Monday, August 23, 2010

A Missed Opportunity Concerning a C-C-C-Copperhead

A couple of weeks ago, I had a run-in with a rather formidable foe.  I was gathering the eggs that the hens had so graciously left me ...and as I came skipping around the side of the henhouse with my basket full of eggs in hand  (okay, so I really I was murmuring to myself about how the dang coop needed to be cleaned out again) ANYWAY, as I came around the side of the coop, I picked my flip-flop clad foot up, and   guess what lie before me????  

Yes!!  A c-c-c-c-copperhead!  I did a little body shiver, uttered an unrecognizable sound, and backpedaled it around the other side of the coop.  Luckily, my husband was home.  I ran to the house, banged on the window, and he came out and chopped it's head off with the hoe.
The next day, it occurred to me that "OH MY GOSH!!  The kids and I could have tried to drain its fangs in a cup." know, like they do on could have been a science lesson.  I searched and searched where my husband said he threw it in the woods, but, sadly, to no avail.  Which really irked me, if you must know.  I mean, it was the perfect opportunity and I was in such a hurry to get rid of it that I didn't think of the opportunities it afforded.  And I can't, in good conscience, hope to find another one....cause I have kids, ya know..  and besides, I might be a tiny bit afraid of copperheads.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Conversation with a Mantis...

Have you ever had a conversation with a Praying Mantis?  No??  Seriously?  Well, okay..  because I feel sorry for you, I'll share the little chat I had with a Mantis that was attempting to conceal itself in my front yard.

Mantis:  "What was that flash?"  "Who's there?"

Me:  "Yo, Mantis...over here!"

Mantis:  "Who you talking to?"  "You talking to *me*?"

Me:  "Yeah, I'm talking to you.  You got a problem with that?"

Mantis:  "No, farm girl...I got no problems with that....just take it easy, okay?"

Me:  "It's all good, Mantis...  No worries.  You know...if you've got your game on today and can strike me a pose or two, I'll let you star on my blog....  Whaddaya say?  You wanna do a little superfly photo shoot?"

Mantis:  "Are you kidding me?  I am the KING of cool....  I'm so cool my insect friends have to wear parkas when they talk to me....I'm so cool the dew turns to frost when I walk over the grass... I'm so cool my momma went into hypothermia when she laid me as an egg.... I'm so cool...."

Me:  "Ummm...yeah..I get the picture, Mantis.  You think we could move along here?"

Mantis:  "Oh...sure...  okay....let's start with a little move I like to call "The COBRA" ...hiiiiiisssssss"

Me:  "Okay...well, that's kinda cool...but, dude...surely that ain't all you've got...."

Mantis:  "What??  That sounds like doubt...  come on girl, check it out!  Snap this!  ....I'm hanging in mid-air, arms folded, giving you five!!  Now you *know* that's impressive...."

Me:  "I gotta give it to you...that is pretty darn cool!  You are one superfly machine!  You got anything else you wanna throw out before I leave?"

Mantis:  "Okay...last pose... check this!  Now who's your daddy???  Dang, I am *so* cool... "

Me:  "Wow!!  I am impressed, Mantis!!  You *are* the, insect...  Thanks for the great pictures.  I'll see you around.  You take care of yourself now...  "

Mantis:  "No problem.   I know you probably need to generate some interest on that blog of yours the way, I took care of that little pest problem you had over on the green beans....  "

Me:  "Awww...thanks, Mantis!"

Mantis:  "Don't mention it.  See you around, farm girl..."

Me:  "Bye, Mantis!"


Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful.
        It is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.    Welcome
        it in every fair face, every fair sky,  every fair flower.
                                                                             - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Rifle, Saddlebacks, and Bonding

When Malachi and I went out Wednesday to do the farm chores, it seemed like any other choring day.  However, it turned out to be more than I expected - in ways both good and bad. 

First of all, you know how we have, had those two renegade roosters roaming the premises?  Well, once the tomatoes started coming on, they had to be caught and put in confinement.  Nothing heats up a "farmer" like walking out to the garden expecting the big ole juicy tomato you saw a couple of days earlier to be completely ripe, only to find it big ole juicy ripe..with chicken beak pecks all over it.  Which we did... which led to the roosters promptly finding their way into a mobile cage.  Well, after confining them, we went out one morning and noticed that one of them was once again roaming the yard.  (Chicken Run came to mind as I quickly swept the yard with a curious gaze....)  Upon checking out the pen, we noticed there were feathers everywhere...  come to find out, one rooster got dragged from the pen by a critter sometime in the night ..(we have some persistent animals in these parts...but that's a story for another time...) didn't kill him though...somehow he persevered and found a hiding place.  The critter did do a number on the poor rooster's leg ...  He couldn't put any pressure on it at all.  The roosters went back into the pen and the boys got to hammer on the pen and work on it and try to devise a way to keep the same thing from happening again.  They obviously did a very good job because the roosters were safe ever after...well...until Wednesday.  The one rooster who was injured?  ... well, we were hoping that he'd heal up and be okay with food and water and some solitude....only he didn't have solitude.  He was with the other rooster...because we were running out of mobile cages.  (I had just moved a banty hen and her new chick into a separate pen...also a story for another time) Back to the story at hand....this rooster wasn't getting any better.  He was still hopping on one leg, his tail feathers were hanging down, and his comb and wattle were getting really pale opposed to the bright red color they were supposed to be.  My husband said we should just have him for dinner, but I have some scruples about eating a bird that looks weak and sickly.  {{{shiver}}}  And here my story finds us again at Wednesday:::

