Welcome back to Magnetic North, where nature never ceases to amaze and surprise.
Take this past Fourth of July, for example. Holidays around our house tend to be uneventful.
We planned nothing more for the fourth than going to a memorial picnic for our dear, departed old buddy, John Anderson, then watching televised fireworks.
Sounds dull, right? But it wasn’t.
First off, the memorial involved a cannon and four solid blasts into the big lake in the vicinity of Five Mile Rock. Oh, and if the folks in that little fishing boat east of the rock are listening, know that you were not the target of the day. It was all about giving a lifelong fishing fanatic and friend the sendoff he wanted.
I swear, from now on whenever I drive by that old bump of a rock off the Colvill shore, I’ll smile and remember John. A man of legend, even six months after his untimely parting.
But it was early in the day of the Fourth that I got MY big surprise. A rat. At least, I thought it was a rat. Midway through chores, as I was doling out dandelion greens to my four angora rabbits, I saw this small, dark THING scurrying along the wall in the rabbit room. But let me back up a bit.
My rabbits live in a little shed attached to our garage: two in cages and two free-range on the tarp-covered floor. The floor bunnies are sisters. Plain brown and gray rescue rabbits named Muff and Puff. The other two are fancy bunnies, English Angoras. One, a white buck I call Harvey, is the rabbit equivalent of Brad Pitt. The other, Peaches, is featured on my WTIP website right next to my grinning face.
A while back I got it into my head that it would be interesting to breed Harvey, to Puff. But after just a few hours alone, Puff looked like she’d gotten caught in the lawnmower. Clearly, little Harvey, for all his handsome white fur, was a big fat bully. Nothing more! Puff recovered, but over the past month or so showed no signs of pregnancy. She did, however, begin to look a little scruffy. Post-traumatic stressed out, I figured.
Well maybe, but as it turned out, Puff was pulling her own fur out. Lining a nest. All on the QT while I busied myself learning the fine points of goat milking.
And thus, the “rat” I thought I saw the morning of the Fourth was a baby bunny, one of four. With eyes wide open and fully furred out. And judging from their size, at least three weeks old!
So much for delusions of indispensability on my part!
In fact, had I known the babies were there I probably would have done more harm than good, peering into the recesses of the nest with a flashlight or, worse, trying to pick one up. Now I spend the few spare minutes left in the day wondering how to house them all.
When I bragged about the newborns at John’s memorial later that day, my friend Harry had a word of warning. “So you went from four to eight just like that - y’know eight could become 64 pretty fast.” Thanks Harry, I needed that.
For while it is true that one can never have too many friends, especially friends like John, one can definitely have waaaaaay too many rabbits!