Furry Pets Hare and there….

‘What have I become?’
I ask myself this quite regularly.  I often stand back and look at my life from a different angle – a bit like at art school, when you’re told to see your drawing or painting through different eyes by bending over and peering at it upside down through spread legs…we used to laugh at each other doing this….and now I laugh at myself…sometimes….when I see the funny side of it….sometimes I can’t find one…..

Thumps was growing up and we we couldn’t let him go out into the wild, I knew the day would come when we would have to take him to the vet to be neutered.  The vet, muffling a laugh because to tell you the truth, every French person ranging from the gardener, the post-lady, the laundryman and, yes, the vet, all wonder if we are simply waiting for him to grow up before we eat him.  So for me to seek advice from the vet, well that just added to the confused mirth at the veterinary clinic.  I had very precise instruction,
‘It is very important to wait for his testicles to drop, we cannot perform the operation if we cannot see the testicles!’
This all said in very earnest French mad me want to laugh but I got the point and waited for the illusive testicles.  What made it worse was the fact that hares have a habit of hiding their testicles, tucking them up if they don’t want you to know they’re there or they think you’ll hurt them so trying to find said testicles was proving to be quite a challenge. All we knew was that they should make their appearance between the age of three to four months so the grand moment was immanent.  You see?  I ask myself while I wait…’What have I become?’

In the meantime, Ted had to go to the same vet and have his other knee operated on and as he was being checked out – we took Tass to have the once over as well and discovered her twelve year old teeth need a good clean and possibly one needs to be taken out.  The list of veterinary visits and procedures seemed to be piling up.

We took our minds off all the waiting and visits by picking cherries and bottling them in cherries in brandybrandy and Triple Sec as well as stuffing more into my mouth while climbing from branch to branch in the tree than putting them into the basket.  The Dear One, in between holding the stepladder and picking from lower down asked me if \i was actually putting them in the basket to which I answered with a muffled mouth-stuffed-full-of-cherries ‘yes’ and only told me I was a liar after a group of quests who were staying at the chateau had walked over, had a chat, tasted a few cherries and went on their way.
With a smirk on his face he said after they had gone..
‘You’re such a liar!  You should see your face!  I bet a lot of cherries missed the basket because your face is covered in them!’
Well….’What have I become?’

But as I mentioned, Thumps was growing up and in doing so, started to pee on me and everything I touched.  He would follow me like a dog until I made his milk, jump on to my lap, finish the milk, get a cuddle and pee all over my lap. He would sniff on the couch and pee on the side where I sat and he was becoming a little more aggressive, digging on me which was accompanied by loud grunts and nips.  He was up on his hind legs leaning on my arm when we saw them…the testicles had descended!
I emailed the vet an booked him in. for the following week….and then I started to stress. Poor little guy, will he be ok, are we doing the right thing but at the end of the day, we had to think of his safety.  Life with us and the dogs is the only life he’s known and from a safety point of view, we could never release him to find a lady-hare…so I had to be content with the idea that this was probably the kindest thing to do for him.
The vet told me to stay and him while the sedative kicked in and I watched this beautiful, regal creature slowly go to sleep in my arms…I wanted to cry (and it wouldn’t have been the first time the vet had to hand me tissues -she’s very understanding).thumps at the vet

Two hours later and a bit wobbly, he was home and asleep in his downstairs bed |(yes, he has an upstairs bed as well…) under the stairs.  The next day, he was twirling in usual ballerina twirls and leaps around the garden.  And joy of joys, he hasn’t pee’d on me or any other item of clothing or piece of furniture again.

It was a rainy afternoon and the Beloved was watching sports on the TV while I was studying for an acupressure course.  We were all sitting on the couch, Tass on the back cushions staring out of the window, the Beloved, Ted (surrounded by his toys that he brings one by one from upstairs), me and Thumps was next to me on the floor in his bed.
‘Feel like a glass of wine?’ the Dear One asked while rummaging around under Ted for the TV remote.

‘Sounds perfect!’ says me not looking up from my pc.
Rummage, rummage..
‘Aah there it is’, he says looking at me as I lift my eyes to see him pointing a giant plastic squeaky-toy carrot at the television.  He followed my eyes wondering where the buttons were.  There were no words really.  I was wheezing I was laughing so much and he, well, he went to get the much needed bottle of wine.  What have we become?

