My neighbour came to our door late on Monday afternoon and said “Your rabbits are out in the yard.” To which I intelligently replied “OUT out?” because clearly she’d have come to tell me they were out in their normal enclosure. “Yes, out out.”
I think I remembered to say thank you as I closed the front door and bolted for the back yard.
Caitlin followed me downstairs, and so did the dog. Fortunately we did have the presence of mind to close the back door behind us with Clara on the inside. Clara watched the following proceedings through the glass door with great interest.
The rabbits were indeed out out. All six of them. And two of them were on the wrong side of the back fence. There’s bushland over our back fence, and a precipitous drop to the creek, if they’d taken off down the hill there’d have been no way in hell of getting them back. Guess how glad I was that we’d decided to put a gate in the new back fence?
I asked Caitlin to remove the fence on the rabbit’s grass run so that there was nothing obstructing the opening leading back into their hutch area. I had this forlorn hope that they’d decide being chased around the yard was all too much and retreat to the safe space of their hutches. HA.
Wandering casually down the yard so as not to raise rabbit suspicions I immediately regretted my bare feet, the ground on the other side of the back fence was full of rocks and sticks and who knows what wildlife. (I tried really hard not to think about funnel web spiders.) I opened the back gate, walked up to Carrots who was relaxing in the shade along the back fence, and picked him up. Huh. Wasn’t expecting this to be so easy. Back through the gate and up towards the hutches. The grass run fence had not been moved out of the way. Carrots suddenly realised where this was going and exploded into a writhing, hand-shredding cloud of fur and claws. I dropped him.
I think Caitlin had also managed to lay hands on a rabbit with similar results, which was why the fence hadn’t been moved. There was a moment or two of heightened emotion on both our parts and I explained that we really needed not to panic and that I could only deal with the one crisis right now so meltdowns would have to wait. We moved the fence out of the way and went back to bunny stalking.
My neighbour on the other side watched us from his back deck and very kindly offered to help “though, I don’t know, how do you catch bunnies?” “Very slowly.” I thanked him but said I thought too many people would make things worse, visions of bunnies bolting into the bush running through my head. I’m not actually sure how long he stayed watching us, I was a little preoccupied.
It’s all kind of blurred in my memory into an endless slow casual walk around the yard, approaching bunnies who lay looking perfectly relaxed and happy, willing to savour every moment of repose even with people feet within mere inches of their resting spot, right up to the point where said person began to bend at the waist at which they’d launch into a few quick bounds, take themselves out of reach, nibble a few more plants, dig a bit more hole and then flop back down ready to repeat the dance.
There were at least 3 other instances of caught rabbit turning into little ball of uncontainable fur and claws before I perfected the escape-proof grip. Caitlin was delegated to lock-em-in-the-hutch duty after one such event, leaving the actual capturing to me.
While trying to watch where I was walking and keep my eyes on all six rabbits at once and wincing at every stick that poked into my poor feet I found myself thinking “rats, I should have grabbed the camera.” Though FSM knows what I thought I was going to be taking pictures of. Perhaps I should have made one of the kids video me, I’m sure it would have been highly amusing.
By the end of it all I’d miraculously retrieved 3 rabbits from beyond the back fence, two by catching them and one who went back to the yard because this stupid human just wouldn’t leave him/her (I forget who did what exactly) alone to dig holes and lie in the shade in peace. We did a lot of heading them off at the pass as they started to explore the side passage with the wire gate with big holes that would have given them access to the front yard and the street. Caitlin had the job of flushing them out from under the big bush behind their hutches. I’m not sure how long the whole business took us, but it felt like AGES.
Tiny, Carrots and Chubs were caught when they left their launch from repose a little too late, they all put up a mighty fight against being returned to the hutches. Fuzzles had a brain failure and took refuge in the spare small hutch that we had sitting outside the main enclosure (I’d opened its ramp just in case one of them was dumb enough). Toffee thought she was safe lying under the garden bench near the back fence and allowed me to give her a head rub, and Caramel eventually gave up and went back in to the hutch enclosure of his own accord – he was the last one outside.
Once all the prisoners were in lockdown the guards were able to let the repressed emotions take over. There was a tear or two, and venting on the internet. And a constant stream of Great Escape jokes from Dad who arrived home just a few minutes after the drama was all done.
They look so cute and innocent.
But they’re evil buggers. This was the stuff of trauma I tell you! I have scars.
I ordered pizza for dinner, it seemed justified.