Monday, March 31, 2008

Evil Bunnies and Other Vile Creatures Destroying Your Garden

A friend of my friend Lorne wrote an email describing his woes in the garden. Lorne, who wrote here last week, gardens and keeps chickens. He views himself as a renaissance man in the vein of Thomas Jefferson. He's a dabbler. Lawyer, writer, gardener, hen-house owner, etc. His daily difficulties give me great mirth as I picture him sloshing through the mud and snow (it's Michigan post-winter, pre-spring) defending the worthless birds from the neighbor's dog and most of the times, themselves. Lorne's friend, lawyer Michael Edmunds share's his own difficulties with mother nature. I hope you laugh as much as I did.


More importantly, I hate rabbits. I don't believe god actually created them. I'm convinced they are Satan's evil minions, born of the dark, and designed to make life so miserable that we give up our souls in exchange for relief from their torment.

They have destroyed both my apple trees, reaching further than I had imagined possible. They stripped every limb up to about 4 feet above the ground. At first I thought I had Barry Bonds' pet rabbit in my yard, and I became afraid that if I tried to keep him out, he would fly into a roid rage and attack me. But Ben told me they can reach a lot higher in the winter bec of the snow. I have to do something, but not sure what.

I am becoming resigned to an ugly fence. I don't have the time or money for a nice one, and I'm not convinced there is such a thing anyway. On the other hand, I can't go another year without fencing or I will lose my 4 year old investment in time and money in grapes, blueberries, and apples. The little bastards have even been chewing on the lattice I put up last year, which was all nice and freshly stained, but now has big bite marks all over it. That was just mean. They didn't even eat it--just chewed it up.

Everyone knows that squirrels are right behind rabbits on the hierarchy of demonic beings. Like socks, they can apparently reproduce a-sexually. Furthermore, unless you cut off their heads, they can't be killed . Sometimes I hear this haunting voice at night, which says "there can be only one!"

I have shot them so many times with my pellet gun (which has a muzzle velocity greater than most .22s) that I would have expected them to be dead from lead poisoning by now, not to mention the gaping round hole through their furry little hides. Yet after falling many feet from the top of pine trees, telephone pole, and power lines, they inevitably jump up, scamper away. Then they reappear a couple of days later, even stronger than before, with no apparent effect except for the foresight to run away long before I can get within pellet gun range.

They raid my bird feeder daily, to the detriment of "wanted" guests like cardinals. I left a baited trap, which they tripped, but it can't hold them. Like Houdini, the cage can't hold them for longer than a few minutes. They make a horrible racket, tear up the ground under the cage, attack the cage with fierce determination and brute strength, and get away every time. Unlike Houdini, they also piss all over the place every time they get caught. Instead of a trapped squirrel, I end up with a bare spot of dirt or mud where the grass used to be, a bent cage, a stench of urine that seems to linger for days, but no squirrel.

I enclosed the feeder in metal, but they reinforced their teeth with addamantium, and promptly chewed through the metal. I moved the feeder from the tree, where they would hang upside down from pine needles, like Bulgarian acrobats. I bought a metal pole and anchored it in the ground, with the bird feeder on top. Defying gravity and other principles of physics including surface tension and friction, they climb straight up, not even slipping, where they sit and feast on my bird seed in plain sight of the kitchen table, to the delight of all but me. I greased the pole with Vaseline, enduring the shocked looks of the clerks at Walmart, who had never met someone who needed such a large vat of Vaseline for any purpose not associated with self gratification. They then proved that the evolutionary link between their winged, South American cousins, leaping from my deck to the top of the feeder without touching the pole. I didn't even get the satisfaction of watching one try to climb the newly slathered pole.

I have decided to escalate the conflict, at the risk of achieving a Pyrrhic victory. For example, If I place a rat trap in the bird feeder, do I merely endanger the birds, or will the squirrels chew through my hose (again) and try to flood my basement? I might run leads from my circuit breaker to the metal pole that supports the feeder, and spread peanut butter on the feeder, but how many of my children will remain to help me celebrate when the first squirrel finally begins sending smoke signals to the others about the dangers of screwing with me? I considered lacing the bird feed with ball bearings, and buying a huge electromagnet from ACME, but it never seemed to work for Wile E. Coyote, so I became discouraged.

I only have one idea left, so I have to make it count: guerilla warfare. I plan to dig a deep hole all around the pole from which the bird feeder is hanging, and bury punjii sticks which have been dipped in feces. Then I will cover the hole with small sticks and spread mulch over the sticks to disguise the hole. If necessary, I will also spread walnuts all over the mulch. I'm sure it can't fail.

Good luck. call when spring stops playing jokes on us and is actually here, so we can commiserate about our yards.


Bob said...

I actually tried a variation of the punjii stick solution. My feeder hung from a high branch with the aid of a length of wire. I placed an empty two liter bottle halfway down the wire to make that route impassible, but the furry-tailed little rats took to swan diving from the branch to the bird feeder roof. I then cut some cardboard to fit the roof, and placed nice, sharp toothpicks all over the cardboard and attached it to the roof. It worked.
For a few weeks. Eventually the critters learned to land between the toothpicks of death.
I've also tried mixing cayenne pepper with the bird seed. The birds don't mind, but Satan's furry minions are not at all pleased.

Anonymous said...

Funny! We don't have rabbits, but I was ever so pleased when I saw that there are a couple of grey squirrels and chipmunks in our new backyard. I purposely put food out for them. We'll see how I like them at the end of summer. - HKH

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