Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Wednesday, 25th July, 2007
Rabbit I saw
In the shadow-rimmed mouth
Of his sunny cavern
Looking out to the South
Walter de la Mare
SO, HE'S STILL AROUND, our resident rabbit, who has grown from cute youngster to the hulking brute you see here, partly by eating his way through any of the vegetables in our garden that aren't netted. And when he finds a way in, he'll snip off the netted ones too. It grieves me to see the broccoli seedlings disappearing in a few snips. I need to secure the edge of the net on the Z-bed.
I haven't seen him (or her?) since before I planted out the 'Three sisters' (sweet corn, squash and climbing French bean) bed last week, when I found a large fox dropping in the corner on the freshly dug soil, to which I'd added a trug of compost from the bin, and a sprinkling with blood, fish and bonemeal. Foxes like to mark new, smelly objects in their territory.
But there he is, and, oblivious to vulpine threat, and he's looking relaxed with his ears down. He's sitting next to two small circles of rabbit droppings he's made in the middle of our lawn. He's certainly made himself at home. The green tube (left) is our clothes prop. I have to be careful where I stand when I'm pegging out the washing.
I photographed him through the glass panel of our back door but it was only when I'd taken another couple of photographs through the patio windows (below, left), that he perked up a little and scampered off.
Even before they're planted out, my spring cabbage seedlings have met with disaster. I wondered why out of 20 or 30 seeds I'd sown in modules on the bench in the greenhouse, only three had sprouted but yesterday even those had been nibbled back to sorry-looking stems, by a slug or a snail. Over the last few weeks, when I go down to close the greenhouse, I've evicted a dozen or more of them, chucking them over the hedge into the meadow.
I shall re-sow the spring cabbage in a seed-tray on the kitchen windowsill, where it will hopefully be out of harm's way.
Thanks to the persistent rain, it has been a good year for slugs.