Fox R US

What does the fox say?

A fresh blanket of snow covered the backyard. Opening the living room curtains, I admired ice crystals sparkling like diamonds in the snow. As my eyes adjusted to the bright, March morning sunlight, I noticed that the pristine covering had already been marred by animal tracks. Going from window to window in my house, I tried to make sense of what had gone on following the snowfall.

            Pulling on boots and a jacket, I went outside to take a closer look. Like an Arthur Murray student, I studied the tracks in the driveway nearest to the back door. One track belonged to a rabbit and the other to a deer. Their steps appeared quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. The two were obviously dancing the tango.

Another set of footprints belonged to a large dog with warm feet. The prints were deep and defined. I could tell he stopped to sniff here and there as he passed through the yard.

The rest of the yard was covered with hundreds of rabbit tracks. In some places one hundred bunnies had followed the same trail. The snow was thoroughly trampled. The shelter of the woodshed and underside of the deck next to the house were the most popular places in the yard for the local long-earred crowd.

When I was back in the house sipping a warm cup of tea, I called my sister Agnes. I asked, “Do you remember noticing when we were kids on the farm how cows made trails in the pasture and cow lane?  They always walked the same path morning and night, day after day.”

Agnes laughed, “I sure do! When coming in for milking, they often walked single file. Grass stopped growing where they walked despite the fertilizer they left behind


I marveled, “Despite being so large, cow trails were only about 10 inches wide.”

My sister responded, “What made you think of them?”

I confessed, “This morning I discovered that I live in the center of a rabbit metropolis. When the snow melts away this spring, I expect to have grassless rabbit trails all over the yard. I wish I knew how to get rid of them.”

That evening I complained to my daughter Tammie, “Today Mr. Google and I researched ways to get rid of the rabbits in my yard and discovered that what was suggested to do was next to impossible.”

Tammie questioned, “What did the research suggest?”

Grumpily, I listed my options, “I’m supposed to cut down tall grass in the yard so the rabbits don’t have places to hide or nest. That’s crazy because my small yard is surrounded by farmland, a river and a wetland area. All these areas are covered with tall grasses and shrubs for bunnies to hide under. Another option is to buy a live trap cage. Trapping and relocating the rabbits would be a full-time job. Hundreds of rabbits are living around my yard. The last option I refuse to do, poison the rabbits. I would probably end up poisoning more than rabbits!”

Tammie commiserated, “That’s too bad. When there was a fox den behind our yard, we never saw a single rabbit.”

Nodding, I agreed, “I know, that’s why last year I bought fox urine crystals. I sprinkled them in the garden to keep the rabbits from eating my tender baby pea and small kale plants. It didn’t work. The smell didn’t scare the rabbits. They ate all the peas and half the kale. They knew the stinky fox was far, far away.”

Shaking my head sadly, I conceded, “Those rabbits are going to do a lot of damage to my garden again this summer. I’ll just have to let them eat what they want. Hopefully they’ll leave some vegetables for me.”

I shared ruefully, “I’d heard of people who rent goats to clear shrubby, weedy fields. When I looked today, I found two companies, ‘Rent a Goat’ and ‘Glitzy Goats LLC’. When you hire them the goatherds put a temporary fence around the area to be cleared and bring in goats to do the job. That gave me the false hope for businesses that rent out foxes, but had no luck. I didn’t find a single business with a name like Rent a Fox or Fox R US.

What does the farmer say?

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