Archive | August, 2010

A Rabbit Tale

31 Aug

Two days ago in the midst of the third leg of the morning walk I stopped before a small line of rabbit hair tufts. They were laid out in a horizontal line in front of my feet on the recently mown path between the corn and the hedgerow.  Just above the line of tufts were two small pieces of bright white cartilage and a saucer-sized area of flattened thick green grass slick and shiny with a red coat of bright blood.

Small black ants were out exploring the cartilage and blood; it was clear plans were in the works or already being carried out to bring food back for the rest of the colony. More and more appeared as I watched.

I stood looking at them for minutes while trying to convince Hawthorne I had something at my feet he would like to see.  He, meanwhile, was pushing up through the hedgerow, sniffing, snuffing, rushing back and forth.  When he finally came out he would not come to me but ran ahead 15 feet and resumed his sniffing forays.

Giving up, I walked on and at the point Hawthorne had stopped was–the rest of the rabbit!

Something had destroyed its head.  The bones of its teeth and jaw were there, twisted grotesquely, devoid of all hair and muscle but still attached to the rest of the body, which looked undisturbed.

I felt the body.  It was not long dead. There seemed to be no other marks other than the remains of the head. It was not yet cold; rigor had started in the muscles but the viscera were still all soft and the body was still limp.

What ever killed the rabbit had done so probably just before we began our walk.  But what animal kills by grabbing the head?  I think, by Hawthorne’s actions, that the rabbit was snagged in the hedgerow, or chased out of the hedgerow into the grass and killed where I found the blood spray.

My only thought: a weasel of some sort.  Did it leave the rabbit behind when it could sense we were coming?  Would it come back for the rabbit.  Hawthorne had no interest in the rabbit whatsoever. On we went, home.


This morning we went the same way home.  There was no sign of the cartilage or blood.  There was no sign of the rabbit.  Very few faint hairs remained of the line of tufts that first caught my attention.

Of Mice and Other Rodents

23 Aug

This is an almost daily sight:

Pounce crunching into his daily rodent.  Because of his summer dietary habits he needs to be wormed.  Sometimes, all I find is a tell-tail.

This is the tail of a jumping mouse.  See how long it is?  They are one of our favorite rodents.  After a certain orphan gray squirrel, of course.  A few minutes after I found this on the sidewalk, Sue, my neighbor and co-conspirator in all things pertaining to natural history called.  She had just come across a jumping mouse nest in her potato patch.  There were five babies.  Did we want them for the snake?

“No!  They are not like other mice!  They are not eating your garden!”  I read her a Wikipedia entry to prove my point:

“One hundred three mice taken in central New York had stomach contents containing the fungi of the genus Endogone and related genera. Endogone is so small the mice presumably locate it by olfaction. Fungi represent about a third of the New York diet, seeds 25%, lepidoptrous larvae and various fruits about 10%, and beetles about 7.5%. Touch-me-not seeds are found in the diet.”

Jumping mice do not eat vegetable gardens.

She then had second thoughts and decided to return them to their nest.

The five babies in a cottage cheese container.

An individual.  Note the long tail and hind foot.

The return to the nest was complicated by the fact that jumping mice do not have nests in the normal sense.  The have nesting burrows which contain very little in the way of nesting material.  The mother had returned since Sue had taken her brood and had dug around a bit looking for her nestlings.

We put some dry grass in the area and Sue patted them in.

This happened on August eighth.  Sue reported today that the mother jumping mouse had reclaimed her youngsters, re-dug the burrow, and raised them.  She has been seeing jumping activity in her garden.

The primary reason I spoke to Sue today, though,  is that she had found just outside her door and under her short clothesline next to the maple tree a small rodent which she had at first thought was a very young rabbit.  It was so wet and bedraggled and hypothermic she thought at first it was dead.

It has been raining almost straight for two days.  Over 3.3 inches of rain.  It has been quite cool. But not only is the little creature not dead yet, it is not a rabbit.

It is a young flying squirrel.  Under the heat lamp.

The web is a great quick resource for stuff like formula formulas for young animals.

While Sue and Isabelle went shopping, I babysat.  It loved being next to my skin and started crawling as it got warmer.

It ate just a little.

Got to go.  Sue just called.  Force feeding is a no-no! She is coming for a heating pad.

A New Chair Seat for an Old Chair

21 Aug

This green chair is from my great aunt Isabel’s home.  It is a favorite of mine.  But it had a problem.

That old pressed paper seat had finally given way.

Pounce loves to sleep in the chair.  On the  bottom side the tear was full cat  hair.  Yuck.  I only used it when company came and we didn’t have enough seats.