And then there is bedtime.
Thumps suddenly decided that he was no longer going to be left downstairs on his own so as we got the dogs together and took them out for a last visit to the grass, he shot upstairs and sat in Tass’s bed looking highly delighted with himself.  Fine.  That meant I had to carry up the kitty litter tray of straw for him and some dandelions and wheat stalks because he is, after all, fairly nocturnal.  His bed came up as well and all were placed in a line, Tass, Ted, Thumps, tray, water.  Whenever we switch out the lights at bedtime, the dogs get a baby carrot (sounds weird but they love them).  Thumps doesn’t eat carrots so he had to get a slice of apple.  They all sat in their beds waiting.  It was surreal.  In the dark, we lay there listening to crunching sounds of apple and carrot.  we were woken at dawn with Thumper ‘binkying’ from bed to bed, under the bed, around the bed, on top of us, flipping sideways, swirling up in the air, using us as a trampoline and in general – having the best morning….and asking for breakfast.

I had already thought of a cunning plan.  I had a bag of grass, dandelions, apple and wheat packed the nice before.  All I had to do was fumble around in the semi-gloom, pour everything into his box and we dozed once more to the sound of crunching until the alarm went off and Thumps shot under the bed scattering grass and wheat all over the bedroom.

I think I know what we’ve become….privileged, amused, honoured…happy.

















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There’s a hare in my soup….

So as you can see, I’ve merged a blog I started about the addition of Thumper the Hare (thanks to the Dear One) into our lives.  I’m sorry I haven’t blogged on this sight for a while – things went a bit crazy for a bit and Thumps turned our world a bit pear-shaped for a bit… plus we took a trip home to South Africa….I really home many of you are still out there, following this blog.  It was lovely knowing you were there and better yet, hearing from you….  If you’re still around, you may want to scroll down a bit and catch up on a hare-raising adventure… Thumps will, no doubt, feature quite bit in the story from now on…..

In the time between the last Footpath to France, let me tell you what’s happened…The Chateau has a brand new roof, the chapel and Calvados storehouse as well as the little Children’s house have also been given a new ‘hat’ of new wood and shiny slate and everything is looking pretty grand.  The Chateau has two new renovated bathrooms with walk in showers and travertine tiles and the some damp patches which were growing the most amazing mushrooms have all been fixed.  All the hedges have been cut down and pulled out and replaced by new ones – the old ones were full of ivy and some other climbing invaders and half the hedges fell over so they all had to come out.  The fountain has been turned into a miniature ‘Giverny’ and the waterlilies and other water plants are now providing cover for new members – a family of koi who are obviously very happy as they had babies in the Spring.  Oh and we have some hops growing in an empty field as an experiment – the Beloved’s babies – ten hops plants, five each of two varieties, growing with wild abandon and reaching out in all directions.  We’re going to see how well they do and then we have a plan…which I’ll tell you about another time.

What else…mmmm…..we bought a piece of land – 1,4 hectares worth, in the Dordogne valley, five minutes from my beloved Sarlat but deep in the countryside, no neighbours and a view to forever – right across the Massif Central and on to the direction of the French Alps.

And then there is Thumper.  He’s officially part of the family now.  Any hassles he had with Ted have all gone and  if Thumps is sitting in his tray eating, Ted stops en route to give his nose a lick and hopefully steal a piece of apple.  I’ve joined a small group of Hare Owners on Facebook and they’ve been really helpful.  Owning a hare – well, you never really own a hare – they’re not like rabbits at all.  They’re distant, regal, aloof and affectionate when they please – a bit like a cat really.  I can see why they have a ‘mystic’ reputation and why they are called ‘Star Gazers’.  He’s a fascinating little guy, made more odd by the fact that he takes his cue’s from two dogs….making his little ‘hare’ personality a bit of a mix.

I think because I carried him around from a day old in order to feed him every half an hour, he now views me as ‘it’.  His food source (despite the fact that he can go outside into the garden whenever he feels like it),  his morning and evening milk feed (even though he’s now nearly four months old – I don’t think he’ll ever stop wanting his beloved goat’s milk), his comfort, his friend and the person who removes any ticks if there are any.  He’ll take milk form my Dear patient husband but that’s it.  No-one else can touch him, cuddle him or kiss him but me.  His trust in me is complete.  This is both an honour and, to tell you the truth, a bit of a burden.  I worry that he doesn’t get the food he might get in the wild so I’m forever hunting in the bushes for bits of plant or leafy treats that he might like to try.  He comes to me as soon as I return, sniffing each offering as it’s presented to him, nibbling a bit, smelling all around and then with his nose upturned, shaking his head in rejection like a child in a highchair being presented with mushed peas for the first time.

