Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mister and The Carrot Lady

DEBORAH CROMBIE: What a fun thing I have to share with you today--the perfect Sunday post! As an amateur naturalist, I was utterly charmed by my friend and neighbor's tale of the wild cottontail rabbit she came to know in her garden. We see cottontails, too, but only in our front garden (the big beastie dogs are NOT welcoming to wild rabbits in their back garden!) and I have never known a wild rabbit as intimately as THE CARROT LADY and her MISTER.  Now I feel quite deprived.

Not only did THE CARROT LADY share Mister's story in her book, MISTER'S GARDEN, she documented Mister's life in beautiful photos. Here's how MISTER'S GARDEN came about.

THE CARROT LADY: As children, we do not know how we will end up living our lives.  Life was so simple back then.  Not a care in the world, but how do we each find our individual path as adults?  How one ultimately finds joy is by doing what you love and have passion for.   It just may take some time till we all find our direction.

 It took me a long time to realize what I really wanted to do.   So long in fact that a little wild cottontail rabbit had to take it upon herself to push me to follow my dreams.  On that fateful day in May of 2012 when I formally met this rabbit for the first time, she was devouring my freshly planted petunias.  My words called out “Hey Mister, Stop Eating My Flowers!”  As I ran to the store for a bag of baby carrots, that was the day that my life would start changing dramatically.  Who knew that a bed of purple petunias was the open door to my future?

At the time I did not know what this meeting meant but I found out over the course of the next few years.  I learned a lot about wild bunnies along the way too, including how to eventually identify that Mister was really a girl!  With Mister by my side in the garden I continued to work my day job which was a highly stressful corporate sales position.  As you can probably imagine, nothing was ever good enough when it came to sales.  My work days were exhausting and long but I always had the peace and calm of Mister to keep me a little bit sane.  



As I grew to know Mister I realized she was a very wise bunny.  She was so remarkable that I felt the need to write her story, Mister’s Garden. Somehow I was able to undertake and complete this design intensive project while still working my stressful corporate job.  



I love taking photos of animals and unknowingly I had already been documenting Mister’s life over the course of many years.  My vision was for her story to be told in full living color and packed with my photographs and colorful illustrations.  Mister’s Garden was to be a picture book for adults.  It was to be a magical place to escape to as it had been for me.  In my head I anticipated that this was Book I of her memoir and there would be subsequent volumes.  As Mister thrived in the garden for years, I had lost sight of the fact that she was a wild bunny and she could be gone at any time.  That day finally came when I was fervently writing the text of her book.  I had no idea how hard it would be to lose Mister.   There were so many tears.



With Mister’s disappearance, I took some time to reflect.  Everything happens for a reason and I am convinced she hopped into my life for a reason.  That reason was to rescue me and point me to the path I was supposed to be on.  While the story of Mister’s Garden is told in a whimsical way as that is my style, it also has an important message.  Life is short and we must make the most of our time on this Earth.  For me, I knew it was time to live in the moment, the moment of Mister.  



Fast forward to today!  I had the pleasure of meeting Deborah Crombie last weekend where I was set up at a local event telling my story of Mister’s Garden.  As Deborah walked up I said “You look very familiar” but I could not place her face.  Then I realized I had informally met her at her local book signing earlier this year.  While I can’t imagine the success that Deborah has had with her career as an author, I can always dream.  My next project is the first book of the Mister’s Garden Children’s Series which is in the works now and will be published this fall.  These are very exciting times and to think it all started with a sweet little wild bunny and a baby carrot!



With that, Mister and I invite you through the garden gate to experience the enchanting memoir of Mister, an incredible wild bunny who will never be forgotten.  Mister was wild and free and she had been loved.  Be safe!





~JB Bean (also known as The Carrot Lady)



Mister’s Garden
JellyBean Publishing, LLC
www.jellybeanpublishing.com


DEBS: Here's Wren's Mister, a perfect and cuddly replica of a wild Eastern Cottontail!


And of course she will have the children's version of Mister's story.

REDS and readers, have you ever observed a wild animal for a length of time? (Hank's ducks!)

37 comments:

  1. Mister’s tale, as told by the Carrot Lady, is touching; its charm makes me smile.
    And Wren’s Mister is just too cute . . . .

    All sorts of wild animals wander through our yard, but we seldom get to observe them for any length of time. Sometimes we think the same deer are returning, but we never have a clue about the turkeys, the rabbits, or the turtles. Still, we enjoy watching them and, in the autumn, they’ll all show up when we open the gate and let them into the garden.

