Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Not So Dumb Bunny

About a month ago, I noticed a tiny baby bunny sitting next to our manure pile. We’ve got several cats that regularly prowl around the perimeter of the barn, so I was worried about the little guy. The next morning, he was gone, but I saw him again a few days later in the front corral. I tried to chase him out before I opened the stall doors because I didn’t want him to get stepped on by the girls.

I discovered that the bunny has made his home in the day lilies next to the barn. It’s interesting that day lilies are very toxic to cats. I wonder if the bunny knows that. One neighbor’s cat, named Elroy, is a particularly skilled and aggressive hunter. Earlier this week, I came upon him crouched in the drainage ditch in front of the day lilies. I shooed him away and told the bunny to be careful. I’m sure the little fellow was hiding in that jungle of long skinny leaves.

When we lived in Virginia, we rescued a baby bunny from the clutches of a cat. My daughter called our vet, who referred us to “the bunny lady”. We drove to a house in a nearby subdivision where this woman had a garage full of cages of bunnies she was trying to save. She told me that bunnies are so timid that they often just drop dead from fright. Sometimes, she would nurse a bunny for weeks, and then it would startle when she came in to feed it and have a heart attack. I’ll never forget coming home a day later and finding yet another bunny sprawled out on its side under our trampoline. Reluctant to have to tell my daughter about this new tragedy, I walked away from the window. When I finally went out in the backyard to dispose of the poor animal, the bunny was sitting up happily munching on clover. A friend explained to me that the bunnies will eat so much clover that they “swoon”. After fainting and digesting, they wake up and go back to eat some more.

“That’s really stupid,” I said.
“Haven’t you ever heard of the term ‘dumb bunny’?” she asked.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some smart bunnies in this world. As I walked by the corral in back of the barn this morning, I saw Elroy, the cat, stalking the bunny. Siete was standing in the corral trying to stick her nose through the fence to eat the grass on the other side. Without hesitation, the bunny hopped over into the corral right next to the horse.

All of us froze. The cat stared at the bunny. Siete brought her head up and regarded the two creatures curiously. I stood holding my breath and praying that my horse wouldn’t whirl around and squish the little guy. Then, the bunny brought his front paws up to his mouth and started nonchalantly cleaning them. Siete stuck her head back under the fence to reach for more grass. I felt the two prey animals communicate clearly with each other. Siete told the bunny, “Don’t worry. I got your back.” It was the same as when I’ve watched Silk stand protectively under the baby birds in their nest in the rafters of her stall. Elroy knows better than to go anywhere near the horses, so he wandered off in search of an easier victim. Taking his own sweet time, the bunny hopped out of the corral and back into the day lilies.


Pony Girl said...

Victoria, you perfectly wrote out this event, I could imagine it in my mind and I have seen horses and other animals take on this protective nature. Isn't it great?
The day lilies are beautiful. Are they growing next to the windows of the horse's stalls?

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, Pony Girl - Those are the windows in Siete's stall. There are screens on the inside of the windows in both stalls, which is very good. Each stall has a Dutch door on the front and back, so the top stays open and gives good air circulation at night. During the day, I leave the front doors open and the back door going into the small corral off of Silk's stall - They wander around as they like after they've come in from being turned out. Usually, they both end up in one stall for an afternoon siesta, standing in front of the fans. At night, they prefer to be closed in their separate stalls- I think it's so they can lie down and feel safe.

Grey Horse Matters said...

What a funny story and a smart not 'dumb bunny'. Beautiful lilies too, what a nice place to take up summer residence. I hope Elroy will just call it quits soon and leave the little fellow alone.

Janet Roper said...

Cool story - animal communication amidst the day lilies - love it! Enjoyed the part where you heard Siete and Bunny talking.


Sue said...

Hi Victoria,
What a great little tale! So well written-you captured the moment so beautifully!

We have about 20 baby bunnies and chipmunks in and around our barn. They are hilarious little goof balls and dart in and out of the paddocks, stalls, and between the horses' feet all the time. The horses don't even blink and it makes me laugh every time.

Give a wave to your little bunny from all of the Colorado Barn Bunny Cousins :)

M. C. Valada said...

Plenty of bunnies around the barns and rings at Pierce College and the Equestrian Center in SoCal. They find easy pickings with the hay and carrots people bring to the horses. I've watched rabbits zoom across the arenas when the horses are inside with nary a care in the world.

Bunnies and horses have very similar digestive systems as I sadly found out when our Flemish Giant colicked and died a few years ago. Unlike with horses, by the time you notice the colic, it's too late to help them.

Janet Roper said...

Funniest thing just happened. I was driving home from the grocery store and I swear I saw a bunny chase a raven off his turf! Granted, I was a little bit too far away to nail the spatial relationships, but that's sure what it looked like. Raven flew off, and Mr Bunny stood his ground, just sniffing the air. Even as I drove by Mr Bunny didn't move, just looked at me with a 'ya wanna make something of it?' look. Perhaps a distant relative of Bugs Bunny?

Esther Garvi said...

What a story! Loved it!!! Over at Ishtar's Ark, Sahara only offers protection to the animals that first submit to a general inspection, which the dog Dennis won't do. Hence he is not welcome either... :-)

Strawberry Lane said...

What a feel-good, sweet story! I'm just now catching up on what is happening at your farm and what a wonderful way to get started! I love the photo of the day lilies!

And ... what a remarkable thing you did for those horses that needed adoption. I'm so glad Grey Horse Matters was able to help.

It sure is great having such wonderful horse friends!