Twice, he has managed to get out of his garden (which includes my now half-eaten veggie patch) and in to the main chateau grounds.  The first time, I didn’t realise it and Samuel the gardener came across him as he gazed at the chateau on the front lawn.  Thumper saw Samuel and got a fright and headed straight for home, charging through the open gate, into the house and into his bed under the stairs.

The second time he was a little more nonchalant about his escapade and after searching high and low for him, I thought I’d leave it for a while to see if he would come back.  The worry was, our dear Hare has no idea about the danger of cats or other dogs and I was worried about the stray cats living in and around the barn.  But after about ten minutes, I saw him cruising around the barn, stopping to sniff hear and there, reaching up to look on higher ledges – not a care in the world.  I went outside and called him and he came towards me – slowly as he was still enjoying his exploration – and then the Dear One came up behind him and together we herded him back.  He didn’t want to go but a loud hand clap sent him shooting back to the safety of his garden.

He drives me insane sometimes.  He loves to sniff out any smells and comes to see what they are.  My breakfast being one and even worse, dinner.  We were sitting on the sofa one Friday evening and decided to eat while watching the news.  And there was Thumps…you could almost see him thinking…
‘What you got?’
‘Smells nice……’
And with a mighty leap – he landed dead center of my plate.  Worse still, he stayed there for a bit just to make sure nothing was edible – then leapt off  spraying food everywhere. He then sat calmly in his dog bed and proceeded to clean sauce and bits of food off his feet.

But he’s cute and after his milk, rolls around on my lap wanting cuddles and kisses.  Then he charges (or ‘binkies’ being the correct term I believe) around the house twisting and turning, leaping from sofa to chair, bounding up the stairs, rolling on the bed, careening down the stairs and bouncing on our laps before landing in a heap in his bed.  Tass ans Ted watch on as we do – in amazement.

Hope to hear from you,
A la prochaine






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Hare at Home at last…

I know I’ve been quiet…it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it’s just that we went back home to SA for 3 weeks and it was a little difficult to give news about Thumps when I wasn’t there to gather any.

To tell you the truth, I was a bit in a bad way about leaving him and the Dear One had a hard time reassuring me that all would be well.  But Thumps was at a fragile age, he was getting to ‘fit’ in so well, Ted seemed to be getting along with him at last and was offering the odd lick or two (I tried to convince myself that this a tentative display of acceptance and friendship rather than a small ‘taste’ for future reference) and all seemed to be going well.  But I also knew that hares don’t have the best of long term memories and I was worried he would forget all the work we had put into him and worse of all, forget us.  But….I couldn’t very well send apologies to my niece that I couldn’t attend the special occasion of her wedding because I had to keep bonding with a 4 week old hare….

Anyway, to cut a long story really short, we arrived back at home in France, Tass and Ted were delighted to see us, everything looked beautiful, the fresh green leaves of Spring were amazing and Thumps was completely wild.  Due to circumstances, he had to be left in his cage day and night and had received very little, if any, physical human contact.  But he was healthy, still drank loads of milk through the cage wire and had grown in leaps and bounds!  His baby face had disappeared completely, his feet had grown to fit at least a size 5 shoe and he was in the middle of his Spring molt.

In the late afternoon when everything had settled down, I tried to catch him and hold him.  He bit me, gave a kick that I never thought possible and flew out of my arms like a mad thing.  So we started again….
We left him to do his usual circuit of the cottage to orientate himself and try to remember.  A bit of research thanks to Google told me that even though they have bad long term memories, familiar sights and smells bring it all back and with a bit of perseverance, they will remember things.  I watched him and to be honest, I wanted to cry.  As I said earlier, it seems such an honour to have this fragile and now very regal looking wild animal in our care and I was torn between keeping him and trying to revert him back to what he was or, seeing as he was so unused to people, letting him go into the wild where he truly belongs.

