Tuesday, February 9, 2016

And Then There Were Six

So on Saturday when I went to feed Trooper, I found her busily eating something in her nether regions. Bunny people aren't as surprised by this as other pet owners would be because rabbits regularly eat special poops they make (cecotropes). So we're used to it. But this went on and on and on and then there was squeaking. She'd been having some runny cecotropes so I thought (hoped) it was gas. (I'm an eternal optimist, what can I say.) Then there was more squeaking, and I freaked out.

She was hanging out in her clubhouse at the time.

So I gently picked her up and looked underneath. That's when I saw this:

And I said, "You're having BABIES???!!!!! You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!!"

Trooper said, "Duh."

And so that's how I ended up with six rabbits after rescuing one. Of course, they can't (all) stay. So if you know of anyone looking for a bunny...

At this point in the proceedings, Trooper was still recovering from her car accident. The very last thing she needed (or was capable of) was to take care of babies. I wasn't sure she was even physically able since she could barely maneuver her own self around. She kept stepping on them and they'd squeal. Fortunately, she had a vet appointment the same day so she got checked out. (If you want to support the kindness of Trooper's vet who saved her and is donating his time and resources to helping her stay alive, there's a button up there on the right.) Turns out she had some milk, but not a lot.

I've had experience raising babies from a day old, so I felt confident that I could step in if it turned out that Trooper wasn't up to the job of nursing her babies. You know what they say about confidence. It comes right before everything goes pear shaped. Those babies wanted nothing to do with me. I have nursed wild cottontail babies and they were nowhere near as squirmy as this lot. In fact, I've handled these babies for three days now, and I'm completely amazed at how tenacious and resilient and strong they are.

So far I've managed to give the runt one supplemental feeding that he accepted with grudgingly bad grace. As a work-around, I've figured out a sneaky way to get him some extra food he doesn't have to compete for. When Trooper finishes feeding everyone she always hops out and goes to get some more food and water. So I tuck the runt under her and he tops off his partially full belly. So far, he's keeping up with everyone else. He's a bit smaller, but he's thriving.

Raising the babies is very much a team effort. I'm sure Trooper would be a great mom if she wasn't recovering from being run over by a car. But after she gave birth she went from being a big, hefty rabbit to being a sack of fur and bones. There is nothing to her. Fortunately, she's begun eating on her own and once she started, she doesn't seem to be able to stop. I've never seen any animal pack away so much food. All she does is eat, drink, nap, sleep, poop, and do it all over again. Nursing babies isn't really on her radar. That's my job. I keep track of how full their tummies are, and when they're looking kinda empty, I pop her into their house and she nurses them. Sometimes I have to stand guard to make sure she actually does it because she's apt to sneak right back out again.

After they eat, they have to have their bottoms stimulated so they can pee. This is such an important job that Trooper has left it to me. That's how much she trusts me now. We're like besties. So I make them pee (read: I rub their little hineys with a warm, wet cottonball until they pee...or until I'm sure they don't have to pee.) You want to know what happens if I don't do this? They throw themselves around squeaking in agony. It's not pretty. When I'm done with them, if Trooper is interested, she gives their bottoms a thorough cleaning. Then they go back in the nest.

This is working for us right now. Trooper and the babies are spending most of their time sleeping and eating. I'm spending most of my time awake and making sure they sleep and eat. It's not perfect, but it's a system. Prepare to be blinded by cuteness because here are some baby pix:

And I'll leave you with a video of one of the babies having a kung-fu fighting kind of dream. The real action starts after 12 seconds or so:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Update on Trooper

I promised an update on Trooper, the feral rabbit I took in to nurse after she'd been hit by a car. These pictures are grim, so consider yourself warned. But the good news is that Trooper, despite being hit by a car and now fighting pneumonia, is doing remarkably well. She's not out of the woods yet, but she doesn't seem to know that. The first day she couldn't even stay upright on her own or move at all. Now she's not only moving a little, but in one picture you'll see she's stretched out snoozing.

