A Letter From Pat and Shirley Blackburn

Dear Terry,

Thank you so much for visiting with our grandkids and me about Katie and Robert P. Rabbit.  We had a wonderful Robert P. Rabbit day during our G & G camp (Grandpa and Grammy).  Our day began with a visit to a family who has two special needs children.  We spent some time playing and talking with them and shared a Robert P. Rabbit book.  I think they were blessed.  Next, was our phone call with you.  It was wonderful and we so appreciate you taking time to share during your Colorado vacation.  The kids loved seeing you, the author of the book, and hearing your stories. Following our call we went to Colorado Springs Christian Schools and presented a book to the elementary principal who had connected us with the family we visited.  He was intrigued with the book and we encouraged him to add it to the school library.  Our next activity was a treasure hunt. The kids, the Global Detectives, had to find an item that was missing from Robert P. Rabbit's garden.  We had a fun day inspired by your interactions with Katie and Will.  

Attached you will find photos of the kids in their G & G camp shirts.  Evan wanted to have Katie and Robert P. Rabbit on his shirt so the girls helped with his drawing.  Please share with Wendy the impact Katie is having on the lives of others.

We love and appreciate you, Terry.  Thank you again!


Shirley and Pat Blackburn

Jenna, Lydia, Drew and Evan Perea

Posted on August 12, 2016 .

An Act Of Kindness Can Be Repaid When You Least Expect It


Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you have a really good day.

There are 4 different kinds of skunks in the United States. I haven't seen the hooded skunk, the hog nosed skunk or the spotted skunk, because the only one we have in North Georgia is the stripped skunk. That's the one with white strips down the length of its sides on its black fur. I told you about my brother being sprayed by a skunk, and how a bath in tomato juice was the only thing that got the smell off. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Skunks are really very calm animals. They don't like trouble, and they don't like to fight. In fact that actually makes them very good pets. But if they are threatened they will raise up their back end -- sometimes even standing only on their front legs, and spray the most foul smelling fluid into the face of whatever has threatened them. And it not only smells terrible, but it will burn the eyes of any predator unfortunate enough to have made the skunk worried for its safety, or the safety of its little skunks.

Anyway, I made friends with the skunk that sprayed my brother, because I didn't want her to think we were mad at her for just doing what skunks do. I took her some vegetables one winter when she hadn't been able to find any food for herself because of all the snow. I had stored lots of good food in our den, and I was glad to share with her because she had three brand new babies she had to nurse, and to do that she needed to eat well. Besides, I could get to her very easily because of my snow shoe type feet, while she had a very hard time getting around in the snow.

Then, in the Spring, when I was out one time by the creek, I turned around only to find I was trapped on three sides by big boulders I couldn't jump over, and the biggest wild cat in front of me that I'd ever seen. I was sure I was about to be that cat's dinner when out of nowhere there was the skunk standing right beside me. I think she ran right between the wild cat and a big boulder to reach me. It really surprised the cat, but didn't make him run off. He was determined to get me. But just as he was about to spring, the skunk sprayed him big time right in the face. You've never heard such squealing, and crying and moaning in all your life. That cat was rubbing its eyes and face in the grass for all it was worth trying to make it all go away. It even jumped in the creek to try to wash it out of its eyes and off its fur. It didn't work ; and for weeks we knew exactly where that wild cat was in the forrest just by the smell.

You never know when a kindness you show to someone might be repaid when you need it most.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit


Posted on August 5, 2016 .

The Majestic Ora a.k.a The Killer Whale!

I once went on a trip with GrandDad to Alaska, the State that is so far north and west that it is almost touching Russia. Anyway, not too far out of Seattle, Washington we saw some big beautiful black and white fish. They were swimming right along side our boat, actually going faster than we were, and they were sort of rolling and diving in and out of the water as they swam. They all had a big fin that sticks right out of the water like the fin of a shark. The boy's fin is 6 feet tall, and the girl's fin is three feet tall.

The other people on the boat called them "Killer Whales", but GrandDad said that their real name is "Orcas". They aren't a threat to humans, but they can kill even the largest sharks, which is good because sharks bite humans all the time. The Orcas stayed with us for a long while, just having a great time riding the wave that our boat made.

Here are some interesting facts about Orcas. They always swim in family groups of 6 to 12 called a "Pod". And they really are a family, because the babies stay with their mother all their lives. And that can be a long time, as the boys can live 60 - 70 years, and the girls can live 100 years. Also, the oldest female is in charge of the family, and all the others do what she says. She tells them when to feed, where to swim to and even when to sleep. And after they sleep, when she feels they all have had enough sleep, she raises her tail out of the water and smacks it down, waking everyone up.

And you know what though? They sleep while they swim. What they do is face toward the incoming tide and swim so slowly that they hardly move as the tide might be coming in about as fast as they are swimming out. And they all get into the same rhythm and speed as the littlest one, so they won't go off and leave the baby in the process.

