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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Moulting Squirrel

In recent weeks I've taken a few photographs of a squirrel who lives in my yard.  I never really thought about squirrels moulting (or molting, if you live in the US!) before, but after looking closely at the photographs I took, I realized that the moulting process is quite distinct, and also takes quite a long time to progress.

Here was my squirrel friend on March 18 after getting a peanut treat.  At this point, her coat is still quite normal for winter.  You can see the reddish tone along the top line of her back.

I first noticed that the squirrel was looking a bit "ragged" in mid April.  Here you can see there is a faint line on the foreleg where the fur has begun to moult - the line is caused by the longer "winter coat" hairs.  The shorter summer fur is on the lower leg and paw.  This was on April 15.

I didn't get a lot of great pictures of her in May, but here you can see the line of moulting fur is progressing down her shoulder somewhat, and on her rear leg.  This is on May 5.

I'm calling this squirrel "she" because when I was taking pictures in May, I noticed that she was most probably nursing babies, based on her appearance here.

Here she is on May 29 - now you can really see that the moult has progressed over much of her body and the winter coat is still stubbornly holding on at her shoulders and rear haunches.

This shot shows how the winter coat has a much brighter red tone in a stripe that was down her back from shoulders to tail.  You can see the remnants of the red on her shoulders and also still at the tail, but the summer coat in between the two areas is just a regular brown colour, without the rusty red tones.

It was most obliging of her to show me her back!

Look at that red stripe!

So here she is on June 7.  You can see she still isn't quite finished the moult, so it's been about 6 weeks since it started.  Another thing I notice is that she now has a dark stripe along the side of her body where her brown fur meets the white belly fur.  That wasn't so distinct in winter, if you go back and look at that first photograph.

You can also see the dark stripe on her side in this shot.

I'll be watching her tail over the next few weeks to see if those vivid red hairs come out and are replaced by less vibrant tones for summer.  It has been interesting to watch the changes in her and to document them in a series of photographs.  I'm hoping that one day she'll learn to take a peanut from my hand!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bunday Business

Hello everybody!  It's Pippin reporting for Bunday Business.  Today, we need to talk about an embarrassing rabbit problem that plagues most of us, although on some of us it is more noticeable than on others.  The subject today is moulting.  By the way, we Canadian buns, and a lot of other buns around the world, spell it "moulting" but you American buns spell it "molting." It's the same thing.


The main thing is that it happens, and when it does, we can look pretty dreadful.  Sometimes people think we are not well, because we look like we might have mange or something.  There are lots of animals who moult.  Snakes shed their skins, horses shed their fluffier winter coats, chickens and other birds moult their feathers...so it's a totally normal thing, and buns should not be embarrassed about this normal phenomenon.


The female hoomin bean (FHB) had another bunny a long time ago named Thumper.  The FHB had him for 14 years!  He was a very senior bunny, but the FHB says she never saw him moult.  The FHB looked at Épinette Nutkin this week and she said "Hmmm...something odd is going on here."  She started to notice tufts of fur sticking this way and that out of Épinette Nutkin's back.  She brushed them away, and more of them showed up.  "Hmmm..." said the FHB.


Then, the FHB saw there was a bit of a bald spot forming on Épinette Nutkin's back, only it wasn't really bald, because there was new fur underneath.  "Pippin!" said the FHB, "you are a bad bunny! You have been pulling this fur out of Épinette Nutkin's back!"  I completely denied anything to do with it but she wasn't listening.


The next day, the bald spot was bigger and the FHB picked up Épinette Nutkin and inspected her.  As she did so, more fur began coming out in her fingers as she was doing the inspection.  "Ah-hah!" I said to her, "YOU have been pulling the fur out of Épinette Nutkin's back," but she wasn't listening again. She was sitting at her computer and using the Google thing to look up rabbit moulting.  "Hmmmm..." said the FHB.

Sure enough, she found out that some domestic rabbits do moult, and they look exactly like Épinette Nutkin in the pictures that Google showed her, and therefore it is not my fault at all, and possibly not the FHB's fault either, and just the fact that Épinette Nutkin is a very visible moulter.  Poor Épinette Nutkin thinks she might need a sweater to hide her funny fur until she is finished moulting, but I told her not to be so silly, it's just normal.


The FHB thinks that it might also be due to the fact that Épinette Nutkin wasn't in a very good place before she went to the SPCA where the hoomin beans got her, and maybe now that she is having proper nutrition and is settling in, she is having a very big moult to get rid of her former not-so-good fur.  The FHB learned that some rabbits have "mild" moults and "heavy" moults.  We'll have to see if this happens every time (rabbits can moult every 3 months) or if Épinette Nutkin is just having a special moult this time.


All rabbits moult to some extent, and some of us look worse than others when we do, but our lovely, soft, furry coats grow back and there is nothing wrong with moulting, so all of you bunnies who feel reclusive when you are moulting should moult with pride.  After all, the hoomin beans can't grow a whole new hairstyle every 3 months!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday's Hunt v 2.24

It is Friday once again, and time for me to participate in Eden Hills' Friday's Hunt.  This has been another busy week, but I have had a small reprieve on one project that has been put on hold.  That will give me time to catch up on a couple of other projects!