Two things made me more at ease with the decision to persevere. The owner of the chateau was here with his dogs – two whippets and when one managed to get in and come and sniff the cage where Thumps was, Thumper didn’t flinch.  He completely ignored the dog, made no attempt to hide in his little house, just carried on eating even when the dog, who is a hunter and definitely would have killed him if he had got to him, scratched on the wire. In the wild, with foxes and dogs scurrying around the fields, Thumps wouldn’t stand a chance.
The other thing was the vet.  When the owner mentioned my dilemma to her, she said he would live a longer, happier and healthier life where he was and she didn’t see any reason to let him back into the wild.

For the next two days, we brought him inside to have the run of the cottage in the evenings and put him in his cage during the day to sit and doze in his sandpit and nibble the odd bit of grass.  On our first evening home, he recognised his furry white blanket and hopped onto the couch and then tentatively on to my lap to be fed his bottle of milk.  But he wouldn’t let me touch him.  I sneaked a kiss on the top of his head while he was busy drinking and he stopped drinking for a minute and stared at me with his big gold eyes.  The next morning I came downstairs in my dressing gown and to my joy, I watched a light come on in his little brain.  He put his front paws on my arm and sniffed the dressing gown licking it with great gusto.  Then he followed me around until he could climb on my lap for another feed.

By this time, Ted was back in line and showing a bit more respect and the owner and his dogs had left so I opened the back door and let Thumps out into the garden where he once more did his exploratory circuit and then tucked into the bed of mixed lettuces which had been able to at last grow in his absence.  I left him there for the afternoon and then showed him his carrier house, tapped the door and offered him some milk.  He went willingly into the carrier and allowed me to give him a few more kisses while he drank.  After a shower and back in my gown, I went watch a bit of TV before putting him to bed with a piece of apple.  To my delight, he jumped on my lap, rolled around on my gown, snuggled in and allowed me cover him with kisses and tickles.
Thumps was back!

I have to keep in mind that he is older.  And even though he still has a lot more growing to do( he is 1.5 kgs now – still has another 5 or 6 to go), his needs are not those of a baby anymore and he is more independent.  I can live with that.  He stays out in the garden all day dozing in the sun, at dusk he becomes more active and browses on the grass (or my lettuces) and darts around or ‘binkies’ – pirouetting and leaping across the lawn.  Sometimes he comes in through the back door to lie on his bed under the stairs.  At around six in the evening, he comes inside in search of milk and settles down in the spare dog bed we have or in his own bed.  Every now and then, he hops onto my lap and scratches for attention and then absorbs all the love, tickles and kisses he can before wandering off again.

He had a tick on his head which seemed to be bothering him.  I put some essential oil on it to kill it and make it easier to get off and then later in the day, when he was calm and sleepy, I pulled it off.  I got some licks and head rubs as a thank you.  It’s silly, but those moments are very touching, more so than a domestic cat or dog.  As a I mentioned earlier – it is truly an honour.  He is a handsome, silent, regal and fragile creature and he is teaching me so much.

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A Breath of fresh hare….

It’s Spring.  Everything has come alive and is in blossom, from the daffodils to the tulips and anemones,  to the cherry and pear trees.  Everything is looking amazing and the forest floor is as a sea of bluebells.

Thumps has grown and keeping him at night in a large cardboard box with a small cardboard box as a ‘bedroom’ is no longer an option.  During the day, he’s been enjoying the sunshine in a 1.5 meter by 1.5 meter wire cage made out of a wooden pallet which has so far, allowed him to run, eat grass and field flowers and enjoy the sunshine within safety from birds of prey and any other lurking animal that might enjoy Thumps as a tasty morsel.

I knew his ‘box’ had become too small when, one evening at bedtime, I kissed the top of his head and placed his furry little body into his box so that he could go into his bedroom and snuggle into my scarf.  He wasn’t having any of it.  He reached up and tried to climb up my sleeve. No!  (my poor heart was melting fast).  I picked him up, snuggled him a bit more, added a few more kisses and put him back in the box.  Our clever little boy jumped onto the roof of his ‘bedroom’ and straight out of the box.