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  2. Oh, this is indeed a lovely story for a Sunday, or any day. I have had a rabbit experience this year, this summer, and I have been enjoying it so much. Back in the first part of June, I noticed a rabbit sitting out in my circle drive, on the edge of the far side. She seemed to just be sitting there, around dusk every day, and she even stayed when I walked down the side driveway to get the mail late one day. It finally hit me that she must have a nest nearby, and sure enough, she did. I carefully lifted off the soft covering, which included some of the mother's fur, with a stick, so I wouldn't contaminate it with my smell. There were two precious bunnies in the hole, and I quickly covered them back and didn't go near them again. I went to Home Depot and bought little flags to put out around the area and warned my yard guys not to get near that area. Well, the bunnies have since moved to the back yard, and I catch a glimpse of a smallish one just about every day. I can certainly see how you got attached to Mister, JB.

    And, there were the baby robins I followed, too. The first batch that thrived and lived to where I followed them hopping on the ground and then fly. The second batch from that nest and momma didn't fare well. I knew that there were babies when I went out of town for a few days. When I returned, there were three dead, featherless baby robins in the drive. I was quite sad about that and scooped them up and put them in the garbage so that the momma didn't have to see them like that anymore.

    JB, I will most certainly be looking up your book and look forward to your children's version, too.

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  3. So completely sweet! We have a bunny family… And we love them. Love them so dearly! Even though they eat the hosta. One day I came outside and the female bunny had a huge hosta leaf in her mouth. She just looked at me like yeah, what are you gonna do about it :-)

    But they are so cute, it is difficult to be angry. And then the baby bunny came! Oh my goodness, I have never seen anything cuter. I wish I could post the picture I love how they think if they just are very still, we won't see them.
    Their cuteness is their power, right?

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    1. Oh, yes, Hank. It's so funny how they become statue still like that makes them invisible.

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  4. What a delightful tease! Cannot wait to read the rest of the story. I have cute rabbits here, too, but I also have a big white cat that is an excellent hunter. And the deer come right up to the side of my house to eat not only hosta leaves but the flowers as well.

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  5. Great story, thanks for visiting Carrot Lady! We have a group of woodchucks whom we hate, but that's because they mow down everything in our garden LOL! Out front, we have some sweet yellow ribbon snakes living in our stone wall, but I don't know them individually:)

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  6. This is such a lovely story! Thanks for sharing it JB. And the cover is gorgeous.

    We have rabbits and turkeys and racoons and groundhogs in our VERY urban/suburban garden. Also lots of birds. Our bird bath is their little spa, especially in the heat of summer, and sometimes there are as many as 12 sparrows vying for position. They clear the decks when one of our resident cardinals or bluejays sweep in. I know we have plenty of nesting pairs but our bushes are so thick I don't see where until fall when the branches are bare and the nests revealed.

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  7. Debs, thanks again for the guest post! So much fun! 🙂

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  8. Our back garden looks like something out of a Disney movie much of the summer. We have rabbits, tons of chipmunks, two warring families of cardinals and bluejays, the Montagues and Capulets, a little gray fox, assorted woodchucks, all sorts of song birds, lots of wood peckers and a nuthatch, singular. We are in the city but within two blocks of Washington Grove, a nature area set aside, about 30 acres of woods. These contain deer, wild turkeys and dog walkers.

    This year I know where the bunny nest is, spent an evening watching her, whom we've named Petrus Rabbit, caring grasses and soft things into her warren. I'm waiting for babies, which should appear any day now.

    The dogs are too slow to catch a cold, so I have no fear for the bunnies. One year a wild turkey nested behind out garage and raised her entire brood in my garden. Once in a while she'd take all 12 of them across the street for lunch, but mostly she stayed close. Magnificent creatures.

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  9. No bunnies that I've seen in my yard, because of the dogs, but I love watching nature, whether it's birds or snakes or turtles or whatever. When I lived in the country there was a small colony of feral cats in our woods that I came to observe closely. I fed them on my front deck, and learned over several generations how their society was organized, what the general cycle of their lives was, and which ones preferred to be wild rather than coming into a house to be tame. I couldn't afford to spay and neuter, but I adopted out many of their kittens, and took in four of them myself. The queen cat was a canny tortoiseshell who lived about ten years and had several awesome daughters. My beautiful Scrap, who is Queen of the Universe, is her granddaughter.

    Now that I live in town I've discovered that I have opossums and raccoons, plus a family of mockingbirds that fascinates the dogs and me equally.

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    1. The only thing I miss about Texas is the mockingbirds. There is no other song like theirs. Or rather, they sing everyone's song. "Variations on a Theme" by Mockingbird

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    2. I think this pair had a nest in my holly hedge, but then I had the guys come in to trim the hedge (not as low as their nest) and the birds decided to move. The male spent about a week proclaiming his new territory from my neighbor's tree, and now it looks like they've moved to the photinia bushes next to my carport. Chess likes to stare at them until they start to dive bomb him.

