My previous home had a stand of woods behind it and a host of animals in the backyard. That first year, I started feeding peanuts to the blue jays, then the squirrels. The squirrels had no problem coming up right to me for them. As the months went by, the rabbits saw that I was no threat and began to linger, too. When I threw carrot slices, they even hopped in for a nibble. Slowly they came to trust me, and by the end of the year they were eating out of my hand.
That second year the rabbits remembered me, and one would even sit up for slices! While I was feeding them, I noticed that a groundhog who used to run away was now taking an increasing interest in this food situation. I carefully extended a long carrot, with a keen eye on those teeth, and before long, there were times I would have the groundhog sitting next to a rabbit, both munching away on carrots. As long as the groundhog had a slice, she never bothered the rabbit. In a few months, she got so trusting that, while eating, she would even turn her back to me. I decided to see just how trusting she was, so once when she was facing away, I reached out and carefully scratched her back with my finger. She didn’t budge.
By year three, the rabbits and the groundhog were back. The groundhog still didn’t have a problem with me scratching her back, and I got an idea. I’d always thought, while slicing up carrots, that the end looked like a cap. So one day, just to see what she would do, I gently placed one on top of the groundhog’s head. Again, not a twitch. The next time, I had my camera ready to capture what you see here, one of several dozen such pictures. As long as she had a slice to eat, she never bothered the one on her head. It was a fair trade—I got a chuckle, and when she dropped back down on all fours, the cap fell off and she had yet another tasty treat.