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Snowshoe Hare in Spring
 
Wild hares don’t seem too intimidated by my presence.  They let me get within a couple of feet of them while they’re eating and seem fairly comfortable, as shown by the photo of the scratching hare below.   It’s not just the hares in my yard.  A few days ago while walking along the Salt Marsh Trail, I was just thinking about hares when one jumped out in front of me on the path.  Hmmm…. Could I be on the road to becoming a ‘Hare Whisperer?’ 
 
An animal whisperer is usually a person who is in-tune with the needs and motivations of an animal.  Where the hares are concerned, I know what they want:  to eat my Dandelions and Plantains in peace and quiet.  Intuitively, I try not to get between them and the weeds.  I also tread lightly as every little sound is picked up by their huge ears.  Since their eyes are super sensitive to changes in light, I also refrain from making any fast moves, especially ones that might suddenly block the sun in their surroundings. 
 
I’m sure it also helps that we no longer have a dog and our indoor cat observes the hares from behind glass.  I try to chase away any cats that I do find here, as hare kits (baby bunnies) are often found in the rosebushes next to the house during the summer months. Their presence is first made known when they hop out as I’m mowing the grass nearby.  I’ve easily caught them and placed them gently back into the rosebushes.  They’ve fussed and made a little growling sound whenever I’ve handled them, but seemed to stay in the bushes once I put them back.  The grass is usually left to grow long in that part of the yard until they’ve grown up and moved elsewhere.   
 
The other afternoon as I was unloading groceries from the car I noticed a hare sitting still under a tree nearby.  The sound of the car coming into the driveway must have frightened it into hiding.  There are many places for them to hide here:  areas with tall grass, thick with young trees;  beneath sweeping low evergreen branches that will offer new growth for them to nibble on in the weeks ahead.  
 
There’s no voodoo involved in hare whispering.  Anyone can do it.  It simply requires the practice of  being hospitable and making these wild creatures feel at home and unthreatened.   
 
Look at the size of those back paws!

Look at the size of that back paw!

For more information about hares, see The Advantages of Being Harebrained and Hare Snares.

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Young Dandelion Leaves in the Lawn

Young Dandelion Leaves in the Lawn

Most North Americans think of Dandelions as weeds, not food.  Considering the state of our health, perhaps we should consider the benefits of this common plant.

You see here what virtues this common herb hath, and that is the reason the French and Dutch so often eat them in the spring; and now if you look a little farther, you may see plainly without a pair of spectacles, that foreign physicians are not so selfish as ours are, but more communicative of the virtues of plants to people.  

~  Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654)  English herbalist and physician

Dandelions have their uses in soups, wines and coffees but they render their greatest health benefits when served soon after picking in a raw salad.  In fact, the more quickly they can be brought to the table, the more nutrients will be present. 

This common plant is easily identified by the coarse toothed edges on the leaves which give them the name of  ‘lion’s tooth.’  Dandelion greens should ideally be picked in pesticide free lawns in early spring, prior to the blooming of the bright yellow flowers.  The younger leaves are less bitter than older ones. 

Here are comparisons of the nutritional values of 100gr of Dandelion greens with an equal quantity of other foods, known for their exceptional vitamin and mineral benefits:

Vitamin A:  Dandelions ~ 14,000 IU  /  Carrots ~ 11,000 IU

Potassium:  Dandelions ~ 397 mg  /  Bananas ~  370 mg

Iron:  Dandelions ~ 3.1 mg / Broiled beef ~ 3.9 mg

Calcium:  Dandelions ~ 187 mg / Whole cow’s milk ~ 118 mg

Dandelions in a Salad

Dandelion Greens in a Mixed Salad

If you find Dandelions too bitter to your taste, it may be best to introduce them into your diet in smaller quantities as shown in the salad above, where they are mixed with spinach, orange peppers and feta cheese, and drizzled with olive oil.

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