Saturday, April 16, 2011

full moon birth

So as we all were taking a rainy day nap today, Miss Tahoe kindled with apparent ease. The kits were clean, dry, warm, and in the nest with plenty of wool. It is of my understanding that rabbits give birth within 15 minutes. So getting them all in the nest is all luck and perhaps some primal intelligence for a new mother. Rabbits don't pick up their young and carry them like a cat or a dog might do. Being born in the nest is a must for survival.

I am so happy that everybody made it through. I was getting nervous as Tahoe was three or four days late. I was worried, because Tahoe is an excellent rabbit in every way. First and foremost she is sweet and friendly. She has a gentle spirit. Second, she has nice wool and has a great shape and color. She is special. She is Sophia's rabbit. But I like her a whole lot. I would hate to lose her.

Just so people know, these rabbits are bred responsibly. They are bred only to improve their qualities, including personality. I believe breeding an inferior trait is irresponsible. If a rabbit is not show quality and it is kept or sold as a pet, it needs to be neutered. All of my rabbits are kept separately in comfortable homes and get supervised exercise in a pen in the green grass. They are fed a special quality diet to keep them healthy and happy. It is not cheap. There are no "accidents". I am starting a small herd, so I will keep all of my babies for right now. Taking on this breed takes work. They need to be groomed regularly if you want the rabbit to be healthy and the wool to be prime. People who own English Angora Rabbits, are dedicated to their care. The term "bunny hugger" is a good representation of most owners.
I chose the English Angora because they a sustainable living part of our farm. Plus, they are smaller than sheep or alpacas! Although, I would love to own an alpaca too! They are harvested for their wool (not fur) three to four times a year. They can be clipped or plucked. I have decided to clip. Their wool is then spun into yarn, usually with silk or another natural fiber. It is a treasure, the wool. A gift. It goes both ways. The rabbits are loved and taken care of and they give back accordingly.

Rabbits poo is great fertilizer for the garden. They are a part of a permaculture system. Although, my beagles do seem to love to snack on a fresh pellet or two, or a dozen. Snacks and fertilizer. Nothing goes to waste.

So here are the kits! Aren't they amazing? I think so. Full moon magical bunnies.

Living it up here in Wild Wonderful West Virginia,

Friday, April 15, 2011


Tahoe our English Angora doe has not kindled as of yet. I am trying not to cause to much static energy around her and am limiting my "peeking" into her nest to a minimum. I hope she is able to be a good first time Mom. You know quite a few of us are not. Like me for example. I was hovering over my first child (almost 20 years ago) every few minutes. I slept next to her crib, hardly slept and checked to make sure she was breathing every chance I could. I worried about her pee and poop and the right kind of diapers. I boiled everything that she might put in her mouth. All she has to do is make a little whimper and I was there ready to change, then feed, then change, then rock her back to sleep. Sounds like a good Mother right? Not really. I should have slept when she slept. I should have let her whimper and wait to see if perhaps she would go back to sleep. Speaking of sleep, I was doing her no favors by rocking her to sleep, then placing her in the crib. She really needed to learn how to be peaceful and find slumber on her own terms. There was plenty of other time for rocking. Plenty. I was too tense, too worried, too much. The result: a tired, stressed out Mom. Was that good? I tell you, by my second child and even more so with my third, I was relaxed and so were my babies. I hope I can somehow translate this to Tahoe. Embrace her with this energy and wisdom all the while I am out with a flashlight at 2 am and 50 mph gusts of wind blasting over the mountain blowing at me while I pull back the layers and peek in at her nest... again.  ~crow

Monday, April 11, 2011


My sweet lil' Tahoe (an English Angora rabbit doe) is due to kindle on Wednesday. Her nest is in place and she seems to be arranging and rearranging the contents which include, her wool, pine shavings and some nice second cut hay that my sweet neighbor had delivered here by her son. I wrapped Tahoe's hutch tonight after the sun went down to make sure there are not drafts. It is supposed to get cold the next few days and I want her kits to stay warm and cuddled in. I hope she does well. From what I understand, first time mothers are not always successful. I haven't seen any percentages, but it sounds like it is a 50/50 chance to have alive kits, that stay alive. New moms can accidentally stomp them, or drag them out of the nest while they are attached to a teat. There can be cannibalism too. I guess they have an instinct to rid of any blood scent to protect the nest. So, they can eat their young. Yuck. I have been talking to her calmly and making sure she is doing ok. Her belly is big!

