It’s been so interesting watching the momma rabbits as they’ve been preparing for the birth of their babies. A few days before they kindle (that’s a new word I’ve learned which means they have their babies), they begin “nesting”. We put nest boxes in their pens along with some hay. They put as much hay in their mouths as possible and take it into the boxes. They chew it to the perfect length and they begin shaping it into a nest. Then they start to pull hair from their chests. This not only allows milk to be more accessible for their kits (also a new word for me); they also use the hair to put into their nests to keep the babies warm. It’s such a beautiful process. Yesterday, we spent hours in the hutch watching……and waiting. We have thirty four babies so far that are doing well. There were a couple lost which is part of this process. I hate that part. It seems so unfair that some make it and some don’t but such is life on the Farm. We will build another pyre this week for those that we have lost along with the eggs that didn’t hatch. We will honor them and be thankful for all the new life we get to experience every day. One of the mommas didn’t take to her babies so thanks to our internet community, we learned a little trick today. We put her in the box with the babies and covered her with a towel and then left her in there for about fifteen minutes. Thankfully, it worked and now those five babies have full bellies.
Once the mommas get their nest perfectly built, they back into it and then the babies come. I’m sure it looks and sounds easier than it is because most of the mommas have 7-10 babies and each kit just weighs about three ounces. They are tiny and look like little rats with large ears. As with most babies, they are completely reliant on their mommas. Their momma’s job is to prepare for them, provide for them and protect them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this momma thing as I’ve been watching the process and it’s not much different than we humans. I adopted Grace when she was four years old and I was so terrified. I wondered if the mom instinct would kick in….if I’d be good enough. I spent countless hours preparing for her to come home, making sure that all the basics were covered and also that she would have a lovely place to live. I bought all the “right” food, the best and cutest clothes I could afford and plenty of books and toys to keep her busy and encourage her to grow. Over the past ten years, I’ve done my best to provide for her, probably to a fault. She doesn’t want for anything and I’m working hard now to ensure that she understands the value of things. I think we’re doing a pretty good job at this at this stage in her life. She doesn’t ask for much and she’s learning how to earn money and use it for the things that she wants. We still have lots of work to do on this front but I do think we are making our way.
She’s a teenager now so I worry about her every day. I wonder if this will ever change….somehow I doubt it. When she was little, I worried about her falling off her bicycle, pinching her finger in the door. Now I worry about the friends she is hanging around with, the boys she likes, the decisions she’s making. She’s not perfect; neither am I. I’m learning from her to loosen up a little and let her make her own decisions. She makes some good ones and some bad ones (don’t we all?), but she learns from all of them. It’s not been an easy road, this parenting thing. There are so many challenges and unfortunately, there is no user’s manual. We do our best to protect our kids and then we pray that the lessons we teach will stick. We pray that they will make good decisions, choose the right path.
Just like rabbits will do in a few weeks, there will be a time for her to move out of the protection of the nest. It’s scary as hell. I have a few years left with her under my watchful eye. I’m going to make the most of it. We are very intentional about our lessons and we hope she learns them well under our protection. It’s been fun watching her grow as we’ve been on the Farm. She loves the babies and I know someday she’ll make a great momma. I’m going to do my best to enjoy this time and despite her protests when she’d rather watch TV or take a nap, I’m going to continue to create some lifelong memories. You know, she’s one of the big reasons I write. I want her to know how much this process is about her, how we decided to move to a small town and buy a farm so she could grow up here under the protection of this amazing community. I want her to know that we bought a house that wasn’t quite perfect so she could work with us as we rebuilt it and learn how to use power tools.
This is all very deliberate. It’s the life we’ve chosen because we believe it will give her a solid foundation. Someday she’ll leave the nest and I look forward to her coming back with her kids and sharing those same experiences. And most of all, I want her to know that just like these momma rabbits, my job is to prepare, provide and protect. I am not perfect at it; I don’t even know that I’m great at it. I’ll still make momstakes. But she’s mine and I’’m going to continue to wake up every day and keep trying and I’m going to keep praying…..because that’s what mommas do…….Prepare, Provide, Protect….and Pray. And sometimes you just need to throw a towel over our heads 🙂