So we took out his ‘bedroom’ and put it on the floor, put some fresh food into a seed tray lined with straw and left him to it – he had full run of the downstairs area of the cottage.  Which, as the cottage dates back to the 18th Century, is not huge.  He obviously had a ball because the next morning, we were met with little puddles of pee and small black poops in many corners and on the couch where he gets fed.  We needed a better plan!
A visit to the Agricole shop bought us a hay bale, a kitty litter tray, a cat carrier box and a few roles of wire.
For a few nights, all seemed a bit better as my new decor consisted of bright lime green seed trays lined with roller towel and straw in two of the places that were his ‘go to’ toilet spot and a large kitty litter tray, also lined with straw placed next to his new bedroom, a kitty carrier with lots of straw and my scarf.  All seemed well and this morning, no pee was to be found, just one or two stray little black poo-balls which are really inoffensive and as easy to sweep up as the straw and stray dandelion leaves that have also become part of my new cutting edge decor.

During the evenings, Thumps is a great source of entertainment and often, the film is paused or whatever we’re doing is put on hold while we watch his antics.  Ted, with a little firm persuasion and long hours of training is fairly easy with Thumper now, but very jealous and will do anything to have a bite (or steal the entire thing when we’re not looking) of Thump’s apple or try and take a swig of milk while Thumps is drinking.  That in itself is really funny to watch, this furry small ‘bear’ of a dog and a tiny hare trying to drink from the same hamster feeder!  But as long as we give Ted as much love and attention as we do Thumps, so far – we’re learning to all live together – with the Beloved and I tip-toeing around the cottage in case Thumper leaps out from under the furniture.

This morning, with blue sky and a chorus of birds, we decided to put some fencing across the two ends of our garden which just consisted of picket fencing and gates.  The rest is a hedge, with small fencing inside the hedge so that was ok.  After a few lady-like swear words, more than a few fingers hurt with a left-handed wielding hammer and one or two moments of stupidity, I got my bit done and the Beloved came to help as he had long finished his bit with ease.  All looked pretty good and we opened the kitchen door.

It didn’t take long before our new cautious houe companion came to the door, stuck his nose in the air and made a few tentative steps towards the garden with open sky, birds singing, Tass waiting and warm sunshine.  In true hare style he meticulously inspected his borders.  Every centimeter.  And then he charged.

Legs in the air, ears flapping, tail twitching, he swirled and pirouetted his way across the grass.  Bucking like a horse, kicking his legs back, flipping his little body, he whirled here and there and through the shrubs and after five or so spontaneous dancing, he found a spot in the sand below the chives, made a hollow and lay spent in the warm sun, snoozing for the rest of the afternoon in lazy abandonment.  Our dear little boy had found a spot in the garden to be a true hare.

At about four o-clock, the Dear One and I sat on the grass watching Thumps nibble here and there.  Then all of a sudden, Thumper took himself off, through the kitchen door and into the cool of the house where he waited for some milk, some cuddles, more kisses and then, after licking my hand and returning the kisses, fell asleep on my lap.

What a day!

Till Next time, big bisous and take hare..sorry care
M xx

Oh and we made another card Thumps and I….

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Hare-less in the Style of George Gregan!

wow another blog!  It’s Sunday and a few things came to mind during a sleepless night while a French Wedding was help in the ‘Sale de Fete’ in the Chateau grounds which finally broke up at 5 am this morning…I had a lot of time to think!

The Owner of the Chateau sent word that he, together with his wife and two whippets, were coming to the chateau for a photo shoot with a magazine linked to Vogue.  The Owners wife was going to be the model for a series of clothes and the chateau would be featured as well.  So armed with hare-in-pocket i spent a day or two making sure everything looked good and in place ready for the photographer, make-up artist and the rest of the party.  My Beloved and I were asked to  provide breakfast and a 5 course dinner and, as we are now friends with the owners, we asked to join them for that.
I was due to spend the day preparing dinner in between feeds and foraging.  During one feed, I took a break from being inside and with Thumper on my lap wolfing down milk in great quantities, I sat on a chair outside the back door overlooking the orchard and enjoyed the early morning sun.  The Dear One was in the chateau manning a very complicated coffee machine while breakfast was eaten.

