“Yes?” I answered.
“We found a bunny! He’s hurt!”
I came out of my office to find Daughter #1 with a little brown bunny in her arms.
“Where did you find him?” I asked.
“We were out biking and found him in the field,” Son #2 tells me. “His legs are hurt! He can’t hop well!”
I took a look. What I saw made me ill.
Someone had pierced both the back legs of the rabbit, right behind the tendons. It’s the sort of cut a butcher would make to hang up an animal—but this rabbit was otherwise unharmed. Some person had deliberately mutilated this rabbit, then somehow the bunny had gotten away. Raw flesh was open around the wounds and you could see right through the punctures.
I petted the poor thing and could feel every bone in his back. He’d also been starved.
“You could call the local SPCA and see if they can take him,” one of my neighbors said when I related the story.
My children, meanwhile, had gotten water and cabbage leaves and installed the rabbit in a laundry basket on our porch.
“Can we keep him, Dad?” Son #2 asks me. “Yes!” says Daughter #1. “Can we?”
I thought about it for a while. We don’t really need any pets. And a rabbit is nonproductive unless you eat him, right?
Well . . . maybe not. I got to thinking about how much rabbit manure we used to get from the rabbits Rachel raised for meat a few years back. That manure was amazing—you could really grow plants with it.
And my children already were emotionally engaged with this rabbit, looking after his wounded legs and coddling the starved little escapee.
Seeing the pain this creature had been through made me give up on the “is it worth it?” line of thinking.
I decided it was meant to be. He’d escaped some hideous cruelty and deserved a better life. My children would love him and care for him. It was like a prisoner escaping a concentration camp and running across the border.
The Great Rabbit Escape.
Hop Over the River Kwai.
“You can keep him,” I said. “You just have to pay me rent for the space he takes up.”
“What?” my children said, suddenly nervous. “What do you mean?!”
“I want all the manure for the garden.”
Then they laughed. “Oh Dad, we can do that! No problem! Oh thank you, thank you!”
On the way to church the next day, the children threw around names for our new bunny.
“Hey, let’s call him Vlad,” Son #1 said.
“Vlad?” I said.
“Yes! Vlad the Impaled!”
The final name came from Son #4. “Let’s call him Caspian. I’ve been reading Prince Caspian.”
And Caspian it was.
According to what I’ve read online, a rabbit produces around 100 pounds of manure a year. That’s enough to keep my potted plants fed quite nicely, with some left over for the garden beds.
Now, some months later, he’s healed up and is much sleeker and happier. Caspian is a very friendly bunny and the children often let him wander around the porch—where he occasionally gets into mischief by nibbling at my well-fed potted plants.
I’m having a hard time understanding how such a tame rabbit ended up mutilated and dumped in the wild, but he seems to have come through just fine.
The children cut grass and leaves for him and keep him watered. He’s now living in style inside a big wooden shipping crate. Daughter #1 even grew a patch of leaf lettuce for him since he really likes lettuce. He also gets to snack on the amaranth stems leftover when Rachel harvests the leaves.
I’m not much of a pet person, and I’m not quite sure he’s paying his room and board, but darn it . . . he’s kinda cute. I tell myself the manure is worth it, but I’m not breaking out the calculator.
Lucky little bunny.
David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.