Evening the Score and Keepin’ it Real

I don’t even want to talk about the weather.  Neither does Charlie.

It’s been, in a word – sucko.

English Morello cherries on this lovely spring day

And while I should have been outside, slathered in SPF, slaving in the sun on the burgeoning veggie garden, fruit trees, raspberry patch, and landscaping… instead, I’ve been holed up inside, hiding under my winter clothes from the unceasing tempest, feeling as soggy as the weather.  Thus the lack of posting.

To add to my generally sodden demeanor, I’ve been getting out – briefly – once or twice a day, wrapped in raincoat and rubber boots, to check on things, only to find extra awesome collateral damage not even caused by my lovely friends, Gale-Force Wind, Driving Rain, Sporadic Hail, and Abysmal Temperatures.  Oh yes, that’s right.  I’m talking about the charming and mysterious, Plant Choppers.

eggplant, chopped to the ground

At first, I wasn’t even sure they existed.  Maybe it was just stress from the weather, or breakage from the wind.  I went out one day and I found a couple of the leaves of one of my eggplant plants sliced off neatly, and laid on the ground right next to it.  Maybe they fell off?  That could happen.  Nothing had eaten them.  I didn’t think much of it.  Then, the next day, I went out and a couple of my pea plants had been sliced off, as if with shears, about 6-8 inches up the main stem.  Hmmm…. broken from the wind?  It was only like… two random plants out of something like 30.  And again… they weren’t eaten at all – not so much as a nibble… the pieces were cut off and laying and on the ground right next to the plants, completely intact.

the chopped-off top half of a pea plant, on the ground.

It wasn’t cutworm damage, because they only cut plants off at the soil level.  It must be wind… right?

But then, it continued.  The next day… maybe 6 or 8 pea plants were chopped and the same, singular eggplant plant (in a box with two other eggplants, several pepper plants, two rows of garlic, some green onions, some carrot seedlings, and my beet clumps – all untouched) had the top 3 or so inches of the whole plant sliced off and laying next to it.  In every case, nothing was gone.  Nothing had been eaten or even chewed.  I could have easily reassembled each plant in its entirety.  And since then, it has been the same.  And I honestly don’t get it.  One of my corn seedlings, in a mound of four, was sliced off to the ground.  Yesterday, the first seedlings pushed through the soil in the straw bale garden – Petit Gris de Rennes melons.  Today, two of the four are sliced.

melon sprout, sliced in two

The peas and eggplants are in the regular garden boxes, fenced in.  The corn is in the three-sisters garden, 10 yards away from the garden boxes, separately fenced.  And the melons are in the straw bale garden, in a third location entirely.  There are no footprints.  No trails.  No digging, scratching, chewing, pooping, NOTHING.  As of this evening, all three of my eggplant plants that I have planted in the garden (I have more still waiting in soil blocks) have been hacked to pieces, and all of those pieces are sitting right there next to the plants.  One of them (pictured above) has now been sliced to the ground.  Also, about half of my pea plants have been chopped down to 2-3 inches high.  They used to be the same height as the tall ones.  Observe:

chopped pea plants next to unchopped ones

Have you ever heard of anything like this??  I feel like I’m losing my mind.  What does this to plants?  And only some plants, besides.  All the pepper plants in the same box with the eggplants?  Untouched.  The beets?  Not a scratch on ’em.  The cabbages.  As good as new.  Oh yeah… today I found one asparagus chopped… about 8 inches up the stem, the top four inches laid on the ground next to it.  Is this even real???

So anyway, you get the point.  Something has been chopping.  And in my heart of hearts, I feel like it has to be rabbits.  Those furry little bundles of evil are somehow behind all this, I can just tell.  I don’t know how they’re doing it.  I don’t know why they’re doing it.  But they are doing it, mark my words.  And somehow… just SOMEHOW… I am going to exact my revenge.  I haven’t yet figured it out, but believe me when I say – the bastards will pay.  I plan to put a rapid and defining end to their exponentially-increasing population on my property.  Just you wait.  It is ON.

A Sign From Above

And just in case you were doubting the prudence of my plan, I would like to share with you a heartwarming experience that shows the universe is on my side about this.

This evening, I reluctantly headed out to assess today’s damage.  As I dejectedly snapped a few pictures for tonight’s miserable post, ignoring the fact that my jeans were soaked up to the knee and my hands were turning blue from holding the camera in the damp, misty cold, I tried to summon enough energy to think about what to do.  How do I stop this?  Should I try to reinstate my bird-netting and bamboo-pole tents from 2008 and 2009?  Could this be birds?  Should I sprinkle more Sluggo Plus?  Could this possibly be from cutworms?  This has never happened before, and the bugs and birds and bunnies have all always been there and I have more physical barriers this year than ever before.  My thoughts continued thusly and I came up with the same, big, fat, ZERO ideas that I had all the other days.