When Malachi and I went out to do the chores, we ended up stopping by the rooster's mobile pen and, hands on hips, discussing the state of things.  The poor rooster just wasn't looking none for the better.  And truth be told, I kinda felt sorry for him.  We figured sometimes it's better to put something out of its misery than to let it suffer...and it was suffering.  So, after contemplating with Malachi whether or not he thought I could hit the rooster if I shot it, I decided to go in, get the rifle and shoot the rooster.  I figure once you have a mind to do something and have weighed the facts, you might as well go on and do it.  We took the rooster out in the woods and I did the deed...  it did the chicken flopping thing and finally went on to that big coop in the skies.  My son has developed a sense of humor over the last year or so that he didn't previously own...  and it comes out at the funniest times..  this such event being one.  As we were walking away, I kept looking back to make sure it was dead.  Malachi decides to say, "Hey Mom, wouldn't it be funny if we turned around and looked and the rooster was running after us?"  Ummmm....No, wouldn't.  Anyway.....

My husband had mentioned having the other rooster this Saturday for dinner.  Malachi and I agreed that if were going to eat that rooster, we were going to move him to a fresh, grassy location ...away from all hint of his previous injured coopmate.  So, we moved his cage halfway across the yard and set about doing the rest of the chores.

We got to the pen that the hen and chick were in, and decided the chick was now big enough to be, as we are removing the hen and chick, the hen got loose.  Malachi and I chased that poor little hen all over tarnation trying to catch her.  The only thing we had in our favor was that her chick was in a pen, and as it was calling to her, she couldn't allow herself to go too far.  Finally, some minutes later, dripping in sweat, we caught her and took her and the chick to a different location.  (Keep in mind, temperatures were in the upper 90s)

Moving along...  as we were walking by our cherry tree, Malachi exclaimed, "Look!  It's a saddleback slug caterpillar, Mom!"  (He is SO the entomologist)  After admonishing me to "keep an eye on it", he ran inside to get a jar and his insect book.  Not being one to just stand around idly, I decided to go ahead and pull off the leaf the caterpillar was on...and begin to attempt to pull off an entire branch to add to the jar.  I yanked on it, but it didn't come off...not willing to leave well enough alone, I figured if I jerked up and then down quickly, it would rip the limb off the tree.  When I jerked it down, I was in for a puzzling surprise.  My arm immediately began stinging and a couple of red welts started popping up and turning red... I couldn't figure out for the life of me what was going on.  I looked at the limb for anything pokey...but there was nothing I could see that would cause a reaction.  About that time, Malachi came running up and and settled all my questions.  As I was examining my arm, he says, "Wow!  Look at all these saddleback caterpillars on this limb!"...guess which limb it was...yep...that's the one.   So, come to find out, saddleback caterpillars have stingers on them...nice..  I felt their wrath at being disturbed.  After washing off in the outside spigot, we set about putting the saddlebacks into the jar.  We eventually found six of these little aptly named creatures:

 While looking around the tree, we also found another caterpillar...  the markings on this one were so very cool.  After coming in and Googling it, we found out it is also a slug caterpillar -  a Purple Crested Slug Caterpillar.

Isn't that pretty???  I mean...for a slug caterpillar....

We also found a Yellow Wooly Bear Caterpillar.  The picture I took of it was really fuzzy, but I have one I took previously this summer of the same kind of caterpillar, only I didn't know then what it was called.  :)

We kept looking and found a leaf with a slew of grayish eggs and thought we'd put those in a jar just to see what would hatch out. 

I have to tell you that it was just so bonding being with him and seeing his face light up ...this is his passion. I don't know if it will be his passion 10 years from now or not, but right is.  He is so very knowledgeable regarding insects....and when he gets excited, he just reels off facts and little tidbits of information like a Gatling Gun.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with *his* zone.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming...  my heart simply bursts with love for this child of mine.  I thank God that I am able to enjoy these moments with my children...