Finding a rabbit in the lavender isn’t really a surprise. I suspected he was living there all winter, but couldn’t catch him outright. At least I hope it’s a “him.” I seriously do not want baby bunnies in my backyard eating everything this spring.
I cannot deal with animals eating my garden, and I cannot deal with harming soft furry things. I do not want to make any Us versus Them decisions; I just want a backyard fence without holes that will keep out hungry bunnies. The front is already planted with bunny-proof plants. Why is it so difficult to do no harm?
One answer to that question is simply, you cannot live without harming and killing. It is a condition of life. Nutrition can only be derived from things that were once alive. Vegans and vegetarians are not exempt; they just have their own rules. I do think most people feel very different about taking the life of a plant than they do about a fish or bird, and different still about a mammal. Where you draw the line about which things you are or are not allowed to kill and eat is intensely personal.
Gardening involves constant choices. Gardeners routinely kill one thing to grow another, even if the victim is only a weed. And what if we find out a weed is not a weed? What if we find out the violets we want to weed out of the garden are a host plant to endangered fritillary butterflies?
Before I ever dreamed I would live in Michigan, I remember seeing the documentary “Roger and Me” and being especially horrified by the rabbit slaughter scene. I feel different about it now because I don’t pretend food comes from a grocery store, despite being brought up that way. Gardening has paralleled and informed changes in my relationship with food. My reaction to the scene now contains admiration for a woman who knows how to live off the land. I can tell you as a Michigan resident, if society breaks down, we’re not going to starve. This place is teaming with rabbits.
Don’t worry, gentle reader, I’m not going to eat the bunny! I don’t even harm the bugs, for goodness sake – except the Japanese beetles, as they have no natural predators on this continent. The worst thing I’ll do is chase the rabbit out of the yard, and try to plug the holes in the fence. I couldn’t hurt him; look how cute he is!
I won’t harm the bunny. In truth, I’m wondering if he could stay.
Last year I lost my second lettuce crop to a bunny, so I know I’d need to protect the lettuces if he stays. However, once the lettuces were decimated last year, I started observing his habits rather than chasing him out of the yard. Observation is one of a gardener’s most powerful pest control tools. I saw the rabbit eating some chard, but there was always more than enough to harvest for us humans. I saw him hanging out in the Pink Garden near the yarrow and the coneflowers, even the roses, but those all bloomed like crazy and I couldn’t see any damage. Most of the time, the bunny seemed to nibble on the lawn, where clover grows in the grass.
Do you see where this is leading? Oh, this is really exciting! Since I am already planning to plant more clover in the lawn to eliminate grass, the munching bunnies could eliminate mowing!
I know it’s a pipe dream. (I can’t stop myself from saying it’s a hare-brained idea. I sincerely apologize.) I know my image of my happy little meadow with bunnies and butterflies is a bit childish. I know this because I designed it this way. I made it frivolous and joyful on purpose. So allow me this fantasy until spring bulbs come up, when the rabbits will devour every blossom of the white, purple, yellow and amazing blue crocuses that I love so dearly. Then I’ll go running across the yard waving my arms and chasing the buggers away. Or not…
Look at him. He knows I’m watching. He’s looking right at me. The bunny let me get really close to him and snap these pictures. He knows I’m not a threat. He knows I’m a sucker for his cuteness. He knows he’s owned me.
Help! I need a new sturdy fence, immediately, before I become an accidental rabbit farmer.