I first noticed that there was a bunny at the front of Betty's nesting box that was no longer moving. So, I pulled on the gloves and delicately reached it to remove it. Except there wasn't just one. There were 5. All dead.
There is still fur moving in the back of the box, so evidently she moved the nest, but left these 5 behind, where, exposed, they didn't make it.
Then, as I moved along to the rabbit hutch area, I noticed that one of the grey rabbits, Josie, had her babies. All over the cage and not in the nesting box I provided. I shuddered, thinking about the job I had in front of me. They were all dead. Or so I thought. As I reached in to start cleaning up, I realized that some of them weren't dead yet. It killed me. I broke. And bawled.
There were 10 babies in there. B.Rube had to come in and finish this job for me. I crumbled.
All of our efforts to prepare them for their babies failed. I think that the nesting box wasn't big enough. Or maybe because it was Josie's first litter, she didn't know what to do. I am baffled by their lack of instinctual parenting skills. Josie didn't pull out her fur and build a nest either.
Nor did she appear troubled, upset or confused by the babies strewn about the cage or the fact that B.Rube was removing them. Oblivious.
I'm totally expecting the worst from Jewel at some point today or tomorrow. How do you prepare to find a cage full of partly dead baby bunnies?
Remind me again why I am doing this?
Ahhhh, but the bad day didn't end there. As I carried on to take care of the chickens, ducks and guinea hens, I could see a dead guinea hen behind the chicken run. A headless guinea hen. A sure sign of a mink or weasel. They remove the heads and suck the blood from the artery in the neck (in case you haven't read my mink rants before).
We set up a live trap with the body of the guinea hen inside it in the hopes that the mink would return, but it hasn't yet. You know that we won't sit tight until that mink is gone, though, right? You've heard my warnings to the minks before.
This morning is shaping up to be a better day.
EDITED TO ADD: We did lose a chicken that next day. From unknown, but natural causes. We still haven't caught anything in our trap, but the mink hasn't returned to take another bird either.