I guess that would be like me sleeping while I hop around slowly. No thanks, I think I'll just sleep lying down real still. Besides I don't want to wake up somewhere different from where I go to sleep. I might just hop into the fox's den without knowing it until it's too late.

Keep your chin up

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on July 29, 2016 .

The Yellow-Shafted Flicker Eats Ants!

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you're having a really good day.

GrandDad feeds birds in his back yard. He likes to do that because then he sees so many more different kinds than he would if they weren't coming to his feeder all day. And one day I was watching with him, and a Yellow-Shafted Flicker came by for some seed. I told him that I thought Flickers were woodpeckers, and that they only pecked into the bark of trees after insects. He told me that I was only half right; that is that a Flicker is a woodpecker, but it's not a normal woodpecker. While all woodpeckers like to eat seed sometimes, the Flicker is the only one that feeds on the ground as well as in trees.

In fact, almost half of the Flicker's diet consists of ants. That's right, I said ants. The Flicker will find an ant hill and start pecking at the top of the hill until it has opened up a shaft just big enough to stick its bill in. The ants will feel the pecking and come up from their tunnels to fight whatever predator might be invading their nest. The Flicker will then roll up its tongue and stick it three inches or so down into the ant hill, and the ants will try to bite it because they will think it is an attacking worm. The trouble for them is that the Flicker's tongue is really sticky, and the ants get stuck on it, and can't get off. Then the Flicker pulls its bill out of the ant hill and eats the ants. It does this over and over until it has its fill, or until something comes along that causes it to fly away.

GrandDad doesn't put ants in his feeder, though, as that would scare the other birds away. Anyway, they all have more sense than to eat ants.

Keep your chin up
Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on July 22, 2016 .

The Sly Fox

There is a Reason They Call Him "The Sly Fox"

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

The word "sly" means tricky, or crafty or even clever.  For years Foxes have had to develop ways to fool the dogs that seem to always want to chase them. In fact, many times it isn't just one dog hunting the fox, but a whole pack of dogs. Why in some places humans will bring together 10 or 20 dogs and set them lose in a pack to chase after just one lonely fox. The call it a "fox hunt", and they follow along after the dogs on horseback, and they think it is a "sport", or a game, like soccer or baseball. For the foxes, if they didn't have so many tricks to use, it certainly wouldn't be a game at all.

The advantage the fox has is that they know every inch of their forest, and they use that knowledge to their great advantage. Also, the fox is many times faster than a dog, so it can stay ahead of the dogs without much trouble. But rather than just outrun the dogs here are some of the clever things the fox does to frustrate the dogs.

First the fox will run in very large circles - sometimes for two to three miles. The dogs will keep running 'round and 'round as the scent of the fox will always be just in front of the dogs noses. They won't even realize that the fox left the trail an hour or so back when, after completing the circle, it has jumped into a stream right beside its circular trail , and walked out on the other side, and is now watching the dogs going around in the circle, basically now chasing nothing -- but their tails.

A fox will also will team up with its mate to wear out the dogs. Foxes are very loyal to their mates, staying together for their entire lives, just like my mother and father. So when one fox is being chased by a pack of dogs, after running for hours, the fox will duck into a hollow log where it's mate has been hiding, and the mate will come out the other end of the log, and continue the run. The dogs have no idea the switch has happened. They think they are chasing the same fox, but really they are chasing a totally different fox. In this way the foxes get a rest, and the dogs don't. I remember one time this went on for two full days, before the dogs gave up exhausted - while the foxes were barely tired.

But the best trick I've seen a fox pull was when he had run really far ahead of the dogs. Then the fox turned right around and came directly back toward the dogs. I thought that seemed like a strange thing to do, until I saw the fox jump almost 25 feet off the trail in one giant leap. The dogs came running by with their noses on the ground following the fox's scent straight ahead.  But when the dogs got to the point where the fox had turned around, the trail seemed like it came to a dead end, and that the fox had just disappeared. The dogs then just ran around in circles like they had no idea which way to turn.

So sometimes when someone wants to start a fight with you, it might be better for you to be a little sly to avoid the fight, just like the fox.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on July 15, 2016 .

The Clever Sandpiper

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

There is a wonderful little bird called the Sandpiper that I really like. That's because it is kinda like a rabbit, in that it has to rely on its brain a lot of the time to keep one step ahead of predators that would like to make him their next meal. And it uses camouflage to hide itself, and courage to maintain its position, and thus not be caught.

The Sandpiper likes to make its nest near the water, and it feeds a lot there. You can oftentimes see the Sandpiper running along the water's edge, with its head bobbing up and down as it looks for insects to eat.

When it builds its nest, it will choose a place where the prevailing wind is coming from the water to its nest.  That's because it's enemies, like a mink, who see the Sandpiper a lot near the water, will run up and down by the water looking to catch a Sandpiper. If the wind were blowing toward the water from its nest, the mink would pick up the Sandpiper's scent, and follow it to where the Sandpiper is nesting. Not good.