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    3. Gigi, your talking about the feral cats and society reminded me of the Erin Hunter books that my older granddaughter (now 16) loved when she was younger. There are quite a few in the Warrior series, lots of sub-series, and they are great stories about the feral cats and the different groups that challenge one another. We didn't get into the other series, which included the ones featuring dogs (Survivors) or bears (Seekers), but I'm sure that they were all good stories, too. The name Erin Hunter is used, but it is actually a collection of different authors who write these stories. I never had the heart to tell my granddaughter that her favorite author Erin Hunter wasn't really a person.

      Oh, and my favorite, most loved, best, amazing feral cat series is the short series by Ursula Le Guin entitled Catwings. There are four precious tales in this series written for young children, chapter books. If I had it my way, everyone would own a set of these books. Just magical! The cats fly!

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  10. Mimi's green bird. When we visited my parents on Cape Cod, we were informed that a green heron had built her nest in a pine tree next to the outside shower and clothes line. My kids spent their visit silently tiptoeing in and out of the shower, and otherwise not playing in that part of the yard. We were gone by the time her fledglings left the nest. I suspect one year was enough for the green heron, though Mimi had high hopes she would return.

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  12. This has made my day. Thank you

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  13. Deer, deer and more deer. They eat everything, sleep under my deck and terrify my daughter's dog. But the babies every spring are adorable. The weirdest piece of wildlife... We were once adopted by a peacock. I know he must have belonged to someone but he came to visit every day, landing with a grea thump. He was a terrible flyer! And his early morning shrieks were not appreciated. But he was so lovely.

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    1. Rhys, when I was growing up here in Kentucky, one of my aunts and her husband lived on a farm with an old Civil War plantation house. For a while they raised peacocks, and I thought it was such a magical place to visit, with all those peacocks and their brilliant colors. Now, the geese they had weren't so magical, as I got too close to a mother goose's baby and she ferociously chased me into the back door. I just made it, too!

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  14. Hi JB! Thanks for joining us today. Do you still see Mister's offspring in your garden? And I didn't realize that wild rabbits ate carrots! I thought that was just in story books:-)

    Your photos of Mister and her daughters in the book are just amazing. So fortunate that you were already such a good photographer when Mister came to you.

    You learned so much about the behavior of wild rabbits, and you worked with Wild Rabbit Rescue, too, I think. What about the rabbits surprised you the most?

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    1. Thank you so much for having me! I still take care of Mister's extended family. Sadly, Ginger Sprite went missing last Dec 2016, and she was one of Mister's eldest daughters. Nutmeg, who is also in the book, is still here and even nuttier than her mama ever was! She keeps all the fans entertained on our facebook page and I estimate she is around 4 years old.

      As for carrots, that was how it all started. I only knew what was in story books too! Mister thrived on them however, though in quantities they are not good for domestic bunnies. I always say don't do as I do here with my wild bunnies when it comes to domestics as wild bunnies get so much more exercise just trying to stay alive.

      I actually did not work with the rabbit rescue but did ask them for advice several times when I had questions about the bunnies in my garden. I have volunteered for a cat and dog rescue since 2009, haha, which is why I have so many kitties inside the house.

      I have definitely learned a lot over the course of the last 5 years or so. I think most importantly, we must all stop on occasion long enough from our busy lives to experience nature. Just open up your back door and you will be amazed. Just sit down on a chair to listen and watch.
      What will you see? You may find your own Mister!

      For me, my wild rabbits have shown me they have personality, needs and wants which are all much like an indoor pet. There is much more going on inside the mind of a wild cottontail rabbit than we ever knew, at least that is my belief. They live their lives in fear and I am grateful I have given them a little joy and safety in my garden. :-)

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  15. Up until this summer I'd have said squirrels, squirrels, and more darned squirrels, who dig up all my potted flowers, eat my figs, and for years have kept me from planting any sort of bulb. We have a pond, and huge native pecan tree, so we are a great food and water source. But this summer the squirrel population seems to have decreased dramatically. Also, in the last few years we've seen a color mutation--our red squirrels are going blond. The first couple of years there was only one with a distinctive light coat and we could always recognize him/her. Now we see several that color.

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    1. Debs, my mother-in-law has a squirrel that is finding her tomatoes delicious, and my MIL is furious with that squirrel.

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  16. There are always rabbits in the yard--one year we actually saw a mother nursing her young. The deer that come through the orchard, the wild turkeys that saunter across the road, the flocks of goldfinches this time of year-- and of course the hummingbirds--zip past my window and patio door every spring to let me know they're back and hungry.

    What a delightful story, JB, so special that you are able to share it with kids (and grown-up kids, too)! I especially appreciate the Jellybean Publishing title! When the boys were quite small they asked me to draw them a story once--and when I asked a story about what? The answer from one was 'jellybeans' and from the other 'a washing machine.' Thus was born a series of tales about the jellybeans and their adventures! P.s. Right now I am watching a bunny in my front yard.

