Monday, July 8, 2013

Baby Bunnies--The Conflicted Gardener

Finding a nest of baby bunnies turns everyone to mush, but upon reflection the gardener in me says, "Oh, no!!"

My sister and her husband came to visit for several days. After seeing the sights and kicking back they, usually busy people, suddenly needed to do something productive.  My brother-in-law keyed in on the over-grown mass of zebra grass that I had done battle with in May only to extract a tiny piece of it.  So, after dinner one evening he headed out back with a shovel and proceeded to dig out half of the mass for me.  It was only after we had removed one of the two giant clumps and used a pruning saw to chop it into three smaller sections did he head over to remove the second.  It was then he noticed the fluffs of fur, the little ears, the baby bunnies, who nested between the ginormous clumps.  Before he had started the project he asked about the variety of snakes that lived around us, but it never occurred to him to inquire about bunnies.

For the last couple of weeks we had noticed that around dinner time a good sized wild rabbit was hanging about near our back door.  Not usually a problem except for the good sized pointer who comes down the stairs every evening for her walk and bolts across the yard in frenzied pursuit of this bunny  with an unprepared human hanging on to the other end of the leash being jerked down the  three steps and across the lawn, struggling to get a foothold to pull the scent crazed dog back.

We had thought that maybe a neighbor had been feeding the rabbit, because it didn't seem to run whenever we came out the door, it just sat and watched us.  I started calling the rabbit Pierre, it was such a regular.  Well, now we know, I had it all wrong, this was no Pierre, Paige maybe, but not Pierre.  She was just guarding her nest and providing a diversion for the dog.

Standing over the little cuties we all started trying to figure out how to cover them up without hurting them and to encourage their mom to return.  We covered them with some of the straw mulch from an empty bed in the garden (where I had planted cantaloupe seeds only to find that something, probably a rabbit, had chomped the tops off of the two week old seedlings) to simulate the removed grass.

The chickens, sensing freshly turned soil, started scratching away, quickly removing some of our new mulch layer.  I set my daughter to pruning a lilac bush that had not had any care for probably a decade or two, and she laid the leafy branches gently over the nest.  Meanwhile I replanted the zebra grass on the steep hillside on the northwest side of the house to help reduce erosion.

Paige was seen in the yard this morning, not near the nest, but she is still around.  We haven't dared peek in on the little ones in case the worst has happened.  The zebra grass looks like it will take on the hill, I just need to water it a bit today. Now there is a known technique for getting the mass of grass removed and divided, my husband and I will remove the second clump in a few weeks when  the babies are grown and out.

After doing all this I laugh at myself, I'll probably spend the next couple of years trying to find creative ways to keep those little ones, and their babies, out of my garden. Dividing up the grass will create more bunny nesting spaces too!

1 comment:

  1. 6:25 PM I just added pictures to the post, Paige is back next to the remaining clump of grass waiting for the dog to be walked.