Friday, May 23, 2008

Rabbit Wars

The rabbits and I are at war. Right now, I think we're even, but if I don't do something radical the rabbits will eat everything in my gardens.

Wednesday night I went out to check on my beans. It's been raining so much for the past two weeks that no garden work has been possible. You couldn't even step into the gardens for fear of losing a shoe in the soft mud.

Apparently that doesn't bother rabbits (who don't wear shoes anyway).

The Tenderette grean beans were nipped down almost to the ground. It's obvious that rabbits don't like the Royal Burgundy beans because most of those have little damage. But the Tenderettes are nothing but little sticks now. It's infuriating.

Ditto the beets. All tops were nibbled off. Oddly, the rabbits never bothered the lettuce or the peas--two vegetables I'd think would be high on their list. But broccoli must be a dessert from the way they gnaw on it.

My husband took action--he got out the .22 and took out two rabbits in one evening.

Leave them in the garden, I said. I doubt other rabbits will come in there with dead bodies lying about.

I know that sounds cold, but when the rabbits are not playing fair, well, you know the saying, "all's fair..." and this is war, declared by the rabbits. With acres and acres of woods, meadows and pasture surrounding them, surely they have enough to eat without bothering my gardens.

So we left the dead rabbits, added the rubber snake that worked so well in the strawberry patch and a few plastic grocery bags anchored with rocks (these flutter around and make noise, and seem to deter critters).

In the morning, one dead rabbit had vanished. No tracks to indicate the thief, althugh I'd suspect it was an owl that picked up the rabbit very soon after it was shot--I don't think owls would eat it unless it was a very fresh kill. That's only a guess, but with no tracks in the soft ground, it had to be a bird thief. But there was no new rabbit damage to the garden. Score one for us.

When we returned home last night, the remaining rabbit had been dragged out of the garden and almost completely gutted. Again, no tracks. What the...?

That mystery was answered this morning when I opened the door and saw two large crows flap away, dropping the remains of the rabbit. Aha!

So today I am on a mission. Buy temporary fencing and put it around all three small gardens to keep the bunnies out. It's a pain, but if I want any beans and such, it's a necessity. Larry and his trusty .22 can only do so much. There are just too many rabbits and not enough of us here during the day to keep the battle an even fight.

I think my beets will recover. I'm not sure about the Tenderettes. I suppose I'll have to replant. With Royal Burgundy.

(Which, by the way, is a very cool bean. The plants have a purplish tinge, the flowers are purple, and so are the beans, although they are green inside. When cooked, the beans turn bright green and taste like Blue Lake beans. They're a fun crop to grow with kids because of their surprising color.)


Anonymous said...

I am at war with the deer! I am going to try the plastic bags, hadn't thought of that. I put chili powder or hot pepper flakes on the leaves. Works until it rains and then I have to reapply. I hope it burns their mouths!!!!

Anonymous said...

Remember Peter Rabbit. He does wear shoes. Have you found a little blue coat with brass buttons, quite new? Batsy

Granny Sue said... coat. Mine must not be cultured enough for clothing. More like Brer Rabbit (or bare rabbit, perhaps?).

Tricksters. There is one that Larry believes has been here for years. His speed, according to Larry, is legendary. I'm a little doubtful that it oculd be the same one lo these past 5 years, but it always hides in the same place, so maybe he's right.

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