Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rabbits Kindling in Burrows


A while back I wrote about a doe that kindled under a hutch, on top of the ground. Usually the does kindle in burrows they've dug into the ground. Above is a photograph of what I call "the fence burrow" because it is dug right beside the fence. Usually it's open and the kits run in and out of it. The older rabbits don't utilize burrows.

Here's the fence burrow after a doe has kindled and there are kits hidden inside. The does close the holes up until the kits are three or four weeks old and ready to venture out. This keeps them from wandering out and getting lost or eaten, and it keeps other rabbits from getting in the burrow and stepping on the kits and killing them. I imagine in the wild it also helps hide them from predators.

The first time one of our does kindled, I saw the closed up entrance and thought all the kits must have been born dead, for her to seal off the burrow like that. I was sad. Now I know better, and I look for a closed off burrow and fur on the ground as a sign that a doe has kindled.

This burrow was used again recently, but the ground was frozen solid. There was fur around the entrance to the burrow but the ground was too hard for the doe to dig up and seal off the opening. Eventually we got a good layer of fresh snow and she used that to seal up the burrow.

The does only visit the burrows once or twice per day to nurse the kits. Other than that they ignore the burrow completely. I've read that wild rabbits do this too, and it helps avoid advertising the presence of the burrows to predators.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Lovage

This is lovage, a perennial herb that tastes very much like celery. I started some seeds in the greenhouse and transplanted it into the garden last year and it was kind of spindly and thin. It struggled. This year it looks like it's going to do quite well.

This photo was taken last week after an extended period of highs in the upper 60s and lower 70s (fahrenheit) and lows in the 40s. We've had snow for the last 4 or 5 days, and for the most part my lovage is wilted on the ground, with a few new leaves bravely sprouting. I'm confident that when the temperatures warm up the lovage will flourish.

When I taste the leaves I cannot tell the difference between lovage and celery leaves. I've read that you use it "just like celery" but last year the stems were thin and woody. I couldn't imagine those stems in my cooking and they certainly had no place in my salads. It hasn't yet grown enough to see if the stems will be larger and more tender this year.

At any rate, I intend to harvest and dry the leaves, as I would oregano or basil. That should make for some nice seasonings for winter soups and stews.

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