rabbits squeal and a confession

Warning: Bunny lovers may not want to read this post.

I went out to the garden today and found a baby rabbit inside my fence, and not for the first time.  It ran out as soon as I came, and I went about inspecting the damage.  Last time, I put a giant cinder block over the opening it had gnawed (yet another lesson learned: no plastic fencing in the future).  This time, it had made an opening right where I usually step over to enter, so I patched it up with a couple of rocks, a brick, and some sturdy twigs, and went about inspecting the rest of the fence for gnaw-marks.  I matted down the weeds on the outside to make it harder to access and then decided to do some weeding.

I was pinching some new growth on my tomato plants when I heard rustling.  I rustled the plants back, and Lo!  Another rabbit!  And these suckers aren't the full-fledged ones, no.  They are the adorable tennis-ball sized fur flumps with bright shiny eyes.  I chased it a bit, thinking to myself that this would be the best way to figure out if there were any holes I missed.  But, no, it was stuck.  That left me in the odd situation of needing to remove a rabbit from my garden.

Back home, a fellow told a tale that the story of the tortoise and the hare was true--that is, rabbits got tired pretty easily.  He said that if you chase them for a bit, they'll get so tired that you can just pick them up by the ears.  Armed with that in mind and leather gardening gloves, I decided to just chase the poor beast until I could pick it up.  Let me tell you now: rabbits never get so tired that they will let you pick them up by the ears.

I probably spent fifteen minutes chasing that poor beast and it was pretty clever.  It would hide in the bushiest parts of the marigolds or behind my tall, delicate tomato plants.  I didn't want to tromple (yes, tromple.  Trample is something a horse would do.  Elephants tromple.) my garden, so I had to be slow and careful, and the little beasty was fast.  I may have been mumbling things about being a regular ol' Mr. McGregor the entire time.

Eventually, it got stuck trying to press its way through the part where the fences overlap (and me thinking, Nah-uh sweetie, I thought of that when I built this sucker; it would be a bunny pancake before it got through.).  So yes, it got caught, and in order to get it out, I kept my right hand hovering behind its backside and used my left hand to scare it out.  I got to press its cute little nose, even.  Anyway, I caught it by the back legs and started to lift it out when it gave a piercing, frighteningly pitiful squeal, at which point I plumb dropped it, being startled out of my whits.  (I'm almost overly gentle in handling animals, so I'm pretty sure it hadn't been hurt.)  And so the chase began again.

After a bit more time and with drops of sweat literally falling from my forehead to the soil, I caught it again, this time with a less desirable hold.  (How are you ever gunna get a hold as good as by the back two legs?)  I caught a single rear leg and capped it with the spare hand, like you do when playing baseball, except I didn't exactly want to pull it in close to my body.  I started to stand with this precarious hold, thinking about how easy it would be to kill the poor creature then and there with a snap of the neck.  Heck, I had just flouted the hare-skinning section of the Joy of Cooking to N last night; bunny stew, anyone?  But it wouldn't have provided much meat and it could be laden with disease, though I'd put money on the fact that most of its diet came from this here organic community garden.

These thoughts were starting to form when out came two more piercing squeals and a couple of solid kicks.  Out flew the rabbit from my hand, making a giant rainbow arch, up, out of my garden, and neighbor's garden.

And this is where my confession stands: I left it there.  I looked over the garden, and there wasn't much the beastie would have been interested in.  They had high tomatillo, tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants--I was mostly worried about the eggplant, but I think it will be pretty uninterested the selection (it was feasting on the carrot and beet greens in my garden).  On top of that, their fence is relatively low and isn't buried in the ground (some places have a half inch or so between fence and dirt), which is to say the beasty can get out if it really wants to.

I felt kinda bad, but honestly, their tomato plants were so big that we'd be playing ring-around-the-rosie all afternoon and 1) I didn't want to do that and 2) I didn't want to tromple their garden too; the rabbit would likely do less damage than I would.  Yes, I know that there are justifications galore, but so it goes.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my afternoon with a squealing rabbit.  Next year I'll get a proper chickenwire fence.

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