The cutest thing that’s ever lived on the farm (okay, ever lived on the farm in the last 3 months) made its appearance two weeks ago. Not that I knew about his or her arrival until almost a week ago. Goes to show how casual I’ve gotten about the rabbits.
Six weeks ago Christina and I took the outside temperature and convinced ourselves that it was, indeed, below 90 degrees. At least at that moment. This has been the hottest summer I’ve ever experienced up here. I swear it hit 90 somewhere in June and stayed there, well, until six weeks ago. The temperature is important because rabbit bucks (male rabbits) go sterile when the temperature is above 90. This means my two does, Babs and Bitsy, went all summer without producing any babies. It was now the middle of September and the weather was refusing to cool down. But we decided that 88 degrees was below 90 and Buddy should at least try to do his duty.
Which Buddy seemed to do. He mounted both girls and proceeded to fall off at least two times from each. Falling off is indicative of completion but not necessarily of success. Given that, I fully planned for the girls to visit their guy again in a few days, but the heat returned with a vengeance. When another hot week passed, I gave up on giving the girls a second visit with their guy and started counting the weeks from September 17th.
By the way, the weather did finally cool off. We’ve had two full weeks of fall during which half the trees have turned while the other half are still full leafed out in green. This week winter arrived with a killing frost. Welcome to Arizona.
Five days before the girls should have been due, Christina did a little rabbit inspection. She reported that Bitsy totally enjoyed having her belly rubbed while Babs rejected being petted at all. Since we have no real history of how the bunny girls behave when that far pregnant, we figured it could go any way or not at all. Just in case, I put lots of grass in their little mobile homes. Both girls went in to arrange their nests, which gave me hope.
Their official due date arrived. No babies. I waited until the latest day before I finally and hopelessly swept my hand through the grass that they’d turned into nests. Bitsy had added a few tufts of fur to hers, Babs had not. There were no babies in either nest.
I threw up my hands at that. At least now it was definitely cooler than 90 degrees, so we once again put the bunny girls in with their guy, and started the clock again. Two days later, Christina opened Bitsy’s coop and gave a cry. Buried in the hay was one very large baby bunny. Being late and a singleton, I guess Bitsy had to keep him in the oven a little longer.
Day after day, we’ve watched this Baby Huey of a rabbit become an absolute Chunk, which is his–he has to be a boy!–official name. He is so unbelievable roly-poly that we have to woman-handle him constantly. I’ve already decided that, because he’s an only kit, I have to keep him. If he is a boy, I’ll probably use him to replace his father, Buddy. He’s bound to be much more comfortable with us as often as we’re handling him. Buddy remains nervous and standoffish even after a year.
And if Chunk turns out to be a she? Then I’ll have a third mama. If that’s the case, then I’ll be building her her own mobile coop. But not too soon. Babs’ and Bitsy’s other babies had each other to cuddle with and find comfort when I separated them from their mothers. Chunk is all alone. Who could leave this cute thing all alone in a big coop? Not me.