Tag: sheltering in place

A Rabbit is My Nemesis

Rabbit from Hell

We’re big gardeners here at Chez Small. It’s in the blood. I grew up on land that had been part of my grandfather’s dairy farm, and even my mom’s family who were poor-as-dirt country folk lived off the land and always had a garden.

So we (me and the husbot) have had a vegetable garden since moving back from Ye Ol’ England. And of course, we’ve battled a whole host of pests over the years: squirrels, mocking birds, bats, carpenter bees, squash bugs, Japanese beetles, green horned tomato worms, vine borers, ants, snakes, black widows, turtles, murder hornets (yes, we had them before they became a thing) and honestly, I could keep going on and on about the wildlife that we encounter in the garden. It’s an in running joke about what we’ll wake up and find on our soapstone porch. 

But this is the first year we’ve had to contend with rabbits.

Scratch that . . . THE Rabbit.

One autumnal morning last Fall, we looked out onto the porch, and lo and behold, the cutest littlest baby rabbit you could ever imagine was hanging out. That’s a lie. He was trying to get into the house and we thought he’d lost his everlovin’ mind, but still, he was cute, and not really scared of us and we thought, “Awww, little guy is nuts, but hey, live and let live. And he’s so cute!” I must’ve said “cute” like two dozen times. I currently hate that word because . . .

 . . . fast forward to Spring 2020. We’re stuck at home going insane during the pandemic, but hey, we still have the veggie garden to get underway and the yard looks great and all is well with the world (or as much as it can be sheltering in place).

That is until one day when the husbot notices that there’s a rabbit in the garden.

Now I should point out a couple of things:

  1. We have a ten foot brick wall, geogrid fencing, and a retaining wall with a 10-12 foot drop that requires a railing system. The only thing getting into this garden is Spiderman or a squirrel.
  2. I really wanted a pet rabbit. The irony is not lost on me that you should be careful what you wish for.

Back to the rabbit.

The husbot swears that the rabbit has created the crater-sized hole in a veggie box that contains my leeks. Skeptical, I place my bet on the squirrel because I’ve had run-ins with those fluffy rats with furry tails before – they are notorious for burying nuts in said boxes. But before I can debate the finer points of my case, we chase the rabbit out, it escapes through a hole, and I make a mental note to fix the fence.

Within 2 days, the rabbit is back and this time, we watch in dismay (okay, I watch in dismay, the husbot feels smug and vindicated) as the rabbit hops in the box and starts digging. Like a screeching harpy, I rush out the door and start yelling obscenities at the rabbit (note to self: small children live next door). It escapes through the fence. By this point, I feel like I’m living the live action version of Peter Rabbit.

Pissed, I then spend my weekend re-doing all the fencing with brand new high tensile geogrid mesh (yes, the stuff they use in construction) then secure it to the ground using landscape staples every 12 inches and even run a piece of geomesh all along the railing and retaining wall until the big wall drop. There. Take that, you weasily rabbit!

We go to have lunch several days later and you know where this is going, right, that little bastard is back inside the fence! And he’s digging another damn hole! It’s like Houdini rabbit. I have no clue how he’s gotten inside. Everything is latched down tight. But by this point, I’ve lost all rational thought. I make the husbot go outside and we corner the rabbit and torment it for a full five minutes chasing it back and forth. I’ve trapped it behind the boxes and I’m determined to a) find out where it’s getting in, but also b) scare the bejesus out of it so it doesn’t come back. 

Come to find out, through the husbot’s strong deduction skills and these wee tiny little wet paw prints that the devil rabbit has been squeezing his furry behind through the closed gate and onto the soapstone porch. At this point, many less stubborn people would’ve given up, but not me, oh no, not today Satan! I’m determined to thwart this rabbit once and for all and so I do what only a sane person would do – I WRAP THE ENTIRE GATE IN FENCING. Exhibit A – 

fence wrapped gate

This time I’m the smug one. I have finally defeated Satan’s little minion. In my mind, it was kinda like this: There is no way he can get the better of me. Ha! That rabbit thought he was smart, but I’m smarter. Stupid rabbit. I’ve got opposable thumbs, motherf*@&er!

You see where this is going again, don’t you . . . 

We sit down to lunch today to have this gorgeous Chinese chow mein that I’ve made from scratch. I’m not six bites into my noodles when the husbot is like, “You’re never going to believe it. It’s the rabbit.”

My back is to the porch and sliding glass door so I can’t see the damn thing right away, but when I turn around, which I finally do with a sigh, there he is. He’s already dug a whole in a pot only 2 feet off the porch (like he was trying to taunt me), but he’s more skittish this time. The moment he sees me get up from my chair, he backs up toward the fence. My first thought is, “that’s not going to help you this time, buddy,” until I realize my error – 



My old fence had been up over five years with nary a scratch on it, but within a week of the new one going up, that stupid rabbit has used it’s titanium-covered gnashers to go through my beautiful, shiny fence.