And when the mink gives up looking down by the water, and begins to roam around in the grass away from the water, the Sandpiper just freezes. That means it stays perfectly still. And its feathers are colored so much like its surroundings that the mink can be looking straight at it and not see it at all. In fact, after the eggs hatch, and the little new Sandpipers are running around near the nest looking for bugs, and the mink comes near, the mother lets out a special "peet, peet, peet"

and immediately the chicks will stop in place, and not move a feather. Again, the camouflage color of the chick's feathers blend into their surroundings, and the mink won't see them. They have enough courage to stay that way even if the mink is very close by, and they will move only when their mother lets them know the coast is clear.

Oh yes, and there is another predator who would like to catch a Sandpiper, and that is a pigeon hawk. Since its eyesight is better than the minks, mama Sandpiper has another way to avoid being caught. As soon as she sees the hawk start to dive down to catch her, she dives into the water and stays under the water until the danger is past. She even walks along the bottom of the lake so that when she comes up it is at a different place from where she went in.

Pretty smart, don't you think?

Keep your chin up

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on July 8, 2016 .

Randy the Raccoon and His Trouble Making Curiosity

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you have a very good day.

Ok, I don't normally write about personal friends in my blog, but today I'm making an exception. That's because I can't write about raccoons without telling you about Randy. He and I grew up together along the Tagaloo River that runs right through the Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia. I always told him he looks like a thief, since God made him with black fur around his eyes that look for all the world like a mask. He just grins at me like maybe he is a thief, but isn't about to tell me.

Anyway, Randy used to take me to the river to show my how he catches crawfish. He finds them in crevices between river rocks, and he puts his little finger right over their heads and teases them with it. As soon as they bite him on the finger with their pincher, which they hold together tightly I guess to cause him more pain, he simply lifts his hand up and the poor crawfish doesn't know enough to let go, so up it comes right into Randy's mouth.

But the one thing that gets Randy into trouble is his curiosity. He climbs up on people's decks to see what's up there; he will go into their garages just to turn everything over to see what's inside; he looks under piles of trash in hopes he can find something to eat; and the worst habit he has is to climb into big garbage cans in people's driveways.

One time when my brothers and I were busy digging up rutabagas in Farmer Early's garden, we heard a tremendous racket in the metal can that holds the chicken feed. We went over to investigate and from inside the can we heard Randy calling out for us to help him. He had climbed up on the side of the can, and when he looked over the edge to see what was inside, he fell in. Well, normally this wouldn't have been a problem, as he could easily climb out. But this time the lid of the can had closed down just as Randy fell in, and the latch holding the lid down snapped shut, locking Randy inside.

We went over and talked to Randy for a while, telling him how he needed to be more careful, and pointing out to him that his curiosity was going to get him into real trouble some day, but we could tell we might as well have been talking to the empty can, as Randy didn't seem to be listening. He was so worried Farmer Early would trap him when he found out he was in the can, and then send him away to the zoo, or something, that he just kept saying "let me out, let me out, let me out..." . So we went ahead and unlatched the lid, and out him came.

You know what, he didn't even stop to thank us -- he just scurried off into the woods probably to get into more mischief. Next time we might just leave him in the can.

The reason I'm telling you all this is because, unlike Randy, you need to be careful when your curiosity takes you into situations that might be dangerous. When that happens you need to stop and then ask someone else if what you think you want to do would be a good thing, or not. It might save you from finding yourself locked in a chicken feed can.

Keep your chin up

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on July 1, 2016 .

The Whistling Swan Shares the Responsibility of Leading the Way

Image by Dick Daniels of Carolinabirds.org

Image by Dick Daniels of Carolinabirds.org

Thank you for reading my Blog. I hope you are having a very good day.

Have you ever gone to a pond where there are beautiful, white long necked swans? They float around on the water with a majestic look about them, with theirimpressive long curved necks. They are a favorite of the children who live in Tallulah Falls, Katie's hometown in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia.

When you see them slowly swimming around the pond, you'd never know that each year they have to make an incredible journey to the far north to nest, lay their eggs and raise their young which, by the way, are called a really strange name. Baby swans are called " Cygnets". Get your parents to pronounce it for you, and then go ask your friends if they know what a "Cygnet" is. They probably won't have any idea, so when you tell them what one is they are going to know you are really smart.

Anyway, to get to where they need to go every Spring, the swans sometimes have to fly over 2,500 miles -- a really long way. They will fly in groups of as many as 500 birds. You won't see them, though, as they will be as high as 6,000 feet --- over a mile up. And they fly almost 100 miles an hour, which is way faster than your parents drive on the fastest interstate highway.

But the most wonderful thing about the swan is that they would never be able to fly that far if they didn't help each other out. You see, they fly in a V formation. That means that one swan leads the way, and all the rest spread out behind this leader in the shape of a big V. Look at the letter V that is in this paragraph at lest 5 times. Imagine the lead swan is at the point of the V, and the rest are lined up along the edges of the V. Now here is why that is so important.

