Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rabbits 16, PM 0

It’s spring. After a long, cold winter I’ve been eager to get outdoors and dig in the dirt. I have lots of perennials so that I don’t have to replant every bed every year. But the landscape designer left me a few areas for “annual color.” So each spring I trek to Lowe’s, buy whatever strikes my fancy and play in the dirt for an afternoon.

A few weeks ago I decided the danger of frost was over and made the trek. I purchased nine small pots of purple fan flowers and a sweet basil plant. Six fan flowers went at the end of the driveway and three went in the backyard. I planted the basil where I used to plant tomatoes since I’ve given up the idea of raising tomatoes after two miserably failed attempts. My subdivision used to be a cotton field and despite tilling in peat moss, my tomatoes bore little fruit and what it did bear was tasteless.

The next morning I went out to check on my plants and discovered the fan flowers in the back and the basil plant had been eaten off level with the ground.

Wabbits! Wascally wabbits!

I’ve not had a rabbit problem before because I had a cat. But we had to get rid of our last cat around Thanksgiving and I’ve vowed not to get another one. I have no patience for kitten antics, and I’m afraid if I adopt an adult cat and move it to our house, I’ll end up with the same move-induced behavior problems I had with our old cat.

So what’s a gardener to do?

I hit the internet and researched the issue. I purchased a bottle of eco-friendly animal repellent and sprinkled it around the twelve new verbenas I planted to replace the fan flowers (they were cheaper) and the new basil plant, which has a cut-down milk jug around it for protection. The next morning, the verbenas showed signs of nibbling. I researched some more and purchased a large plastic owl, which I placed right in the middle of the verbenas. The owl is a natural predator and a plastic one is supposed to scare away rodents. The next morning the verbenas were chewed even more. Apparently I have very brave rabbits.

That afternoon I returned the eco-friendly repellent and plastic owl to the store and demanded a refund. I researched some more and pulled out my cauldron to concoct a homemade repellent of onions, garlic and cayenne pepper. I sprayed the verbenas heavily and waited.

Next morning, the verbena plants were level with the ground. The rabbits are not only brave, but they like their food heavily seasoned.

I escalated the conflict and visited the feed store Monday morning to purchase two rabbit traps. I figure we’ll trap them and relocate them waaaay out in the country. I know we have at least three rabbits because I’ve seen a baby. That means we must have a mama and a daddy too.

I baited the traps on Monday with carrots, broccoli and banana, and I set them in areas where I’ve seen the rabbit hanging out. Yesterday morning one trap’s bait had been nibbled upon, but the trap hadn’t sprung. The DH told me he'd seen the rascals frolicking around the trap, "doing what rabbits do." What gall!

Not only did they not spring the trap, they're copulating in public and conspiring to increase their numbers. I added apple slices to each trap and as I write this I’m still waiting for the wascally critters to get hungry for those juicy Granny Smiths and wander into the traps. Late yesterday afternoon I watched one hop close to one of the traps, nibble at the birdseed I'd sprinkled near the entrance, then turn and stare at me as I played voyeur with my binoculars. I sure hope my neighbors didn't think I was watching her give him a haircut on their back porch.

On the up side, one of my birdhouses has five house swallow eggs in it. The other birdhouse has already been home to a brood of baby bluebirds. The killdeer are back and I discovered a nest with four eggs Monday afternoon. My birdfeeders are a social gathering spot for the neighborhood birds. The redheaded woodpecker that nests in the trees at the end of the street visits my feeders daily. The hanging birdbath outside my kitchen window is a favorite with the house finches.

I’m encouraging animal repopulation on the one hand, and contemplating a gun purchase on the other. If the traps don’t work, I don’t know what I’ll do because rabbits breed like well… rabbits. And we could be overrun by cottontails if something isn’t done.

So to date I’ve lost sixteen plants – three fan flowers, twelve verbenas and a sweet basil.

Any suggestions? Trapping tips? Want a bunny?


Barbara Vey said...

Yet another reason why I don't garden.

Instigator said...

You trap em and we'll take em :-) What's a few more bunnies running around our property? We already have babies that should be coming out soon - 12 of them I think.

