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Peter Rabbit – He’s not that cute

Peter Rabbit, plotting his next garden assault

In this morning’s mail, yet another gardening catalogue arrived.  I puzzle over this, wondering how I ever got on garden catalogue mailing lists because, you see, I don’t garden.  It is not that I am completely bereft of talent in that regard.  Everyone in my family gardens with skillful style.  It is in my genes to garden, of that I am certain.  So why am I not a gardener?  I blame the rabbits.

They aren’t that cute, you know.  Remember Peter Rabbit?  I don’t know why I should be sympathetic.  Farmer McGregor was the not the bad guy the illustrious Mrs. Potter made him out to be.  There was Peter, munching away on everything that the toil of Farmer McGregor’s broad shoulders and the sweat of his brow had brought forth.  Remember how Mrs. Bunny had bread and milk and blackberries (someone else’s, no doubt) for little Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail after Peter returned from his escapades? His family wasn’t going hungry.  Peter was just the kid in the candy store, caught with his hand in the jar and for my money, the true antagonist in the story. I was in Farmer McGregor’s corner from the get-go.

Everything I put out is apparently rabbit food.  It doesn’t come labeled that way.  I bought a bowlful of potted pansies once.  It was labeled “Color Spot,” but it was a misnomer. It was rabbit food.  Lasted a good four hours, before it was nibbled down to two leaves and a stem.  I found that experience pretty discouraging and several growing seasons went by before I tried again. With great hope, I went to the nursery and purchased a couple of jalapeno pepper plants and two different types of basil, but they were as before, gone in a twinkling.  The sun rose the next morning to reveal the meager remaining nubs.  But the kicker came when I saw a rabbit,

Tend the Garden – RND 292 by Johnson Cajuste

SAW HIM, eating my first beautiful pink cereus cactus blossom of spring, one rich, luxuriant petal at a time.  The plants had been a gift from my sweet neighbor, who had given them to me just before she died the winter prior.  HOW DARE HE???

Clearly, the time had come to consult the experts.  I went online to a gardener’s forum website and asked, “What do you do about rabbits?”  It turns out there are a number of possible solutions to the problem, and the online discussion was lively to say the least. There’s cayenne pepper, black pepper, and garlic – though I am unsure as to whether this is to be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants or worked into the soil and there was a considerable uproar over the potential damage to mucus membranes of small mammals, guilty or innocent.  Someone suggested getting a cat; another said used cat litter is a sufficient deterrent.  On this point I am uncertain as to where one without a pet cat comes up with used cat litter.  Do you borrow it?

Others weighed in on leaving it to natural predators, such as hawks and coyotes, but I have personally found that my local predators are either lazy or just not keeping up, leading me to wonder about the necessary ratio of coyotes to rabbits and further, how I might successfully relocate said coyotes to my backyard. Wouldn’t I just be exchanging one set of problems for another? In fact, digging and howling doesn’t seem to me to be a good trade-off. At the tail end of the discussion was “Don,” who said, “This is all well and good, but I suggest using a .22.”   Though they maintained an online silence, I wondered how the defenders of mucus membranes really felt about that one…

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