Have you ever held your hand out the window of the car while it is going really fast? Remember how strong the wind was against your hand? Well that is what happens to the lead swans. The wind in really strong against them, and they cause the wind to slide off to either side, so that the wind hitting each swan along the V behind them is going to be less than half as strong. But having to be the one "braking" the wind in this way tires the leader out much faster than the ones behind. So they have learned to help each other by letting the lead swan drop back in the line when he, or she, gets tired. When that happens, another swan moves forward to take the lead.

It is helping each other in this way that enables the swans to make such a long journey. If they didn't do that, they would never get to their nesting ground, and then they couldn't lay eggs, and then there would be no baby swans, and soon there wouldn't be any more swans at all.

You can take a lesson from the swan. It's always good for everyone if we help one another.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on June 24, 2016 .

The Fun and Friendly Chipmunk

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a very good day.

I've got a very good friend living in GrandDad's backyard. We play a lot together - mostly tag, or race to the tree. He's a chipmunk, and the thing I like best about him is that he is always alert for danger. If there is a fox, a coyote or even a hawk anywhere near, he will run to the entrance to his tunnel, and sit right next to it and begin chirping out a warning. And every other chipmunk within 100 feet or so will chime in and chirp away. It's a great warning system, and I can remember many times in the Mountains of North Georgia, where I grew up, when those warnings saved me, and my brothers from being caught by a predator .

GrandDad used to try to get rid of the chipmunks, because he thought they were hurting his garden by digging, but I convinced him that they were doing no harm at all. The chipmunk digs a tunnel only two inches across, and he spreads the dirt out neatly -- he doesn't make a big pile of it. And he isn't hurting the roots of GrandDad's bushes, because he will go down as much as five feet, way below anything planted in the garden. And, by the way, in his tunnel he will have as many as 5 or 6 rooms where he will store food for the winter. Sometimes you will see him scurrying about gathering seeds and nuts and stuffing them in his cheeks. He's not eating them just then, this is his way of transporting them to his storage rooms. In the warmer months, when seeds are plentiful, he will store as much as two grocery bags of seeds under ground. That's a lot of seeds to carry in your cheeks, but he can put as many seeds in his cheeks as you can hold in your hand. Then, in the winter, when there aren't many seeds outside, he can eat his fill of the seeds he stored all Summer. He doesn't hibernate in the Winter, by the way, he just sleeps a lot. I guess he needs to rest from spending so much time running around gathering seeds.

And chipmunks are likable and friendly fellows too. GrandDad lets them collect the seeds from the ground that the birds knock off the bird feeder, and sometimes, when GrandDad is relaxing on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee, I've seen the chipmunks taking peanuts right out of his hand.

They are just like the rest of us; they know GrandDad is a pretty good guy. And since he can't put all those extra peanuts in his cheeks, he might as wellgive them to the chipmunks.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on June 17, 2016 .

The Industrious Beaver

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

I want to tell you a few more things about the Beaver, because they are such great engineers (builders), and so organized. I told you before that the Beaver builds a dam on a stream In order to form a pond for it, and it's family, to live in. But just how does it build this dam? The answer is the really neat part.

First the Beaver has to cut down some trees. Well "cut" isn't the right word , it's "chew". That's right, the Beaver uses its two front teeth to chew through the trunk of the tree to make it fall. You may have seen your father, or some tree men, cut down a tree with a chain saw. Well, imagine having to cut the tree down using your teeth. And the Beaver is so skilled at bringing down a tree that he can make it fall exactly where he wants it to fall.

After the tree is down, he chews off branches just the length he needs to build his dam. He will drag rocks and stones into the water as a base, or foundation, for his dam, and then bring in some larger branches to drive into the stream bottom; and others toweave between the branches and stones, along with some mud to put between the branches and stones to patch any holes. And, because the water in the stream might wash the interwoven branches away, he will include in the sides of the dam some longer, stronger branches that are not only woven between the branches and stones in the water, but also extend out onto the bank of the stream where they are anchored to large boulders, or the trunks of large trees. This gives the dam a great deal of strength, and keeps it from being washed downstream.

Keep in mind that all of this initial work is done underwater, where it's hard to see what you are doing. It's not until the very end of building the dam that you see the top part, where the stream is flowing over its top. But believe me when I tell you that most of the hard work is on the bottom, where you can't even see it.

And you know what? At the same time the Beaver is building the dam, he is busy building his house, which I told you about before. He needs to make the house just the right height too, so that when the pond is finished the level of the water is exactly right. If he builds the dam too low, he won't be able to have an underwater entrance. If he builds the dam too high, the pond will flood his living quarters.

Because the Beaver has no defenses against predators (just like us rabbits), he has to be in the water most of the time. (Us rabbits don't need to be in the water because we just outsmart predators). If he has to go under the water to escape danger, he can hold his breath for up to 17 minutes -- and that's pretty good. You probably have a hard time holding your breath for 1 minute. In the winter time he has figured out something else that helps him. And that is that when the pond freezes solid, he will let some of the water out of his pond, which lowers the level of the pond. That creates a space between the water and the underside of the ice, and the Beaver can breath the air in this space. The ice doesn't sink down as it is supported by the sides of the pond.