Unfortunately, I don't have any advice on how to get them in the trap though.


Rhonda Nelson said...

PM, I know that you are heartily annoyed with the rabbits, but this is just too funny! Thanks for the snicker this morning. :-)

Problem Child said...

Any one else singing "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit"

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Marilyn, I'm sorry, but the image of you behind the curtain with binocs watching rabbits frolic is just too hysterical. Thanks for the morning giggle. :)

PC, yes, ROFL! Course, I'm also seeing Bill Murray when he was trying to get the gopher in Caddyshack -- LOL!

Angel said...

Rabbits aren't a problem I've had before, even when our old house was right next to a cow pasture. I guess because we've always had cats. We would see rabbits come up at the far end of the yard, but they never came close enough to eat my flowers.

My big problem right now is ants. One colony relocated---into my flower bed. Argh!


Playground Monitor said...

Angel, one of my neighbors said grits will kill ants (regular, not instant). I haven't tried it. I use a commercial ant killer instead, but if I had small kids running around the yard, I'd try the grits. Nothing's worse than a fire ant bite.

We had ants in the house the summer after we moved in. I woke one morning to find them marching in two directions across my kitchen. I sprayed with Raid and cleaned them up. Next morning they were back and I called a pest control company. Now they come out and spray quarterly for insects and mice. Hmmm. Wonder if they have a rabbit repellent. Note to self: Call pest people.

No rabbits this morning, though one trap was tripped. The DH told me to push them up into the bushes so they'd blend in. Okay -- did that.

I saw a bluebird flying into the other bluebird house which means we must have another brood of bluebirds on the way. They're so pretty.

Sherry W. said...

Oh PM, you have my deepest sympathy - but it is very funny. No rabbits in my flower garden but only because my neighbors on both sides have cats. But... I do have a problem with ants and snails. Someone told me to sprinkle Tide laundry detergent on the ant beds. I did. Now I only have more ants that are very clean. Another friend told me to put beer in small bowls around my hosta plants to kill the snails. It seems I have more snails (drunk ones at that) and my flower bed has become the local hot spot for a good time.

Anonymous said...

You are funny this morning.... So sorry about your critters and I have no idea how to get rid of them.

terrio said...

Since I don't have a yard (3rd floor apartment), this kind of thing isn't an issue. To be honest, if I had a yard it wouldn't be either since I'm not a gardener. But it seems to me you should put the plants in the trap. That's what they seem to be willing to get at any price, even strong seasoning.

And I'm thinking the headaches from a cat might be worth it to get rid of these multiplying and expensive headaches.

Bet the birds are beautiful though. The singing must be relaxing. Maybe?

Smarty Pants said...

I'm sorry, PM. That would make me crazy as hard as I try to make things grow. I'm sure Birdzilla knows how to catch the little beasts.

I find it amusing they mocked you by making sweet bunny love inside the trap without getting caught.

And yes...Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!

Jen said...

Hold on while I finish laughing. Yes, PM, I too have the mental image of you waiting at the window with binocs in hand. ;)

Maven LJ said...

We don't have a rabbit problem here, probably because we have more than one family of foxes that like to make an appearance now and then. We've grown tomatoes for several years, and this year we're expanding. Blueberries, butternut squash, and peppers. I have a feeling these will be the most expensive veggies ever. :-)

My hubby said one of the funniest things he ever saw was a bird perched on the head of a plastic owl that was supposed to keep the birds away.


Anonymous said...

Dear Frustrated Gardener,

Try putting moth balls around your flowers and herbs. It kept dogs out of my ornamental grass beds. Maybe it will work for wabbits. If it doesn't keep them away it should keep moths out of their fur. You see, you still need...

Your Mother

limecello said...

Sooooo cute :X. I can't help it but I love bunnies. Love. We never had an experience where there were too many. Although critters of all sorts come in and nibble strawberry plants and for some reason, the Japanese maple - poor tiny thing. My parents sometimes use netting for the tiny plants. Or.. just stop planting what the critters really go for. There are other things but I can't remember. - And good for you for trapping one!