When "Max the Wonder Dog" started rooting around in a thick layer of straw laid over a bed of asparagus, I knew something was up.
Even though a fence of chicken wire is attached to the bottom of the pickets which surround my garden, the rabbits have found a way in over the past few seasons.
Max finds their nests annually and usually dispatches the poor babies. I don't want to share my garden with the rabbits, but the thought of these cute, tiny rabbits meeting their maker at the hands of my dog set me into action.
The small rabbits are hidden by the mother in the nest at birth, she returns each night to feed. I talked to Jill Argall, director of the Animal Rescue League's Wildlife Center in Verona for advice.
Even though I've got the garden gate blocked, I wanted a second line of defense to protect the little rabbit. Jill said the baby is less than 10 days old and needs another couple weeks of care by the mother until it's ready to leave the nest.
She recommended putting a laundry basket put in place over the nest during the day and removing it at dusk so the mother can feed the baby. Max would probably tear that basket to shreds, so I've opted for a large, heavy clay flower pot turned upside down with two big rocks on top. I'll replace them with a cinder block when I find one. There's a big enough hole for the mother to get into the nest in case I forget to remove it at the end of the day.
For the next couple of weeks my wife and I will remove the pot when we close up the chickens, I think that's the best way to remember.
Sometimes the garden holds another purpose. For now I'm happy to share it with the rabbits.
The Animal Rescue League's Wildlife Center can be reached online here or call 412-345-7300.