Here we are again no doubt on the cusp of another Boris announcement. An assumption but a fair one, if nothing else 2020 has been consistently inconsistent, yet always at the helm of the confusion is Boris. Let’s talk about some of the words that have become more fluent this year. Brexit was pushed aside to allow for Lockdown, isolation, anti-maskers, Covid, Corona and phrases like Eat-Out-To-Help-Out, Stay alert-Control the virus-Save lives. You may assume this is a political post but far from it. In fact, it is a rather extravagant lead to introduce you to a newfound favourite word of mine. That word is Fluffle. How does that sound? Fluffle. Of course, it could mean a fight, a soft sort of scuffle, a really fluffy and cozy duffle. But no, it’s better than that. A Fluffle is a collection of baby kits. Or bunnies, as they are known in our house. I have recently had the pleasure of experiencing some Fluffles after being chucked headfirst into being an inexperienced but willing bunny nan.
Allow me to set the scene. April is one of my son’s birthday, he asked for a hamster, my twisted logic resulted in him getting rabbits. Some small research on my part said that rabbits are best kept in pairs. The breeder only had a boy and a girl left, both from a different lineage, so the need to neuter them was not urgent. Off I went cloak and dagger during the first lockdown to be handed two kits at the door. A beautiful all black mini lop doe and a white blue-eyed buck. Now, my son is not so inventive with names, previous pets/teddies have been named Michael Rabbit and Michael Rat Slattery. For his rabbits, he had decided to forgo the Michael and instead wanted to call them Rabbit one and Rabbit two. Fortunately, whilst unable to convince him his name choice was rubbish, we were able to throw in a few that were more appealing. He eventually settled on Batwoman and Yeti.
Batwoman and Yeti are very loved and have lots of runs in the garden whilst we sit with them guarding them against the neighbor’s cats. They came to us during lockdown one, so I often sat with them basking in the summer sun whilst the children wreaked havoc indoors. I enjoyed watching them interact, their cute jumps of excitement when they were let to roam free. With a search engine beside me, I was able to become quite the rabbit expert. Did you know that rabbits have a similar function to a purr? They grind their teeth together when happy. If a rabbit trusts you enough to purr when you are holding them, that’s true love. If they lick you, it’s a sign of trust. Stamp their foot, however? They are not very happy with you. As we watched our rabbits grow the chance they would produce a litter was always on our minds. We watched for all the textbook signs that she was pregnant. For months we checked their cage expectantly but no babies appeared. Further research suggested that Yeti just wasn’t doing it for her, she just didn’t fancy him. Poor Yeti with his pure white fur and striking blue eyes akin to a rabbit Paul Hollywood, I could only assume his personality wasn’t up to scratch or his personal hygiene was failing.
Our bunny watch was interrupted in late September as our beloved pet dog Leon become very unwell and with great sadness, we had to have him put to sleep on the 29th of September. He was and always will be my good boy and is greatly missed. With swollen eyes and a heavy heart, I tended to the rabbits the morning of Leon’s death and was surprised to find Batwoman had made a nest! Tentatively putting my hand into the nest made entirely of her fur I felt a warm collection of wiggles. Parting the fur I was greeted with four bald squirmy baby rabbits. The circle of life completed. We had our kits. Now for any potential rabbit parents, it’s important to note that once the kits are delivered, the rabbits will happily mate again on the day of birth. Mine did and although I raced Yeti off to be nurtured before the week had passed, Batwoman was expecting again. Which was lucky for us as I had already promised babies to other people and with only four it would mean parting would be hard as we wouldn’t be able to keep any for ourselves. Her second litter was born thirty-two days after the last. The vet advised removing the older kits at this point as they could put too much stress on mum and she could kill one or both litters. It sounds harsh but at this point, they are weaned, eyes are open, ears are up, and they are running around, in the wild they would likely have already left the nest. And so we came to having four delightful baby rabbits living with us inside. Free-roaming when their parents came inside to visit. They were used to being handled so it was often common to sit with a Fluffle of rabbits on our lap. A wonderful heart-warming experience I would highly recommend.
My husband who is a sixteen stone tattooed electrician sat opposite me fresh from the building site a fluffle on his lap, not long before the first lot was due to be rehomed. He looked at me and said through gritted teeth: “How can you get rid of these cute little pricks?” A Fluffle you see is a leveller, they should be used to unite all men. Wars? What wars? Here, hold this baby rabbit.
I hope you enjoyed learning about my Fluffle as much as I have enjoyed raising them. They are notoriously fluffy and wiggly so picture taking isn’t easy. I have attached our recent and likely last Fluffle of seven, I hope my photography has done them justice, by portraying the warm cosy feeling only a Fluffle can create.
By Julie Sanford
First year mature student of English language and literature. Full time mum to a brood of seven. Accidental author of three psychological thrillers and two short stories.
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