Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Requiem for Baby Bunnies (RIP!!)

Ok. Hana's a dog and, therefore, inclined to do doggie things, such as eyeing small mammals and birds like one of her hapless squeaky toys. Not quite as harmless as it sounds, especially if you know what she actually does to her squeaky toys. I am reluctantly squeamish to admit that in her lifetime, she's killed one squirrel, two gophers, and two house finches. The squirrel-gophercide episodes I can live with, but the house finch thing still befuddles me. Hana's prowess in bird hunting is formidably scary - more feline than canine, so thank goodness that her interest in birdies has waned considerably since the last "incident."

Hana is pretty much under constant supervision except when she's out in the dog run doing her duty, etc., etc. So what could go wrong in an enclosed dog run? Well, enter the scene a stupendously stupid mother rabbit. Not being judgmental here, but what kind of wild leporid would build her freaking nest in a DOG RUN of all places. You'd think that the tell-tale scent of doggie poop & urine would have been a major deterrent.  Last Friday night, around 9:30pm, we noticed that Hana was MIA and so I went down to the dog run to see if she was hanging out there. Let me tell you, but then maybe I shouldn't: I found Hana behind a clump of geraniums along the wall looking super alert, tail wagging, and "guilty" at the same time when she saw me at the door - that's code for "Mom, I know I did something bad, but I couldn't help myself and, and I don't know why, but I'm totally beside myself with inexplicable excitement." Foregoing the unnecessary details, the final body count of baby rabbits in the dog run was eight. She found the nest under the geraniums and I'm just surprised that she hadn't noticed them earlier. The "happy" ending to this otherwise morbid and morose story is that we found two babies who had escaped their siblings' fate. Needless to say, Hana was banned from her own dog run until we could figure out how to save these little guys. After some cursory research on the web, I felt oddly relieved to find that there were tons of blogs, websites, and chats galore along the lines of  "HELP! MY DOG/CAT ATTACKED A NEST OF BABY BUNNIES." Apparently, rabbits are not the brightest bulbs in the pantheon of wild critters. So, Hana is somewhat vindicated. Somewhat, being the operative word. 

We rebuilt the nest with some barley hay and put the one baby we caught back into it, hoping that mom would return to nurse them. The second baby had initially disappeared under the shrubbage, but found its way back to the nest by the next morning. We wanted so badly to name them. But, they were never ours to keep, just to rescue. 

A few interesting factoids about wild bunnies: 
1) Mother rabbit only comes to the nest 2-3 times a day (usually early morning and dusk) to nurse her babies for 5-10 minutes (rabbit's milk is extremely rich & loaded with nutrients). They don't sit on the nest like birds would, to avoid attracting predators. OBVIOUSLY, that concept doesn't work too well if you build your nest in a dog run, for God's sake... 

2)Unless mother rabbit is dead, always, always, put the babies back into the nest. Even if you handle the babies, mom won't be detracted by the human scent.  

3)In about 4 weeks, when they reach 4-5", eyes are open, ears away from the head, and the little white stripe on their foreheads diminished, baby bunnies are ready to leave the nest. Thank the deuces that these babies looked on the verge of fledging, so to speak. By this morning, both babies were gone. We're happy and sad. Anyhoo, we just started letting Hana back into the dog run, but only with one of us there to watch her. We'll keep this up for the next few days until we're absolutely sure the babies are not coming back. Sniff. May they live long and prosper. As long as they don't eat anything growing in my garden. 

Some informative websites about rescuing baby bunnies: 


Back in the reconstructed nest.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Speechless Saturday: SNOW in SoCal? In April?

It's not unusual to get a bout of cold weather in Southern California in April, but in the 5 years we've lived in La Cresta, last night's dusting of snow was a first. Initially, I thought we had some accumulation of hail and/or heavy frost, but on closer examination of all the fluffy white powder on the plants, the grounds, etc., I had to conclude we got snowed on. At least I hope so. Frost happens up here, but it tends to look more icy than "powdery" and it's usually only on the ground (this stuff was on the plants, the fence posts, landscape lighting, etc.).  So bwahahahahaaaaa!!!....was all I could emote as Gil & I reverted to kindergarten mode in our giddy exhilaration over this meteorological anomaly. By the time I took these pictures around 8:00am this morning, a lot of the snow had begun to melt off already...too bad we weren't up to see it coming down late last night.

