Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good or Bad Mama - You Decide

Our suburban backyard backs up to a protected wooded area that's part of a creek's watershed. Because of this, we get all sorts of wildlife. Along with the usual bunnies, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and groundhogs, we're blessed with deer, wild turkeys, snakes, toads, and the occasional red fox.

The Oracle was mowing the lawn last week, our first cut of the year. Our grass was pretty high.

A couple days ago, I noticed this:

Great, I think, Knucklehead killed something. I don't like dealing with dead things of any sort, and neither does The Oracle. Really, who does?

I know of no one except the guys who ran the crematory at a cemetery where I worked as a file clerk. The older of the two worked the job until he died. "Alfie" was an eccentric, extremely jovial man with a twisted sense of humor. One memorable Easter week he greeted the office staff singing, to a jolly little tune, "We can't cook the ham 'cause there's people in the oven//We can't cook the ham 'cause it's much too hot!" Odd as he was, he treated his customers with dignity.

Unfortunately, Alfie's many health issues got the better of him, and his replacement upon his death was an extremely creepy dude of unknown origins. All I know is that his parents adopted him as a young boy from a far-off country. I can't remember the guy's name, so I'll just call him "Weirdo."

I don't remember much of weirdo during my tenure at the cemetery. I do know they found ladies' underwear in Weirdo's locker, and some speculated that it came from the clientele since Weirdo had no girlfriend. There were times he was found on his knees in a secluded area in the cemetery, holding his head and screaming at the top of his lungs. Maybe it's just a migraine, but why hide in the woods?

I digress. Back to dead things in my back yard.

I nudge the ball of fur with my foot to see what I'm dealing with, and I'm greeted with this image.

Can't tell what it is? Look again.

Yep! Baby bunnies!! They're only slightly larger than my thumb. And before you have a hissyfit at the sight of my bare hands touching the babies, that bit about animals sensing your scent and rejecting their offspring is a myth.

Now I'm all freaked out, thinking Knucklehead scared off the mama. Why on earth did mama bunny put her babies here in my backyard with a big-assed dog?

In a tizzy, I called E. I got her voicemail, thank Heaven, because she was at work and I'd be bothering her. Still, that phone call stirred enough brain cells to remind me of the place I should call, the wildlife rescue in my area. I called, half expecting to get an answering machine promising a return call the next day, but I was pleasantly surprised to reach someone.

The young lady there told me that the mama bunny returns to the nest to feed her babies at dawn and dusk. I asked her why mama would pick our yard with our big dumb dog, and she said it may be the fact that Knucklehead unwittingly keeps other predators away.

So now my goal is to keep Knucklehead out of the back yard during feeding times. I'll check the nest periodically to make sure the babies are doing all right. I tried to pick one up to look for a "milk line," but he/she wiggled away and I wasn't going to freak the babies out by poking around too much. The nice lady told me that too much stress can kill them. I figured that if the baby has enough ambition to run away from me, it's being fed.
I can't wait to show Precious Daughter! (I can't show Mighty B. because he won't have the sense to leave them alone.)
Edited to add: Not an hour after I published this post, the kids were playing outside and Precious Daughter starts screeching about baby bunnies. I hadn't told her about the nest, and I just KNEW Mighty B. had found it. Sure enough, he's next to the bunny hole, jabbing at it with his sneaker, and the little bunnies' heads are popping up and down like a mini game of Whack-A-Mole.
I screech at B. to get away. I hurry over and desperately try to cover the hole, but the grease on my hands from the roasted turkey pieces I was dissecting is grabbing the bunny fur instead of putting it back on the hole. I'm spewing expletives and yelling for The Oracle. For unknown reasons, Precious Daughter reappears with a roll of paper towels. At first I think, "why that?" until I realize that I can use the paper towels to shove the fur back over the hole.
The babies were quite agitated (I would be too!) and I was afraid they were going to abandon ship. When I checked about an hour or so later I noticed that the nest had settled down and I didn't see any fugitives wiggling in the grass.
I just hope they're not literally scared to death in there. You can do that to rabbits.

1 comment:

Coffee Bean said...

Oh my gosh!!! How are the baby bunnies today?!?!?

You are some interesting chick... cemetary... weirdo... LOL!!!

Little baby girl has got some cheeks on her! I wouldn't get a thing done at your house! She is darling!