Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wabbit-Proof Fence

They bring out my inner Elmer Fudd. Fudd was dumpy, pompous, middle aged, and hellbent on banging what must have been an already frayed ego against Bugs Bunny’s insouciance. He couldn’t get a break. But in the Wagnerian spoof What’s Opera, Doc? Fudd manages to “kill the wabbit,” then carries Bugs’ broken body off in a cloud of grief and remorse. Even then, Bugs gets the last word, rising from Elmer’s embrace, shrugging to the camera and saying, “What’d ya expect? It’s opera.”

Kumo, the kitty, and I like to chase them. Wabbits. We try to trap them with a pincer maneuver. “You go that way. It’ll watch me circle this way, and you can get it.” The rabbits have bumped into both of us as they fled the other.

But maybe I’m more like Farmer MacGregor in Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. (Potter was the first Brit to realize that lichens are colonies of symbiotic algae and fungus.) I have a stake, after all, and the rabbits nibble the things I plant. If they wind up in a pie, they’re only making restitution. They (it?) go mostly for the prairie clover, but they’ve also done a number on a plum I’ve been trying to nurse back to health after the mice girdled it last winter (my fault...the mice will starve this winter).Link

And speaking of winter. Speculation is that we're seeing more rabbits than usual because milder winters have given the local population an extra breeding cycle every year. Maybe I can send my bill for rabbit damage to ExxonMobil.

Prairie clover (Petalostemum or Dalea purpureum) is a native perennial, and a nitrogen fixer. It’s cousin to clover. It’s one of the mix of herbaceous plants I’m trying to establish in my sideyard ecology. Rabbits seem to like it. A lot. It’s starts out small, and seems to take two years to get blooms. What’s on the menu this year was in pots last year, and it’s still tiny.

The bunnies chew it back to stems. Maybe this is something the clover has adapted to over the milennia, and needs it, the way prairie needs fire. Maybe the plants will be fuller for their pruning. I don’t know. They’re mine, they cost two or three bucks apiece, they take a long time to grow, and I don’t want the consarn idjit varmints running experiments in my lab.

So I’ve wired together little cylinders of hardware cloth, and stapled them into the ground. One for every clover. Mwahaha!

Now for the squirrels.

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