8:48 a.m. - Wednesday, Nov. 03, 2004
In my late twenties, early thirties, I can't remember, enthusiasm ran rampant as it does sometimes today but hopefully with more awareness. My then enthusiasm was to create a rabbit hill. Partly the idea came from seeing a rather rudimentary one on highway 12 and partly from visiting the feed mill where they sold chicks, gosslings, other animals and r a b b i t s.
Rabbits! I expounded upon rabbits...how guests would love them! How entertaining to children they could be...how...how...anyway, I got the rabbits and not just a couple.
Siamese, yes, there are simaese rabbits and I had to look far and wide for them, mohair, dwarf, bunnies that looked like cats, like raccoons and my favorite ...a giant brown and white flemish lop-eared. When I brought the latter home, he cuddled against my chest and stretched out almost four feet. My family thought I brought home a baby panther or something else from the wild cat family. My favorite rabbit though I loved every one. There were twelve or thirteen of different kinds of bunnies. No racism here.
They ate bushels of rabbit pellets, clover and carrots. Lots, and lots of carrots.
We had a little hill with two tall white mature pine trees on them. The hill was renovated on my staff's backs. They were less enthusiastic but had little choice. The hill became much larger and tunnels were dug with red tile as entrances to the tunnels. At the inner end of the tunnels, underground, were 45 gallon drums filled with hay. An artificial little bunny city with many entrances and many exits! I heard that hay was an insulator from the cold and at a depth of five feet, they wouldn't get too cold, 55 degrees. My own feet tend to freeze in the winter and chill after 6 pm even on a summer night, hence the logic.
Once the fence was built, complete with locked gate, in went the bunnies.
Rabbits multiply, but what wasn't known was that they multiple every 29 days, with as many as 15 new arrivals. Three months later and mid summer, there were bunnies of every description everywhere.
Guests loved them, good thing. Campers were bringing in 50 lb. bags of carrots. It wasn't unusual to walk up the sandy, tree-lined road at midnight to find a forty-something male on his hands and knees, carrot in hand and talking to his favorite bunny. Embarrassed, this particular one got up and said, "I had a pet rabbit when I was ten years old..." and continued to tell his entire story.
Mid summer, I opened the gate and let them out, some went, some stayed. I did this for two reasons. The obvious one was population explosion. The second one was that every hawk, owl, fox and ferret had discovered them. Netting was put up among other things but that didn't work either. Besides, I kept running out of zone tablets to keep the smell down.
Campers adopted their favorite families and always were smiling when new tiny little ones would come on their decks. During the week when many campers went back to the city to work, bunnies would occupy those decks covering it with raisin like deposits. No one seemed to complain, though I was anxious. Remember the geese, (another story), I would tell myself.
Summer ended. Bunnies went beyond the hundred acre wood 'we owned, or wood that owned us' would be a better description.
Cottagers along Crowe Lake began feeding the bunnies and started taking the lucky? ones to the city. Rabbits were everywhere. It seemed like there were thousands, although that is a small exaggeration...I think.
I worried about what they would eat during the fast arriving winter months. Then, something happened. They all disappeared.
I would catch glimpse of a silver fox, a red fox, a lone wolf and once, the most beautiful snowy owl I have ever seen. The snowy owl was less beautiful once he ate my favorite flemish lop-eared rabbit.
Not able to bare the thought that I provided a 'feeding' station.......... I did find out that animals that are not meat eaters ordinarily, eat rabbits.. Foxes, true to their slyness and wit, with jump in step with bunny movements I learned, along with a host of things unsought for.. I'm digressing here.....perhaps for psychological reasons.
My self-told, half-believed story was that the rabbits headed to the woods, mated with wild rabbits thus most survived....hmmm....and a college graduate too.
Now, sometimes I will tell you about the geese, ducks, goats and lambs.