She spent the whole day shuffling herself around on the floor on a towel spread on top of a feather bed. She tries to do normal rabbit things like shake herself, stretch, clean herself. Occasionally she topples over, but she gets right back up. (And actually looks a little embarrassed.) While you may not see much difference in the way she looks, the pictures go in order of when they were taken and she's made some fantastic progress: her lower lip is not as swollen, her eye looks good - it's beginning to open more as the swelling goes down and the vet says she'll keep it - her paw is still swollen, but she's learning how to use it to prop herself up, and she's demonstrating a tendency towards being nosy. Oh, and I'm happy to say there's absolutely nothing wrong with her bladder. She has peed on me more times than I can count.

Her coat is ATROCIOUS, but in the interests of keeping her alive, I'm restraining myself. I would like to give her a sponge bath, but I won't do it until she's past the danger point with the pneumonia. In addition to the brown staining from the Critical Care I'm feeding her, which is messy stuff, she's also a dingy yellow all over. And when I sponged the blood off her face, I uncovered blue on her cheek and under her chin. ??? I'm wondering if someone dyed her at some point and this is what's left?

She goes back to the vet on Monday. I'll try to post a new report then as I should have more news about the pneumonia. (p.s. Excuse the bunny beans in the pic...she fell asleep just after she made them, and it was a choice between getting a cute pic of her sleepy self or cleaning the area first and risk waking her. I took the shot.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Her Sassiness

Here's Brontë being her usual nosy, sassy self. I was trying to take pictures of the hoarfrost on the flowers, and she came bouncing up the hill to see what I was doing. Notice the other, less nosy animals, in the background wondering what on earth she finds so fascinating.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ambushed by Awwwwwwwww

The sheep and I were minding our own business yesterday morning, merely walking out to the movable pasture where they graze in the morning, when we were suddenly menaced ferociously by these little rascals.

The sheep would have jumped out of their fleece (if they'd still had any). Instead they bolted. Siobhan was on a leash and nearly took my arm off. The others jumped halfway across the meadow. (I have to admit, before the sheep startled I had walked right by and seen nothing.)

In these photos they are only minutes old. One is still wet and neither one can stand up yet, but the older one was trying. (If you want to know what they are saying to each other, you'll have to check out their photo album on our FB page.)

When I let the llamas out, they immediately discovered MamaDeer and the babies and were lined up along the fence rubbernecking. Roux, in particular, was enthralled. MamaDeer didn't seem to mind much. That is, she didn't seem to mind Roux and Jak-Jak much. I was a different story.

I crept up and watched them for awhile, and Roux could have given MamaDeer the "all clear nothing to worry about here" but instead he kept staring at me with a "I've never seen that scary person before in my life" expression that did nothing to help MamaDeer understand I was harmless. So I didn't stay long. I did find one baby several times later on because she likes to cuddle up right next to the fence. How cute is that???

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Home on the Range

♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ Oh, give me a home where the alpacas are prone, 
        And the sheep and the llama all play...♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

Beatrix: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

Oh, those glorious curls!!!!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Come With Me

The light this morning was amazing, in that we actually had some for a change. So I took my camera with me when I walked down to the barn to see what I could see. And one thing I saw was this strange plant that was part botany and part sheep.

I am still learning how to use this camera, which is new and could probably be programmed to run my entire household it's so fancy, but even keeping that in mind I was blown away by the quality of the images I captured. I so miss photography. I miss my old Minolta Maxxum. But I have to say that in this area technology truly satisfies my need for instant photographical gratification.

Granted, there's not a lot of color in the landscape at the moment, but considering this is winter light, I think the quality is luminescent.

More fiber. It practically does grow on trees.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wild America

I know I'm late posting this...more on that, and the reason for it, later. For now, check this out and Happy New Year!

These guys:

came to check out the hens:

A couple flocks of turkeys hung around near the house all summer. There was even one lone turkey I called Romeo. We're not sure why s/he was kicked out of the big flocks, but s/he seemed lonely. 