With all that to do the Beaver is the hardest worker in the animal world. And that's why you hear people say that someone who is working all the time is "busy as a Beaver!"

Keep you chin up

Robert P. Rabbit

Robert P. Rabbit Hops Over To California!

A few weeks back we made a pretty epic trip to Sacramento, San Francisco, Yosemite, and lots of other cool places to deliver books! We made it to University of California San Francisco, Shriner's Children's Hospital, UC Davis Children's Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House!  A few pics for you to enjoy!

People honked and were asking questions like crazy. Never miss an opportunity to spread the word!

People honked and were asking questions like crazy. Never miss an opportunity to spread the word!

Posted on June 7, 2016 .

The Woodchuck

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a very good day.

I have a friend in North Georgia whose name is Woody Woodchuck. In some parts of the USA they are called Marmots, but they are all still Woodchucks. Actually they were here when the first settlers came to America and spotted this little furry creature and decided to call it "Chuck". Then later, some bright person, for reasons nobody knows, started calling it a "Woodchuck", even though it doesn't eat wood, chew wood or have much of anything to do with wood.

The Woodchuck lives in a den it digs on the side of a hill - to keep its house from flooding. It is an excellent digger, moving as much as 700 pounds of dirt in the process of building a bunch of tunnels and rooms. It will have a room for a nest, one for a bathroom, and rooms for each newborn (called "chucklings") to have its own place to sleep once it's big enough to walk around on its own. The Woodchuck is so organized that it will have a main entrance to its den that is noticeable by the piles of dirt from the digging, and then an escape exit a good distance away that it digs from the bottom up, taking the dirt out the front entrance so that when he breaks through to the surface, he doesn't even disturb the vegetation around the exit. In this way none of his predators know where he will come out of the ground when he needs to escape.

With all that digging, you would think the Woodchuck would be very dirty, but in fact, they are very clean animals -- always cleaning themselves. You will never see a Woodchuck with so much as a single bit of dirt on its fur.  And mama Woodchuck will clean the den, which can be 5 or 6 rooms, and 75 feet of tunnels, every day, and will replace the nesting material whenever it gets soiled.

By the way, just like the bear, the Woodchuck hibernates, which means it sleeps all Winter.  But one of the most interesting legends about the Woodchuck is that in each territory where they live, they will elect one of their group to predict on February 2nd of each year when Springtime will arrive. On that day,  the Woodchuck will wake up, and come out of its den in the morning. If it sees its shadow, it will go back in its den and sleep for six more weeks, as it knows Spring is six weeks away. If it doesn't see its shadow, it will start its work for the Season, as it knows Spring is just around the corner.

Usually the Woodchuck is more accurate than the TV Weatherlady. Maybe she needs to go to Woodchuck Weather School.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Robert P. Rabbit Makes it to the Nation's Capital!

Arielle spent a few days delivering books to several children's hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses in the Washington, D.C. area!  We are now officially in the nation's capital.  It was a fun trip and met some great people.  Take a look at the pictures!

Arielle in front of Inova Children's Hospital

Arielle in front of Inova Children's Hospital

Arielle with the man himself.

Arielle with the man himself.

What a beautiful welcome!

What a beautiful welcome!

Getting in a little sight seeing in between book deliveries. Robert P. Rabbit was very impressed.

Getting in a little sight seeing in between book deliveries. Robert P. Rabbit was very impressed.

The Amazing King Salmon

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a good day.

Being a rabbit, I don't like the water. It's wet, usually cold, or even icy, it makes me shiver when I'm drying out and I can't hop as well if my fur is so heavy with water. But there is one creature that lives in the water that I think is amazing. It's a fish, and they call it a King Salmon, and it can teach us a lot about determination.

Let me explain. In the Fall, mama Salmon will lay 30,000 eggs (one thousand at a time) in a small stream in the Northwestern United States -- Like Washington State. Within 15 seconds of the eggs hitting the floor of the stream, papa Salmon must fertilize them, or they will never hatch. He does this by covering them with a milky substance. Mama will then cover the eggs with sand and gravel by swishing her tail back and forth. The eggs will stay there all winter while a tiny tinny fish develops inside. Then, in February, 30,000 little biddy salmon all come out of their eggs. And since hundred of salmon lay their eggs in the same stream, that means millions of little salmon come out at once.

And this is where their adventure begins. They stay under rocks while they grow bigger feeding on the egg sack of food that they hatched with, but that soon runs out and they have to leave the safety of the rocks to go find food. Then the danger comes. They can freeze if the water gets too cold; die from too much sun; get eaten by bigger fish; get caught by birds, weasels, turtles, frogs or any one of a number of other predators; or can get washed down stream by heavy rain.