But this war is not over. It’s on like Donkey Kong. I’m getting chicken wire tomorrow. The husbot has pointed out that rabbits can dig, but I’ll deal with that later. For now, it’s full steam ahead. There can be only one victor . . . and it’s going to be me.

xo – shawnee




Things to do during a pandemic (PART 1)

As of this week, Chez Small is entering Week 4 of the Great Pandemic of 2020. I gotta say that the first two weeks of this madness were pretty disorienting (as they were for everyone) and we just couldn’t find our groove no matter how hard we tried. My focus was completely shot and suddenly, the whole world was full of bakers and alcoholics or drunk bakers, I’m not sure how to tell the difference. That pretty much sums up the beginning.

But now, we’re finding some semblance of normal in what is now some abnormal times. I don’t know when we’ll get back to where we were or even if that’s possible any more, but given the fact that I’ve still got at least 8 weeks being house-bound (thanks, shoddy immune system), I’d thought I’d share some insights into what has helped us to get through these stressful and uncertain times:

1. Take a Walk

I’m not a scientist (nor do I play one on TV), but walking is essential during this time of prolonged stress and curtailed activity. Without access to a gym or fitness center, walking really can make a difference to your physical and mental well-being. Google the benefits of walking just 20 minutes a day and you’ll see what I mean. If it’s good enough for Harvard then it’s good enough for me plus I always feel so much better after walking even when I have to push myself to go.

For those who are literally house-bound because you live in an apartment or somewhere without easy access to the outdoors, you can still walk inside your house by stair stepping. Going up and down your steps at a brisk pace will elevate your heart rate and boost your mobility. Bonus points for carrying that laundry basket with you!

2. Keep a Journal

journalI do this every day, 365 days a year, and have done so for the last eight years. Part of my motive was my desire to write (hello), but the bigger part was having a place to put my anxiety when I was diagnosed with a life-altering illness. I needed to take the stress and negativity out of my relationships, yet at the same time, still needed a way to get it all out. And a journal did just that.

Journals and pens is where I allow myself to go hog wild – I use high end Italian journals and top end fountain pens and inks, but any paper and pen will suffice. Your instruments of choice don’t matter – only your dedication does. You need to write every day without fail. Doesn’t matter what you vomit out onto the page. That seems harsh, but to make it work, you’ve got to build it into your routine. Create a habit. You’ll find after awhile, you get cranky if you don’t get your thoughts down on paper. When you get to that point, congratulations you’ve passed the threshold. 

3. Plant a Row

It’s amazing to me how much gardening is making a comeback right now. I guess it’s not too surprising given that people are worried about food shortages, but also, let’s be real, people are stuck at home with their loved ones and kids and need something to do – preferably not in the house.

That’s where container gardening comes in and I’m going to let you in on a secret. Are you ready for it? You don’t need no fancy boxes to grow vegetables. Hell, you don’t even need a container.

You can grow tomatoes directly in a bag of potting soil! In the UK, they call them grow bags and this video will show you how. In the US, they are literally the big 45-50 liter bags of potting soil you can pick up at any nursery or large box chain store. If you’re planting cherry tomatoes then you can probably get away with 3 plants in a bag like they would have in the UK, but for beefsteak sized tomatoes, I’d err on the side of caution of no more than 2 plants per bag of compost/potting soil.

Still, if you do have containers, you have more choices. I’ve used garbage cans and plastic bins for planting potatoes, carrots, eggplants, and melons to name a few – just make sure you drill holes in the bottom for drainage. This year before the pandemic hit, I picked up two cow troughs to give my garden that hipster look.

Shawnee's cow troughs

There are plenty of Youtube videos and websites that can give you some good ideas and you don’t have to limit yourself to just herbs or cherry tomatoes. If you haven’t tried container gardening before then I’d suggest picking up Square Foot Gardening off of Amazon or Fruits & Vegetables in Pots by DK Publishing. Lots of great photos in the latter and great for inspiration. Get out there and get dirty!

4. Make Bread

When the world falls apart, apparently, the first thing people do is bake. If I had a dollar for every Facebook post or Instagram pic that showed a picture of some tasty delicious morsel that my gluten-intolerant body can’t have, well, I’d be worth thousands of bucks by now. It seems like the vast majority of people have lost their ever-loving minds and watched too many episodes of The Great British Bake Off. I’ve seen more loaves of homemade bread just in the last couple of days then I’ve seen at a state fair. Everybody be baking!

And honestly, good for you, if you’ve dusted off your hands and gotten into the flour. Even the husbot who doesn’t cook (does toast count?) knows how to use a breadmaker and has started using it weekly. We have an Oster breadmaker (unavailable on Amazon), but both Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma do carry other brands and are in stock. I would highly suggest the Bread Machine Cookbook. You can always make bread the old-fashioned way by hand and I love this Sourdough Youtube video.

5. Read a Book

And last, but not least, drumroll, please . . . . . .

When all else fails, grab a book and read. Yes, the author is recommending books, no surprise there, but that’s what books are for – a way for us to escape our world and to jump into someone else’s. Nothing else quite satisfies like a book. The fearless heroine. The flawed villain. Or maybe non-fiction is more your thing so go peruse your online retailer for a biography or history book. Whatever you choose, books help get us out of our heads and they distract us from reality even for just a little while. Jump on board the written word train and let it take you to a new destination.

So, that’s it for this week. I’ve got 5 more suggestions for you on how to survive Corvid-19 without strangling your children or losing your mind. Stay tuned next Friday for Part 2.

See you on the other side.

xo – shawnee