Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail
Imagine my surprise when I found baby bunnies living under my cabbages! Well, I didn’t actually find them, Bleo (Bob and Wendy’s labradoodle) found them. I was out in the garden pulling weeds. I left the gate open and Bella and Bleo came in to investigate and make sure that my garden was sufficiently critter free. I was furious when Bleo started trying to dig up my cabbages. I scolded him and kicked him out of my garden. About an hour later, he had jumped the fence and successfully dug up the offending cabbage he was after. Now, you have to understand that Bleo is a sedentary 10 year old dog that generally comes over to seek shelter in our house when Bob and Wendy make him play outside. It is not at all in his nature to do anything athletic. So, I was completely shocked to see him in my garden. I ran out there and scolded him and chased him back out of my garden and only then realized that he wasn’t after my cabbages at all. He was trying to rid my garden of the invaders living there uninvited. I think I managed to save him from terrible indigestion and save the bunnies from an ugly end. I’m not completely positive. There was no visible carnage. But, I did find this where my cabbage used to be …
Three newborn baby bunnies. Oh, crap. What am I supposed to do now? I sent the picture to a bunch of people and asked for advice and did some research. The local farmers all say that they’re pests and I should “get rid of them” before they eat my garden (and propagate in their fields). The internet is full of a bunch of tree-hugging do-gooders who want to celebrate the miracle of life and say “whatever you do, don’t touch them or try to relocate them, and just enjoy the sweet babies in your care.” I texted the kids and asked them if I should build a rabbit hutch so that Harrison can have pet bunnies. Hannah didn’t waste a moment before jumping in and saying, “Hell no. Don’t touch them. Don’t name them. You touch them, they’re yours. You name them, it’s over.” I said, “Well, technically, I think Bleo touched them. So, I’ll call Wendy and have her come down and pick up her new bunnies.” Haha.
Erika is my best friend, a master gardener, and the most humanely pragmatic person I know. She always knows the right answer. So, I called her and said, “I just found baby bunnies under my cabbages.” She said, “Of course you did… congratulations?” I said, “What should I do?” She said, “Are you asking for a recipe?” She was kidding. Mostly. Neither of us would eat baby bunnies. Too much work.
My dad actually raised rabbits for food when I was a kid. It really does taste like chicken. My dad is the one who taught me that you should know where your food comes from and that you have no business eating meat if you can’t stomach the realities of how it gets from the farm to your table. I had to care for those bunnies and participate in getting them to our table. But, that was a long time ago. And, frankly, the experience led me to reading books like “Diet for a New America” and “In Defense of Food” and “The China Study” and to being a vegetarian for 3 years and then a vegan and then a raw vegan. I eventually went back to eating sustainably and humanely raised meat for health reasons. I became dangerously anemic and ended up in the hospital needing a massive blood transfusion. I wasn’t a very good vegetarian. I ate mostly pasta and bagels (remember the #fatfree 80s?). I was a much better vegan because #vegetables. I was a very, very good raw vegan. But, it is just not a sustainable way of eating for me. And, seriously, #bacon.
None of this helped me with the conundrum of what to do about my baby bunnies. Erika told me that I should actually just leave them there and let their mommy take care of them and relocate them when they’re big enough. She said that mama bunny must see my garden as a safe place for her babies and that she’s not likely to eat the stuff protecting them and that she will take them off wherever she goes when they get big enough. She also gently pointed out that the only thing I have in that bed with the cabbage is a bunch of lettuce, spinach, and bok choy that I planted too late and that bolted and went to seed when it go too hot. So, why not let the bunnies have it? We can’t eat it. I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical and if it was anyone except Erika telling me to leave them there, I’m not sure I’d trust the recommendation.
I also have to admit my relief. I really didn’t want to do anything but leave them there and watch them grow up. But, seriously, if they start eating my pumpkins or my zucchinis, they will have to be relocated.
So, I spent the last two weeks going out and checking on our baby bunnies every morning and every evening. I got pretty nervous when they started freaking out and hopping around under my cabbages this week. They were so super cute, but not very photogenic (I couldn’t actually catch a good picture of them). I was starting to worry that they were going to become permanent residents in my garden and that they would start doing some serious damage. But, Erika was right. She’s always right. And, I was both relieved and a little sad when I went out to check on my baby bunnies this morning and they were gone. I guess their mama took them off to grow up eating soybeans or something tastier than my bolted lettuce.