The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

Recently a friend posted on Facebook that after trying a variety of methods, he had had no success keeping the rabbits out of his garden. He said if he saw another rabbit in there, he was going to shoot it. I’ve never understood this reaction.

Yes, it’s got to be frustrating, caring for a crop and then finding it decimated by wildlife. But where do we get off believing that we “own” vegetables? That’s as ridiculous as saying that you own the sunshine that fed them or the water that nurtured them or the soil that cradled them.

I look at my garden much differently. I tend to it, and if I’m lucky, it thanks me by producing vegetables that I get ahold of before anything else does. When that happens, it’s a gift, and I’m very grateful for it. It’s really a miracle when you think about it, and because of that the veggies taste all that more delicious.

All animals were put on this earth with the expectation that if they are to survive, they must eat. We are the only animals that think of food as property, as far as I know. It’s a unique concept, and I’m sure other animals would find it quite odd, indeed, if they had any awareness of it.

Personally, I enjoy seeing creatures in my garden. I may not like every single one of them, but I do find them endlessly fascinating. I don’t use any pesticides, in hopes of not causing further damage to the web of life.

Currently there are two rabbit warrens in my garlic patch. They do relatively little harm, and I’m honored that they feel safe there. And there’s nothing cuter than watching two adolescent bunnies chasing each other around the yard.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to protect your crops within reason. Fencing, sure. Scarecrows, even. But don’t poison or shoot animals simply because they’re trying to eat. That’s heinous. And if you welcome them, you might find that they don’t eat that much. And if they do, they must have needed it.

I remember hearing a story on NPR once. This guy wondered why tomatoes weren’t grown in his part of Africa. It was the perfect climate for them. He decided to plant a few dozen acres worth, to see how it went. Sure enough, the tomatoes really thrived there. This was good news for the region, because this would give them a unique cash crop, and that would help the struggling economy.

The night before the tomato harvest, the man was really excited. When he woke up the next day, he discovered that a herd of hippos had come through during the night and ate every last tomato, plant and all. Now you know why tomatoes aren’t planted in his part of Africa. I’m sure he was furious. But my response would be, “Hippos happen.”

Yes, my yard is full of mole holes and rabbit warrens and crows and all sorts of creatures. It’s mostly a peaceable kingdom. Sure, I wish more of the strawberries made it to my mouth, but you know, enough do to make it worth it.

In the end, we all get what we need.

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