Disclaimer: I have no ear tattoos on my rabbits yet, so with 2 Californians it is hard to tell them apart. please understand when reading this story.
TL;DR: 4 rabbits escaped, and caught
This week has been crazy, frustrating, and wonderful, but it started like crap. Mornings around here have their own rhythm with a morning fodder routine, feeding rabbits, walking dogs, and most days a trip to Buddy Boys for coffee. Monday morning started out as something else though, and began after taking care of the fodder. Feeding the rabbits requires me to go to the workshop to get the pellet food. Retrieving the food, I came out of the workshop and rounded the corner with the feed bucket in one hand and two chunks of fodder in the other. Before me I saw the cage we keep our 4 does in turned over and empty. My heart sank.
Filling with rage and anger, as yet here again we have lost rabbits I begin walking back to where I found buck when he got out. seeing nothing I look in the old coup to see if any were there and nothing. Turning back to clean up for work I put away the food bucket and right the cage on the ground.
Letting Lisa know what happened outside I grabbed my bag for work. Placing my bag in the trunk I decide to look around one last time before leaving for any trace of the four. Tromping through high grass and over growth where I thought the rabbits would hide and finding nothing I head back to the house.
Locking up the workshop I see movement behind the carport and look up to see one of the Californian does. Moving slowly I approch and bend down. Breath quickening and heart beating faster i place my hand on her scruff and she darts away under the lattice of the carport and into the junk pile. walking around and moving things I flush her back out and the dance begins again. Under and out I chase the doe until she darts under the trailer and I resign myself to go to work.
My drive to work was processing fact that my breeders were lost and I was set back months in production, so planning the next move. Seeing the Californian before work made me think the others could be close, so I buy a live trap. Stopping at feed store for the live trap and an axe handle I look to see if they had rabbits(story at 11). Entering the store to find the trap I see they have two live cages with rabbits, some being eight weeks a cross of NZ and Florida White others a between eight and nine weeks and unknown breed. Deciding that I do not know how many rabbits I will be able to recover, and I may as well get new stock now at a decent price I purchase two kits.
Arriving home I prep a quarantine cage for the new additions to keep Rogers, my now lone buck, healthy and to make sure I was not bringing in other nasty into the rabbitry, if I did catch the does. Lisa came out to greet me and I told her about getting the 2 new kits, and she not only understood, but fell in love with them as quickly as I did. After getting the kits into the cage and setting the trap I went and found my hog ring pliers and set to fixing and reinforcing the does original cage and set it up on the ground hoping to lure the lost does in.
Doing some other cleaning in the yard Lisa and I catch a glimpse of Delilah behind the carport from the corner of my eye. Communicating quickly to Lisa that I wanted to do a flanking maneuver we set off. Lisa coming around from the house side and I from the workshop side and queue the Benny Hanna music.
Chasing her to and from a few time close with a touch and gone again she would elude us for minutes. Finally we herd her to a choke point by as much luck as grace and on ether side finally get her scuffed and carried her back to a waiting cage and fed her. Lisa and I hi-five and congratulate each other. Before leaving for small group we look for other does, but find none.
Home Lisa heads inside to let the dogs out and as she opens the door asks about letting Lizzy out I tell her no as I see a Californian doe behind the carport, but it is too late Lizzy is off the porch and I am moving quickly to catch her. The doe darts under the carport and I loose track of her, but all of a sudden Lizzy flushes it from the front to the back of the carport, but the doe stops to nibble and I am able to catch her. Placing the doe back into the main cage I see the other Californian and call out to Lisa. Giving chase and had several close calls, but in the end missed and the doe went back under the house. We called it a night and figure we can try some more tomorrow in the light.
Going out one more time tonight to check the trap and move it to the back of the choke point I catch a glimpse of the last two rabbits out Rita Hayworth and the Californian. I start working around and flush the Californian to the back of the carport and back into the choke point. She sees the trap but I coax her into it and it latches and I return her to the large cage.
The next two nights we have had sightings of Rita and a few small chases, but she goes to ground quickly and we do not see her again. we have not given up hope but know that it could be sometime or never when we catch her.
I pushed publish on this last night and of course tonight we catch her. Lisa had seen her in the back by the old chicken coop and let her keep running as it was dark and Rita was now a free rabbit, while I had walked around to check the mail. Returning to the back drive Lisa let me know about Rita and I started to track her down by shining my light into the yard looking for her eyes to light up. Finding her behind the chicken coop happily hopping around I decided to herd her to the carport and flush her to the trap. I walked long around the Workshop and behind the future rabbit area, and started to push her back to the main back yard area. Rita hopped toward the compost area and I walked around to push her back toward Lisa and the carport. After she went to ground there I moved the trap to the choke point we had found and setup. We tried to drive Rita out but she would not budge from her spot which we could not get to. Lisa ready to be done asked if I still needed her help. I relieved her of her task, and unrolled some tin around to drive Rita more to the trap than letting her get back to the yard. Grabbing a cup of pellets, turning off my flashlight, and spreading out handfuls of food I attempted to lure Rita out. Quiet I hear Rita moving and I shine my light on her and she moves back, so I put my light back in my pocket and spread more pellets on the trap. Seeing her form move out from under the car in the carport I quickly move around. Finding her out I step over the tin and she hops back under the lattice of the carport. I move a tire and Rita dashes out and then heads to my choke point. Like the Californian she senses the trap and lays down out of my reach, but not in the trap. Taking a piece of wood I push her back and into the trap where I then moved her in to the main cage.