Everything happened at once, Tass barked, a bird of prey flew overhead and Thumper shot out of my lap like a bullet.  He aimed for the fence surrounding our cottage and being so small, he jumped easily through the holes and into the wide world of the orchard.  Now I’ve since discovered that hares are not stupid and Thumps, even though he was so young, knew that his haven lay in the cottage so all he wanted to do, was get back through the fence and into our garden or even better, into the house which he now knew really well.  And there lay the problem.  If just Tass was in the garden, all would have been fine but Ted was there as well and, even though things are a little better now, all Ted could see at that point was a small toy or possible snack.

I tried everything to get Thumps to come to me but I was in a bit of a panic running up and down the outside of our fence like a mad goal keeper trying to keep this tiny furry flea from jumping through the fence.  The hare on the other hand, was getting more and more scared, frustrated and desperate and loud grunts were being given off which, in turn, set Ted off making the whole situation impossible…and I was alone in an orchard the size of a rugby field.  After  forty minutes, Thumps showed no sign of tiring and both Ted and Tass were in a frenzy of excitement.
I was red in the face.
I took off my jersey to use as a net.  Thumps started to zigzag across the grass.
I threw my jersey over him and caught nothing but grass.
Another 10 minutes…(and I was due now to go into the chateau and greet everybody.)
In a move that would make Australian Rugby player (and Captain for many years) George Gregan proud – or dare I even say…mmm…dare I even verbalise the thought….would put him to shame, (there I said it!), I launched toward the fleeing hare, blue jersey held ready.
In smooth rugby tackle style I hit the grass, slid with the grace of snail across the the dew covered green, bounced over a molehill and landed in a twisted yoga position with my feet halfway over my head.
The crowd in my head roared!  Actually that was my roaring pulse caused by raised blood pressure but finally I had the ball…no, sorry, I held a trembling tiny little creature who bit my finger and tried to make it to freedom yet again.
I kissed him and spoke as soothingly as I could while spitting molehill out of my mouth and took himThumper inside. The moment we were through the door, Thumper settled down, snuggled into my jersey and became calm again.  I tucked him into his house and hurried next door giving my hair a perfunctory pat.

When I look back, I shudder at what I must have looked like.
I walked in to the chateau garden room to find some of the best in the Paris and beyond fashion world sitting at the table chatting to my Beloved over coffee.  Polished nails, perfect make-up, clothes out of Vogue and there I was….
I apologised for my late appearance, told them I was making their dinner but that I had just scored a hare….
A sea of surprised faces….but after huffing and puffing through an explanation, sympathy and questions flowed and I think there was a dawning comprehension as to my appearance.  I came back to the cottage and looked in the mirror.
I don’t need to explain further.
I headed, yet again, for the shower.

Thumps was none the worse for wear and on his next excursion around the cottage,

card we made

Taylored Expressions Die and Stamp

he would suddenly jump into the air, do a little twist, look around in surprise and carry on exploring.  When he was tired, he’d come once more to my leg, go onto his hind legs, scratch on my jeans and I would reach down and put him in my pocket.  The next day, Sunday, we continued to crafting together.  Thought I’d just add a picture because why not, it’s out first card together and I was pretty distracted.

What a day that was, I feel quite worn out thinking about it!  Oh before I forget, if anyone out there reads and enjoys this blog, please press ‘follow’ and post comments, I would LOVE to hear from you and if you’ve had any experiences with hares, please let me know – all suggestions and advice or just comments are so welcome!
Chat soon!
M xx

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Hare and there….

My little girl has Gonads!!!!!
Thumper is a little boy.
I thought I would switch tactics seeing Thumps is doing crazy things every day and write in the present while going back every now and then to things I can remember while we had him in the first few days.

One thing about hares – they are after all wild and very different to the domestic Bunny.  They are incredibly curious and they seem to like to know exactly what the parameters of their cage, room, house, field…whatever it might be, they go from corner to corner, along all sides and ones the thorough investigation is complete, they settle down.

Thumps was the same.  When we put him in his little make shift box, he was very young and not very brave but within a couple of days, he has investigated that and his smaller box where he could go and snuggle in my scarf and he seemed quite happy.  Every morning, lunchtime and dinner, when Ted was safely asleep upstairs behind the bed, I would feed Thumps his 4 or 5 syringes of milk and then put him down on the floor.  Tass of course, was in her element, following him, licking him and just sitting watching him as he explored.  And explore he did.  Every…Single… Centimeter.
When the circuit was complete.  He would take a wobbly run and jump on his long and very unsteady legs which, together with his odd shape, made him look like a flea in a camouflage of fluffy grasses.  For some reason, I think he thought Tass was his mom, he would charge after Tass and if she was sitting and didn’t see him, he would gently try and find a spot to snuggle in somewhere.  That was a complete no-no for our independent Tass and she would move away and give him a dirty look.

