Rabbits in the Yard

I don’t seem to have much luck with rabbits.

Several years ago at the old house, I was mindlessly mowing the lawn listening to music when all of a sudden something leaped out of the ground right in front of the lawnmower. After recovering from that jerk back to reality, I realized that I was about an inch away from running over a small crater in the yard with a handful of baby rabbits in it. I think only the one hopped away from impending doom—or at least a painful disfigurement—but enough stayed behind or returned to their home later that for a while there was a largish square of uncut grass in the backyard. They did finally all leave and hop off to destinations unknown, and I was able to mow the area again.

At the current house, there is a lot of wildlife as there are forests nearby and much of the subdivision is a large, undeveloped field. There are some coyotes that I have actually seen a couple times, but mostly hear them yap at the train whistles during the night. (They seem to be here mostly in the winter months.) Deer on the other hand are a common sight all year around. In fact the other day a young buck wandered right up to a neighbor’s house and sat down. He didn’t seem too concerned about us, which is unusual, and the kids wanted to go pet him, so I had to give the, “don’t go near wild animals” lecture.

Every spring there are turtles creeping along to some unknown nesting ground and a little later, baby turtles plodding clumsily about in the driveway, (not that the adult turtles don’t look just as clumsy). And of course, there are a wide variety of birds.

 This spring, a mother wren, (perhaps a father as I don’t know the nesting habits of wrens—guess I better hit up Google), decided to make her nest in one of my hanging flower baskets. (It’s the one that looks more scraggly than the others as it’s harder to water with a nest smack dab in the middle of it.) I’ve taken to lifting the nest of eggs, watering, and putting it back—the mother doesn’t seem to mind although she flies off to a nearby tree and watches when anyone gets close, but always returns later. I’m starting to worry that her eggs won’t hatch because…

Some robins put their nest right outside my office window and I’ve been able to watch them grow up during the day. (My office and their nest are both on the second story of the house.) Last week I came home after dropping off the kids in the morning and found one of the babies perched on a bench on the first story porch looking amazingly grown. I’m not sure how he/she got there as I walked right up to him to get in the front door and he didn’t make any attempt at flight. He *was* giving me the evil eye and chirping quite a bit as I walked by, (probably something like, “touch me and that’s the last thing you’ll do”).

A little while later, I saw daddy robin hopping around with a worm in his mouth. A little while after that, he hopped by with what I believe was a moth in his mouth. All the while and throughout the work day, the baby robin kept station on the porch bench chirping, (I had the windows open and could hear it all day even upstairs—I think the tone changed from, “touch me and die!” to “feed me now!”, though). As I was leaving to pick up the kids a good eight hours later, I saw daddy robin hopping by the garage. He stopped, gave me a look over, hopped a little closer, gave me a stare, then hopped back into the yard unconcerned. I’m pretty sure he was telling me something like, “these kids are going to be the death of me!”

 I told this story to the kids on the ride home and they were eager to meet the baby robin. Unfortunately, he was gone by then—no doubt demanding food from some other location. But there was a nice splattering of proof all over the back of the bench and porch below to the story.

I’m getting away from the rabbits, though…

A few weeks ago, I was mowing the lawn, (something I’m starting to dread in the spring—I didn’t mention the toads that like to hang out around the house and are much harder to see in the grass; William loves to find them and Ann’s always like, “Ewww, wash your hands!”) Anyway, I noticed this large patch of dead grass in one corner of the house while mowing that I went out later to rake and re-seed. However, as I started to rake, a big clump lifted up and I saw a little, furry ball looking at me. This was rather unexpected to say the least. I put the clump back down and figured I’d just leave it alone, but a furry body hopped out and headed for the neighbor’s house. A couple seconds later, another furry body hopped out and headed for the back yard; then another and another all in different directions.

I decided to just let things be and let them return to their home. But as I was returning the yard tools back to the garage, there were a few loud shrieks from nearby trees and some hawks appeared and started circling about. I figured that I had just sent some baby rabbits to their doom, but hey, a hawk has to eat too, right?

Fast-forward to today. William and I are playing soccer in the front yard. Out of nowhere comes this yelping from the ground. I look down and there’s a ball of fur going in circles—it’s a baby rabbit. I’m pretty sure this is not one of the ones I uncovered the week before because it’s smaller. I pick the rabbit up and pet it and he/she stops yelping right away and just sits there in my hand breathing heavily. William is totally enthralled by all this, but I’m thinking that something must be wrong with the rabbit, (not in the rabies sense, but that I stepped on it and broke its leg or something sense). We carried it over to the side of the house and set it down, and it just sit there pushing itself every once in a while as if trying to dig, but only turning itself about. At least it seems that none of its bones are broken.

William and I decide to make a nest for it. We grab some dry grass and a bunch of yarn from the craft closet, (the stuff that’s not tightly woven, but fluffy and soft). I cut the yarn into small strands so the rabbit won’t strangle itself moving about, (“good idea”, William says—Ann is at a sleepover this night so it’s just me and him). We tuck the rabbit in and head off to the store to get supplies for breakfast. As we pull out, William says that he hopes the rabbit is OK. I tell him I do to, but then explain about “internal injuries”—things you can’t see and that the rabbit may not make it. He says that if the rabbit doesn’t make it we’ll have to bury it and I agree.

As we pull into the driveway from our trip to the store, there’s a baby rabbit sitting in front of the garage in the middle of the driveway. We stop and get out to move him out of the way, but by that time he has disappeared. We search the garage and the grass around the house—really everywhere and can’t find him. After a while, William says he’ll stand watch in the garage as I pull the car in to make sure the rabbit doesn’t get in the way. But the rabbit has to be somewhere, right?

I finally find him hiding in a small nook and try to pick him up—but this guy is mobile! We chase him around several nooks in the garage for a good five minutes before I finally pin him between my two hands and the wheel of a lawnmower. At this point, I’m pretty sure that this is a different baby rabbit than we found before because he/she seems to have a darker fur coloring and is much more mobile. But William is so happy that the “baby rabbit” is safe that I don’t say anything. I set the baby lose on the (other) side of the house, (from where we made the makeshift nest), and William stood guard while I drove the car into the garage.

William’s happy because he thinks the baby rabbit is safe. I’m happy because he’s happy. All is well.

During our evening prayers, I tell God I’m sorry for hurting the baby rabbit and thank Him for “seeming” to make it recover. I didn’t think that the rabbit I most likely injured was OK and that what we had found in the driveway and garage was for William which is why I said “seeming”.

After William was in bed, I went out to the makeshift nest we had made to try and figure out what to do. Honestly, I was hoping to find a corpse that I could bury. But when I got to the nest, there was nothing…nothing but a pile of yarn and dry grass…

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