Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bunnies in the Backyard

Last summer while dumping vegetable scraps into the compost, a baby rabbit hopped out from under the cedar hedge. The teacup-sized ball of fur stopped and rested by my foot, taking time to sniff my sandals and toes (a very odd though cool sensation). I waited until he moved on before I left, worried that if I stayed, the mother wouldn't come out to protect her baby. Protect the baby from what, you ask? The storm that was brewing.

The skies had darkened, and the wind whipped the blossoms into a swirl of colour. Back in the house, I watched as rain, the size of dimes, pelted down. When the skies cleared, I searched under plants and bushes to make sure the bunny hadn't been hurt in the storm. I couldn't find him, but I thought about that little guy for weeks.

For the past few winters, a rabbit has been visiting my yard (I know it's only one rabbit--I've seen him at dawn and dusk, but with all the poop he leaves, it could very well be 100 rabbits). Last year, he munched on my euonymus. This year, he's dined on the Japanese Maple I planted in the summer. Hoping to draw his attention from my garden, I've decided to feed the rabbit some of the vegetable scraps that I can no longer put into my compost because it's frozen shut. I also add other goodies like cooked rice, bread (cut into bite-sized pieces), and shelled sunflower seeds. I figure if he doesn't eat the stuff, the birds will.

Of course, the downside to feeding the rabbit is that when he doesn't eat what I've left, I'll know that something has happened to him--perhaps a fox or a car or the cold. On Christmas day, I put out some carrots, and they're still there. I'm hoping one of my neighbours, just as nutty as I am, is also feeding him, so the rabbit has no need to dine in my backyard.

The heavy snowfalls and bitter cold (it's -20c/-4F today) must make it difficult for all animals who haven't bedded down for the winter, so I'll put more food out today. I'm sure something will eat it.

16 comments:

devonellington said...

Have you thought about having your yard certified as a habitat by the National Wildlife Federation? It sounds like you meet all the criteria.

Let's hope your bunny is safe and warm!

NuclearToast said...

I'm sure your bunny is just holed up in a Starbucks with a nice holiday peppermint latte.

Or Tim Horton's.

Lynn Sinclair said...

What a great program, Devon. I looked at their website, but it appears to be open only to those living in the States. I've sent them an email asking about a Canadian equivalent.

For anyone else interested in learning more about NWF's Certified Wildlife Habitat program, check this out.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Ha! You could be right, NT. Despite the popularity of Tim's, my bunny is probably at Starbucks--it's closer and has all those veggie sandwiches. Perhaps I'll just leave my Starbucks card in the yard from now on.

D. Elizabeth said...

Awww...what a cute little bun. I hope he's snugly ensconced somewhere safe. Nice of you to be kind to the lil guy. =)

Lynn Sinclair said...

I fear my bunny may be no more, D. Elizabeth. The most recent tasty scraps remain uneaten, and my yard is bunny poop and track free. But I see that if I need my bunny fix, I need only go to your Hop Scotch blog!

Georgie said...

Unfortunately, you have to also remember that larger neighborhood dogs have an extremely low tolerance level for rabbits and squirrels -- making survival for these little ones even more difficult.

Nevertheless, call me a "nutjob" too, because while they're alive and well, the squirrels in my area know that I've always got a plastic baggie of pecans and peanuts stashed away in my pocket for them. And, I've also carried out a few celery stalks, lettuce leaves, and carrot slices for the rabbits I've seen every now and then.

Lynn, it's the least we can do for them -- while they're here.

Lynn Sinclair said...

It's true that squirrels learn quickly just where they can get a good snack. Yes, it is the least we can do, Georgie, considering that when our houses were built, we uprooted a bunch of animals from their homes. Wildlife doesn't have a chance with humans around.

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

I thought I was the only other gardener nutty enough to worry about and feed rabbits! LOL!

Yep, my compost bin is frozen shut too. Gotta love winter...

And thanks for the info on the wildlife habitat. We qualify.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Congratulations, Karen, for qualifying! I think it's a great way to remind folks just how important it is to provide a natural habitat for wildlife.

My compost lid has finally been de-iced as temperatures rise. And the food I put out is gone--it might have been a raccoon, but I'll keep a lookout for any telltale bunny signs.

Heidi the Hick said...

They are so much tougher than we give them credit for, though.

Out at the farm they've had hoards of rabbits! We've actually seen them hopping around, which is rare. They usually hightail it- literally- as soon as they see/hear/ sense us coming.

I would like to have a pocket of wildlife habitat on my future farm someday. I could only hope that if I give them their own space they'll leave my garden alone...I can hope!

Anyways, your rabbit is probably sneakily snacking again. I don't think the skunks and raccoons are out yet. Just look for the little "chocolates" on the ground as a telltale sign of bunnies!

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

I thought furry little critters like rabbits hibernated during the winter. Maybe Little Bunny FooFoo has gone into a burrow and will return when the weather is more to his liking.

As for me, I feed everything. Several years ago we planted cantaloupes and were so pleased when they grew into lovely globes. Just as they began to ripen I saw toothprints in a couple of them. I surveilled the garden and discovered to my surprise a bunny enjoying the sweetness of my cantaloupes. Oh well. The birds get more of our figs than we do, too.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Heidi, you could be right--I spied my bunny dashing into my yard the other morning.

Lynn Sinclair said...

I didn't know bunnies enjoyed melons, Carolyn. Good to know I can slip in a few morsels of those for him too. If they eat twigs, then melons would be a wonderful treat.

Anonymous said...

A baby rabbit just died this morning in my backyard. My husband and I were so sad as we've been watching this little rabbit for months. I really hope that we could do something to protect it from being hurt by other bigger animals.

Lynn Sinclair said...

How upsetting! It may be part of the circle of life, but it still sucks that the little guy died.