ABOUT THE HARES
Meet Patti O’Hare
Let me introduce you to Patti O’Hare – he’s the inspiration for all the hare designs you’ll find on my website. He so called because, well, he’s a hare and he sits on our patio in the spring on the lookout for other hares.
He and his family pretty much live in our garden and the surrounding fields and I see them from my studio window almost every day - come rain or shine. I hate to admit it, but work stops when Patti and his family appear.
Patti on our patio.
On a warm summer day, Patti often has a long nap and waking up seems to involve a lot of stretching and scratching
If it’s a sunny day, he may well have a snooze on the lawn. Sometimes he lies so still that I worry there’s something wrong – until his ears twitch and he stretches himself out to his full length. If it’s wet, he’ll find somewhere sheltered out of the rain. That’s often under one of the trees near the kitchen and he’ll keep his back to the trunk to keep out of the wind and to avoid being caught by surprise from behind.
Most of the garden now is pretty much a hare paradise. We have two wildflower areas which provide food and cover, but they are adjacent to plenty of open ground if speed is the safer option. We know that Patti will raid the veg plot from time to time and that’s ok because we think hares are more important than our veg. He’s also found how to get wheat from the bird feeder, possibly by watching the pigeons or the pheasants, and we’re happy with that too because it will mean there’s always something for him to eat in the winter.
There’s no doubt, however, that the whole family’s favourite food is dandelions. I tend a small patch on the edge of the patio just for them - we must be almost the only gardeners to actively encourage dandelions. Over the years, our hare family has learnt that it’s there and visit regularly, especially in the spring when the dandelion flowers are among the first to come out. It’s one of the great pleasures of spring to watch a hare eating a dandelion stalk from base to flower, that and chocolate eggs of course. If the hares don’t eat all the flowers (and there are plenty), the goldfinches will come later to feast on the seed heads – hopping around the patio within feet of us.
It’s one of the great pleasures of spring to watch a hare eating a dandelion stalk from base to flower
What better reason can there be for growing dandelions?
Sometimes, a hare will just sit by the patio and gorge on dandelion leaves
Harey Mary makes two
Patti, I’m glad to say, is not alone. All that sitting on the patio looking for other hares is not for nothing. We’ve named his partner Harey Mary and can you often see the two of them snoozing or nibbling together. Occasionally, they will race round the garden at full pelt and then stop just as suddenly and return to nibbling. To be honest, it looks like a tempestuous relationship from time to time and Mary doesn’t always give the impression of being very affectionate. But in general, they seem pretty happy.
Patti and Mary spending time together in the orchard
The first we knew that they had raised a family was when this leveret hopped on to the patio
A leveret finds the dandelions
Leverets are extremely well hidden (as they have to b) so the first we knew that Patti and Mary had successfully raised a family was when a tiny leveret hopped on to our patio and started feasting on the dandelion leaves. It was impossibly cute and seemed really too fragile for the wild world outside. We like to think she’s a girl - although it is impossible to tell for sure - but we have named her Pattison because she is Patti’s offspring and Pattidottir sounds weird. I’m pretty certain that there is more than one leveret, but you really can’t tell the difference between them and so they are all called Pattison for the sake of simplicity.
Pattison in peril
Pattison seems to be amazingly naïve about the dangers out there – although to be fair we might just underestimate her abilities. On one occasion, she came face to face with our resident Stoat and a frantic chase ensued. For a moment, my heart was in my mouth with anxiety, but perhaps Pattison knew she could easily outrun a stoat and so didn’t worry too much about it getting close.
Fortunately, hares can outrun stoats, but it looked a close call at the start
Quite often, when we go outside, she will just crouch down in the grass flattening her ears against her back. Now I know this is what hares do to hide, but it worries me that she doesn’t seem to understand that on a mowed lawn, we can still see her quite clearly. On the other hand, she might just have got used to us heading off to the veg patch or the compost heap and doesn’t worry about us as much as she would if we were a potential predator.
Just crouching down in short grass doesn’t make you invisible
Anyway, I’m glad to report that Pattison is growing fast and strong. I’ll make sure we have a healthy crop of dandelions to keep them happy.