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Whoops! Bunnies!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Upon my return from Ithaca, I was wild to get the garden ready for peas, lettuce and greens. It still had all the debris of winter standing blonde and pale, the old tomato vines twined in the cages, green plastic ribbon ties fluttering in the wind. I decided last summer to avoid weeding, so I mulched frequently and deeply with straw, smothering unwanted plants. This attention to mulching paid dividends this spring. I had much less weeding to do before I could rake and burn. But still some. This is Before.After I’d forked up all the clumps of grass (to tell the truth, the straw is full of seeds and begets nice fat clumps of green grass, which are nevertheless preferable to pigweed or lambs quarters), I raked up the trash and set a nice quick fire in the middle of the bed. Within a few minutes, the sticks and stalks were simply gone, reduced to a pile of white ash and a few small licks of flame.

I decided to save last fall’s mulch, since it was nicely rotted and still useful. I raked it into the center and got my sweet little Honda rototiller out of the garage. It started on the fifth pull (ahhhhh!) and I began churning soil. Thanks to the mulching, it was a breeze; the soil was loose and weedless. An old bale of straw still remained, almost rotted through, and I tilled around it, then went to move it. Hmm. Rabbit fur, right along the edge of the bale. This bears investigation. I peeled back the soft gray fur, knowing what I would find, hoping all would be well beneath. Warm, sleek baby bunny flanks, tiny pink paws, folded ears—two baby cottontails squirmed and huffed at me. Trying to startle me, they exhaled sharply and popped up like angry snakes. It worked. I was startled for a moment, then utterly charmed. Oooh, they looked so dangerous. When popping and huffing didn't make me go away, they pretended to be dead, rotten baby bunnies that no one in their right mind would want to eat. That didn't work, either. I took a couple of pictures, then pulled the fur blanket back over the babies and replaced the bale. Oh, it was warm under that fur blanket, though it was a cool day. I propped the gate open with a stick, closing the deer mesh gate, which Mrs. Cottontail, but not Chet Baker, could easily slip under. Baker helped me in the garden all day and never had a clue the bunneh nest was there. That dog don't hunt.After 21 Baker -free posts (I know nobody's counting), I thought I owed you a hit. Back to bunnehs.For good measure, I made a little hut for them, with a straw roof, because it was supposed to rain in the next couple of days.I knew the mother rabbit would be back in the evening, and I knew that she wouldn’t desert her children just because I had found them and built them a hut. Rabbits nurse their kits at night, under cover of darkness, and rarely approach the nest during the day for fear of leading predators to it. They are fearless and determined--the best of mothers. So the kits nurse all night and sleep all day. This rabbit was smart—she made her nest in the garden, which has a four-foot woven wire fence (designed to exclude rabbits), topped by eight feet of nylon deer mesh. I had left the door ajar in late winter, since there was nothing to protect any more, and she had availed herself of this protected enclosure.

When thunderstorms moved in in the afternoon, I took our old green wheelbarrow and leaned it against the straw bale, making a secure roof with a nice mama rabbit entry beneath. I smiled, looking out at it as the rain lashed down, knowing she’d crawl under that wheelbarrow tonight and find her babies warm, dry and hungry. Look out. Bunny lips.Since the bunnies’ eyes are open, it will be only a matter of days before they leave the nest, and when I’m sure they’re out of the garden, I’ll secure it again. I have no desire to be Mr. McGregor to her Flopsy and Peter.
I'll tell you all about the trip to Ithaca, but it will keep. The bunnies had to come first.The kids and I checked them this morning. I found them April 9, and today, April 13, they're so fat and big they fill the nest. Their huffing is more impressive but it still doesn't scare me away. It's been raining pretty much ever since the 9th, but the wheelbarrow is keeping them perfectly dry and cozy. I'd say those are some lucky bunnies, living here in a fenced garden. I am preparing Mrs. Cottontail's eviction notice, which I plan to deliver about when the sugar snap peas start coming up.


Julie, great photo series, there is nothing cuter than a nest of baby cottontails!


What a treat to see. They are adorable, but only if they aren't eating your veggies!

Sweet little bunnies. How adorable they look - like Disney characters. Such perfect little creatures from God. I envy you your being able to live on such acreage. I so enjoy your tales of travel and discovery. So I want to tell you of a discovery of my own. I was browsing the nature section of a local book store, and seeing very little on birds, I was about to turn away when a book caught my eye. It had the lovliest drawing on the front, and the colours were soothing. I immediately picked it up and thumbed through it, taking delight in the small drawings amongst the words. Then I glanced at the name of the author. Julie Zickefoose! Of course! I was not surprised, as I had seen your name and references to your work on other birding blogs.