So I became his mom.  He would reach up, scratch quickly on my jeans or dressing gown which I got to realize meant he wanted a lift up.  if he was sitting on my lap drinking his milk, when he was full, he would stop, wash his face, stretch his long legs out and then scratch quickly on my jersey.  I would open the buttons and in he would go for a snooze.
He was always secreted somewhere about my person during that first week.  Either in the pocket of my coat if I was outside in the chateau grounds, or tucked into a scarf inside my shirt if I was in the chateau tidying up.  He was quite content.
Craft CompanionI enjoy painting and I love card making and any paper craft.  Every now and again, as you can see from the photograph, on my very small little desk in our little cottage, I have a new crafting companion!

He got stronger day by day putting on weight quite quickly (this morning he weighed 545 grams!) and one day, he was charging around the house and he came and saw me sitting on the couch.  Usually, he would reach up and scratch on my leg but not this time.
He discovered his legs…but not his aim!
He didn’t jump like a dog or cat or even a frog where you see them stretch out to reach their destination – front legs stretch, back legs stretch and they …well…jump.
Not a hare, not Thumps.  One minute he was sitting on the floor and like a flea – he just shot up!  But as he was still in ‘practice’ mode, he just shot straight up and landed with a surprised look on his face exactly in the same spot on the floor where he started.
He looked at the couch, at his destination for a while and tried again.  The same way – no stretching, no reaching out, in a split-second he was on the seat next to me.  I don’t know who was more shocked, him or me.
Now I walk through from the kitchen to check to see where he is, and find him sitting on the couch as if it’s a natural thing for me to come in and see a hare sitting there.

Now you may be wondering to yourself…does he pee or leave droppings everywhere?
Like any puppy or baby, I would have to say his bladder control was very minimal.
He would drink copious quantities of milk and within  a minute, copious quantities of milk would come out.  I mentioned earlier that we started feeding him in a hurry on the only thing we had which was cow’s milk.  Well!  When he pee’d on me for the first time – through my jersey, t-shirt, jeans and panties – the smell was unbelievable!  The Not-So-Dear-One sitting next to me thought it was the funniest thing out when I unceremoniously plonked poor old Thumps on his lap and looking like I was performing a madman’s version of the Highland Fling, I stripped on my way to the kitchen, stuffed everything into the washing machine, switched it on and charged upstairs into the shower.
The next evening, Thumps pee’d on him.
Revenge was sweet.

The moment we changed to goat’s milk, the smell disappeared, in fact there was no smell at all – but being pee’d on every evening – even through a thickly folded towel, soon began to wear thin and having so many showers was making me feel like the cubicle was becoming my new home, so I decided some ‘house training’ was in order.
I found a plastic seed tray in the garden shed – a cheerfully bright lime green – lined it with paper towel and because I had read the hare like to chew on straw or grass while they pee,  I filled it with straw,and patted it flat.
Every time Thumps had finished his milk, we put him into the tray.  It took about 4 days and he would wait until he was in the tray to go.  Even when he was charging around the house, I would make sure he had seen the tray (always put in the same spot in the kitchen) and he would neatly jump into it, chew some grass and..voila!  Every now and then he wouldn’t realise that he had got a little bigger and his butt was hanging out of the tray and half would go in and half out but on the whole, he is now fully ‘house trained’ in that department.  Not so much with his little round poops but to be honest, they are always very dry, very inoffensive and can be very quickly swept up.  That will take a bit longer to get right I think.

As the Beloved keeps the chateau grounds Out and Aboutand gardens very neatly cut, I now find myself having to go further afield to find greens for Thumps but in order to find the right ones, I bought him a harness and lead and let him forage for himself in the fields and hedges.
After taking careful note of what he goes for, I can make sure I bring him what he would naturally eat and I often find myself head first in the hedgerows or crawling around in search of certain treats to bring home to him.

