ALL RIGHT, What Are You Trying To Tell Me?

Apparently, I am going to have to have a talk with my house critters AGAIN!  I don’t know if it is because I am a farm girl, because I love critters, or because I instinctively watch nature, but something is trying to tell me something.

This time every year we get critters in the house:

  • Ladybugs
  • Spiders
  • Mice
  • An occasional snake (yep – actually the cat brought it in, but it was just a baby snake – eek!)

We know the routine of the mice (have not found their entry point yet – grr!), and traps work perfectly according to the barn cats (they get the snapped goodies).

cat w mouse

Ladybugs only come in every few years, and they usually bunch in the corner of the ceiling.  The weird part is they disappear after about a month, and not a single body is found anywhere in the house??  By the time they disappear, it is very cold and/or snowy outside, so I am sure they do not go back out – so where is their “panic” room? The issue this year is my spiders.

Now I really thought my spiders and I had a pretty good understanding:

“Stay on the ceiling, up out of reach, and you live.  Get down to my feet, and you die.”

Simple, easy to understand, a beneficial agreement that has been adhered to for almost a decade now.  At least that was until about October of this year.  I have been killing (just by stepping on) at least five spiders per week since about the first of October.  WHAT THE HECK??  They are in our home year-round but understand that their place is on the ceiling and up in the skylight.  Why are they all down at my feet?  Do they all have a death wish now?

Most of the above pics are small spiders.  The Garden (Orb – the one with the yellow stripe legs) spider is bigger and usually hangs out in the barn or greenhouse, basically an outside critter just like the Crab spider (the one with the pointy back that looks like a shell).  The other three, along with the Daddy Long Legs are found in our home.

I started this post in early October.  It is now the 20th of November, and I have still been finding at least 3-5 per week down at my level for a death sentence.  This one I almost stepped on BARE FOOTED this morning heading to the bathroom:

wind spider 11-20-19 (the front mandibles are barely visible but look for the darker brown tips to see how long they are)

I can’t stand these guys!  They are not native to Colorado and do not like the cold (it will die in the cold or, as I found, in too much water).  They are called Wind Scorpion Spiders, and we have been told that they most likely came in on military gear coming back from a very dry desert climate.  THEY DO NOT BITE HUMANS, which was the first thing we had looked into.  Never-the-less I just can’t stand looking at them.  This one is normal size – about the size of a half-dollar (that’s with leg and mandible reach).  I even prefer the garden spider to this thing, maybe because it does not look like a spider to me. (Got to tell you I am creeping myself out right now – yuck!!)

I have seen a Wolf spider too up-close and personal for my liking, so I know about them.  Black Widows were in the pine bushes in my home in Denver, so I know what they look like and where to watch for them.  I was bitten by a Brown Recluse, so I am extremely wary of them.  But none of those freak me out like the Wind Scorpion – not sure exactly why?

The simple fact is that too many spiders have shown up not just in the house, but specifically downstairs (my turf) and at my stomping level.  This is not the norm and not in our agreement!  I am pretty sure they are all trying to tell me something about the environment, but my spider-eeze is not working very well this year.

So, for now, I will continue my daily discussions with the general household insect staff about the house rules and how to avoid death.  I hope that they will all just settle down in the fact that I do not have their natural instincts regarding the ecosystem, I cannot speak their language, and I will have to deal with whatever good Ole Mom Nature decides to throw at us.  Wish me luck!

nice mom nature         grumpy me

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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EVER HEARD THE PHRASE “BUG UP YOUR BUTT?”

Living in any kind of space that promotes bugs is just asking for this, but I never EVER before thought it was a real thing.

Decades I have mumbled behind angry people that they have a “bug up their butt” and never thought twice about the phrase before yesterday.

I woke up and started my day as usual:

  • Coffee
  • Check email
  • Listen to news
  • Wash face, wake up, get dressed, and get going on the day.

