Chapter 1: New Folks Coming
The animals on Rabbit Hill are excited that there will soon be new occupants in the Big House. Little Georgie announces this wonderful news to his parents. His mother, however, is worried that the new inhabitants might disappoint all their hopes. After all, the last tenants were slovenly and didn't do anything to keep the place up, let alone plant a garden. As a consequence, food was hard to come by for the animals. Georgie's father tries to encourage a more optimistic attitude in her; he tells her that he will take a stroll around the neighborhood to ascertain the truth of the matter.
Georgie's father remembers the old days when good tenants occupied the Big House. There was a wonderful garden then, plenty of food for all the animals, plus seed and chicken feed in the tool-shed for all the field mice. Unfortunately, the good occupants were replaced by shiftless, slovenly tenants who did not plant a garden and who let weeds and crabgrass overrun the lawn and sumac, poison ivy, and bayberry to take over the fields.
When he meets Porkey, the woodchuck, he asks Porkey whether there is any truth to the rumors about new occupants. Porkey, a shadow of the well-fed animal he used to be, has the same complaints about the last awful tenants. He tells Georgie's father that he has recently seen Bill Hickey (the carpenter), Louie Kernstawk (the mason), and Tim McGrath (the gardener) on the Big House property. Georgie's father thinks that this bodes well for all of them as the new occupants sound like they are "good Planting folk."
The Gray Squirrel reminisces with him about the good old days when the children of the Big House would rig up the spruce tree with lights; cabbages, carrots, and celery (for the rabbits), seed and suet (for the birds), and nuts of all kinds would adorn the branches. He tells Georgie's father that he hasn't heard about new people coming but is nevertheless happy to hear it might just be true.
Meanwhile, Willie Field Mouse gallops down to the mole ridge to tell his friend Mole all about the latest news. He is terribly excited that there will soon be good food again and warmth in the winter for them both. Mole teases Willie that he does all the hard work of burrowing while Willie eats all the tulips. Willie is hurt, but Mole soon admits that they work well together and that he is just teasing his friend. Willie warns Mole when mole traps and poison are set out and Mole does the digging when the all-clear has been given.
Meanwhile Phewie the Skunk is looking forward to rooting through the garbage put out by any new occupants of the Big House. Red Buck, being a deer, tells Phewie he fancies some nice young cabbage and tomatoes once in a while. All around Rabbit Hill, the atmosphere is that of great anticipation and excitement, the air ringing with the recurring phrase new folks coming.