We don’t always get to plan our days. Sometimes when we go to bed, the day we completed is far different than the one we started. On the farm, that happens a lot. This morning I got up shortly after 7. It was a little late for me, especially this time of year. Perhaps I was tired from working outside all day yesterday, but I did not exactly spring out of bed. Once I did, though, I fed the animals and set out to finish the morning chores, after which I planned to write this Update. When I finished that, I had a long list of things that needed to be done for the week, all of which I hoped to accomplish before dinner.
The morning was unusually warm, feeling much more like a June Sunday than an early April one. The smell of life filled the air, as I walked back to hook up the hose to water three of our greenhouses already full of plants for the field. A woodpecker pounded one of our dying ash trees for a morning meal, and robin hopped just ahead of me, clearly more satisfied with this morning than with most of last week. To the west, I could hear the frogs in the pond, singing a song of love in search of a spring mate. Even the bees were active down by the hives.
Mornings like these remind me that life is a cathedral, and nature is full of deeply spiritual moments. Moments when we realize that we are not separate from the natural world, but rather we too are natural and belong. Here I was, going about my daily activities in the midst of so much life, all going about theirs. I was sure I was going to accomplish what I set out to do. So, after chores, I headed to the back barn to get some tools to complete some repairs on one of our greenhouses when I saw it.
It’s normal for the cats running around to leave a rodent corpse, skillfully placed for us to discover. When I first spotted the baby rabbit, I assumed it was dead. It appeared to be less than a week old, and it was lying where it shouldn’t be. I saw it stir a bit, and I felt my heart sink. Occasionally, I find injured or wounded animals for which there is no hope for their recovery. In these circumstances, the most humane option is swift euthanasia. It pains me, but I cannot justify allowing another being to suffer needlessly for my comfort. When this happens, I am always deeply saddened, and I end up grieving most of the day. Other times, I am fortunate, and we find the hapless soul in time to get it to medical care at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Today was the latter.
As I examined the the bunny, his breathing was normal, and his temperature seemed alright. Moreover, he had the proper stimuli when I touched him. Most importantly, he had no external injuries. He was not a victim of a predator, but he was likely orphaned by his mother. Susan and I searched for a while for his nest to return him, but we were unsuccessful. We needed to act quickly, if he had a chance.
These are critical moments in our lives. Life is precious, and as far as we know for now, unique to our corner of the universe. Existing within that little rabbit is the same miracle that gave me awareness and sentience. These moments give us a chance to cherish that miracle and that gift, and offer back to the universe what it gave us. Susan and I contacted the appropriate rehabilitation center and drove it there. Once there, we placed it in the hands of individuals who dedicated their lives to honoring the gift of life. His best chance is in their skilled and experienced hands.
His road will be bumpy for the next month. Life for baby rabbits without their mothers is precarious at best. Still, if he survives, he may even return to our farm to greet me some morning while I do my chores. To be sure, I did not accomplish much on my list today, but the quality of life may not always be measured by the number of items crossed off of our list on a Sunday morning.