This week our prompts are:  Starts with X, Week's Favourite, and Insect.

Starts with X
The letter X is a bit tricky, but since I am a bit of a moth nerd and I prefer to use the scientific species names, I am able to showcase Xanthorhoe ferrugata.  This moth has the common name:  Red Twin-Spot Moth.  Unfortunately this isn't a recent shot - it was from July 29 of last year, but I don't mind digging in the photo repository when it comes to the difficult letters!

Week's Favourite
My favourite this week is this quick snap of a male ruby-throated hummingbird at my feeder.  The throat looks dark in this picture because of the lighting, but it is ruby red in the right light.  I seem to only have a single pair of hummingbirds who visit my feeder, so they are not always there to photograph.  Also, the mosquitoes are really bad at the moment, so I'm not spending a whole lot of time outside.  Still, I was glad to get this shot.

I'm also really happy that the Bachelor's Button plant is flowering in my garden - I love the interesting form of the flowers.  That's my second favourite!

Insect
I've already given you one insect - the moth from the letter X part of this post.  However, I am happy to provide another insect, since I seem to take so many pictures of them.  This is a photo of Bombus ternarius, also known as the Tricoloured Bumble Bee.  This one came inside the screened porch and seemed to have trouble finding its way out, so I helped it by placing a container over it, covering the open end of the container, and taking it out into the garden.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bunday Banana Business

Today's post is all about bananas.  All of you bunnies and bunny lovers should know how much most of us adore bananas.  They are a very special delicacy.  The hoomin beans say that we should not eat very much of them because they are high in sugar, so if you are a hoomin bean and you are going to give banana to your bunny overlords and ladies, then do not give too much!

When the male hoomin bean (MHB) decides to have a banana, sometimes he sits on the couch in the home office, to chat with the FHB.  We can smell banana a mile away, so we know immediately when he brings one for us to share.  We rush to help him out with eating the banana.  Here you can see that I am very active in assisting with peeling the banana.  Naturally, this is my job, since I must carefully inspect the banana.

Hoomin beans are fussy and only eat the inside part of the banana.  We eat the peels, and the inside bits, and all the bits we can get into our mouths.  The MHB likes to feed us the "strings" as he calls them, that come from the layer between the banana and the peel. Here is Épinette Nutkin having a banana string.

I will stand on my hind legs to amuse the HBs and therefore obtain more banana strings.

The hoomin beans say that this is a very cute habit!

We are both very helpful with the peeling and the eating functions.

 Sometimes, the MHB has to hold the banana up in the air so we don't steal it from him (and believe me, we would steal it if we could!)

The best approach to this problem is to climb the hoomin bean to get to the banana.

We are both good climbers, but we aren't always successful....that crafty MHB just switches hands!

In summary, we both advocate for all hoomin beans sharing their bananas with bunnies.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday's Hunt v 3.23

It's time for Friday's Hunt again!  Today we're getting close to the end of the alphabet.  Our prompts from Eden Hills are:  Starts with W, Week's Favourite, and Pastel.

Starts with W
The weather has not been all that good this spring.  We started with a very late spring, and then it got very, very wet.  It seems to be raining all the time over the past few weeks, far more than usual. Today is no exception.  It's been bucketing down, on and off, all day.  The rain has made a lot of areas of standing water in the woods and that has resulted in a bumper crop of mosquitoes.  We also had a recent episode of hail.  Here you can see the hail bouncing off the roof of my car.  I would really like it to warm up a bit, and dry out a bit, too!

Week's Favourite
Little Épinette Nutkin was sunning herself on the windowsill this week.  She looked so comfortable and content - I had to take her picture.  I think she is my week's favourite!

Pastel
There are many pastel shades in my garden right now - the tulips are continuing to put on a good show, and the forget-me-not is blooming like crazy.  There are also some pale lilac coloured allium blossoms.  One of the cranesbill geraniums has also started to bloom with pastel pink flowers.  Here are some blossom pictures.

Another type of pastel is the oil pastel.  I have a set of oil pastels and a matching sketchbook that I bought several years ago, but which I haven't yet used.  I would like to try them out soon.  I was attracted to the cute image on the package and the sketchbook, because I do have a fondness for hedgehogs.  Oil pastels are made with pigment and a non-drying oil, with a wax binder.

The colours are simply delightful and I think I would have fun playing with this set.  I just need to find the time!  So many things I'd like to do, but work comes first.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday's Hunt v 3.22

It's time for Friday's Hunt again.  Today I am hunting to find time, as usual.  It has been a crazy busy week with working until midnight most nights.  I have a bit of respite from work this coming weekend but the weekend itself is busy with cleaning and organizing my former home in Nova Scotia to get it ready for the real estate market.  Then it will be back to the grind on Monday.

Fortunately, I managed to take a few pictures for today's hunt.  The prompts from Eden Hills are:

Starts with V
Vermin starts with V.  The term vermin usually refers to animals or birds that cause a significant nuisance.  This little raccoon probably falls into the vermin category in the minds of most people.  It is a significant nuisance because he (or she) eats my bird seed and damages the bird feeders.

