As we get further into fall there’s less for the critters to eat and they get bolder. One came right up on my deck the other night, ate an entire tall, twelve-inch potful of flowering impatiens down to nubs, and had a few petunias and geraniums for dessert. At first I blamed the woodchuck, but then noticed several zinnias bitten off, raggedly, at a height the woodchuck could not have reached. Deer. Most likely a fawn. The fawns that were tiny shaky newborns in mid July are now learning to eat on their own, with an underdeveloped sense of danger and an uninformed palate. The petunias and impatiens are tasty, but some of what they eat, like my Jasmine Tobacco, is poisonous. They seem to survive, but it can’t be good for them.
Then a night or two after that, a lot of terrible screaming woke me up about four in the morning. Was it the bunny? I’d never heard this high-pitched wail before. It sounded like it might have been two different animals, and it went on for some time before it stopped, or maybe I just fell back asleep. In the morning I looked all around the yard, the deck, the woods, for signs of a struggle. Nothing. No blood, fur, or feathers; nothing disturbed. I turned to the internet and checked out the recorded screams of cottontail rabbits – no; woodchucks – no; white tailed deer – aha! White tailed deer! And though it sounded painful, according to the hunter who posted the video in question, these were the calls of deer that had been disturbed into running in different directions, calling to each other to get the herd back together. Did the hunter really know that? Was it a rural myth? Since there are urban myths, it stands to reason there are rural ones. The only sound I’ve heard before from deer is the sort of “Huff” a stag makes, generally accompanied by a hoof stamp, to warn the rest of the herd to flee.
Whether it was a deer or not, it wasn’t the demise of my weed-eating helper bunny, because I saw her the next day. My bunny has a little white blaze on her forehead, very distinctive. I was feeling very smug about the Universe having endowed my back yard with a weed-eating helper bunny. Then I went out into the fenced garden to see how the last of the crookneck squash were coming along. They weren’t. Three tender little baby squash, a foot or two of vine, and many big fat juicy leaves had totally vanished. It was neat work – no messy broken bits a la squirrel, no neighboring plants knocked over a la woodchuck. Rabbits are extremely tidy when they are destroying crops and landscaping.
So I inspected the chicken wire around the base of the fence, and found the place where the wire had rusted out at ground level, and a shallow, bunny-size underpass had been excavated. My bunny must have been doing reconnaissance all summer, just in case. I believe the relevant phrase is, nevertheless she persisted. Her erstwhile entry now boasts a temporary patch of bricks on both sides of the chicken wire, sandwiching it in place, and Blaze the Bunny is back to eating weeds in the lawn.