If you scrolled back into the depths of my blog you'd find a few rabbit stories. They show a complicated past with these crepuscular creatures. Most of the time I've given them the benefit of the doubt, even suggesting they were framed for garden offenses that crafty squirrels might have committed instead.
Better yet, I've prided myself on the baby rabbit nests nestled among my gardens, honored they'd choose my flower beds to shelter their fuzzy, trembling babies. In these generous times I've extolled the virtues of planting an "angel's share,", bragging that there's plenty for all, nothing that a few rabbits would be able to ruin.
Baby rabbits quivering in their nest during more generous times.
But in another post I might have mentioned guns. Like the time those bucktoothed furballs clipped close to the ground all the vines I had trained to grow on expensive obelisks for a garden tour. I got over it though. I went on to allow them refuge and nursery space in my gardens again. They might have chewed on the chokeberry bushes but they'd never touched my kitchen garden where gourmet greens grew unaccosted and lush.
Until this year.
My cool season veggies were ticking right along -- until one day when they seemed to disappear. Gnawed down to the nub and no more were my peas, spinach, beets, kale and carrots. Neighbors reported the same problems. Suddenly it seems the block is overrun with ravenous rabbits, mowing down plants they'd never touched before. Where are those problematic coyotes when you need them?
Before, for good measure, I had always sprayed a repellent we like to refer to as "panther piss," but this had no effect. Pepper flakes, cheap wire fencing, and all the folk remedies yet nothing fazed them. I replanted. And they took that all down faster than the first time. I'd find them sitting smack dab in the spinach munching without a care in the world. Tears ensued.
The stuff of gardening nightmares.
Give people a problem and they'll each find their own unique solution, depending upon their worldview and particular talents. Me, I searched the internet for pretty fencing, some kind of beautiful barrier to protect my plants while not detracting from my designer-style raised beds. Meanwhile, my husband, an engineer with a farming background, told me to get in the car -- we're going to the "tractor store." He understands a woman has only so many harvests allotted in her lifetime. Knowing full well any fix only would add to the cost of my homegrown produce -- making it far more expensive than any grocery store -- he still went straight for the livestock fencing. The electrical kind.
Back home, a few minutes later he'd rigged a not-too-ugly hot wire around the largest bed. It emits an ominous click to let you know it's live. A small jolt of a few volts to let those rascally rabbits know who's the boss. So far so good. I just have to remember to turn it off when I reach in to harvest a bit of salad.