On the other hand, I think this is a really cute example of vermin, despite it being a nuisance.

There's a look in its eye, as if to say "What....I wasn't doing anything?  Why are you staring at me?"

See?  I'm just doing my exercise routine.  Nothing to do with the suet feeder.  Nope.

Usually this little vermin visits after dark, but on a very wet and rainy day earlier this week, he/she was there earlier in the day while there was still light for these pictures.

Week's Favourite
My favourite picture this week is courtesy of Mitten, our cat.  He was nestled in the shelving unit inside our closet - when Marc opened the closet door, he found Mitten comfortably sleeping in there. He called me up to take a picture and Mitten stayed in place for this cute shot.

Here's the overall view of how he looked when the closet door was opened.  Funny cat!


Inch
I'm excited to say that it is moth season again!  I'm always interested in taking pictures of moths that visit our screened-in porch.  I leave the light on overnight and it tends to attract moths who rest there and I photograph those that remain in the morning.  This moth has wings that are just about an inch across (from top to bottom as seen in the picture below).  It is the Northern Thorn moth (Selenia alcipherea) and it visited my porch this morning.  Hooray for the start of moth season!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Brief Bunday Blog Business

This week's Bunday Blog is, unfortunately, brief.  

The female hoomin bean (FHB) says there is just no time for blogging.  Doesn't she know how important it is?   

She says she is way behind on her work commitments and is going into panic mode.  We don't like it when she gets that way. 

Also, she has a very funny voice at the moment because she has some kind of respiratory illness and she sounds like a cross between a mouse and a frog.  Maybe some donkey noises thrown in for good measure.  We still love her because she picks dandelions for us, even when she is busy.  

Here you can see that Lady Épinette Nutkin's fur is growing back following her spaying operation. She likes to lie down on her side.  I just stay upright, to protect her in case of intruders.  The FHB says there won't be any intruders, but one cannot be too careful, especially when the FHB might be too busy to notice.

We hope that the FHB will give us more computer time next Bunday.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday's Hunt, v 3.21

Here I am doing Friday's Hunt on a Saturday.  I have a good excuse this time.  I have been away all week and only returned late yesterday from Ottawa, Ontario.  I had about a 9-hour drive yesterday, most of which was made in the pouring rain - that kind of rain that is so heavy that your car's windshield wipers simply can't keep up, even when they're on the crazy fast setting.  There were numerous accidents along the way, mostly from hydroplaning.  When I stopped for gas, I was warned at both gas stations that there had been reports of hydroplaning accidents in the direction I was headed.  It was an unpleasant drive, and when one must be extra-vigilant about one's speed and also other vehicles, it is particularly draining.

Added to that, I am really quite ill.  I have been harbouring some kind of respiratory-virus-of-doom all week, which has resulted in incessant coughing, sneezing, and the usual unpleasant cotton-wool-filled-head syndrome that goes with such symptoms.  In addition, I have been gradually losing my voice, until today, when it entirely gave up and now all I can do is whisper, or croak in a really harsh way.  Nevertheless, I have a boatload of work to get done, so I worked most of today.

All this is to say, I'm not quite up to my usual standards.  But at least I'm here!

The prompts from Eden Hills for this week are:  Starts with U, Week's Favourite, and Kids

Starts with U
U is for unexpected.  When I got to my Ottawa hotel room, I noticed a pretty artwork on the wall.  It was about 12 inches square.

I thought it looked similar to the artwork on my living room wall, which is about 2.5 or 3 feet square. The colours in this shot aren't very good - I had to take it in the evening light with my phone - but you get the idea.

Sure enough, upon close inspection, I saw that the artist is the same.  It was nice to have an unexpected connection to home in my hotel room while I was away.

Week's Favourite
Due to being on the road this week, and working some crazy hours, I really didn't take many photos. I did visit two on-farm fromageries (cheese-making facilities) in Quebec on my drive home.  They make small batches of artisanal cheese that are extremely good, and I sure wish I had a fromagerie close to where I live!  In one of the very brief periods of respite from the rain, I took this picture of the sheep at Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc.  It was lovely to see the sheep grazing outside, and today I tasted some of the cheese made with their rich milk.  Absolutely heavenly!

Kids
This is probably the hardest prompt I've had from Eden Hills.  Quite a few years ago, I had a big flock of sheep and goats and I would have had cute kid pictures, but not any more.  I have no human kids, and I don't spend time around human kids either, since I am not very fond of them.  Thus, I don't take pictures of them!  We'll just have to make do with this old picture from April 10, 2010.  This is me with two of the kids from my former Iowa farm.

I sure do miss having a farm with enough land to have goat kids.  On the other hand, the difficult thing about having goat kids is that you either have to keep them all, or find good homes for them, and that was a very difficult thing to do.  I felt increasingly uncomfortable with breeding my animals when I had them, and I think if I still had breeding animals, I probably wouldn't keep breeding them. I just can't handle taking them to the auction to be sold for meat, and unless I know the home that they are going to really well, I'm not happy with selling them.  It's a predicament that I don't want to face again.