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    1. Since I wrote a book about bunnies, I named my company after my heart and soul kitty, named JellyBean! JellyBean is 17 now and not doing very well. I pray she will be with me for some time to come.

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  17. And yes, the ducks the ducks! I could go on for hours. We named them all--Flo, Eddy, Not-Flo, Not-Eddy, Evil Duck, Mangy Duck, No-Neck, New Duck. (Are we clever or what?)

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  18. We have a flock of muscovy ducks, that visit our yard several times a week. The State of Florida considers these critters to be a nuisance and invasive.. I think they are welcome as they keep the insect population under control. Along with the ducks, I am visited by flocks of ibis, and sometimes cattle egrets. I have a grandfather oak on my property that is home to blue jays and mockingbirds. and squirrel nests from time to time. In spite of living near the heart of Tampa, we still have possums and an occasional coachwhip snake, along with an abundance of geckos. The geckos try to be house geckos, our cats discourage this. J. B, no bunnies in my neighborhood, some live near Tampa International Airport. Best of luck with Jellybean Publishing and the adventures of Mister and her kin.

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  19. I live in downtown Seattle, so you probably don't want to know about the creatures I see on a regular basis! However, we take a walk along Puget Sound most days and are often rewarded with sea lion and seal sightings. Enormous and graceful, those creatures never fail to delight us!

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  20. In the past couple of years there have been rabbits hoping around my condo complex. We're not out in the country and are in fact just a couple of blocks from Long Island Sound. Normally, they hop away if a human comes by. Last week I thought one of them was going to follow me into my building!

    DebRo

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  21. We had raccoons try to get the koi in our koi pond once. We are a mile from the freeway and mile from the town square, so very sort of old urban neighborhood.

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  22. Oh yes, similar to Hank's ducks we have had a pair of mallards return to our property year after year. We call them Betty and Barney and Betty is quite the leader of the duo. They land in our trout pond and walk over to our bird feeder where we scatter food for them. Betty leads the way on her webbed feet, Barney waddles stoically behind. He watches while she eats her fill, standing guard from coyote and fox alike (and probably my husband and I as well), and then she graciously gives him a scant minute to eat before she demands he follow her in her march around the house back to the pond. They leave when she's ready to lay. I don't know where they have their nest, just that we have never seen the ducklings.

    We also have Darcy. She's a moose and she showed up one day with her twin calves. She circled them around our pickup in the front yard (we think she fell in love with the truck - she spent a lot of time rubbing against it) and eventually brought the twins to the back porch fence. She comes back every year with her young. Usually one calf, but sometimes twins. She'll stare in the windows until she catches someone's attention, then she'll go to the back porch, show off her latest young'un and once we've oohed and ahhed (from behind the closed screen) to her satisfaction, she herds them to the treeline and they're gone for another year.

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  23. When we lived in Ohio we had about 4 acres. Deer came up from the tracks every evening. Our airemutt Eliot chased them every evening. He would go so far; the deer would retreat so far. Then they all resumed what ever they'd been doing. Game over. They seemed to have a mutual agreement and kept to it. Here in our Houston neighborhood the possums use the telephone lines as their personal highway in the evenings.

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  24. My office is in a park-like setting across the street from a pond and about a block from the center of town. In addition to the water fowl the area is over-run by nearly tame squirrels. A local resident stops by about once a week to scatter food for the squirrels who are quite tame, and expect to be fed. (So do the ducks and geese.)

    Several years ago I was sitting on one of the park benches on my lunch break, talking on my cell phone. A squirrel jumped onto the bench, ran across my lap, hopped onto the back of the bench, then jumped off and ran away. I think it was more startled by our encounter than I was!

    DebRo

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  25. I remember the day I opened my Facebook and learned Mister hadn't come back to her garden and the carrot lady. I bawled my eyes out, but I knew I couldn't be as upset ass the Carrot Lady. I found it hard to keep following thier story, but I couldn't quit. After all, there was still Ginger Sprite and then the spritlets. I snuggle my big white house Rabbit Cotton every day and think about how the carrot lady loved her Mister enough to let her stay wild. I will never look at cottontails the same after getting to know Mister.

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  26. Thank you so much, Deborah, for broadening The Carrot Lady's audience and introducing her wonderful cottontail friends. I am Virginia, your reader and fan in France to whom you so kindly videoed a message through her some months ago. I have been blogging friends with the CL for many years, and have enjoyed her adventures with Mister and Mister's descendants for many years. This story is a wonderful example to all of us.

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    1. 🙂 It has been some time, hasn't it, Virginia!
      Debs - This is your fan we videod your message for earlier this year at Diggin It. Thanks again!

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