Friday, June 22, 2012

The Survivor

Delta, 2011

Some readers will remember my battle last summer to protect the vegetable garden from the local varmints.      
The summer before last the problem was birds. So last year I threw a net over most of the vegetable garden. That took care of the birds. But the black snakes kept getting tangled in the net. And the net did nothing to hold back the turtles that ate everything they could reach (and some things I think they had to get stacked up on each others’ shells to reach, all Yertle the Turtle-like).
This year it’s been rabbits. It seems several litters were born in the woods in our yard this spring. They’re cute little critters. They’re out in the front yard all the time, munching on the clover in the lawn. I’m okay with them. It’s the ones in the back that are dining on my garden that are getting on my nerves.
I expected them to eat the beans. That’s why I planted so many, staggering the planting so that there’d be beans for both man and rabbit throughout the summer. They finished off the beans and the bean plants in about two days. Completely gone.
Then they moved on to the green pepper plants. Green pepper plants? They’d never bothered the pepper plants before. But this year the rabbits cut them right down to the ground.
That was a surprise. But what really surprised me was the way the rabbits headed into the squash. I’ve never known them to eat squash. But each morning when I go out to see how the squash are coming along I find that the rabbits have eaten many of the squash buds, as well.
So far, the rabbits have left the cucumbers and tomatoes alone. But that’s where my old fiend “Delta,” shown above, and her family come into this story. Regular readers will recall how the turtles so decimated my vegetable garden last summer that I took to painting marks with fingernail polish on their shells to keep them all straight.
Delta returned late this spring. I don’t know where she winters. But as soon as the cucumbers and tomatoes starting budding Delta was right there on the garden floor, waiting to see what she could reach.
Delta must like it here. I don’t know where Gamma and Lambda, two of her compatriots from last summer, have gone. No doubt they’re just hiding out in better places. Delta, though, likes it so much so that we’ve seen her twice in the last week laying eggs in the most improbable places.
Two days ago I took Delta out of the garden, where she was patiently waiting for some cucumbers to get heavy enough to dip down into her range, and carried her to some very nice woods over a block away.
It took her two days, but Delta was back hiding under the cucumber leaves again this morning. If there is any question of which animals will survive the apocalypse, I think I have a nomination!

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