Every fall, our large spiders magically appear. They do a wonderful job of making all the excess flies and any other unaware bugs left over from summer disappear. They spin their huge webs overnight. Every morning there are new spiders with new webs in new locations everywhere. It’s magical.
That isn’t the only magic at the farm. We always walk using the farm shuffle to watch each step to be sure a stick doesn’t magically slink away or rear its head to warn us away.
In the fall, especially in the mornings, we also wave a wand – cleverly disguised as a stick – in front of our faces. We mumble incantations that might sound like spider curses while we shuffle through our morning chores. It’s a magical mix of Spidey and Harry Potter with a tip of the farm hat to Ron Weasley.
This is a two striped walking stick. The female is over two inches long, and the male is one inch long. The male attaches to a female, and they stay together until one of them dies. In fact, a mature male will attach to an immature female to ensure he has a mate.
Besides being a “until-death-do-us-part” bug, the two striped walking stick has quite a potent defense mechanism. It has the ability to spray a smelly, irritating liquid from its abdomen. The irritant is discharged up to 12 to 15 inches with uncanny accuracy when threatened or disturbed, and the walking stick aims for the eyes. People who have been sprayed described it as feeling like “burning, molten lead” in the eyes.
Evidently, they weren’t threatened with having their picture taken. I wasn’t sprayed.
Living in the country is educational!
This beautiful, five-inch-long decked-out caterpillar was strolling through the yard when we let the princesses out for free-ranging. Several of them checked it out and moved on. It is completely harmless but evidently a bit larger than our chickens wanted to take on. It’s the larva of the Regal (or Royal Walnut) Moth. The Regal Moth is the largest moth north of Mexico.
I love the markings that look like sunglasses. This is one caterpillar that is ready for the bright Florida sun or even an eclipse!
Sadie and three of the Buff Orpingtons are catching some rays in the warm Florida sunshine. With all the hawks in the neighborhood, it’s nice to hang out with a pretty girl like Sadie who is scary to hawks.
Lucy is a 2-year-old Black Australorp and she is rocking a serious molt. And if that wasn’t enough, she is also broody, which is why she’s in the Bitter Barn. It is not easy to fluff up one’s neck and tail feathers when said feathers consist of two. Or maybe three. I’d say she’s a sweetheart, but that would be a lie. She’s a screaming, squawking broody girl.
And I love her! There’s something inspiring about a chicken with a naked neck and a bare behind who is confident enough to fluff herself up and scare the roosters.
The snake is dead. It’s creepy and it’s dead. Now you can look closely at it.
See the egg? The snake was in the Castle, our largest chicken coop, this morning. While I was busy with email and writing, Farmer Man took over my chicken chores as a surprise for me.
Our usual chore division is that I clean the poop bins and he cleans the water containers and refills water and food. The chickens free-range in our yard, and the dogs watch.
Evidently, the cottonmouth crawled into the Castle sometime yesterday or this morning and grabbed an egg for a nice snack. After swallowing the egg, however, it was too fat to crawl back out. It hid behind the poop bins to digest. When he opened the clean-out door to scoop the poop, Farmer Man saw the cottonmouth snake.
He said, “Stay there. I’ll be right back.” or something like that. He got his shovel and gave the snake a sharp stab or two or seven with the shovel. The snake’s neck is askew, if you look closely or you can take my word for it, and is about 3/4 severed. Farmer Man is my Hero.
Cottonmouths are venomous but are normally not very aggressive. And with digestion in process, the snake would have been moving even slower than usual. Interesting herpetology science facts, but the chickens and I don’t care. We’re still nervous about the snake.
We have a vegetable garden, butterfly gardens, garden of herbs, fruit tree orchard, and a flower garden. We work hard in our gardens. We compost for the gardens to provide good soil. We plant, irrigate, pick weeds, squash bugs, and prune. We love our gardens.
We didn’t plant the cactus. We don’t tend the cactus. They aren’t in a garden. They are in the woods near our property line fence. A gift. We love the cactus and the beautiful blossoms.