If they survive all of that, they swim to the first lake they come to, and start growing bigger so they can follow the stream all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There are still dangers in the lake, but they persevere (which means they don't give up) until they are big enough to swim to the Ocean. When they are hiding under the rocks it's called their "fry stage". When they are growing in the lake, it's called their "smolt stage". And when they are swimming down to the ocean it's called their " parr stage". And what's interesting, is that when they reach the place where the stream goes into the ocean, they have to wait until their body changes to the point where they can live in the salt water of the ocean. The river is fresh water, with no salt in it, so this is a change they need to make, because if they just swim from the fresh water into the salt water without making this change, they would die.

Finally, only one King Salmon of every ten that hatched upstream makes it all the way into the ocean -- nine of them die along the way. And in the ocean they swim as far down as 100 feet to escape all the bad things that want to eat them, and then they come to the surface to feed at night, when it is safer for them. They will stay in the ocean for about four years, traveling in a big circle from the Northwestern Territory (Washington and Oregon) all along Alaska and then back to where they started-- going hundreds of miles in the journey. By some magic God has put into their brains they come back to the very stream they were born in four years earlier. And remember, they've only been there once in their life before, and they still find it.

And their determination is still just as great. They will swim up this stream as many as 25 miles a day for weeks, and even months. They have to swim against very fast currents; swim up steep waterfalls; and dodge bears, otters, weasels and other predators. And they don't spend any time eating anything at all while they are doing it. They have only one purpose in making this long and hard trip, it's just so they can lay their eggs in the exact same place they were born.

Now that'swhat I call real determination. I wish I had half as much determination. If I did, I could sure get a lot done.

Keep you chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

The Arctic Tern: A Tenacious Champion

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

All of us like champions. Champions are the ones who come in first place in a contest -- such as a race, a football game, gymnastics or any event involving multiple participants. I once came in first place in a bunny hop, but there were only two of us involved, and the other one got tired of hopping, and laid down for a nap. Of course we were only two years old at the time, so no one was really watching anyway.

But there is one champion you probably never heard of. It is the Arctic Tern. That's a small bird that nests in the Arctic Circle -- which is a place very near the North Pole. Get your parents to show you on a globe of the World where that is. It's really cold up there, so I have no idea why it wants to nest there, but it does. Maybe it's because while it's there it is almost always daylight - that part of the year in Summer when the sun shines 20 - 24 hours a day. Personally, I'd find it hard to sleep if the sun almost never sets, but maybe it helps the Arctic Tern, as then it has more daylight hours during which to feed, and it needs to feed a lot, as it has to eat an awful lot of food to have the energy to do what it is the champion at doing. And that is migrating.

When a bird migrates, it flies from one place to another. The birds in your yard might live in the Northern States, like Minnesota, in the Summer when it's warm up there, but then migrate to the Southern States, like Georgia, where I live, in the Winter when it gets to cold, and there's too much snow up North.

Well the Arctic Circle might be OK for the Arctic Tern in June, July and August, but when it starts getting cold in September, they will start flying South. But they don't stop in the Southern United States. They will fly 150 miles a day for months until they make it all the way to Antartica -- the exact other side of the World. Again, get your parents to show you on a World Globe just how far that is. And the good part about it for the Arctic Tern is that when they get to Antartica, it's Summer down there, January, February and March, and the sun shines 22-24 hours a day, just like it did in the Arctic Circle six months earlier.

Then, when it starts getting cold in Antartica, they turn around and fly back North, all the way to where they had came from -- the Arctic Circle. And why does that make them Champions? It's because that's a total of 22,000 miles they fly in one year, which is farther than any other bird on Planet Earth ever flies in a year's time.

By the way, fishermen all along the route they fly love to see them come by their fishing boats. It's because the Arctic Tern will fly really close to the surface of the ocean looking for small fish swimming near the surface. When they spot them, they will drop low enough to scoop up a fish from the surface and swallow it while flying. When the fishermen see this, they know that there are bigger fish just a little lower than the little fish that are chasing the little fish to the surface, and they will know just where to cast their nets to catch those bigger fish.

You know, it's nice to see a champion helping others like that. We should be sure that even if we become a champion, we should always be ready to help others.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on May 20, 2016 .

The Beautiful Cecropia Moth

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a very good day.

There is a moth that lives in Tallulah Falls, and probably lots of other places in the United States, called the Cecropia Moth. It is one of the most beautiful of all insects. But it didn't start out as a moth. It started out as an egg laid by the female moth on a leaf that would provide its food after it hatches.

The color of the egg can be white, green, blue or even brown. Inside the egg is a liquid that the embryo ( which is what the moth is called before it hatches) feeds on while it starts to grow. When it becomes too big for its egg, it breaks out after something of a struggle, and it is a beautiful green caterpillar . The struggle makes its muscles strong enough for it to immediately crawl along the leaf that it's egg was attached to ,and it begins eating. If mama chose the wrong leaf on which to lay her eggs, the baby caterpillar would really be in trouble, as it wouldn't have anything to eat.

