On Monday I visited Menard's, Lowe's, and the Home Depot, and scored at all three. I arrive home with tomato cages, blood meal, bone meal, a Fiskars weeder, seed starting mix, and chicken wire. Lots and lots of chicken wire.
While I was standing in line at HD, burdened with two 50-foot rolls of the latter, the man in front of me eyed my purchase and said incredulously "You don't have rabbits, do you?" Why, yes. Yes I do. "Where do you live?" I told him the street names of the nearest major intersection. "That's where I live. We used to have rabbits, but they're all gone now!" Well, they all must be over at my house, having a bunny party.
And not only are they frolicking and reproducing and leaving piles of "treats" for my dog (who, despite her Beagle heritage, has no interest in actually chasing them), those damn furry creatures have crossed the line.
From past experience, I know what garden plants the rabbits favor and those - the snap peas, the beans, the greens - I protect. And the rabbits still avoid things like garlic and onions.
(I'm guessing they are leaving the parsley alone because it is right next to the chives.)
I turned a blind eye to the decimation of the basil plants and choose not to worry about the occasional damage to the lilies. I also have a lot of crap growing in my lawn, like clover and plantain and dandelions, so it is not like there is not already a smorgasbord for them to choose from. But when they top a pepper plant and strip a few branches from a tomato plant, they have broken the unspoken promise from years past.
Now my garden resembles a fortress. Each pepper plant is surrounded by a cylinder of chicken wire, and after finding those cylinders upended one morning, the whole bed is wrapped in a mini-picket fence to hold the cylinders in place. The tomatoes are enclosed by tomato cages lined with chicken wire. And I have plans to build a chicken wire enclosure for an entire bed, so I can plant green beans, turnips, rutabagas, and other items that no doubt would tempt those buck-toothed rodents.
I am guessing that one reason I am seeing more rabbits than usual is my next door neighbors are now the proud owners of two yappy dogs that have cleared their property of vermin. It occurred to me that maybe what I need is something similar, so last night I dragged my indoor cat outside, to keep me company while I constructed chicken wire ramparts. Fern loves to watch the rabbits from behind glass, and has occasionally exhibited an urge to escape the confines of the house in order to fulfill her genetic destiny as predator. But last night, she freaked out and took cover in a clump of phlox and coneflower next to the patio. I will continue to try to condition her to outdoor time. Even if all she does is hide, maybe her scent will provide some discouragement.
This morning, there were two rabbits sitting in the backyard. I gave Betsy an inspired pep talk and turned her loose, but she stopped way short in order to snuff rabbit scent in the grass. So I stepped out, to see if I could do better. If the neighbors happened to look out their windows, they would have seen the crazy lady next door, clad in mismatched pajamas, dodging poop piles in her bare feet, while tossing a big stick at the rabbits. (This is why I planted arborvitae.)
The rabbits' initial reaction was one of disbelief, but after about the third time the stick landed near them (and it's not that I did not want to hurt them, I just did not want to hurt them so badly I would be forced to euthanize them), they got the idea and abandoned the backyard. I saw them later, with another of their pals, in the front yard. I tapped on the window and yelled, but they just stared.
Blankly or defiantly?