Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

Fine as Frog Hair

Of Mice and Mountain MenHere in the South, we have a saying that can be used in response to the small-talk prompt of “How are you?” when you are feeling especially good (or don’t really want to engage in small talk); it goes, “Fine as frog’s hair.” It’s kind of cute and makes you think a little. Just how fine IS frog’s hair?

Frog Hair

Image via FreakingNews.com

I was in the garden watering. When I got to the strawberry bed, there was considerable movement in the leaves in one corner. I was not surprised by that: I often flush a toad from these beds. They are welcomed visitors because they eat the bugs and slugs that crawl around in the boxes. Usually they are pretty small: the size of a golf ball, or so. This was a much bigger toad. I could see flashes of the brown color through the leaves.

Then those flashes started moving in different directions. Several, much bigger toads.

Then one of them hopped out of the box and into the path through the berry house. It was HAIRY! Several big, hairy toads! Nah … can’t BE! I looked again.

I may not be able to answer the question about frog hair, but toad hair looks a lot like rabbit fur!

I don’t know if some momma bunny found a weakness in the armor plating (poultry mesh) that I put around the berry house and had a litter in there or if these three bunny kits happened to be playing there when I came along. Either way they are not welcome!

I make it a point to be just as offensive as I can to any wild rabbit I encounter in our yard. I don’t do them harm, but I don’t want them to know that.

When Dolly Dawg was alive, she ran loose and kept the rabbit population in check. I tried not to think about that. Normally she did her hunting, and consumption, in the woods where I didn’t have to be confronted with the reality of her actions. I just enjoyed the absence of garden molesting rabbits.

Letting dogs run loose on the mountain is not especially safe (bears; fast cars on winding, tree-lined roads; hunters; etc.) but we could not convince Dolly of that. Dolly had been running loose on this mountain long before we got here and attempting to confine her was equivalent to putting someone in a strait-jacket.

All our dogs since then are kept under restraint of some sort – except when Blondie pulls one of her Houdini routines. The rabbit population has responded to the lack of predators by exploding.

And here they were in my berry house.

If I were any kind of proper mountain man I’d have dispatched the lot of them with my pellet gun. But then if I were a proper mountain man I’d be toting around a proper rifle, not a pellet gun pistol (which I use on copperheads). But they were so durn cute!

I know – those three cute little baby bunnies will in short order turn into about 3,000 hungry rabbits competing with me for the fruits of my gardening labor. But I’m not big on killing things. Yes, I pack a (sort of) gun, but that’s for snakes. And not all snakes, just the ones that could (and have) cause a serious threat to the health and well-being of my family and dogs.

I sat on the fence for a few moments, then toppled to the side of kindliness. I went to the barn and got a pair of leather gloves. I may be a soft-hearted push-over but I’m not stupid: They’re wild, scared and could be carrying some very unpleasant nasties.

Those little critters were quick as bunnies, so it took me a while to catch them. Each one hollered and yelled the entire way as I carried it up to the tree line and tossed them up into the leaves. With a little luck that experience will so traumatize them that they will not come back and will warn their progeny to stay out of that big clear area down there. Tasty things grow there, but it’s inhabited by a horrible monster that shoots water from its hand and can lift you high into the air and sail you far away.

They’re all lucky I can’t just turn them into toads. Even hairy toads would be better than rabbits.

joanpritchard
10/1/2014 6:43:11 PM

Allen - I used to think rabbits were a bad thing in the garden too, but we have had so many hawks in Kansas the last few years that they have wiped out every small animal that moves. quite honestly, we need a balance, and I wish I had a few of those bunnies and a few less hawks.


nebraskadave
9/23/2014 7:44:14 AM

Allan, I am not bothered by rabbits in Terra Nova Gardens. I'm not sure why because it is surrounded on three sides by woods. However, deer, groundhogs, raccoons, and possum abound in them there woods. I really wanted to get my six foot wooden fence lined with chicken wire on the inside finished this year but it just wasn't to be. It's really difficult to dig post holes in sticky river bottom ground when it's wet. We had rain rain and more rain all summer long. I just couldn't get in there to erect but three eight foot panels. I have eight more to install before the garden will be totally enclosed. I'm hoping that will keep the garden secure and I won't have to go to a portable electric fence around the outside of the fence. Have a great fine as frog hair day.