Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Of Madness and March Hares

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

One spring evening when hubby and I were visiting the park on Nicollet Island, we noticed some rabbits on the lawn leaping into the air like so many jack(rabbit)s in boxes. I don't think it was March (it didn't used to be so springlike in March around here), but it did bring to mind the expression "mad as a March hare."

Alice in Wonderland Earrings by XOHandworks
We know the saying because of the March Hare at the mad tea party in Lewis Carroll's story, Alice in Wonderland. His name was echoing a longstanding idiom about the strange behavior of the European hare during mating season, which includes leaping straight up in the air like the rabbits we witnessed. Although they were thought to act that way in March, it in fact goes on for several months, according to Wikipedia.

Glass rabbit suncatcher from Western Art Glass

Hares and rabbits are closely related species whose springtime behavior seems to be similar, judging by the crazy-acting bunnies that I observed. 

Weighted blanket by Sugar and Spice, for children with sensory processing issues.
Of course, when most of us think of bunnies in springtime, we are likely to associate them with the critter who brings colorful eggs and treats at Easter time. 

Easter bunny onesies by Bethie Ann Baby

Two kinds of hares and one species of rabbit are native to Minnesota, according to our Department of Natural Resources. One is the white-tailed jackrabbit (sure, the name says rabbit, but it's really a hare), found in the prairies of the west and southwest parts of the state. It's a rather large hare, about two feet long and weighing 6 to 10 pounds; it has an amazing leap of up to 10 feet. 

Women's T-shirt featuring a French hare, from Suz and Roo.

The other one is the snowshoe hare, which lives in coniferous forests in the northern part of the state, throughout much of Canada and even in Alaska. Smaller than the jackrabbit, they are about 20 inches long and weigh only 3 pounds. 

Small white bunny dish by Kelly Newcomer

Both of our native hares turn white in winter and brown in summer. 

Bunny art print by Kept Fresh
Our third Minnesota member of the rabbit-hare family, and our only rabbit, is the eastern cottontail, and I probably don't have to tell you that it is also the most common and widely distributed small mammal throughout the state. 

Zipper pulls by Relaine

Its natural habitat consists of areas with shrubs and some trees, like most urban and suburban yards. You already know that it likes to eat green plants in summer and the bark of your favorite shrubs and sapling trees in winter, but did you realize that includes dandelions, plantain, clover, and other lawn weeds if they can find them? 

Funny birthday card from Plays Nicely With Paper
I see a lot of rabbits in my yard, but I don't have much trouble with them eating my lettuces and peas and such. I chalk it up to two things: I plant in wood-framed raised beds about a foot high, some of which are surrounded by fencing, and I have a very weedy lawn. 

Bunny earrings from Deeder the Beader

I figure they nibble their way across the lawn to get to the gardens, but by the time they reach the beds, they're too full to climb over the boards. Why bother when there are such easy pickings all around you? So there's a free gardening tip for you.

Bunny baby hat from Anchored Hope

Did you know that people keep domesticated rabbits not just as pets, but to harvest their fur for fiber? Angora rabbit hair makes a wonderfully soft yarn, I have used it to knit mittens for my kids when they were small. It's also often blended with wool and other fibers to make a soft and durable yarn.

Socks made of angora rabbit hair and wool, from MN Custom Woolens
You can click on the captions of any of the photos to learn more about the rabbit, hare, and bunny-themed items from Minnesota makers of the HandmadeMN team, and even buy them if you like. Happy rabbit hunting!


Cindy said...

I prefer these artistic versions of hares to the ones who feasted on my backyard plants. Good collection!

Kelly Ringer said...

It's very Hairy! Love it!

Brian Western said...

My oldest son and daughter in law had eight rabbits in their house at one time...they took up the bottom floor of their place with ingenious hutches and runs. There were brothers Hans and Frans...Flemish Giants! The smallest of all rabbits named Skittles paired with a grumpy Lop named Pearl. The sweetest rabbit named Hershel was a Dutch rabbit that argued Gisbertus Voetius and Wilhelmus à Brakel with his mate Gumdrop...a Californian rabbit that enjoyed surf music. Lastly, there was Joey with a sweet disposition and one ear up and one ear down and a cantankerous female rabbit that would try and bite and head butt you when you tried to feed them...I've forgotten her name! And when they jump straight up? that's called a binky!

Thanks for the feature...and all the cool tidbits!

Suz said...

Wonderfully bunnytastic! Thanks for the include!

Denise said...

Fun idea and I agree with Cindy. Thanks for including my earrings!