4/9/11 Fence posts.

Veggie bed.

Back patio.

Deck on back patio.

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea).

Logs next to the pond.

My poor tomatoes! Just transplanted them last weekend. 

Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Scallions & cilantro, basking in the frost.

California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa).

St. Francis with a patch of snow on his head. Hope that frock is keeping him warm...

Herb garden.

Frozen pot of Stone Crop (Sedum sempervirens).
Frozen pot of 'Sunset Strain' Bitter Root (Lewisia cotyledon).

Now for a comical interlude. As I was surveying the whitish landscape this morning, I noticed a little drama unfolding with some California Quail and a wannabe cholo bunny. So here's the wabbit staring down a couple of reposing quail.

Wabbit tries the "I'm in your face mo fo" kind of thing, but to no avail.

Then, for effect, he lunges at the meditative girl quail.

Alas, disgusted with the quail's blase response, Wabbit bounds off, a sore loser in this one-sided piss-off match. 

All in all, a fun day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring has sprung, despite the schizo weather.

Okaaaay. Rain, rain, & then some more rain (so much for La Nina), frost, some days of record high temps, and now back to the proverbial norm. These are the meteorological vicissitudes this past winter-now spring season that have given a kick of joie de vivre to our LoCal SoCal weather wizards a la Fritz Coleman and Dallas Raines. 

Lots of stuff blooming now, both native and in the garden. 

3/12/11 Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum).

3/12/11 Antelope Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata).

3/12/11 Sticky Cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa).

3/12/11 Island Tree Poppy (Dendromecon harfordii).

3/12/11 Pink-Flowered Currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum).

3/19/11 In the desert garden, Pink Fairyduster (Calliandra eriophylla).

3/19/11 Prickly Phlox (Leptodactylon californicum). This one's still a baby, along the fenceline. 

3/19/11 Not sure what kind of lupine this is. There are a few of these growing on the slope off the driveway. Native or not? To be or not to be? Must break out the Jepson on this one.

3/19/11 California Peony (Paeonia californica). Native to the property. We have a dozen+ of these in the chaparral stand at the front entry.

3/19/11 Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus). Another native to the property. Quite prolific, too, I must say...

3/20/11 White Desert Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa ssp. marginata). These beauties are oh so fragrant.

3/20/11 Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) and Parish's Stream Lupine (Lupinus latifolius parishii) in a planter along the north side of the house.

3/20/11 Pearly Everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum). These are ubiquitous on the property and make for great dried flower arrangements.

3/20/11 Beautiful Rockcress (Arabis pulchra gracilis). 

3/20/11 A rainy day, the day before spring.

3/21/11 Weather was still dicey the next day (first day of spring), but that rainbow was a good sign.

3/21/11 And a baby bunny on the patio. 

3/24/11 When you have to drag yourself out of bed at crack of dawn to go to work, it's worth it if you get to see this (view from Clinton Keith Rd.)

3/25/11 Rain and more rain.

3/27/11 'San Gabriel' Fremontodrendron.

3/27/11 Silver Dune Lupine (Lupinus chamissonis).

3/27/11 Beautiful new bronzy foliage of Paradise Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pajaroensis).

3/27/11 Western Bluebird (boy to the left, girl hiding behind the trunk of the Mexican Elderberry, on the right).

3/27/11 A drove of wabbits. 

More wascally wabbits.

4/1/11 'Margarita BOP' Penstemon.

4/1/11 Sticky Phacelia (Phacelia viscida).

4/1/11 Red-Skinned Onion (Allium haematochiton). These have naturalized under the Konocti Manzanitas. 

4/1/11 Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca), in the herb garden.

4/1/11 One of the Ladies (Vanessa species) on Cedros Island Verbena 'De La Mina.'

4/1/11 Five Spot (Nemophila maculata).

4/1/11 Western Vervain (Verbena lasiostachys).