn't giving up, he began to use swear words as he swung the dip net through the air, then landing it on the ground empty, just missing her by an inch. I began to laugh so hard it was a hysterical sight.
Finally he made a wild swipe and cut her off as she attempted to sprint through the green beans," I got her" he yelled while proudly displaying the dip net full of a big fat momma rabbit.
He took her and plopped her back into the pen and then found where she had dug under the fence to get out. After we gather our strength from the wild chase we set out to repair the escape route. I humbly had to admit that he was right, once she found the way to get out she would do it again.
Bunnyville had been my fairytale dream, a storybook come to life. It was an adventure our children will never forget. That was one Happy Easter, my children still laugh when we tell the escape story and how funny it was to see Ricky running through the garden with a dip net.
After we sold most of the young bunnies to friends and neighbors we decided maybe the next experiment with raising farm animals will be two little pigs. Now Ricky was all for that idea. So the old rabbit pen, aka "Bunnyville", eventually became the home for two sweet little pigs, that is until they started rooting under the fence. This time Ricky used a four wheeler to rustle them back to the pen.