“Down the Rabbit Hole”


Quite literally!

Rabbit holes have a very different meaning to me than the average person, why?  Well first of all, as a kid, I spent a lot of time around them, inside them, or digging through them. I would invariably find myself at dusk, high up on an exposed Scottish fell with an arm extended “James Herriot” fashion inside one.  I was trying to feel for anything that had fur, or that moved, because this meant I would be able to return to the light and warmth of my home and some dinner.


I hated doing this, it was like the endurance box Paul Atreides was tested with, by the Bene Gesserit Witch in the movie Dune. You just had no idea what was waiting for your hand round the next corner, it was the dark unknown… a rabbit, badger, chucky, a hungry troll with gnashing teeth?… Oh no, you could not let your imagination get away from you, especially as the light faded.


Now why would I subject myself to this you ask?  Well it was usually to extract one or both of my pet polecats “Bonnie and Clyde” from a rabbit hole where they had caught a rabbit, ate it, then selfishly decided to take a long underground sleep (they always do). You never want your ferret to catch a rabbit below ground ever.


When this annoyance happens there is only one course of action to be taken, that is to dig through the hill-side and extract the ferret.  First you have to locate the ferret underground, to do this we used beepers attached to the ferrets collars. Once located, then you dig, and you dig, you take the Bene Gesserit test a few more times, and then you dig some more, until you finally grab a hold of some fur. I am pretty sure I developed a lot of my current shoveling techniques during this period of my life.

Ferreting when executed correctly goes something like this: Locate rabbit warren, cover holes with fish or purse nets, put ferret in hole, wait for rabbits to bolt, jump on rabbit in net, (the next few bits you probably don’t want to hear about), sell rabbits to a local butcher, obtain pocket money…done!


A bygone pie?

Now before you all boycott the patch in support of these furry long-eared rodents, there is something important you need to know.

The Thing

There is a disease in the UK, the most hideous of diseases that turns rabbits from the lovable creatures we know into mutations that resemble creatures in “The Thing”. The disease is in the US but it effects the European rabbit more severely. I wish I could say I was exaggerating or joking when I say this, but I am not, okay perhaps just the tiniest bit. These mutated creatures are truly disturbing to witness first hand, and I witnessed a lot where I grew up, in fact I even jumped on a few ferreting…a memory I would very much like to rid myself off…


The disease is called Myxomatosis, as kids, we called it simply myxi, and the jury is out on whether it is a man-made or a naturally occurring virus . Certainly man knowingly spread this heinous virus into new countries and areas.

The virus was deliberately introduced into Australia in 1950 in an attempt to control rabbit infestation and population there.  It was devastatingly effective, reducing the estimated rabbit population from 600 million to 100 million in two years. It was also deliberately introduced in the UK to try and reduce the rabbit population after World War II. By 1955, about 95% of rabbits in the UK were dead, a staggering statistic. The disease is still common in the UK today, and it is not uncommon for shooters (and drivers) to specifically target infected rabbits, viewing the act as being merciful. I will not go into details about the specifics of the disease for fear of giving you nightmares, but where I grew up, keeping the rabbit population in check helped to keep the disease in check.


Bonnie and Clyde both eventually entered a rabbit hole and were never seen again, returning back to the wild where I had initially found them.  Myself? I don’t care if I ever see one more rabbit hole, or one more myxi rabbit, as long as I live.

I know you are now ready to move onto some more traditional seasonal cheer…

Dragonfly wings

…but I am afraid you will have to wait a little longer…


I scooped this dragonfly out of my pond after one of our recent frosts, I thought it was dead as I took these shots. My eldest decided that she wanted to take it to school for show and tell. We placed it in a zip-lock bag where it proceeded to “reanimate”. I could tell it had reanimated by the screams emanating from inside the house, it turned out a leg had apparently moved, I was skeptical. I decided to keep it locked inside the bag, yes I was performing dragonfly euthanasia, it was not going to live after all, even if it’s leg had indeed moved. Did you spot the hitchhiker on it’s wing?  What IS that?

Moving on…


This dwarf papyrus


Cyperus papyrus!

was packed with tiny water droplets the other morning. I have this one paired in a small container with horsetail reed which works well as they are both about the same height.


Some more water jewelry mimicking what is left of the seed pods on my “Jewels of Opar” plant.


People Wanda Sykes

Really attractive now!

I think I can safely say that this will be my final post on this plant for this year!  I cut these jewels back to the ground and made sure that I gave these tiny round seeds a good shake in various places around the patch. I could hear all the tiny seeds hitting the ground…like music to my elephant ears.


Perhaps some music might cheer them up a little…a drooping elephant ear, a soggy reminder of a good freeze.

Middle Bed

It is amazing what a difference one hard frost can make in a garden. Here is a vibrant before and frozen after image of the same view taken last week.


What a stark difference!



Sedum nussbaumerianum

or Coppertone sedum, has turned a tell-tale frost-bitten pink color. It looks like there is still life at the base of the plant. I really want this plant to make it through the winter.