And so I found myself resigned to the idea that my garden would probably just end up devastated this year – over before it started – and there was nothing I could do about it.  I was literally standing there, in the rain, looking past this garden to the future.  Oh well.  There’s always the farmers’ market.  I guess I’ll have lots of extra time to spend on other things besides the garden.  Maybe next year.  Whatever.  I can’t fight it anymore.  I’ve lost.

So, I walked out of the garden, got a fresh bowl of food for mama and baby, put it in their coop, and started back to the house.  Then something caught my eye.  Dog poop.  Being someone who has lived with dogs her whole life, I almost subconsciously made a mental note not to step there, and kept walking.  But then I stopped.  Wait.  The dogs are fenced out of this area.  That can’t be dog poop.  What kind of poop is it?  I walked over to look.  Ohhhh…. that’s not poop…. it’s…

BUNNY GUTS!!!!**

There they were, like a gleaming beacon of hope.  Light in my dark, rainy world.  I’ve never been so happy to see a pile of fresh entrails in my life.  The universe has sent me a sign – they must be killed.  That is the answer.  It’s so beautiful in its simplicity.  They have been slicing my plants and now they must pay.  Nature did this one for me.  Now it’s up to me to do the rest.

When I lived in California and the ground squirrels turned my garden boxes into hoppin’, multi-family condos with built-in salad bars, I knew what to do.  I single-handedly killed over 100 ground squirrels in a single summer.  The next year I had almost no problems with them.  Somehow I’d forgotten.  Good, old-fashioned physical elimination.  It’s me or them.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.  Survival of the fittest.  In the words of the great Miranda Lambert, it’s time to get a gun.

The score:

bunnies – 10 bajillion

Lisa (with some outside help) – 2*

Things are looking up.

*My first point came with my inadvertent murder of one of the up-an-comers.  If you need a reminder, click here and here.  Clearly nature was trying to tell me something then, but I didn’t get the point.  I got it now, though.  I don’t need to be told three times.

**keepin’ it real – here at Lisa Has Chickens, we like to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly… especially when it involves evidence of bunny evisceration!

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5 thoughts on “Evening the Score and Keepin’ it Real

  1. I had a coyote poop bunny inerds in my pasture last year and I was afraid it was the little friendly wild bunny that liked to come in at night and eat the grain the goats would spill in their eating hut and then the 3 dogs would chase in circles in the backyard if it didn’t get back to the safety of the blackberry mounds in the morning before sun-up.

    I would think if it were bunnies doing the chopping, they would be eating at least some of the plants and not letting them just drop and lay where they fell.

    Do you have a crazy neighbor sneeking over in the night and taking scissors to your plants?

    I would propose having a shelter built to resemble your chicken run that has the hardware cloth and then clips or holders to put up clear plexiglass panels in the colder weather to protect from frost. Just an idea.

  2. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa….this post was both disturbing and AWESOME!!! I’m terribly sorry for all your distress up there. If you need some squash, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to send you some. I also think I may end up being up to my eyeballs in green beans. I’ve sort of went crazy and planted green beans everywhere (Kentucky Wonder and Kentucky Blue). I also seem to have a thing for Swiss Chard (Bright Lights at the moment). Anyway, if you need some veggies in your cold, dreary world of rabbit death and chomped veggies, I’ll be more than happy to help a sista’ out! Keep fighting the good fight!

  3. I’m battling a bigger four legged foe…the deer. Raspberries, snap peas, the broccoli and every single fruit tree in the yard has been chomped on or completely annihilated. Just put in some motion activated sprinklers and hopefully that will help.

    I’ve also noticed the bunny population exploding. Maybe the coyotes will take care of that issue before they get to work on my garden. Good luck with the bunny battle Lisa.

  4. i bet brian’s chopping all your plants off just to make you wonder if you’re crazy. hahahaha! : )

  5. I’ve been trying hard not to complain about the weather or get down about it. I keep reminding myself that it is what it is and I can’t change it. But, it is starting to get to me. I just need an hour of sun and I’ll be all better again.

    As for the bunny guts – ew. Do you have a dog? We have a Blue Healer and she is constantly chasing off/killing bunnies and moles. It is the best thing about her.

    Sandy

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