Wife has started raising a Spring/Summer garden in our backyard. She worried about the dogs getting into her garden the first year that she planted. So I put a small fence around her little plot.
The vegetables grew and produced an abundance of produce. But, it was difficult to step over the fence. She worried about snakes. And she worried that everything was crowded.
The second year saw a larger garden plot with fewer plants and no fence. This was also the year of the heavy rains and some flooding in May and June. The garden didn’t do very well with that much water.
This was also the year that PD decided he liked squash plants. Not the squash vegetable. Just the plant itself, the stalk. Over a period of a month, PD ripped out one plant after the other. He would tug on the plant, pulling it out by its roots. Then, PD would drag the plant out of the garden and settle down for a luscious meal of Squash Plant.
Wife and I had been worried about rabbits, not dogs.
It turns out that we were right to worry about rabbits, too.
Twice I had come home and spotted a rabbit in our back yard. I quickly alerted Wife and had her seal off the back door. Neither one of us wanted to watch our dogs tear up a rabbit. We had chicken wire along the back fence to deep our dogs in the yard and other critters out. Apparently the fence only worked on our dogs.
I knew that the rabbit had figured out a way to breach the chicken wire. But I also figured there would only be one or two ways in and out of that fence. I was worried that in its panic to get away from the dogs, the rabbit would get trapped and we’d have a slaughter.
In each instance I was able to go into the back yard without the dogs, and herd the rabbit back to whatever hole it had dug or chewed to get in.
One evening, Wife and I were sitting on the porch enjoying our freshly mowed lawn. Frank started barking at something I couldn’t see. Wife had a better view and told me it was a rabbit.
I walked over and started “shushing” Frank.
It was just a poor baby rabbit. The little guy was all hunkered down, trying to be still. Despite his best effort at looking like a rock, he was trembling.
I was able to pick up Frank. We called PD, who obediently followed us into the house. We closed off the dogs and I went back outside.
The bunny had hopped over to the brick border around a tree. He sat there with his face to the wall. I guess he thought he was hiding. Wife was watching from the window. He was so small. She said that he just kind of fell over onto his side on uneven ground.
We just knew that his momma had to be nearby somewhere. So we kept the doggy door shut and waited a couple of hours.
Two hours later, and he was still in our back yard. Still in danger.
I scooped him up, carried him to the fence and put him gently on the other side. That should take care him, right?
That evening just before bed time, we let the dogs out to take care of business. And they did. And for Frank, taking care of business included discovering that the bunny had come back into our yard.
Frank started his barking at the bunny. He was a little afraid of it, since he had no idea what this critter was. I walked over to get Frank but he kept avoiding me. Then, the bunny turned around and lunged at Frank. This little tiny thing decided he was tired of Frank’s noise. So he lunged, not just hopped, but an aggressive lunge. Frank backed off and into my waiting hands.
We left the little rabbit alone in the yard and locked the dogs inside for the night. Surely, by morning the rabbit’s momma will have found him and escorted him home.
The next morning, I did a quick walk around the backyard, looking for the little rabbit. I saw nothing, so we let the dogs out of the house. It wasn’t long before we heard Frank barking. What I couldn’t see, Frank managed to sniff out. That little bunny was still in the back yard.
Back in the house went the dogs. I scooped up the little fella and placed him in a small cage. Then I went back into the house and got on the computer to do a bit of research. My granddaughter had raised a rabbit for 4-H just a few months ago. I was wondering if this rabbit might be turned into a pet for her.
Or maybe I could find a shelter for the rabbit. It was plain this baby’s momma just didn’t care. And he didn’t seem to be very bright. I learned that baby rabbits’ nests often look like the piles of grass we had all over our yard after mowing. So maybe he just got turned around.
I also learned that it is very hard for a young bunny to survive as pets. They are much more hardy than you expect, and usually do quite well on their own. Better, in fact than they do when people try to make them pets.
So, I pulled out my folding ladder and climbed over into our neighbor’s property with the cage. I walked a bit into their property, and behind some brush and released the rabbit back into the wild.
We’ve not seen any rabbits since then. I don’t know whether he survived, if he found his nest or his momma. But in Wife’s imagination, he made it back home safely and is still out there in the brush romping around with his brothers, sisters, momma, and daddy.
Of course, Wife isn’t really all that naïve. She pointed out to me that her google search revealed that rabbits are food for everything else. “Why do they have to make them so cute?” she asks.
Maybe rabbits could look a little more like possums?