You'll never believe what I found in my garden this morning. Anya and I were out at the community plot to see what's there to harvest (the first of our tiny tomatoes, and a handful more snowpeas!). Before leaving, we filled up some milk jugs and a watering can to water the vegetables. As I was sprinkling a rather sad little row of beets, I noticed that some of the straw mulch I'd spread around the middle of the plot was moving. Hmm, I thought, some little rodent is running through, and I sprinkled some water over the moving straw to chase out whatever was in there. Nothing ran out, but the straw kept heaving gently in that one spot. I poked a bit of the straw aside and saw a little pile of fur. I pushed away more of the straw and found an entire nest of baby bunnies. There were at least half a dozen of them, each about the size of my fist, curled up in a tight little bunch.
I had to step back, collect myself, and think for a minute. Something about wiggly little animals quite literally right underfoot is repulsive to me. (Thank goodness I didn't accidentally step on the nest. Ew.) But you know, baby bunnies, as prolific and damaging as they can be to a vegetable garden, are pretty darn cute, and I couldn't bring myself to kill them, especially not with Anya there. These baby bunnies were just quavering there in their nest (mama bunny was out and about), too young to know to run away. So I went and fetched a bucket and shovel from the garden shed, figuring I would carefully scoop them up and let them loose in the pine trees next to the garden plot.
This worked, sort of. Two of the little bunnies ran off before I could scoop them up. I tipped the bucket over with the remaining bunnies near the pines, and as I approached the plot I could hear frantic squeaking and squawking. One of the baby bunnies had tried running through the chicken wire fence and its head was stuck. This is when I started to freak out a bit. I knew if I left the bunny there it would strangle in the chicken wire and then I'd have a more gruesome situation on my hands. Not to mention a new attraction for hungry crows. "What do I do??" I asked the woman who gardens next to us and was there watering her tomatoes. She replied, "You just have to pull it out of the fence, I guess." And so I did, silently ruing the fact that I'd forgotten to bring my garden gloves along for this garden trip.
Taking care of that bunny was easy enough. It ran off into the trees as soon as I pulled it out of the fence. But the other bunny had gotten caught the same way right in the middle of the garden plot, in the chicken wire that separates our half from the half belonging to the woman who was witnessing this whole situation. The bunny was frantically struggling and squawking, so like with the other one, I pulled it out with my bare hands, only this time, I wasn't so near the edge of the garden, and I didn't want to hold it any longer than I had to. In a split second, I had to decide what to do, and in my panic, I tossed him. I lobbed this poor little bunny about 20 feet right out of my garden and out into the grass. My garden neighbor gasped and I did, too. What kind of a person am I, throwing baby bunnies around?
Around this time, mama bunny showed up, probably having heard the distress calls from the bunnies who had needed assistance in the chicken wire. "Your babies are over THERE," I called to her, pointing towards the pine trees where I'd released/tossed her young.
The whole experience was a little unnerving, let me tell you. Anya watched with interest, but didn't seem upset by any of it. We certainly had a story to tell everyone when we got home! I am no animal rights activist, especially when it comes to an overpopulation of rabbits that can decimate an entire crop of beans in a single evening, but I do wonder what became of those baby bunnies. Did their mama find them and build them a new nest? Are they back in my garden? Did the crows get them? I know this, at least: I'll be checking under the straw a little more often from now on.