My Salvia leucantha also took an icy beating and is now cut back to the ground.


Even the hobbits have been scuttling underground to escape the cold via their container trap-door. They tell me that this passageway leads to a forest in Canada?

Inspirational images of the week…

Sphere Retreat

Images by Free Spirit Spheres

These forest orbs are available for overnight rental or purchase on Vancouver Island.  Tom Chudleigh, the conceptual designer behind these hobbit houses in the sky, developed the idea for his own need to meditate in the wild.  Tom was also searching for a concept that would allow people to move into the forest without having to take it down first by chopping trees to make room for houses.


So if you are ready for a lifestyle change, get out of the rat-race in one of these enchanted pods…they are also quite interesting on the inside…


What a great place to read Lord of the Rings.

Is that a microwave?

Stay Tuned for:

“The Twelve ESP Days of Christmas”

All material © 2009 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Les December 13, 2009, 5:26 am

    At least you were putting your hands in Scottish hole and not one in Texas, where you could just as easily find something scaly, legless and venomous as you could a rabbit or a ferret. Have you ever seen people catfish noodling? I am sure that type of fishing takes a fair amount of blind courage as well as a few beers.

    • ESP December 13, 2009, 10:23 am

      Hi Les.
      Yes, much safer to do this where there are less snakes!
      I have seen people catfish noodling, there was a great scene on the “Gordon Ramsay” show, when some “locals” made him have a go, hilarious! I must say though he gave it a good try. Catfish are not the best looking of fish to begin with. We used to do a similar “blind” fishing activity, under large semi-submerged boulders. We used to call it “guddling” and it was also quite horrible as there were as many eels under those boulders as there were fish! Brrrrr… (left knee buckles and twitches)!

  • TexasDeb December 13, 2009, 8:55 am

    Um, well, Yikes! That is all……

    • ESP December 13, 2009, 10:30 am

      Yikes! it was indeed Deb.

  • Jenny December 13, 2009, 4:19 pm

    So the patch finally got a frost eh! Join the clan( am I allowed to say that to a Scot?) Enjoyed your story of the rabbit hole. I bet your hobbits are afraid to go to sleep at night if you tell them bedtime stories like that. Alice in Wonderland terrified me but i did keep reading it over and over again. I remember the myx. epidemic. We would see rabbits sitting on the side of the road just staring ahead. they never moved. It was horrible. I remember my Grandma would make rabbit stew but it was not likely one of the afflicted. Our neighbors fished a rabbit out of our pool when we were away. That isn’t a good sign. Where there’s one there’s more.
    So sorry to hear you are under the weather but there is nothing quite as comforting as a glass of hot lemon and whatever. Speedy recovery.

    • ESP December 13, 2009, 7:01 pm

      Hi Jenny.

      We have had a few frosts indeed at the Patch in the last couple of weeks. I think I had better keep these Myx stories to myself as my youngest already has the occasional night terror, this would throw him over the edge…”Daddy there is a bunny “Motner” (monster) gettin’ me.” The memories of these poor rabbits are enough to give ME nightmares. I also remember my father swerving to the side of the road to kill the “staring” ones, it really was like a bad zombie horror movie, the way the headlights would catch their disfigurements! Brrrrrr, (shudders). I was never a big fan of rabbit stew/pie myself, a little too strong for me, I was more of a pheasant, duck and pigeon person (insert a homer drool here).
      I am looking forward to my hot toddy, and they do not get any better then when made with your own Meyers!

      I hope you had a nice trip.

      Thanks Jenny.

  • Bob Pool December 14, 2009, 8:58 pm

    I have never heard of Myx before Philip. It sounds bad, I mean really bad. Does it affect any other animals?

    It’s nice to know that some one else knows that there is both rabbits and hares.

    Did you notice the smell of the dead plants? I immediately went to work on removing some of them as the smell was so bad.

    Hope you get better soon.

    • ESP December 14, 2009, 11:39 pm

      Hi Bob.

      Yes Myx is about as bad of a disease that any animal can catch…and no it specifically targets rabbits, it is flea and mosquito transmitted (from one rabbit to another).

      I did notice the smell of all the dead plants, specifically the Hoja Santa licorice aroma. Wait until you see the smelly tongue plant on my next post…talk about stinky! It was quite disgusting, the witches were huddled all around it.
      I am feeling much better already after last nights potent elixir, thank you!

      I am off to check out Cheryl’s.
      Cheers Bob.

  • Bob Pool December 14, 2009, 8:59 pm

    I almost forgot, look on Cheryl’s blog at some of the pictures she took. Some really good ones, moustache and all.

  • Dezzy January 29, 2012, 1:26 pm

    This is a nice post on the dragonfly and your garden! What camera did you use for these shots?

    • ESP January 29, 2012, 8:45 pm

      Thanks Dezzy glad you liked it. I use a little point and shoot Sony Cybershot, basic but small enough to be on hand (or in the pocket) at all times.


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