We have embarked upon a new adventure. In October we acquired two female rabbits. They are sister New Zealand Whites whom my daughters named “Snowstorm” and “Rosie.” Snowstorm and Rosie were acquired for the sole purpose of procreation. With this in mind, we brought a California buck back from Ontario in February. The Cheesedoodle had the privilege of naming the “boy rabbit” and chose Timothy, because his ears are the color of timothy grass. Within 48 hours of his taking up residence in our budding rabbitry, Timothy managed to meet the does. This was a full month earlier than we had planned to introduce them, but as is the way with rabbits, we now have a litter on the way.
It is amazing what the internet can teach a person! I learned to palpate a rabbit two weeks ago to positively identify that Snowstorm was pregnant. Being a rank novice at the trick, I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to how many kits she may be carrying, but there is something in there, and her slightly swelling frame and rapidly slowing energy continues to confirm it. I enter the pen to feed and water them, and I feel like the midwife, visiting her patient. I stroke her gently, and sympathize with her. I check the nest to make sure Rosie hasn’t been disturbing it. I have banished the children from the rabbit pen for this week. My cover story is that I don’t want Snowstorm getting nervous and eating the kits. More true, is that I really want to be the first to see the tiny, new, bald, blind infant rabbits. I feel as if they are my patients.
In direct contrast to this, however, Rosie literally runs to a corner and backs herself into it whenever Timothy comes within a whisker’s twitch of her. It’s all very well to personify a rabbit when one is sympathizing with her gestation (short though it may be), but the reality of animal nature versus human nature sure comes to bear when I hear myself say, “Listen Rosie, if you don’t do this thing, we’re going to have to eat you and replace you. I can’t afford a freeloader.” The words are true, but they are not as comforting a fit as the rabbit midwife persona.
Further complicating matters, I have been engaged in a battle of wits with Timothy. As sweet and poetic as his name is, Houdini would have been a better moniker. For three days he has been literally leaping from his pen. When we added another eight inches to the pen walls, he still managed to leap from it. I could never see how he was managing the wild leap. Like all slight of paw artists, he was carefully to conceal his tricks. However, I became convinced he was actually climbing the chicken wire walls. This evening I placed a large smooth board over the portion of chicken wire he appeared to be climbing. While I had my back turned, I heard the frantic scrabble of Timothy’s claws against it. When I turned around, he was still in his cage, baffled and thwarted. I dropped to my knees, placing my nose inches from the remaining chicken wire and said, “Oh yeah? Oh yeah? Who’s the alpha rabbit NOW?!”
It was at this moment that I realized I may have gone further down this rabbit hole than I thought.