A Critter Update

It has now been two weeks since I found the little guy, and time has flown by. His eyes are fully open and, though he hasn‘t gotten more active (still sleeping and eating and sleeping and eating) he has grown and his appearance has changed quite a bit.

For quite a while, I was questioning as to whether Mr. Ratski is truly a rat. He hovered at the 14 g mark for over a week, and is still relatively tiny. His ears have detached from his head and are getting bigger, and as of this morning I am seeing how his snout is starting to get a truly „ratty“ look to it.

Here are some more pictures.

Today, again eating porridge
This past Sunday, cleaning up after his meal.

I even went to the pet store and bought him a small rat hammock. He doesn‘t like it yet though, even though I‘ve read that they usually love them.

He‘s at 18 g as of today. And cute. Regrettably, yesterday evening I approached his cage too quickly, startling him, and he‘s been afraid of me all day and keeps fleeing into his little house (a white box).

I‘m working on it. We‘ll see.

All Creatures, Great and Small

A week ago yesterday, I was walking through the yard when I spotted movement in the grass near my feet. I saw a teetering, struggling, teensy tiny little mouse-like thing and went into the house to grab some gloves to pick up this creature and further examine it.

I first thought it was a mouse that had been injured by a cat.
It wasn‘t. Its eyes were still closed, so it was clear to me that whatever it was, it was very young. I grabbed some milk in a syringe and got a bit into him, and then put him in a box, cushioned with tissues.

Closer internet research revealed that I had found a very young baby rat (I later learned from a friend that mother rats will sometimes move their entire nest of offspring, and that perhaps this little one got lost in that process) and that he was going to need additional heat and small animal formula as well as very frequent feedings to survive.

Armed with the appropriate supplies, I set out to help the little guy. That was eight days ago. Here are some pictures.

Saturday, September 30


Wednesday, October 4    Eating baby porridge off of my hand


Today, October 6  Eating baby porridge all on his own

The above photo was taken just minutes ago. I‘ve read everywhere that baby rats open their eyes (at first only to mere slits) on day 14.
I thought a few days ago that he had opened them, but he hadn‘t. He did today though, so happy 14th day, little guy.

14 days of age and 13 gramms (that‘s just under half an ounce).

We went to the vets yesterday, just to have a professional look at him, and the vet was happy with his progress and state of being, and gave me some liquid vitamins to boost him up a bit.

I know that some people would think, well, jeez, it‘s „just“ a rat, why bother or „they‘re vermin“ or such, but I firmly believe that it is not up to us humans to decide that the lives of some animals are worth less than the lives of other animals. That‘s not our call to make.
All of God‘s creatures, great and small, are welcome at this house.


The 13% and the other 87%

We feared that the right-wing and national AfD would be voted into the Parliament in Sunday‘s election, and they were. Strangely, when you look at the different parts of the country and the percentage of support for this party, it‘s the parts where there are the least refugees which reflects the highest support this anti-refugee, anti-european AfD.

I‘ve read in several places that around 8% of the total support that they AfD received was from protest voters. While I find this comforting, on the one hand, it has me seething on the other – for how can anyone cast a vote for a Nazi party – even a protest vote – just how could they?

As is the entire world, I am sure,  I am just so worn down by the dangerous antics, assinine rhetoric and complete cluelessness of DJT, that the german election results make me want to run in to a wall in complete energizer bunny style. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP……

Anyhow, if anyone is interested in getting some interesting background on what is happening in Germany, Al Ledson dedicated one of his latest eposides of his „Reveal“ Podcast to precisely this.

A link  to the episode can be found here.

(In my humble opinion, the Peabody Award winning Podcast „Reveal“ is one of the best podcasts there is – so even if this episode doesn‘t capture your interest, I‘m sure that one of the others will.)

Summer Off / Autumn On

Though according to the calendar, Fall starts later this month, the meteorogical begin is September 1. This is the first time I’ve ever observed such a drastic change of weather here. Our August was unusually warm, all the way to the end, and just as if someone had pushed a button, from September 1 and onward we’ve been at about 55 degrees, mostly gray, with some rain and nighttime temperatures are beginning to endanger my tomatoes. I’m not complaining about the weather though, in fact, I’ve gone into autumn mode and yesterday, actually began to use some of our apples in a Tarte Normande Aux Pommes (a fancy way of saying a Normandy Cake with Apples).

It is baked in multiple stages – first the shell is half-baked, then the apples, having been tossed with cinnamon and sugar are partially baked, then a custard-like mixture is poured over them and it is returned to the oven. 10 minutes before the end, it is generously sprinkled with powdered sugar (which I then caramelized with my culinary torch once the cake was done).

The story featuring yours truly in the county newspaper was reprinted in the local (town) newspaper and I am now reluctant to leave the house, in fear of being recognised as the crazy butterfly lady. 😉

Yes, I’ve been knitting, too. I’ll do a separate post about that, there have been projects throughout.