I finally got around to searching online for a replacement pressed paper seat.  And found one.  And brads to attach it.  And eventually I used brown shoe polish to color it and spreadable silicon shoe protectant over the polish. It was a very yucky off color skin tone originally.

Then after sitting a few more weeks today I asked Jay to help me. He took off the old seat.  I made a paper pattern and transferred it to the back of the new seat.  I washed the chair up but declined the offer of new paint.  I like that old patina of use and age, bare spots, paint drips, and all.

After finagling with a jig saw he discovered he could use scissors to cut the pressed paper and did so.  Then I sandpapered the edge, shoe-polished and protected the front and back again.

Then with Jay as consultant, I used his rubber mallet to pound in the brads and connect the seat to the chair.

Irregularity is the mark of hand made, right?

Voila!  A beautiful old chair with a new seat. Now up for grabs for me or Pounce.

Jay estimates I won’t even pile stuff on it for ten days.


8 Aug

SIL Dawn has a pond in which she put a lone lotus root about 10-12 years ago.  Today there is less pond than loti.  They are beautiful.  She also has a market for fresh and dried pods.

We stopped by after church today to see them in their glory.  Glory.

What’s Up?

6 Aug

Canned six, not eight, quarts of Sungold tomatoes.  The rest went into fresh salsa: tomatoes, onion, basil.

In one of the downpours that happened in 24+ hours to give us .75 inches of rain yesterday, Isabelle and I went out and washed our hair and ourselves in the rain barrel and downpour off the garage.  She had never done so and thought it was very fun.  It was.

I told her I had known people who washed their hair only in rainwater.  Later in the afternoon Sue biked in to say hi and said her grandmother had only ever used rainwater and homemade soap on her hair.  Yes, they save it from one rain to the next.  Why?  It is naturally soft; that is– without iron, calcium, lime, sulfur–minerals.  Although these days in urban areas the rain may not be very clean

Watched Marsha tack up her horse.  Then she came and ate some salsa and visited later on. Wow!  Two friends to talk to in one day!

Recently finished The Ruling Sea by Robert Redick and  yesterday The City and The City by China Mieville.  Both good.  The first is the second in a fantasy/magic/alternate world series of three.  The second shows great insight into how one city can be two separate cities (think Jerusalem) while it masquerades as murder mystery/science fiction.

This morning early Jay and I took two girls to Morrisville College for a girls soccer training weekend.  Four schools are involved.  Poor Hawthorne knew something was up and was so sad he would not even eat all his daily chicken.(We are home now.  He is happy again).

Then we went to Syracuse and bought a new mattress.

Then we drove up to Lake Ontario to fair Haven Beach State Park.  Walked the Lakeshore trail and found wonderful stones (think smooth, fossils, striations) on the beach.  The day was sunny and not too warm, even cold right there because the wind was so strong off the lake.  What was very interesting: the large numbers of individual ladybugs all along the rocky shoreline just above where the waves were reaching.  Lots and lots of them.  All different kinds.  Why?  So odd.

There was a Monarch butterfly which was trying to make headway against the wind and fly out over the lake.  A living example of the  definition of ‘futile’.

There was a Cabbage butterfly washed up after being caught by a high wave.  I dredged him out of the wet sand and moved him to a high rock in the sun to dry.  It looked green.  I think it was because so many of his colored scales had been dislodged by the water.

The lake is so huge.  The waves are so powerful.  And loud.  And yet, next to the ocean–‘eh’.  And next to the Creator–an even smaller ‘eh’.  Why worry so about my children and the choices they make?  Or do not make, as the case may be.   I want them to walk on this remote path of a beach and realize their smallness, insignificance, relative lack of power, and be grateful. I hope they can be rocks, worn smooth and beautiful; not foolhardy ladybugs and butterflies beaten into the submission of death.

EGGS.–To Preserve For Winter Use

6 Aug


For every three gallons of water, put in 1 pt. of fresh slacked lime, and common salt 1-2 pt.; mix well, and let the barrel be about half full of this fluid, then with a dish let down your fresh eggs into it, tipping the dish after it fill with water, so they roll out without cracking the shell, for if the shell is cracked the egg will spoil.

If fresh eggs are put in, fresh eggs will come out, as i have seen men who have kept them two, and even four year, at sea.  A piece of board may be laid across the top of the eggs, and a little lime and salt kept upon it, which keeps the fluid as strong at the top as at the bottom.  This will not fail you.  They must always be kept covered with the brine.  Families in towns and cities by this plan can have eggs for winter use at summer prices.  I have put up forty dozen with entire success.


This is the first of three ways to preserve eggs.

Back when electricity in coops to keep hens laying in winter was not yet dreamed of.

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