Turkeys are VERY aware of their surroundings. I had trouble getting pictures of them up close because even though they came close to the house (they even chased the chickens across the front yard at one point) they noticed the slightest movement and immediately headed for the woods. That's what the group in the first picture is doing. They got to the edge before I'd even focused the camera. The bottom picture was taken from inside the house. 

I have to say, I really enjoy having them around. And they are HUGE. Much bigger in person than I expected them to be. It's fun to watch them interact. By the end of the summer they had started to tolerate me and wouldn't immediately take off when they noticed me if I was far enough away. Haven't seen them since Thanksgiving. I hope that doesn't mean anything significant. Hopefully they're just wintering over somewhere in the woods and will be back in the spring with lots of little turkeys.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Play Time

Rachel playing a game of Can You Eat That Piece of Hay? with one of the cottontail babies.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Growing Up

These were taken a few days ago at 3 weeks. We're in the homestretch. Countdown to release ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Little Visitors

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter came back to visit this year and they brought their friend Benjamin Bunny with them.

Needless to say I haven't been getting much sleep.

This one, we'll say this is Benjamin since I can't tell them apart, drank his formula, peed a river, and then crawled up into my hand where he proceeded to curl up and fall asleep licking me. One little monster promptly bites me before he deigns to start eating his formula. They've all just finished opening their eyes which means they are approximately 7-8 days old today.

I don't know their back story. My vet's office called to see if I would foster them. They'd been brought in after someone found them. As much as I don't want their poor mother to be dead I really hope someone saw her get mangled by a dog or watched the nest for 24 hours before rescuing these little guys. What is more often the case is that someone comes across a nest and thinks the babies have been abandoned because mother rabbits don't spend much time taking care of their young. They visit the nest only a couple times a day to nurse. This kind of negligent mothering causes many people to think cottontail babies have been abandoned. These kind-hearted rescuers are actually stealing baby rabbits from their moms.

Unfortunately, rabbits, due to their incredibly sensitive, difficult to balance digestive systems are the hardest of all babies to raise. It takes approximately 8 hours a day just to feed these little guys. I am fortunate in that I have domestic rabbits who can "donate" cecotropes to populate their guts with good flora. Without them their doom is pretty much ensured. Even with dedicated nursing and supplemental cecotropes there is no good replacement baby formula for rabbits which makes for a high mortality rate. Which means, no matter how hard I try I could lose most or all of these little guys.

But for right now, everyone is eating, peeing, pooping, and sleeping. Big thank you to my daughter, Rachel, who pitches in to help with some feedings. She's a pro:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Little of This Going on Today

... before the writing got started. Figured I ought to get it done before the rain set in for the next few days.

Ah, the wonders of Kool-aid. And tea.

Eat Your Weeds

No, seriously.

Step 1: Weed garden

Step 2: Wash your weeds

Step 3: Sauté and enjoy!!

Today's episode of Eat Your Weeds was brought to you by pigweed. (As I was cooking this my daughter wandered by, looked in the pan, and asked, "Is that pigweed? Yum!!")

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Letter to my Sweetie


Before you go look at what I did in the garden please try to remember that I'm not like everyone else. And just because something has never been done before doesn't mean it has no merit. It only means that no one has ever been clever enough to try it before. So just because you never thought of planting a pumpkin patch in clay pots next to the porch so they'll climb up and hide the ugliness beneath/behind does not mean it can't be done. Yet. And just because you never tried to plant the potatoes in hay alongside the front of the garden to save space doesn't mean it's not a good idea. It may end up being another way not to do something but only time will tell. So let me try my little crazy experiments. After all, you're at least as crazy as I am. As evidence I submit our marriage license.

Also, I have a message from the compost pile. You know, the one that's been growing all winter when I dump the bunny poo on it? It says it has two words for you: gold mine. Now who's dissing the bunny poo, baby? Huh? Huh? I could sell this stuff. If I was as rich in money as I am in compost I'd be a billionaire.

So try to remember all that before you go have a look-see at the garden. My thumb may be black and yours may be green but let's try to be colorblind for awhile this summer, OK?