My other doe Blue Topaz, is due to kindle the following week. I need to take her prime wool by the end of this week and set her nest. She has really fluffed up into a huge puff-ball. We will do a photo-shoot before I harvest the wool. Quite a looker, but she does not like to be handled. I am still working with her on this. I am not sure what her deal is. I heard that mothering sometimes settles them down. I will see.

All I can do is to keep the energy calm and hope for the best. I will keep you posted.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


I skipped going to the market to sell my early crop plants and opted for a day in the mountains. Sophia had her pink backpack full and zippered up on Friday as soon as she heard that there was a change in plans.
She is so easy breezy.

Lucky for me I have a spouse, who is also a botanist and knows some very cool places to go and play. Some of these places are not exactly public land. I will leave it at that. Our quest was to gather herbs. We packed some water and snacks and jumped in the truck, It was especially exciting for me because we have had a major rain event here in this area for the past two days and there was water flowing everywhere. On an earlier post I talked about my little problem, (my obsession with weather) so seeing the river flood plains filled and streams bursting with water awoke the monster inside. There was several road blow outs (where the water washed over the road). At one spot, the mountain was washed right across the road. By the time we got there the road was cleared and the earth was piled up on both sides. It was a major event. The ride there was thrilling enough. We drove through switch backs and up and over mountains until we we hit a valley and when we couldn't go any further we parked the truck and got out and headed up.

on our way... up
Sophia and her pink back pack


we start to see wildflowers

old mine head
Rusty and Sophia

Rusty and Sophia find ramps
I like trees

I had my el-cheapo camera again! But I am still happy to bring back this memory and moment of Spring in Appalachia. It makes me think about th

May Apple (podophyllum peltatum)
First starts of Blue Cohosh (Caulophylum thalictroides)
Liverwort (vascular)  (Hepatical triloba)
Liverwort (vascular)  (Hepatical triloba)
Wild Geraniums (Geranium maculatum)
Wild oregano
Spotted waterlead (Hydrophylum macrophyllum) (and some wild geranium)
Baby angelica (Angelica sylvestris)
Rusty shows me a yellow violet (Viola hastata)
wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)
blue skies and a poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
break time and my boots

crow rock
fiddle heads (Polystichum acrostichoides) We ate them.
fiddle heads (Polystichum acrostichoides)
coal leftovers
ramps (Allium trcoccum)
harvested for dinner -ramps (Allium trcoccum)
 Coyote Tracks (Canis latrans)

 Coyote Tracks (Canis latrans)
Grapevine (Vitis sp.)
Sophia cooling her feet after the hike

 Rusty is a great teacher. He has a genuine love for nature and has a broad knowledge base.With this, and his enthusiasm, he makes learning fun. It is always an adventure. Sophia and I listened carefully to the names of the plants and the descriptions. Sophia really enjoyed learning, and was able to point out plants as she learned them.

The sun was in the east when we started and climbed over our heads then started it's journey westward by the time we left. Sophia asked if she could have her birthday there this year. Cute. Happy. Child.

But the day did not end there! When we made it home, I talked to my neighbor Shirl. He gave me a ton of eggs. I added those to my eggs, and added them to the duck eggs that were already cooking in the incubator. My incubator is now full. In 21 days I will have assorted fowl!

I repotted some of my 72 basil plants. I potted the wild oregano that we dug up in the woods and fed all of the animals (late).

Then, Rusty and I coaxed, chased and rodeo-ed Sling Blade the pig back up to the top garden area. He is getting huge and strong! Sling should have that tilled up again for us in a day or so. It is about time for planting the cold crops! whoo-hoo!

Rusty mowed the grass hung a load of laundry out and made dinner. Thank goodness. I was pooped. He is all over these mountains on a regular basis and has much more stamina than I do. Plus he is 10 years younger than me. All I had left in me was to lift a cold beer to my mouth. *sigh* I never drink beer. But tonight it tasted good. Really good.

ah... what a great life here in Wild &Wonderful WV!

Whispers from the Woods: The Lore & Magic of Trees