I was out back picking the cucumber beetles off my cucumber plant last weekend when I noticed that the holes in my vegetable garden fence were a little more “gaping” than they’d been a few days earlier. The plastic fencing is depressingly old and brittle – I’ve had the same roll for a few summers, now – and I tore it quite a bit while putting it up a couple months ago. I should have just stopped and bought a new roll of fence then, but instead I got frustrated and manhandled it, forcing it onto the metal stakes and ripping critter-sized holes into the fragile webbing.
Remorse set in immediately after the job was done. “Well that’s no good,” I assessed. “I should not have done that.”
Several days later I saw an adolescent rabbit on the inside of the fence and rushed outside to chase him away, yelling mother-f-bombs and brandishing whatever I held in my hand at the time. (It was a soup spoon.) The rabbit panicked and raced back and forth shitting his pants within the confines of the garden before finally dashing out a hole in the fence big enough for… well, a baby rabbit.
I returned to the house, satisfied.
I decided to stop worrying about the fence. I knew it was a problem but I really, and I can’t stress this enough, didn’t feel like going to the hardware store for a new roll. It’s kind of a headache to put up and I’d only ever seen that one rabbit in there. Also, to be honest, I had my hands full with the cucumber beetles and my curiosity in suburban farming simply would not endure pest wars on multiple fronts. As it was I was one more goddamn beetle away from letting the whole thing go to weeds.
I walked over to examine the gaping holes and my gaze drifted to my bean plant:
A rabbit, presumably the same punk rabbit from a few weeks ago, had eaten just about every leaf off my plant. I felt violated and impotent, but mostly just sad. Sad and furious.
So with my head low, shoulders slumped and blood boiling, I drove the four miles to the hardware store and bought a new package of plastic fencing. I was back at the house no more than twenty minutes later tearing down the old one. I also weeded and put down some fancy mulch before stringing up the new fence.
Do you like my panoramic picture? I just learned how to do that! Also, can you see the bean plant? No, you can’t.
It took a while to thoroughly weed the entire bed and then mulch and put up the new fence, and I’d pretty much cooled down by then. So the rabbit ate my plant. He didn’t get every leaf; it might bounce back. Furthermore, the joke’s on him – the leaves taste awful; the beans are the real prize.
The last thing I did before clipping on the new fence was pop off the beans. After all that farming, I deserved a bean feast.
A bean feast, I don’t need to remind any of you, is on Veruca Salt’s litany of demands prior to her Bad Egg demise in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was her wish, apparently, to toil in the dirt for a couple hours in the hot July, Philadelphia sun and then snack on a handful of raw beans. Oh, one of those!
(Please, do not tell me what a bean feast actually is; the truth will ruin the entire movie for me.)
It’s only been a few days, but the bean plant already has some new leaves and more beans are beginning! In a cruel, Gift of the Magi twist, however, the new fence is too high for me to reach down and pick them. In the olden days, I could have just stuck my arm through a hole in the fence, not that there would have been any beans to pick. Such is the life of a suburban farmer…