The little caterpillar eats all the time, and grows so fast that it becomes too big for its skin, and so it will grow a new skin under the skin that's too tight, and then it will shed the old skin. That's called "molting". It will molt at least 4 times before it is full grown. Then, before Winter comes the caterpillar will stop eating, and will start to spin a little house for itself called a cocoon. This cocoon is made of silk that the caterpillar produces, and it will totally encase the caterpillar, so that you can't see it any more. The cocoon has 2,000 to 3,000 feet of silk in it, and, yes, it's the same silk that the shirt is made of that your mother wears. Get her to show you one!

Anyway, while in the cocoon the caterpillar begins to change completely. It grows different kinds of legs, and it grows wings. When the change is complete, it will pop the top off of the cocoon, and begin the big struggle to get out. Once, when Katie and I were watching a Cecropia moth struggle to get out, she reached up to widen the cocoon so it would be easier for the moth to escape the cocoon. GrandDad stopped her. He said that the struggle made her stronger, and if she didn't struggle to get out, she would be too weak to fly, and she would die.

After the moth escapes the cocoon, it takes an hour on so for its wings to dry and unfold, and then it can take off in flight. The female will then find the right leaf on which to lay eggs, and the process will start again for the next generation of Cecropia moths.

What Katie and I learned from studying the life cycle of the Cecropia Moth was that sometimes going through a struggle is the best thing that can happen to you, as it will make you stronger in the long run.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on May 13, 2016 .

A Lesson On Responsibility

Thank you for reading my blog today. I hope you are having a really good day.

Katie, GrandDad and I were hiking one day when we came out of the pine trees to the edge of Farmer Early's corn field. He had just recently harvested his corn with a really big machine that went back and forth over the field scrapping the corn husks off their stalks, and throwing them into a big wagon that was towed behind the machine. As a result of all the picking, pulling and throwing of the corn, some of it ended up on the ground as the wagon passed by.

GrandDad said that in the olden days poor people were allowed to come into the field after the harvest, and collect this corn from the ground to take home for themselves and their family.  They called that corn "gleanings". I guess that's like some of the vegetables we get from farmer Early's garden.

But this day it wasn't poor people out in the field. It was crows. Lots and lots of crows. And they were jabbering away at each other as they pecked at the corn. That is, all but two crows that were up in a tall pine tree watching all the others feeding below.  Katie said that maybe they just weren't hungry. But GrandDad said no, they were guards watching out for trouble. He said crows have a very good communication system. He said they have almost 50 different things they say that have a specific meaning to each other. When the guards saw trouble coming, they were supposed to call out a warning to the crows in the field.

But all of a sudden a few of the crows in the field started making a terrible racket, which caused the whole flock to lift off the ground at about the same time. Looking at the place where the ruckus started, we saw a fox running around trying to catch a crow. Because of the warning, he was unsuccessful, as all of the crows were able to fly to safety.

"Now look what the crows are going to do", GrandDad said to us. So Katie and I looked up to follow the flock of crows, and were we surprised. They all flew directly at the two crows in the tall pine tree who were supposed to be the guards, and they attacked them. The two crows tried to fly away, but the other crows flew at them using their sharp talons to cut and slash them; and using their beaks to peck at them viciously. Soon the two guards fell to the ground, and the rest of the flock flew away.

We asked GrandDad what that was all about, and he said that the flock was mad at the two guards because they did not do their job. They were supposed to watch out for predator and warn the crows on the ground, and they didn't do it. They must have been asleep, as the warning came from a few crows on the ground, and not from the guards in the tree.

Wow. I guess sometimes when we are given a responsibility, we had better be careful that we do what we are supposed to do, or someone could get hurt, and that someone might even be us.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on April 6, 2016 .

Grizzly Bears Listen to Their Parents Too

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

When Katie and I went to Wyoming with GrandDad and Polly, we saw a grizzly bear and her cubs. The cubs weren't very old, so they probably would not be afraid of us. You see, the mother bear has to teach the cubs to be afraid of predators , and others that will hurt them-- and people unfortunately sometimes harm bears. If the Cubs get too close to a skunk, or a porcupine , mama bear will give them a really good swat. Sending then head over heals away from the danger. Maybe your parents spank you sometimes, but you need to know it's to help you not make the same mistake again. When we saw the cubs, I had to keep Katie from trying to go play with them, because mama bear was close by, and would have charged out to hurt Katie, thinking Katie was going to harm her cubs.

Anyway, back to what mama bear does for her cubs. In the Fall mama bear will really eat lots, and lots of food. Mostly berries and salmon. She will gain 40 or 50 pounds, and then she will dig a den in the ground where she will spend the winter. It will be on a hillside, so rainwater will drain away from the den, and it will face North, away from the Sun, because she wants the entrance completely covered in snow to provide as much insulation as possible. If the den faced South, that's the direction the sun comes from in the winter, and it might melt the snow.  She even makes a bed of pine boughs so she will be comfortable.

In her den she will do what they call "hibernate", which is just a fancy word for sleep. And I don't mean sleep all night, I mean sleep all winter -- right up to Spring. In the meantime, while she is sleeping in the den she will wake up in time to give birth to two or three Cubs. But she will stay in the den while she feeds them her milk, and while they grow big enough to run and jump on their own.  Then, at some point in time she will bring the Cubs out of the den to start "how to be a bear" school.

