A Good Home, Animals, Art, Artist, Country Living, Farm house, Garden, Gardening, Gardens and Wildlife, Home, Life in canada, Nature Paintings, Rabbits, Spring, Wild Rabbits, Wildlife, Winter

It’s A Wild Life

It is a truth universally suspected that a family in possession of a wildlife painting must be in need of some wildlife.


Years ago, my husband’s family had a farm and he and I became custodians of it. The farm was on a hilltop so we cleverly named it Hill Top.

Husband, children and I summered and weekend-ed there. I loved that farm and wanted a name sign for our front gate.  So my husband commissioned a local artist to make one for my birthday.  Author-illustrator Beatrix Potter – she of Peter Rabbit fame and a farmhouse named Hill Top — came to mind.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting wide shot

The moment that sign went up, Peter Rabbit, his parents and all their friends took up residence in our gardens.

They ate us out of home and land. As soon as we planted vegetables, herbs and flowers, they ate them.  There was soya and wheat growing in the fields. But why travel so far, when there’s good stuff nearby?

My husband couldn’t bring himself to hurt them — not with that sign out front. So there we were, hoist on our own petard.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting Mushrooms

When our family moved to another home, there were no rabbits — we thought.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting Mushrooms2

And then two auspicious things happened:

We visited the old farmhouse.  Our daughter noticed that the new owners had removed the Hill Top sign and begged them to give it back. They graciously agreed.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting CU of Rabbit Face

Soon after, our resident red fox – a predator of rabbits — upped and died. It might have been the sight of the sign that did it.  But there was his carcass, lying across our stream.

It took gallons of expensive fox urine to protect our gardens that year. (If you want to learn more about that inauspicious episode, you’ll have to read my next book.)

And now?

Years after moving to our current farmhouse, we’re besieged by wild rabbits — again. Squirrels too, but they don’t eat shrubs, herbs,  flowers and vegetables.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting Squirrel

Last winter, the rabbits were so starved for food that they ate all my clematis vines, plus the barks of several tender young trees and shrubs.

My husband did a very manly thing: he shouted at them.  The rabbits ran  — and immediately returned.

We decided to sympathize. Wild rabbits, too, have to eat.

But soon it was spring — time to plant vegetables.

Husband decided the rabbits should be moved to a nearby nature park.  He set a humane trap filled with things that Beatrix Potter said wild rabbits love: carrots and lettuce and cabbages. But we might as well have posted a sign saying: “This is a rabbit trap.”

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting Medium CU

Truth is, these particular rabbits mostly eat grass and clover so far this spring.

Blog Photo - Rabbit cleans self

Truth is, our daughter has named them Fred and Penelope. (At least, she thinks there are only two. But where there are two, there are — or soon will be — a dozen.)

Blog Photo - Rabbit thinks he's hiding

And truth is, my husband has put the sign up again.

Methinks it’s a sign of surrender.

Blog Photo - Rabbit Painting CU of Rabbit Face

 Photos by Hamlin Grange.

A Good Home, B.C. Geese, Canada Geese, Geese Crossing, Geese in Spring, oronto, oslings

A Gaggle and a Giggle

It’s that time of day.

It happens in the spring — at least once in the morning, at least once in the late afternoon.

Sometimes, at the very same time that motorists are returning home from work.

Suddenly, all traffic stops.

image thanks to news.ca
Photo Credit: news.ca

And everyone waits.

On certain streets of certain Canadian cities.

Image thanks to cbc.ca
Credit: cbc.ca

This late afternoon, on this particular street,  Mother Goose leads her children across the road.

All seven of them.

A line of tiny, fluffy, yellow and tawny-coloured goslings follows her across, looking neither this way nor that, intent on doing their mother’s bidding. And she’s intent on getting to the grass on the other side of the wide road.

It’s as if those big, noisy machines weren’t even there.

As if there weren’t humans inside those machines, staring, goggle-eyed.

Staring at the almost regal procession taking place in front of them.

As if remembering that honking is for geese, and they are humans after all, no-one honks their horns as they wait. No-one shouts or displays signs of impatience and bad manners.

Image thanks to cbc.ca
Credit: cbc.ca

One motorist, a man dressed in a fine suit, has his camera handy. He quietly opens his door and steps out of the car. There’s a bemused, almost foolish smile on his face.

The stresses of his day seem completely absent as he moves slowly, quietly, so as not to disturb the birds.  As if a doorway suddenly opened to a hidden world and he’s stepping into it to take a photo – for proof that he was there.

Or maybe he just plans to show his children photos of this scene. Of this moment when Mother Nature showed up on a busy Toronto street.

Or maybe to explain to his wife why he’s late.

Because now there’s a second Mother Goose. And this one has nine children. All taking their slow, sweet time to waddle across the road.

And just as the motorists think the parade is over and they can resume their drive home, along comes a third Mother Goose  –and her brood. Six… no seven…  no … my goodness. Ten? Yes, ten.

Photo thanks to Toronto Star
Credit: Toronto Star

It’s a whole gaggle of geese.

A flock of feathered creatures.

An avian assembly.

Geese and their goslings slowly waddling and tottering across a busy road.

In line, one behind the other.

Very slowly. As if to say:

Only we are here.  

Mama Goose is here. She who takes care of us children, she who keeps us safe, as long as we follow.

Meanwhile, another motorist phones home to share the news of the strange happening. His voice is raised in disbelief, even as he describes the scene.

In other cars, drivers’ bemused stares reluctantly turns to smiles.

Then giggles.

A whole gaggle of men and women giggling, at the end of a long work day.

As if to say:

Of all the things a Toronto motorist expects on his way home from work, it’s not this.


Dedicated to drivers in every city who stop and wait for the geese at this time of year.