We have had so much snow so far this winter we have already reached our annual seasonal snowfall amount, and are currently sitting at the fourth snowiest winter on record. We are two inches away from the third snowiest winter. Since it is only January and it is not impossible to have snow into early May, I’m sure third place is assured. Second place will require close to eight inches, not inconceivable. First place will require a little more than eleven inches, also possible since we’ve had March and April snowstorms bury us under a foot of fresh snow. No wonder biking this winter has been disconcertingly challenging!

All the snow piled up against fences and around the garden has allowed for rabbit infiltration. Thankfully it is late enough in winter that no smart rabbit will abandon their current burrow to find one under my deck and haunt my garden like Fat Rabbit did last year. However, the invader has already done major damage.

The invasion happened sometime this past week. There are a couple places at the garden perimeter that were so small we only put up chicken wire that was about two feet tall. With the snow so high, the Rabbit Invader was able to go right over the top. 

Bark eaten off the trunk of a tree
%*#&@ Rabbit!

Friday evening when I went out to put the chickens to bed it was a little lighter than usual. I walked down the deck steps to discover Walter Crabapple had been stripped of quite a lot of bark. I swore. And when I waded through the above my knees snow to inspect the damage, I cried. Because the rabbit had not just eaten the bark down one side of Walter, no, the rabbit ate the bark all the way around, girdling the tree. The Rabbit Invader has killed Walter. We are heartbroken.

I waded around the garden to check on everyone else, following the rabbit prints in the snow. The good news is, since the snow is so deep, only the very tops of the bush cherries, gooseberries, and honeyberries have been eaten. A few of the raspberries were chewed on pretty good, but they will be ok.

The rabbit tracks let me find all three places of coming and going. I immediately scrounged around for blockade materials. Today James is out making the blockade more secure. We have now disturbed the snow enough that we won’t be able to tell if Invader Rabbit finds another way in unless there is more obvious damage or fresh snow (possible Wednesday or Friday). Fingers crossed Invader Rabbit has been thwarted.

I was going to tell you today that after much thinking and consulting with Garden, that we had all agreed on a new sour cherry tree in addition to moving the Juneberry from the Chicken Garden into the main garden. But Walter’s sudden and unexpected demise  means some additional flexibility is now possible. 

The cherry tree could go near Walter’s place, or not. I am planning on removing the second raspberry bed at the back of the garden because James revealed to me last summer that he wasn’t as fond of raspberries as I thought he was, and because we also planted the clove currant and a new honeyberry close to them, and, well, raspberries are unruly creatures. Last summer I had to keep cutting back canes that seemed to spring up like Hydra and crowd into the young berry shrubs.

The berry shrubs when bigger will not take up the entire space engulfed by the raspberries, so I was thinking of possibly making a small dye plant garden there. But now I am thinking of planting a high bush cranberry. It gets a little shady in the corner later in the day and my neighbor’s garage roof dumps roof runoff on the spot, both things a high bush cranberry would like. 

I still want a small dye garden though. This could now happen where Walter lived. Walter lived with a black currant, a gooseberry, rhubarb, and mountain mint. No one will be evicted, the dye plants would share the space with the current residents. There is another spot a dye garden could go near the compost bins in an area we tend to pile up leaves and twigs and other garden stuff that doesn’t fit in the bins at the moment or needs to be cut smaller. Obviously, we’d have to make a plan to manage the compost bins better. 

Since the original plans for everything included Walter, there is space for something else. We are considering a second plum tree. Also an option is building some permanent trellising and planting a couple of hardy kiwis. The ultimate goal is to have some light or late-day shade in the hotter parts of the garden so it isn’t too hot for squash to produce female flowers and/or tomatoes to drop their unpollinated blossoms. But I also have some ideas for using pole beans and other annual vines to provide some shade. So plum and hardy kiwi will wait for at least a year while cherry tree, high bush cranberry, and Juneberry get settled in. And since these are all small and won’t be making much shade for a while, I will have a chance to try out my pole beans and annual vines ideas. 

Walter’s Planting Day

In spite of all these ideas and plans, I am grieving Walter’s death. We welcomed them to our family in May 2012 when the garden was still mostly grass. James and I, the birds, squirrels, bees and other critters will miss the beautiful, quirky, crooked being they grew to become. When spring arrives and we have to officially say goodbye, there will be a big Walter-sized hole when I look out the sliding glass door into the garden. I am sure we will have a ceremony to say goodbye and express our gratitude for Walter’s being. 

On a side note, thank you for all the thoughtful comments on last week’s post. I will reply as soon as I can. Last week was an exceptionally hectic one.

Reading
Listening
Watching
  • Three Thousand Years of Longing. Oh y’all! Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, two beautiful people in a beautiful movie. 
  • Bros. Did you say gay romcom? Yes please! This was all kinds of wonderful. I laughed, I worried, I got teary at the happy ending. 

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8 thoughts on “Infiltrated!

  1. Drat that rabbit! I’m sorry for your loss of dear Walter. Copper is often at our fence looking for the rabbit that lives next door. How about a gooseberry? I think I want a gooseberry (I do not have a “plan” like you, only a possible “probably maybe look into possibility of” gooseberry bush. I hear they are thorny.)

  2. At first, I was going to ask you if it was actually a deer that somehow got into eat all the bark like that, until you mentioned it tracking the rabbit footprints. I know deer will eat up all the bark like that, and rub their antlers all over it. Sorry it’s been really hard riding your bike through all that snow! As I mentioned in my last post, I’m writing an indoor bicycle, but in my head I still like to make sounds like I’m shifting gears in a motorcycle. But here’s how my brain works: I’m still thinking about you when I ride, because it’s a bicycle, of course! So my head goes: “Neeeeewwewwm, newwwwwwm, newwwmmmm” etc because shifting noises, lol, then I make that noise to words: “Iiiiiiiiiiii’m, ridiiiiiing, a biiiiiiike, like Stafaniiiiiiiiiie.” Being a weirdo helps pass the time when exercising.

  3. Poor Walter, that is one very sad sight and I can understand why you are mourning an old friend. It sounds as though you have some interesting ideas for that space to keep making the garden a special one. That snow must be creating a certain amount of havoc in your lives in other ways too.

  4. *shaking fist at New Fat Rabbit* Oh, Walter. I’m so sorry. That is so tragic, I would be heartbroken as well. Our Garden has been weighing the options for a new tree(s) since we had to take down the dying birch. I think we will replace the birch with either a dogwood or a tulip mimosa, since I would like something ornamental outside that window (it is just outside a large picture window in our living room. Birch had supported many bird feeders and provided a lovely dappled shade there). However, someone gave us some persimmons this week and I made persimmon bread… and that convinced me that I can ALSO plant a persimmon tree in the same proximity (about 15 feet away from the proposed ornamental tree). Garden agrees — two trees are better than one! Especially if they are both smaller and more manageable. Good luck with all the snow biking! Fun stuff!

  5. Damn rabbit! Losing Walter is horrible. I’m so sorry!

    Wish you could blow some of that snow here. Even the big resorts up on Sugarbush Mtn are making snow. In January! Meaning they can’t be making money. Also, it’s just depressing not being able to ski in Vermont…

  6. We had our second big (3 inches or so, it looks big to me) snow of the winter today. And like me, the cats do not approve.
    It is the year of the rabbit…

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