Last but not least, a shoutout to Jen for sending me this lovely ceramic coaster out of the clear blue. I love it!


I’ve been very occupied with the state of things in the world recently, more so than usual, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida and to those in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, where over a thousand have died. People who are on the wrong side of climate change need not speak to me these days. Don’t even get me started about everything else that’s going on.

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
(RIP Heather Heyer and God bless her amazing Mom.)

That outdoor surveillance camera I bought has been interesting. I check the videos in the morning, hoping to see something interesting, but for the most, it has been cats, sometimes even two at the same time, seemingly hunting for mice. I was hoping for maybe a fox or a marten – maybe in time I’ll see something else. For now, it’s an interesting pasttime. And perhaps I should rest easy, knowing that there are no hordes of moose stomping through here in the night, trampling my flowers.*

At the beginning of the week, I mailed a photo of a freshly hatched swallowtail to the local newspaper, and a reporter came and interviewed me about all things caterpillars, butterflies, and the dropping numbers of their population. This morning, there was a half-page article about it in the newspaper – with pictures. I’m blushing at an alarming rate here.

Though glad that the butterflies are getting a bit more press 🙂

Anyhow, trying to get back into the “good” parts of the internet and will be checking everyone’s blogs this weekend. I’ve been much too distracted by current events recently. Apologies.

*There are no moose here. Just trying to be funny. It’s a wonderful picture in my head, moose trampling through 🙂

Things in the Night

Per chance, I came across a relatively game trail camera and purchased it. We have lots of sensor-activated outdoor lights in the garden and often, late in the evening, I notice them going on and off.

Whether it be cats, hedgehogs, foxes, martens – I’ve always been curious as to what creatures come through under cover of darkness.

The first two nights, the camera recorded nothing – just me setting it up and it getting taken down again in the morning.

Last night, it took some video footage and while viewing it, had me scratching my head. Only after watching it a few times I finally saw the mouse that appears to jump out of the flowerpot in the right of the frame and dash across the lawn.

Just a mouse, but it’s a start. Kind of see-through though. Maybe it’s not a mouse, just leaves.

I’ll stay on it.


A Small Gift From Mother Nature

Things were bad last year in terms of the butterfly population, but seem a bit better this year. This cheered me up quite a bit, seeing that nature keeps fighting inspite of all the herbicides and neonicotinoids. Our insekt population is way, way down. Decades ago, after a short drive, your windshield would be full of dead insects. Today, I believe you could drive from here to Hamburg on a warm summer evening and have close to none. As a side note, this is also why I feed the birds year-round – they need help.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I noticed a swallowtail butterfly in the yard, sauntering lazily from plant to plant, as they tend to do. A few days later I checked the dill that we keep planted precisely for this purpose, and discovered two freshly deposited butterfly eggs.

I removed the dill to which they were attached and gently bedded them in a bowl with a lid. I checked them twice daily, as if they hatch and have nothing to eat, things will get dicey, and they hatched after only about four to five days. Now, about 12 days later, one has attached itself to the side of the “butterfly box” and is now a pupa, while the other is still merrily eating fresh dill and growing just a bit more.

Why did I not leave them to grow and prosper in the wild? Because of parasitoid wasps, which like to inject their eggs into these caterpillars. The egg then hatches inside the caterpillar, and the resulting wasp larva feeds on the inside of the caterpillar, eventually killing it. Some types of wasp larvae actually make it to the pupa stage. I collected about 52 caterpillars (swallowtail) in the wild years ago, cared for them until they transitioned to pupa. The following spring, more than half of the pupa hatched wasps instead of butterflies – it was devastating to me.


Ooops, it’s really been a while. I’ve been off doing summer stuff, and mostly worrying about someone who is now doing much better, thank goodness.

I have also spent time walking through the woods, looking for mushrooms, but not finding any, probably because we have had little to no rain this summer, and the ground is just too dry for any mushrooms to sprout.

The forest, however, is beautiful as always, even if there is something missing from this picture.


I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog, but in my youth, somewhere around the ages of 12-15, I was a huge Beatles fan and refused to listen to anything else ever – for a number of years.

Now, I keep receiving unexpected things in the mail – recently, I received this which catapulted me back to the days of my youth:

It’s a paper card that when opened:

A wonderful and amazingly collapsible yellow submarine made of paper pops up:

And if that weren’t enough, this morning I received four bags of little bitty parts that I was forced to assemble without any instructions being included, so I am not quite sure if I did it properly.

Quite amazing and just made my day! Thank you!


For the first time ever, I got to see a sequoia tree yesterday:

It and three others were planted in a little town on the edge of Lake Constance, which I visited yesterday, to visit a dear cousin and one of my aunts, who is visiting her.