This is their first spring, and they are definitely grooving with the season. Freckles and Sophia, my two rabbits, were only a glimmer in their pappy’s eye this time last year. Now, it is Freckles eyes that are glimmering as he casts lustful glances at beautiful Sophia in the cage next to him—so close, and yet so far away.
Freckles is a mini-lop. Sophia is an American chin. I brought them home last year as garden helpers. They are the managers of poop production, and they do a fine job. They live in pens suspended from the ceiling of the chicken coop, and the chickens are happy to scratch about beneath their cages, turning the bunny poop and kitchen scraps I toss there into compost.
I try keeping life in their pens interesting, bringing them apples, fresh branches, cardboard boxes, weeds, straw, and dog toys regularly. They love pets and ear rubs, but I think they really love the apples most of all.
As the last weeks of winter began dropping a few telltale signs of spring, the bunnies responded instantly. Freckles started bouncing about in his pen each morning, doing that zippy bunny maneuver of leaping up, spinning around in midair, and landing facing the opposite direction. Sophia was impressed, I could tell. She started talking about it. I’ve never known a bunny so vocal. She watches Freckles as he launches into his acrobatic show, and makes “gruff-wuff” calls to him.
I’m wondering if living above the chickens has inspired her new language skills. The hens are very chatty, and sometimes Sophia sounds just like them. When I go in to bring the critters fresh water and food, Sophie starts “conversating” at me, telling me about her nighttime adventures in the chicken palace. She chirps, growls, mutters, gruff-wuffs, and honks. I respond with, “Really? You don’t say! That must have been a real surprise!” and other such chatter as she babbles on between bites of apple.
One night, she got busy with her hay. Come morning, I found her sitting in a lovely round nest lined with fur pulled from her breast. When I opened her cage door, she charged my hand with a fearsome growl and a well-aimed head-butt. Her point was clear: “Okay, Apple Lady. You know what this is, right? A NEST. You know what goes in nests, right?”
She was still conversating loudly when I left the chicken coop to google “rabbit breeding.” Next morning, I escorted her into Freckles pen for a carnal visit. I turned my back for just an instant, and when I looked up, Freckles was having passionate sex with Sophia’s head. He is a virgin, you know. Sometimes, first-timers get it all backward. I remember my younger days…
I gave him a hand, aiming him toward the right end, and he figured it out pretty quick. That’s the operative word with rabbit sex—pretty quick. I remember my younger days…
I’m expecting youngsters in early April. More poop!! Let’s step up the production for spring!
As bunny behaviors changed overnight with the hint of spring, my forest yard changed overnight—literally overnight—with the coming of the first warm days last week (Those warm days have since left, alas, but they at least stopped by for a visit). On a shirtsleeve evening only a few brief days ago, I circumambulated our grounds, searching for fern fronds, rhubarb buds, early onions, comfrey leaves, and hosta spears. Nothing.
Next morning—I kid you not, next morning!—by gosh, there they were: fern fronds curled up like tiny yellow shells, onion tips spearing the sky, asparagus pushing up green fingers, hostas popping up like pencil tips. And the big, unexpected miracle: Virginia blue bells poking up tender curled leaves right where I had transplanted them last year and assumed them all dead. Whoopee! To top it all off, a male green frog came overnight to join the lovely, lonely female in the pond.
All of this, overnight. In a matter of hours, the world of my yard had changed from dormancy to life. As the spring equinox arrives, I am tenderly reminded, as I am each spring of my life, how quickly life and circumstances can change. For the good or for the not so good, life can shift overnight in grand and small ways: a good lesson for both humbleness and hope.