Two Striped Walking Stick

Twostriped Walking Stick Sept 2017

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!

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Hickory Horned Devil

Hickory Horned Devil Aug 2017

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!

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Sadie and the Girls

Sadie and the Buffs Aug 2017

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.

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I Love Lucy

Lucy in the Bitter Barn Rework Aug 2017

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.


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Florida Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth Snake July 2017

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.


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A Gift – Florida Cactus Blooms

FL Cactus blooms 2 April 2017

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.

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Where Baby Bunnies Hide

Where baby bunnies hide Mar 2017.jpg

Betsy, one of the Marans, flushed out a baby bunny that was hiding behind the rain barrel. The baby bunny ran to hide next to the West Coop run wire fence. I was standing at the back of the West Coop, cleaning out the poop bins. Betsy followed the baby bunny. I think she was going to tell him that wasn’t the best hiding place.

A couple of Australorps, Matilda and Ruby, began following Betsy to see if she had found a tasty treat. The baby bunny realized the large fluffy birds were tracking him down. He ran to the closest hiding place he saw. He ran between my feet and hunkered down. Farm work includes standing still, as needed.

The three chickens were very intrigued. Evidently Farmer Lady had a really good treat. “Did you see how fast he ran to her?” They hurried over to me and the baby bunny took off. He ran towards the neighbor’s cleared yard, but he decided that was not his best idea. He turned back and ran towards the chickens who were running towards him, and he froze in the brush between the trees.

The brush might not look like much, but the baby bunny immediately disappeared, even to the eagle-eyed chickens. The chickens wandered off. They had lost interest. The baby bunny didn’t move for a very long time.

He had a great story to tell about getting away from the giant chickens. I’m sure his story will start off, “You know chickens are descended from dinosaurs, right?”

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