If He Hollers, Let Him Go

Back from my blogging hiatus–that is, I am back from the Dakota Rural Action Food Summit this past weekend and back from the Center for Rural Affairs/DRA Farm Beginnings and Microentrepreneur/Rural Assistance Workshop this morning and back from the farm this afternoon.

The Food Summit in Rapid City was awesome–great workshops, good turnout, and a lovely keynote by Deborah Madison. Perhaps because South Dakota isn’t quite so far along as many other states in the local food movement, the reception was more intimate than mobbed, and the food was excellent–made from local ingredients by acclaimed chef M.J. Adams of the Corn Exchange.

But my favorite part of the summit was meeting so many great people–some I’d had contact with via e-mail and phone, some I’d never met before. There were quite a few people there who were starting or had recently started farmers markets–it was exciting to talk to them about their plans and give what advice I could.

After this morning’s workshop and a little lunch, I headed back out to the farm. I knew the weeds and grass would be high–we’ve had so much rain coming in such strong downpours that valley fields are flooded, and on the slopes, everything is growing fast.

I took out the brush mower and started moving wires in order not to repeat the accident of last week, when I hit the electric fence by accident, wound the wire around the head of the mower, and snapped a big section of the fence.

And then I started mowing, and rabbits started running–baby rabbits to be exact.  I did hit one with the mower in the large grassy section between the east and northeast gardens, so I removed the body from the garden and kept going, watching the grass part ahead of me as the other baby bunnies scurried for better cover.

I had to stop the mower once I got that big section mowed–I couldn’t get some of the grass and weeds near the edge of the chard row without jeopardizing the protective row cover over the plants, and I wanted to do a nice wide strip around the outside of that garden to remove the cover the bunnies are using to infiltrate and nibble the plants. In short, I wanted to give the predators an advantage.

So I shut off the mower, and I started pulling grass right by the edge of that row cover–grabbing big handsful of grass and wrenching it out by the roots, shaking out the soil and tossing the weeds aside.

And then I went to grab some more weeds up by the roots, and I grabbed something soft, and that soft thing squealed at me.

I dropped it immediately, of course, not wanting to be bitten by whatever it was I picked up, and a baby bunny went running off down into the east garden.  I hesitated for a moment, then chased it until it wiggled through the fence onto the neighbor’s property.

I’ve heard from gardeners in town that the rabbits are bad this year–and we have seen quite a lot out at the farm.  Some get fed to the dog; some get left for the coyotes.  I don’t mind a few rabbits out there–I’m not trying to wipe them all out–but it is getting a little ridiculous.

So, my mowing and clearing seems to be the best strategy in order to allow the predators to help me out with the rabbit issue–take away the cover, so if they do decide the garden is irresistible, they have to cross wide open spaces to get there.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Frank James on July 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Rebecca didn’t mention it in this post but she was one of the presenters at the first workshop at the Small Farm Summit in Rapid City. She did a great job describing the Vermillion Farmers Market experience with Food Stamp/EBT and debit cards.
    She was informative and enthusiastic about the program. In short, she helped set the tone for a great Food Summit.
    So, thank you Rebecca.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on July 15, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Thanks, Frank!

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