Thank you for a beautiful book, and for such a lovely contribution to the world of birding. I envy you your travels to exotic lands. You manage to make even the less fortunate happenstances sound exciting and wonderful. :)

And all that just so Bake will have bunnies to chase. What a mom!

Do you burn just to get rid of stuff, or to kill weeds and disease?

Baker, and bunnehs, and a rainbow all in one post... how're you gonna top that!

What a sweet, furry find. Baby bunnies are the epitome of innocence and cuteness. Nice little protective space you created for them too. They lucked out being born right there.

Mojo, I burn because I CAN. I burn because I love to burn things up, reduce garden trash to nutritious ash. I burn when I'm fed up. I stare into the flames and it cleanses my heart. I stand and poke the ashes and think of my father, who loved to burn things and defied zoning ordinances in our subdivision to do it. I associate the smell of plant smoke with him, and it makes me happy. Too, It keeps a heck of a lot of trash out of the landfill. I suspect, in modern parlance, that it's "greener" to burn trash quickly and cleanly on site than to truck it somewhere to be burned or stuffed into the ground. Poopy macaw papers, for instance, pile up quickly. But they burn very nicely, and stink if they lie around. Disease reduction is a happy byproduct.

Ooh, I love to burn things. Thanks for asking.

Glad y'all are enjoying Cute Overload, Zick edition. I figured as long as you were gagging on cute baby bunnies, might as well throw lounging Baker with his own personal body pillow into the mix.

This was an adorable post with baby bunnies...I just had one hop through my yard today...I have a wild bunny living in one of my hedges...nice that you are back Julie. Cheers.

I'm melting over those babeh bunnehs and your metherly instincts to keep them warm and safe :o)

Chet on his back made me howl! He didn't need to know about it...

Loved the bunny photostory! Very sweet!

I actually DID gag a little when I saw those sweet little paws and noses. Man, oh man.
And Chet's posture on the big pillows just completely undid me. I am a pool of warm, mushy goo.

Those are some fat little babies! Must be they stay in the nest longer at this cooler season, as I've never come across them so grown looking.

I've seen that popping you described called "popcorning" and I agree, it causes quite the startle in me!

I'm glad you were kind enough to put a rain-proof roof over their sweet little heads. Baby bunnehs need all the help they can find, especially with the likes of Chet on the prowl!


Those bunny pics turned me to mush, even though I'm very upset that the rabbits here have snipped off the branches of so many of my shrubs. One burning bush is nothing but a nub about 3-4 inches tall.

Yes, and one mowed off the amelanchier (shadbush) that I'd been tenderly nurturing in its pot for two years, and finally set out this fall. It's now 1" tall. Cool.Thanks, Mrs. Cottontail. I see the fencing didn't stop you that time, either.

Just back in from work where I cannot look at all this wonderfulness...those bunnehs, I just want to sniff their fur. The girls are wild for this post. Thanks!

baby bunnehs. You made my day . . . and that's saying something as I had a great day! :)

I'd say there are many things hidden there at Indigo Hill where nature feels nurtured. How sweet that this mama bunny just knew where to build. Such sweet, sweet photos!

You're a great landlord, Zick! Thanks for the precious photos!

I wish I'd done the straw mulch thing in my garden!

You're welcome, Nugget! My gardening motto: You can't mulch too much, especially in southern Ohio, where it rains all winter and then simply stops raining May-August. Only weeds like that!

Your bunnies are smarter than my bunnies. We have a great dane and a golden retriever; they ALWAYS find the bunny nest, the one that is usually right out in the open. Every spring, I have to go out and see if I can find it before they do, cause there's nothing worse than the baby-bunny-dog-scatter game we play every spring! :-)

What? No snap peas for their dinner?
I was sure someone as thoughtful as to construct a waterproof roof would certainly be willing to share the first of the seasons' peas!

We found bunnies nesting in our garden one spring... unfortunately we found the nest when my Mom stepped right on it! I had no idea Cottontails could make such a loud squeal. Scared the crap out of me. Lucky for baby bunnies, Mom weighs next to nothing, and hopped off pretty fast. (Everybody lived.)

How ironic that the mama bunny nested in the garden that you strive mightily in summertime to keep her out of. Will these same bunnies have little homing devices nurtured prenatally that will bring them hopping back looking for fresh veggies?
Love the Chet Baker pose--on his back, paws outstretched. What a dog!

Goodness those are CUTE bunnies - great photos!

These are just the size Luna likes for a snack. She acts just like a dog sometimes.

I found a nest of baby bunnies today. I have been going nuts not knowing whether to put a protective cover over the nest for incoming t-storms. after reading your post, i decided it would be okay. I hope mine have a happy ending like yours did. adorable babies, I have four in my nest. love your pics.

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