I was sitting out in my backyard the other day, admiring my handiwork.
I’m not a lawn and garden fanatic, but I did manage to make time to mow, so I was feeling a Little smug.
I had a staring contest with my neighbor — Mrs. Rabbit.
She likes to sit there stock still and pretend I can’t see her from across the yard.
I say “she” because I was mowing one day about a month ago and heard some squeaking.
I looked down and near the mower was a nest of what looked like large baby mice.
Upon closer inspection — mainly the long ears — I realized they were baby bunnies.
I felt bad, coming so close to killing them and uncovering their hidden spot.
I mowed around them, grabbed a couple large leaves and a few twigs and gently covered them back up.
A few weeks later now, the nest seems empty, so hopefully mommy dragged them over to the space under the shed.
According to the local game warden, we’re supposed to just leave small animals in place because the parents will be back.
I don’t believe in killing unnecessarily — except maybe a rattlesnake that wants to enter my home.
I remember a time a few years ago, I was working as the editor of a small weekly paper in the mountains of western North Carolina.
I was driving in my jeep down a dirt, winding mountain road and a squirrel was crossing in front of me.
As anxious as the critters are, he ran to the left across the road and suddenly darted back.
I was surprised and reacted by driving off the road that was elevated about three feet.
That sent me down into a gully and through a thicket. No problem for a jeep with big tires, but some of the saplings poked through and ripped the $800 cloth convertible top.
I felt pretty silly. Given the right time, place and season, as a hunter, I’d put that squirrel in a frying pan for dinner — or maybe a snack — and here I’d spent nearly a grand — with taxes, shipping and handling — to save the little rodent’s miserable life.
I decided from then on, I’d slow down, stop ,beep the horn and flash the lights, but I wasn’t going off the road for another critter.
Except maybe to avoid a longhorn steer or buffalo they have roaming in the dark on the way back from Medicine Park late one night.
But that’s another story.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.