Not much writing this week either, due to upcoming family gatherings to prepare for and garden projects to wrap up. So the story I have today indirectly involves the latter. My husband and I have worked stupidly hard to try to tame just a corner of our property for flower beds and other signs of civilization. Perhaps followers who have been around a while will recall the pics I've posted showing off my gorgeous back yard. To keep folks up to date, I live on a natural creek on the edge of a very small town, so we have our raccoons and opossums, coyotes and armadillos that come traipsing in from time to time. We also have our domesticated visitors that liven things up when they meet face to face with my beloved large cats. I have three very large, fat cats who do actually earn their keep. When we first moved into this place, the yard was riddled with gopher mounds and tunnels. Within a few months, the local population of these pests was next to nil. We also rarely have issues with rats or mice. The occasional bird also meets a bloody doom at the pointy end of a cat's paw.
Then there are the rabbits. Those little cottontail cuties that, for the most part, have learned to stay outside the territory of my hungry tigers. Readers will find in my archives from last March pictures of the two domestic bunnies we adopted. Since that time I've grown a soft spot for the critters. My bunnies are now far too big and caged up for the cats to do them damage, but since we brought those big-eared critters home, the cats have vowed revenge on us for not letting them eat the domestic bunnies. Or perhaps vowed revenge on all rabbit-kind.
So yesterday morning, James and I were preparing to head to the green house in the city for a few more plants I needed for the pots on the back patio when we heard the high-pitched squeal of an animal in distress. Gabriel, the stately, suave hunter who looks like he's wearing a tuxedo (sometimes I think of him as a gelded version of a 007 in the cat realm), had snatched a baby bunny from under a woodpile. Now, we had no reason to think that any rabbit-mother would be stupid enough to set up house anywhere near these prowling monsters, but she must've been the daring kind.
At the sound of the squeal, Raphael and Sonora came running, tails high. So did James and myself. I'm sure Gabriel would've made fast work of that tender morsel had not a snake intervened. Yes, a two-foot-long bull snake (that's small, by the way) happened to be in the killing zone and convinced Gabriel to drop the bunny and swat a few times at the red flicking tongue. No doubt the snake had been eying the same bunny and took issue with a cat sneaking in and stealing its breakfast. So the cat and the snake conducted a stand off. In the meanwhile, James threw me a bucket so I could put the bunny in it and run. But that part of the property is wooded and overgrown, and the bunny took good advantage of it and hid from all of us. I hadn't had time to throw any shoes on, so there I was picking through the leaves and brush barefoot, with bunnies, snakes, and poison ivy under toe. What a way to start the day.
The snake eventually grew tired of this game and retreated, under the very leaves I'm standing on. So I too retreated, taking the cats with me. They get shoved into the garage for the few hours we were gone, in the slim hopes that they would forget about their morning adventure. That afternoon, when we returned with our lovely flowers for the pots, I felt sorry for the buggers stuck in the house and let them outside. Yes, a half hour later we heard the squeal again. This time, both Gabriel and Raphael came running up from the woodpile, both with baby bunnies locked in their jaws. "No!" I scream and James runs after them. I'm not far behind. "Whoa!" James cried. "Look at that." That daring mother rabbit charged from the woodpile after Raphael. A good attempt, I'm sure, but Raphael was more daunted by me running after him. I chased him to ground, pinched his jaw and forced him to release the bunny. Now, I'm talking a tiny thing, no more than four inches long and still likely in need of mama's milk. With the darling in hand, I returned to find James holding Gabriel by the scruff until he released the second bunny. *whew* Now we have two baby bunnies in a yellow bucket. What to do with them?
James threw the cats back into the garage so they couldn't see where we took them. The mother had run off at last; James wanted to deliver them to her; I just wanted to return them to their nest where mother will find them. But so might the cats. It's not a hopeful situation, so I snatched the bucket and dumped the bunnies back under the woodpile. They skittered off, grateful.
So much for the great bunny rescue. I'm not sure how long-lived it will be, for between 007, Raphael, and Lucifer the Serpent in the underbrush, I'm betting those bunnies are bound to find their way into some predator's gut. Just as long as I don't have to see it or hear it (or find an ooey-gooey present by my front door), so much the better. And for now, I'm happy I got to help them survive another day. Maybe they'll make it. *fingers crossed*
Ah, the joys of living in the country.