In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Cute Baby Bunnies (Or Keep Your Enemies Closer)

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: May 3, 2014 - 9:14 AM

My gardening friends think I've lost my mind. It wouldn't be the first time.

It started the other day when I was inspecting a possibly dead lavender plant. As I poked around pulling fallen oak leaves from underneath the dry, silvery fronds my trowel made contact with something spongy feeling. Oops. A bunny nest.

I quickly put the leaves back over the cavity in the ground, just then noticing the downy fur placed around the edges. I quickly counted five, tiny but plump, pink-gray shapes nestled together shivering in the cold. Their eyes weren't even open yet.

The bunnies at the center of debate

Of course, you know me. I mean if you read this blog, you know I'm curious when it comes to critters. I pulled out my phone and took the first in a series of the darnedest cutest baby pics. As I posted them to Facebook my gardening co-horts snickered and harrumphed about how those evil little sods wouldn't last the night in their gardens and it wouldn't be a coyote that took care of them. 

The stuff of gardening nightmares?

As it happens this isn't my first rodeo, I mean rabbit nest. In previous gardens, even enclosed, supposedly rabbit-proof ones, I've hosted rabbit families. Maybe it's just the mom in me, but I always feel honored when animals find my garden a safe place to raise their young.

(I do make exceptions for snakes, that's well-known, when it comes to them you might say I'm shovel-ready. And pro-snake people save your breath, it's not gonna change).

Before when I've found the nests I worked around them. It's always funny when Mama Rabbit builds it smack dab in the lettuce patch, kind of cliche almost. I loved the one where the mother had used Swiss chard leaves like a canopy.

Any potential damage was forgotten after I got the chance to show the two year-old neighbor girl all the baby bunnies on Easter Day, with her talking about Mr McGregor. That's a future gardener there.

When baby rabbits are ready to leave the nest, and a friend tells me that is when the small white spot on their head disappears, they too simply disappear. And sure enough they did.

However the next day I looked down in the window well and saw a small, trembling shape huddled in the corner. My fears that they would find this deep abyss were founded. 

I didn't want to open the window from inside and chance a rabbit in the house with our dog. So I got my hoe and leaned over a neighbor's fence, hooked and borrowed their pool scoop. I rescued the little guy and relocated him to the backyard, telling him that was it, he was on his own, that the next time we met might not be on friendly terms.

I've seen rabbit damage around the garden, but none of it is too bad. I continue to spray repellent and put up netting on young seedlings. It's a hassle but I believe in planting something akin to the angels' share. There's enough to go around.

-------Meanwhile a mother duck has started laying eggs in our window box, six feet off the ground. Stay tuned.

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