The Love of Your Life

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Long Time Gone

Smelling this . . .

Magnolia. There is a difference between how it smells as the morning sun hits it and the fragrance it gives off in the warm night air. The morning notes sneak up on you, like a quiet song. In the evening they surround you like a symphony, drawing you right up to the tree to glory in them.

Blooming right next to it is this . . .

Forsythia. Together they are like the sun and the moon.

Welcome back, Spring. You've been a long time gone. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Death by Artattack

I don't mind admitting that I'm exhausted. Not only by the relentless last two years that involved writing a 365 page, heavily researched book on 365 completely different topics followed by a mad 4-month dash to create inventory in time for a festival and teaching at a retreat. That was all exhausting, no question. But what I find even more bone-crushingly draining is the suspicion that maybe this sort of artistic life isn't really viable after all.

Working every hour God sends six days a week isn't so bad when it's work that you like, but even people doing work they like need a break sometimes. Even work you like has its demanding, frustrating, annoying moments. And at the end of the day standing behind that work, laid out naked and exposed on a table like a newborn infant, smiling at strangers, hoping they "get it" and connect with your vision, and fall in love and Must. Have. It. and feeling your heart sink as they admire and handle and then ultimately walk away empty-handed, that, my friends, not only takes great courage, but I'm beginning to fear, great stupidity.

A friend who has made a desperate effort to keep her artistic endeavors going but has made no secret about the fact that the struggle may soon prove fatal to her business said, "People tell me to hang in there and not quit but then they don't buy anything. If no one buys anything how can I stay in business?" Heading home with almost nothing to show for my efforts, her words ringing in my ears, I can't help but wonder, does the world really need art the way I need art? Because I need it passionately. I need all kinds. I need art in my clothing, my possessions, my tools, my surroundings, on my walls, in my house, all around me. But maybe I'm alone.

Maybe the world is happy with stock pictures in frames from big chain stores and mass produced clothes and million-of-a-kind possessions. Maybe the world isn't as dedicated as I am to expressing myself in every way possible, part of which is by purchasing real things, things someone made with their hands, not mass produced by machine in a third world country from dubious materials where the laborers got paid $1/day for their work. Yes, maybe that means I don't own as much, but what I own has meaning to me, whether for what it represents about me or the connection I felt the maker express in its creation.

Are you happy, world? Do you feel a deep sense of connectedness with the mass produced? Should artists all hang up their tools and get 9-5 jobs instead of 24-hour-a-day jobs? Should art be allowed to die a dignified, if very lonely death? Because if that's the case I'd rather let it die now while there's still some shred of dignity still clinging to it than watch it get beaten to death over the course of agonzing months only to lie gasping and suffering on the pavement outside the next venue, or the next, or the next when it finally, inevitably dies of a lack of interest.

If you like artists, won't you consider supporting them? There are so many to choose from. Support their vision and their way of life. Most people think artists live a very lackadasical life but the very opposite is true. Yes, they may get supreme satisfaction from their work but it's generally never-ending. It begins the moment their minds engage in the morning and doesn't turn off until they pass out at night. Artist does not equal slacker, quite the opposite. And they can only live off their art if people see value in it and purchase it. End of story.

I'm trying to do my part. I support other artists by purchasing their products for myself and to use in my own work. But there needs to be a collective, concentrated effort if the little artist is going to survive. The next time you need to buy a gift, dare I suggest you check out the work of artists before going to a major chain? Handmade is so much more personal. If you don't know what they like artisan sites like Etsy offer Etsy gift cards so the lucky person can choose for themself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, please feed the artists; they're starving. Do more than "like" someone's work. Purchase it so they can make more. Or, before you know it, there won't be anymore.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Please Pass the Lettuce

I think I am in desperate need of some lettuce this week. I always thought Beatrix Potter's mention that it was soporific was invented, but not so. Not only is it soporific, but also helps calm the nerves. Why didn't I stock up at the grocery store? Why??