He is a ‘time wasterer’ (if there is such a word), the house is full of bits of grass, straw and little round deposits, I worry about him and at times I wonder how I got to this point but when I read that to raise a hare is notoriously difficult and few succeed and when I see him charging round the house or lying stretched out in my arms, my heart melts for this little life and I acknowledge how privileged I am to play a part in this gentle creatures world.

Till next time,
M x

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We have this….I can’t really call it a dog….let me explain….. For a short while, I was living on my own in Cape Town and decided that what I needed in my life at that particular point was a companion of the furry sort.  To cut a long story short, Tass (short for Tassenberg wine – cheap plonk much loved by my mother) came into my life.  She was one of seven Maltese Terrier pups that were abandoned, or rather ignored by there mom 5 weeks after they were born so Tass was very small and from an early age, didn’t realise she was a dog.  She took to my dressing gown – a soft fluffy affair from Woolworths and would drag it after her stopping every now and then to suck on it.  He love affair with the gown won and became her ‘doo-doo’ blanket and I had to buy another one.  When my Beloved came home, she took to his motorbike like a duck to water and was soon in the newspapers dressed in a leather jacket, visi-vest and ‘doggles’ which we found on-line. Tass knows when I’m sick, sad or worried.  Tass is there for you – but only on her terms…as soon as she’s checked in, she’s off again to sit on the back of the couch or in the sun and will do anything possible to look for ‘forest friends’.

When we lived in Brittany, we took care of an estate and our house was near a fairly large lake. One evening, we let Tass out for a bit and no matter how hard we tried, she wouldn’t come inside.  She just sat in the middle of the lawn, in the dark staring at us.  Nothing would get her inside which was unusual.  We went out with a torch to find her sitting next to a hedgehog, wagging her tail and periodically giving the poor thing a wet and loving lick.  She was ecstatic when we brought it inside to get a better look, washed the poor things face and attempted to involve it in a game.
Inside the lake were ragadons or ‘coypos’ and in Tass would go, swimming slowly in the green water to see if they would come out and play as well.  Even now, if a bird hits the window and stuns itself, Tass is there with a gentle lick and will sit next to it until we come with sugar water (She could also kill all of these by breathing on them as her breath is not the freshest!)

tass and thumpsSo, with that background, you’ll understand why Tass isn’t really a dog.  To us, she’s – how can I put this the best way – to us…well she’s just a Tass.
When Tass saw Thumper, she behaved in true Tass fashion.  A wag of the tail, a giant wet slobbery lick, a thorough sniff and then a thorough bath.  And Thumper took to Tass and immediately wanted to snuggle in.  There Tass drew the line. She darted away, went down on her front paws, bum in the air, tail wagging furiously, demanding this tiny little hare to come and play.

Ted on the other hand – Ted we can’t trust and we have to wait till he’s asleep before we let Thumps out for a run around the house.  I’m sure it will come right, but for now we can’t take the chance.

During the first week of having Thumper, it could only drink milk but after a week or so, we introduced it to dandelion leaves and some grass.  One afternoon, I took it to a patch of wild hedge and let it choose while trying to note carefully what were the favourites.  We were both learning from each other really and I was rewarded by the fact that when a bird flew overhead, it ran and hid in my lap.  Thumps was beginning to trust us.

The Dear One, after much hoo-haa-ing, decided to take the bull by the horns, brave the Internet (you never know what you’ll come up with ) and check if Thumps was a boy or a girl (sounds strange but when they’re that little, it’s actually quite difficult to ‘see’).
At this stage, we think Thumps is a little girl and to be honest, she acts like a little girl.
She loves love, loves cuddles and will reach up on her really long back legs to get a kiss on her head.  She seemed to learn from very small that the milk came out of a syringe and tdinner timehat I was usually the one who was in charge of that.  She would run up to me, lift herself
up and scratch on my dressing gown.  As soon as I bent down and held out cupped hand, she would pop herself in and wait for the lift to the kitchen counter where warm milk would be waiting.  Five or six syringes later,she would dig in the open V of my gown or jersey, crawl inside, wash her hands and face and snuggle in for a nap.  She’s actually like no other pet rabbit I’ve ever owned and doesn’t seem to realise that she should be a non-domesticated wild hare.

Every day, we pop her into the scales to see how she’s doing and steadily her thin little body started to plump out.  Soon she was weighing 200 grams and we had passed the two week period where she would either make it or not.

What a relief!

M x

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