This is when she starts to teach them what food to eat, and where to find it. For instance, she knows that grubs are good food for them (uggh), so she will teach them how to find ugly, slimy, gross looking grubs under old logs, or big rocks. Or maybe how to dig up mice or other rodents from under ground. Or how to find the best berry patch. And most importantly, how to pin a fish to the bottom of the stream, or how to knock it onshore, when it can be caught easily.

Unlike us rabbits, who are smart from the very beginning, it takes mama bear up to two years to teach her cubs enough for them to make it on their own. But I guess that's faster than humans. GrandDad says it took 21 years for Katie's mom to make it on her own. But actually I think that GrandDad just didn't want for Katie's mom to move away 'cause he was going to miss her lots, so he kept coming up with things to teach her about life.

Your mom and dad are teaching you about live right now, just like mama bear and her cubs.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on April 6, 2016 .

The Courageous Wood Duck

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you have a really good day.

There is nothing much more courageous than a baby Wood Duck. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first you need to know something about where they are hatched.

The mama and papa Wood Ducks will fly from tree to tree until they find one that meets all their requirements for a nest. It needs to be close to a pond or lake, and it needs to have a hole 20 feet or so above ground, but sometimes as high as 60 feet. The male will keep watch while the female inspects the hole in the tree to be sure it is deep enough to discourage predators, but not so deep that the baby ducks can't climb out when they hatch. It usually is a hole made by a squirrel, a woodpecker or just the tree rotting where a large branch has broken off.

The mama will usually lay 12 eggs in a nest lined with her down feathers. She lays one each morning and covers it with feathers and then goes out for the day to get food. As soon as she lays the last egg, she will start sitting on them all day long to keep them at the right temperature until they hatch. She doesn't start doing this until her last egg is laid, as she wants them to all hatch at once. About three days before they hatch the mama duck will start to hear the little babies start to chirp, so she will begin chirping back to them so they will begin to know her voice, which will be very important later.

When the little ducks are ready to come out of their eggs, they use a little hook at the tip of their bill, called a "egg tooth", to start scrapping away at the inside of the shell. Soon they will have poked through the egg, and next they will crack the egg until there is a big enough hole to crawl out of. Once out of their egg, it will take about an hour for their feathers to dry, and then they are ready for their adventure.

Mama doesn't feed them in the nest, so within 24 hours after they hatch they need to be out in the pond feeding themselves. But it is 40 to the ground, and they can't fly. So what do you think they will do?

What mama does is to fly to the ground under the nest to be sure there is no danger down there. Then she begins to chirp up at the little ducks. When they their mama's voice, they use their egg tooth, and little claws in their web feet, to climb up the inside of the wall of the tree to the opening of the nest. There they perch and look down at their mama 40 feet or so below. They have no idea what will happen if they jump, but mama obviously wants them to jump. This is where the little Wood Ducks show real courage. They leap out into space just because their mama tells them to. Their soft feathers, and web feet, slow them a little, but when they land on the ground, they bounce in the dry leaves, just like you bounce when you jump on the mattress of your bed. Usually 6 or 7 of the little ducks will jump, and mama will wait 5 minutes or so for the others, but if they don't jump, she leaves for the pond without them, and she doesn't come back to the nest, as she will raise the little ducks right at the pond until they can fly.

So as far as Wood Ducks are concerned, courage, and doing what mama says, can really be important.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on April 22, 2016 .

Baby Otters Learn How to Swim

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you are having a really good day.

Otters are one of the most fun loving animals around. They would rather play than do anything else. But when the time comes to be responsible , they put play aside, and do what they are supposed to do -- and that is raise a family of their own.

They will dig a hole near some water so they can get in and out through an underground entrance. This is so predators can't get into their house and take the pups. Then the mother otter will give birth to two or three pups.

Once the pups open their eyes, the otter will dig an entrance to the ground above, so the pups can go out on land and play. The parents do this because baby otters are afraid of the water, and if their first trip out was by the underwater entrance, they might drown.

They let the pups play and play while they grow and get stronger, but the most they pay attention to the water is when mom and dad slip into the water to get some food. Then, after the pups get a little bigger, mom and dad will let them ride on their back as they run around and play themselves, still out of the water. During this time, with a pup on her back, mama otter will slip into the water. The pup will become very frightened, and will cling very hard to mama's fur. After doing this a dozen times or so the pups become used to the water, so mama will then, all of a sudden, slid out from under the pup to show the pup that he, or she, will float. Within a week of doing this over and over, the pups will be used to being alone on the water, and by Summer's end, will be swimming, playing and fishing on their own.

The parents stay with their pups for about a year, and then will leave them and go back to their own play.  In fact, they like playing so much that many times they will catch a fish and just play with it for 10 or 15 minutes, and then just let it go rather than eating it.

I guess even otters know there is a time to work, and a time to play.

Keep your chin up.

Robert P. Rabbit

Posted on April 15, 2016 .