The Easter Bunnies
Copyright 2019 by Carol Rotta
memory of a little girl and the rabbits she and her younger brother
received for Easter—and the humorous events that followed.
Easter bunnies came to live at our house. Literally. I was seven and
my brother, Bunky, was five when our parents gave us each a baby
bunny for Easter. How Mother persuaded Daddy to let us have them
remains a mystery—he did not
like pets of any kind. We didn’t even have a dog! She probably
assured him the man at the pet store had guaranteed both rabbits were
the same gender.
there we were that Easter morning, sitting on the back steps gently
stroking our bunnies soft fur, and nuzzling them against our cheeks.
As I recall, we named the black and white one Flopsy, and all-white
careful,” Mother said, watching us closely. “Don’t
squeeze them. Just hold them tight enough so they can’t get
was thrilled when little Mopsy settled quietly in my lap. I marveled
at the pink inside of its long upright ears, how fast the rosy nose
twitched, and how sharp the claws were on the powerful back feet.
kept the bunnies in a large cardboard box for a few days until Daddy
had made a hutch for them. Mother limited the amount of time we could
hold them, but I had fun watching them hop about in their temporary
home. We squealed with delight when they nibbled the lettuce leaves
we tossed on top of the bowl containing their food pellets.
whose building skills were minimal, built a sturdy, wood framed
box-like structure, about four feet long, covered with wire. It was
raised several feet off of the ground on wooden legs. He put a small
hinged door in the front, and showed us how to secure it with the
hook and eye closure.
have to make sure it’s locked after you put their food and
water inside,” he cautioned in a grave tone as he squatted down
and looked us in the eyes. “If you leave it open, the bunnies
might get out. And you don’t want that to happen, do you?”
and I shook our heads no, in solemn agreement.
also took some of the left-over wire and built a little circular pen
that could moved from place to place on the back lawn. “That
way the bunnies will be off of the wire flooring for a while,”
he said, “and they’ll be able to nibble on the grass. And
you can reach over and pick them up.”
loved playing with the bunnies. In the following days and weeks they
became quite tame as they got used to being handled. And they grew
morning, after Daddy left for work, Mother was in the kitchen washing
the breakfast dishes when Bunky burst through the back door. His
blue eyes were wide with anxiety, and his voice high pitched with
hysteria as he screeched, “Mama! Mama! Come quick! There’s
baby bunnies all over the place.”
didn’t say a word but quickly turned and dashed out, drying her
hands on her apron as she went. Bunky and I trailed behind her as she
scurried across the lawn and out to the rabbit hutch situated in the
furthest section of the back yard.
back inside,” Mother ordered in her don’t-argue-with-me
tone as we neared where she stood beside the rabbit hutch. “Now!”
and I turned and trudged reluctantly back to the house—but not
before I had glimpsed some tiny hairless forms on the wire bottom of
the hutch, and on the ground beneath.
in the kitchen we waited for Mother’s return. “What
happened?” I questioned, when she appeared in the doorway.
it looks like one of your bunnies had babies that we weren’t
prepared for. Only one baby survived.”
I hold it?” I asked, excited that we had a new bunny.
don’t think so. I put some old rags in for Mama Bunny and her
new baby. I think we better leave them alone for a day or two. We’ll
have to have Daddy attach a nesting box to the hutch so she’ll
have a safe place to go the next time she has babies.”
Daddy came home that evening Bunky and I rushed to greet him and tell
him the exciting news that we now had three
bunnies. Mother interjected her comment into the conversation, saying
in a sarcastic tone, “The man at the pet store sure know much
about rabbits. He was obviously
days later Mother relented to my constant pestering. I was enthralled
as she carefully placed the tiny black and white bunny into my
outstretched, cupped hands.
dutifully removed the wire from one end of the hutch and attached a
wooden box. Then we watched as Mother placed a mound of shredded
paper on the floor inside. The three curious bunnies took turns
hopping inside to inspect it. I heard them scratching around as
though rearranging the contents according to their individual
too many weeks later the nesting box housed its first litter of baby
bunnies. They matured rapidly and, as a consequence, the natural
reproduction for which they are famous, also escalated. The maternity
nest was in constant use. Soon, there were rabbits at every stage of
doubled the size of the hutch to accommodate the swelling population.
morning, as mother fixed breakfast, the phone on the wall rang. She
picked up the receiver and spoke into the mouthpiece. “Hello?”
