Rabbit Trails and Stuff

BunnyeatingMarigoldEarly this year, I was ranting online about the rabbit damage among my freshly-planted flowers. It was springtime and I had happily transplanted rows of beautiful marigolds. I purchased marigolds of several hues and mixed them generously across the front of my flowerbed. At that point, I should have photographed them. Because they are no more.

One of the main reasons I chose marigolds was because last spring, something quickly devoured the lovely bright red zinnias I planted. I remembered my grandmother saying you should plant marigolds to keep pests away. Well, it wasn’t quite clear what the pest was, but I was willing to try. The marigolds danced their little heads in my gardens for oh, maybe twenty-four hours.

Devastation! Oh my stars and garters! Something was quite happy with my choice of marigolds. The destruction of the zinnias was nothing compared to this.

Ah-hah! The perpetrator!

So, back to the drawing board. I looked online and found the lovely photo above. Then I caught the perpetrator red-pawed. But I’m a gentle soul and would rather discourage than draw blood or cause discomfort to a fellow earth-dweller. Except for snakes, snails, and spiders. And flies, of course, and mosquitoes, and…a few other things I won’t mention.

Stinky Stuff
Stinky Stuff

My local hardware store carried a wonderfully smelly solution. It contains a lot of garlic and yucky stuff that repels critters. It repelled me too. I had to encase the container in a sealed plastic bag between uses. But the stuff works. However, heavy rainfall this summer meant I had to reapply often to keep the ground around my new plants really stinky. Now the little hoppers head across the street and chew the neighbors’ plants. Sorry about that. No, I’m not! Ha ha!

Now I needed to fill the empty spaces inside my flowerbed. So I went back to the Internet and found some supposedly safe-from-rodents-with-big-ears plants. There aren’t very many of those plants and the list I found had a disclaimer on it that went something like this: …while these plants worked for me and my local bunnies, they may not work in your area. Good luck.

Rats! No. Rabbits!

ColeusBut I felt it was worth a try, so I headed back out to the garden center with my list in hand. Trouble is, most of these plants don’t have showy blossoms. But I found some coleuses that filled the bill. Wow, do they pack a punch in my garden. They do bloom, but it’s not a show-stopping bloom. Who needs it, however, when the leaves look like this!

Snapdragons! Little beauties of all colors and varieties. They prefer drier weather though, so didn’t do great this year. Maybe later when the weather dries up. If ever the weather dries up. And in my neck of the woods, snapdragons sometimes winter over and also reseed themselves. Two thumbs up!

Dusty Miller‘s silver leaves accent the other bright colors in the garden. And of course, there’s always geraniums. Bright red ones fill my window box. Rabbits never touch my Russian Sage, regular sage, thyme, or lavender. They don’t bother the daylilies, Stella d’oros or roses. So I’m okay there. But they love to snack on zinnias, marigolds, and petunias. 😦 They eat the leaves, the flowers–everything except one pitiful stalk attached to the roots–then the plant promptly dies. I did manage to save my petunias by sticking them in a well-guarded window box.

What a year. My garden is now filled with bright colors, but it’s so overgrown, it looks like a jungle. This is the result of the torrential rains in June and early July. I plan to spend hours out there in the fall when the temperatures cool. But that’s another subject for another day. In light of all the things that have happened in the world this year, my little rabbit woes just don’t compare.

Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit

But I have to admit, the research, the work, running outside to scare cottontails–it’s all been great fun. And it broke up the monotony of my more writer-ly pursuits. I hope you’re enjoying your summer, wherever you are, and can take pleasure in the small things. Even when they have big ears and a healthy appetite for marigolds.



Samson, the Bluetick Coonhound

If you’re on Facebook, you already know how popular pets are. I know I get a hundred cute pet pictures posted on my status every day. Knowing how important these four-legged friends are, I’ve included a pet in my present story-in-progress. There’s only one problem.

He tries to take over every scene he’s in. Samson is a Bluetick coonhound. As you can see from the photo, he has a very expressive face. Blueticks are very intelligent and energetic. And they sport a beautiful coat.

Samson spends his days chasing rabbits. His home in 1950’s West Tennessee affords plenty of opportunities to chase not only rabbits, but other wildlife as well. And lately, he’s taken to cozying up to a sweet young lady. She loves dogs, so she doesn’t mind.

Now just in case you’re attentive enough to notice that the hound in this picture is either missing something, or is not really a male dog, you’re right. I borrowed this pic from Wikipedia. It’s actually a female Bluetick coonhound named Juno. But for now, let’s just pretend this is an actual picture of my character’s dog. And he is most definitely male.

Here’s a short excerpt:

At that moment, Samson ran past Connie. He bolted into the front seat, planting himself firmly in the middle.
The dog’s big brown eyes greeted her as she settled into the seat next to him. He seemed placid enough. Smelly, but gentle. She remembered her first view of him at Thelma’s. He’d waited quietly in the truck while his master talked to Annabelle and the kidney bean barked and danced around. “Good dog,” she whispered.
He thumped his tail.
Alton climbed in and shut the door. “Hope you don’t mind dogs.”
She shook her head. 
“He’s fairly obedient.” He shifted into gear and backed the truck around.

 And he is, fairly obedient. Except when there’s a scent of rabbit in the air. I’m a big fan of dogs in general and especially hounds. So I’m looking forward to finishing this particular story, just to see what happens with Samson, the Bluetick coonhound.

For more information on Bluetick hounds you can start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetick_Coonhound

Thanks for reading!