Great, isn't it? It's the summer and school's out! I hope that you nare enjoying your holidays.
We don't go to school but we love to let off steam too. Every year we have an August holiday.This particular one was the greatest. We've never had so much fun.
"Who are we?" I hear you ask. Pay attention and I will tell you all about us and that very special holiday.
We are at least a hundred rabbits, probably more but some of us won't sit still long enough to be counted. A dozen or so hens who are all busy bodies, a cockerel who thinks he is the greatest because of his voice and his colourful tail, a recent addition of ten guinea pigs and to round off the numbers, two cats. One is a small black and white female who is a darling. The other is a large ginger tom. He thinks he is the king of the neighbourhood and spends all his time minding every other cat's business. He is so busy we don't see much of him. We all live happily in appropriate quarters on a large piece of land.
Our owner is a delightful old gentleman. He looks after us with care and devotion and enjoys our company for eleven months of the year. Come August he can't wait to get away. He takes off in an old van and heads for the hills. We don't mind. W think he deserves his holiday. Despite the pleasure we give him, we are a lot of work.
Don't worry, he doesn't leave us to fend for ourselves. We have minders. Three of them. Two elderly ladies who look after the hens and the cats, and an elderly gent for the rabbits and the guinea pigs. They have a day's intensive training so they get our care absolutely right. They learn about which food to give us, which grass we can eat, who has what and when and the Golden Rule - only let them out in their runs. Don't let them out of those. Everyone is happy with the arrangements. He takes off for the hills.
This particular August things didn't go quite as planned! The first day or so everything was fine. Everything worked smoothly, everyone fed and happy. Then suddenly - the elderly gent got a bit forgetful. He lost track of the feeding programme for the rabbits and guinea pigs in his care. Some he fed twice, others not at all. Fortunately there were enough bits to nibble in the runs of the unfed! The only thing he got right was the bit about the runs and shutting us up at night.
One evening he forgot to close up the runs and went home.... There was a mass exodus. We all took off. Can you picture the scene? Rabbits on the loose move very fast. Guinea pigs are a bit slower but just as determined. Total freedom!! Dozens of us hoppin, jumping, skipping, running and leaping. Having a ball rabbit and guinea pig style!
At this point, the two ladies in charge of the hens had collected the newly laid eggs and shut the hens up for the night. They had fed the cats and were crossing to the main gate when they saw us. Somehow they had to get us back in our respective runs. It was nearly dark. One of them had a torch but it was all the light they had. You try catching over a hundred rabbits who do not want to be caught! Not that we were uncooperative, merely having a good time.!!
The ladies, fervent watchers of western films, decided that the best plan would be to corral us and herd us back. The guinea pigs were the easiest as they are the slower. They dealt with them first. Success!!
That left all of us. There was much arm waving, much signalling with the torch, a lot of coaxing and shouting. All this lasted for hours but they finally got us back in our runs apart from a few stragglers who came home the following morning. The ladies were exhausted.
For us the freedom had been exhilarating. We had had the time of our lives, the best August holiday ever. Unfortunately, other arrangements have now been made for our August care. Shame really!!
Copyright Jacqueline Hastings 2009