How the Hen House Turns: Rabbits

How the Hen House Turns: Rabbits

Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

Middle Daughter’s rabbits didn’t live in the Hen House, of course, but they impacted our lives, and I would be remiss if I didn’t include them in these animal tales.

There were lots of them, especially one summer. Most of them lived in hutches behind the garage. We tried very hard to segregates the sexes. We failed, but they didn’t. Somehow rabbits know who’s who.

We housed two “females” together, and the one named Pepper produced a litter of ten adorable balls of fur—each one a different shade of either red, brown, black or white. They played in a chicken wire pen on the lawn, under the watchful eye of Poncho, our Santa Fe shepherd.

Soon, enough became too much, and the rabbit hordes were farmed out to someone in Pajarito Acres. (I recommend having no more than one rabbit at a time, regardless.)

At first, we did have one at a time. Middle Daughter fell in love with the large breed with great floppy ears, and for several years Niki lived in Tasha’s bedroom. The rabbit was more or less housebroken, but she chewed electric cords, so those had to be put out of reach.

Poncho tolerated her attempts to play, but groaned with exasperation when she draped herself over him for her morning naps. He accommodated her snuggling as best he could, for he knew it was his job as a good shepherd. Then one day Niki died—just like that—not even a sniffle to warn us. We were told that rabbits do that.

To make the long story short for now, I once drew a family tree of all the rabbits that we had during the Middle Daughter’s Aspen School years. The list was quite extensive, maybe 10 inches long.

I guess the rabbit experience taught all of us something about the fragility and miracle of life. When Middle Daughter went to college and I re-arranged her room, I found that the wall-to-wall rug had been neatly trimmed along every edge.