Now Farmer Beck knows how Mr. McGregor felt

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 27, 2007

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of stories about Linda Beck’s garden at her house, which was built in 2002.”When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me.”(I Cor. 13:11)
As a child, fiction stories were so real to me, and in the story about Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter, it seemed to my child’s mind that Farmer McGregor was very selfish and greedy since he didn’t want to share his carrots with poor, hungry, little Peter Rabbit.
Now as an adult, I see the story from the farmer’s point of view. I’ve been told that I am a generous person and I’ll be glad to share all my grass and weeds with Peter and his siblings but I only have one aster and ever since it started coming up in the spring, something keeps nibbling it back.
I first suspected the groundhog that had its home at the back edge of my property, so I invited him to move by having someone fill up the big hole that he kept disappearing into. I’ve lived here five years now and I rarely have ever seen more than two rabbits at one time. Well, that was in the daytime. I happened to be out in the yard one evening at 8:30 and rabbits were everywhere. I counted at least eight.
Last fall I bought about six tiny azaleas at the bargain price of $2.50 each, and something is nibbling all the green off of these. I thought azaleas were poisonous but it seems they are nourishing to the rabbits. Nothing has bothered the two large azaleas I have, so I guess I will dig the little ones back up and put them in large pots.
Originally, I thought I was only going to do some handicapped container gardening , and nothing seems to be bothering the plants in the containers or raised beds, so I guess those are the only ones that are safe from greedy little rabbits.
One time I went with my husband and his parents to a rabbit roast. There was no way I could even think about eating Peter Rabbit anymore than I can Bambi. Now I don’t mean to offend hunters; my theory there is “to each his own.”
Is there an open season on rabbit hunting? Does anyone like to trap rabbits? Is there a law against thinning the rabbit population?
I tried to scare them away like Mr. McGregor did but they just froze and looked at me as if to say “What are you doing here?” or “Who do you think you are?” Evidently, the yard is mine during the day and theirs at night.
When our girls were little, we had rabbits for pets. (I remember now who fed those rabbits and who didn’t.) I guess our yard and garden were large enough that we didn’t realize how much we were sharing with the wild rabbits. Of course, my husband was from the old school: If he saw a varmint causing damage to our flowers or garden, he would get out his trusty old rifle and fire away, open season or not.
There’s one other thing I am curious about. I have an invasive plant called evening primrose that I love. It has taken over in several places and I’ve shared it with other people. So why are those cute little rascals with the fluffy white cottontails eating on my one and only aster and not even sampling the primrose? In my adult mind, maybe, Farmer McGregor wasn’t the greedy one after all.
I later discovered the rabbits are not the only thieves feeding on my plants. I happened to glance out the bedroom window early one morning and saw something move. I said to myself, “Was that a deer or a horse in the pasture back there?” I wheeled back through the house and looked out the side door. Bambi’s mother stopped eating and looked directly towards me even though I had not opened the door. A deer’s hearing must be very keen. She started walking back down the row, but by the time I got to the bedroom window she was gone.
I’m sure she will be back, but I have a surprise for her. It’s called Deer Gone and I’m going to find out if it’s worth what I paid for it. It’s supposed to deter rabbits, also. Now I wonder if it will help keep squirrels off my bird feeder.
Opening the front door, screaming like a banshee and slamming the door causes the squirrel to run but he comes back within minutes.
I have a lot of birds but I thought they were eating an awful lot per day and now I know the squirrel has gotten braver. But I have a surprise for him too. I’m going out to grease the pole with Vaseline again. It keeps ants off the poles so we will see if it will stop him. I don’t know though, maybe he is a flying squirrel.
Linda Beck has her house and garden in Woodleaf. Contact her at lindainthecards