Mother replied, a quizzical note in her voice. “This is Mrs.
yes, we do have rabbits. Why are you asking?”
saw Mother’s eyes widen as she said in a distraught tone. “Oh,
my. Oh,my. You’re
saying our rabbits are in your yard. We’ll be right over and
get them. Goodbye.”
hung up the receiver and turned to me. She looked very
Run out and see if the hutch is unlocked or if there’s some
other way the rabbits got out.”
raced out back and looked at the rabbit hutch. The hook was still
latched. But, out of sight, in the back of the nesting box was a
small opening. It looked like the bunnies had chewed through the wood
and the smaller ones had escaped through the hole.
I broadcast the bad news as I burst into the house. Daddy, dressed
for work in his suit, white shirt and tie, had just entered the
kitchen. Mother briefly informed him what had happened.
he ordered. “You kids go with your mother in the car and round
up the bunnies in the neighborhood. I’ll fix the hole.”
ran to get her purse and the car keys. Daddy headed to the garage to
pick up the things he needed. Bunky and I followed and got in the
a couple of cardboard boxes,” Daddy said as he handed them to
us. “You’ll need them.”
put them in the back seat just as mother arrived and jumped into the
drivers seat. Daddy opened the garage doors for her and she backed
out into the alley.
shouted Bunky. “There’s a bunny right over there.”
He pointed to one crouched against the neighbor’s garage door.
slammed her foot on the brake.
another one,” I said, and I pointed to it—huddled against
and I squeezed through the door and ran to capture the runaways. The
bunnies were used to us so they didn’t scamper away as we
approached. We scooped them up and put them in the cardboard box.
drove slowly down the alley and we captured several more. On the
street we spotted more bunnies happily feeding on several of the
neighbor’s lawns and in their adjoining flower beds.
pulled to a stop at the home of the neighbor who had phoned
earlier—she was smiling as walked out to the car carrying a
small cardboard box. She laid the box into my outstretched arms and I
peeked inside to see three more of the little fugitives. “I
hope you can find all of them,” she said. “They really
are awfully cute—and so tame.”
for your phone call letting us know,” Mother said through the
open window as she waved our goodbyes.
continued her unhurried tour of the neighborhood. We collected about
fifteen escapees before Mother decided that was probably all we’d
find. She headed for home.
saw the car as we neared the garage. Mother pulled in and parked. Daddy
asked, as he pulled the
wooden doors closed behind us and slid the wooden bar to lock them,
“Did you find many of the
a dozen or so,” Mother said.
reached in the car, took one of the boxes, handed it to Mother, then
picked up the second one. As the four of us walked to the nearby
hutches Daddy told us, “I fixed the hole—it wasn’t
very big, so only the smaller bunnies could get through it. I nailed
some tin over the wooden places so they can’t chew their way
bunnies were effectively prevented from accomplishing further Houdini
escapes. But their rapid reproduction rate was proving to be a
dilemma. There were bunnies of all colors: white ones and brown ones;
black ones and grey ones; black-and-white ones, and brown-and white
ones. When the head-count reached fifty-four, Daddy said, “That’s
enough! No more
solution came from a fellow worker in Daddy’s office at the
city hall. Carl Ourston had recently moved to the (San Fernando)
Vally. With three little boys, he wanted to raise them out in the
country instead of the crowded confines of the city. He was delighted
with Daddy’s offer to give him all the rabbits—free.
explained to Bunky and me, “The bunnies will have a good home.
They’ll have lots of room. They will be much happier than they
are here—all crowded together. And we’ll visit them.”
Mr. Ourston arrived the next Saturday, Bunky and I helped carry out
and load the bunnies into wooden cages in the back of the truck.
Before I handed each soft furry body to Mr. Ourston, I hugged it and
told it goodbye and kissed it on the top of the head. I felt sad
giving them away, but was confident they would be happy in their new
months later Daddy drove us out to visit the bunnies in their new
home. It pleased me to see they had a big fenced-in pasture to play
in, and plenty of room in the long row of sturdy hutches.
later I learned that our rabbits were the beginning of a small
commercial enterprise. The Ourston’s raised them for meat and
their fur pelts. They were, in today’s vernacular, “a
highly renewable commodity.”
husband of 53 years and I moved to a senior retirement community in
Prescott, Arizona, almost three
years ago. One of the activities offered was a memoir writing
class. I tried it out—and thoroughly enjoyed it and began
writing essays for my family. I was encouraged by the
facilitator to join a more advanced workshop group whose members and
leader offered a deeper learning experience. At 88 years old
(young?) I’ve found a new hobby I greatly enjoy among others
who enjoy what I have written. Carol
is the author of the book Where
the Williwaws Blow, a memoir of her
life on a homestead in Alaska, in the early 1950’s. Several
of her biographical essays are
published in recent editions of Best Short Stories, A Collection by
Arizona Writers. She’s a member of the Professional Writers of
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Another story by Carol
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