During all of these starting moments, I comfortably stay in my PJ’s.  Once I have actually started to wake up, my next task is to get ready to greet the world (NEVER IN PJ’s).  So I wander down to my bedroom (yep, it’s on the lower level of the house, and it is below ground level very important to note this.), change out of my wonderfully friendly PJ’s and into my daily gotta-do-chores clothes.  Right now, because it is still very hot here, it is cut off shorts and a grubby tee-shirt.  Perfect for doing farm and garden work comfortably.  Off with the old, on with the new and back upstairs.

I decided that this mornings breakfast was going to be a sausage, egg, and cheese toasted English muffin.  I start with my plastic microwave container, open the fridge and place a small handful of shredded cheese into it.  Then I open the lower freezer and grab a frozen sausage patty and place it on top of the cheese.  Then I grab one egg, break it in a bowl, add a bit of milk and scrambled the snot out of it.  Once good and mutilated I pour that over the sausage/cheese stuff.

  • Cover with guard (because sometimes it will blow)
  • Set timer for 3 minutes
  • Head over to the toaster.

I grabbed my coffee (because we all know you can’t function without it in the morning – this morning being proof that I had not had enough yet.) and went to the bread box.  Opened it, pulled out a single English muffin, cut it in half, and plopped it into the toaster.

Now the fun part:

While listening to some great 70’s music going on in the office (where I check my daily mail), humming a bit, sniffing one of my fav smells of toasting bread,  and waiting for the ding from the microwave; I felt a poke in my left butt cheek.

Now, we have some tall nasty grass seeds out here.  Once the grasses get dried out, the seeds start to fly everywhere.  They also have a bad tendency to dig themselves (pointed end of course) into clothes.  Mostly my socks but I have found them in other places as well.  Most of my gardening is done with me sitting right on the ground (usually on my carpet pad), so it is not unusual for me to get an occasional grass seed stuck in my shorts and poking my butt.  I should have been so lucky this morning.

grass seed stuck in cloth

(you can see the darn things stuck in this cotton rag)

So I casually reach back to try to scratch the seed lose but low-and-behold it was a much large bump, AND IT MOVED??!!!  Immediate removal of shorts and underwear (just in case it was down at that level), followed by a ton of shaking and dancing about.  I should also know that the adrenaline was in DEFCON 9-million now.  I totally forgot about my breakfast and immediately went to hunting the predator in my pants.

jim-carrey-happy-dance

AH HA – A LARGE BLACK BEETLE IT IS!

lg black beetle

(This is a copy of one from the yard – they run in packs you know!)

By the time I turned back to stomp on the monster from my pants (Oh, a possible idea for a new scary movie?), the sucker had disappeared?

I spent the next hour scouring the kitchen floor (main reaction site) to no avail.  The monster got away – JUST GREAT.  I spent the whole rest of the day scratching my entire body afraid of finding some other unwanted critter.  Luckily nothing.

The rest of the day was nice and calm and off to bed as usual.

I woke up about 2 am feeling an urge for a bathroom visit and when I turned on the light, guess what crawled in under my bedroom door to greet me – UGH!!!

I got my slippers on ready to pounce on my attacker, and he disappeared again – GRR.

So, now I have to add another step to my daily routine – completely shake out, turn inside-out, shake again just incase on all clothes I decide to put on.  Next thing you know the sucker will find my bra and bite – jerks!

P.S. Hope this made you giggle as much as I still do, thinking about it all – and my you never think of the phrase “bug up your butt” the same way again.

(Oh, and I almost forgot the other fun thing from yesterday.  This sucker landed on my leg while I was weeding:

  3-in wasp 9-10-19

I caught this pic of it on the tree and thought it was scary/cool, till it landed on me then I cut it in half with my nippers – NOT taking any chances.  Found out is harmless to humans it is:   Pigeon Tremex Horntail and the Giant Ichneumon Wasp)

 

WAY TO GO MINNESOTA!

All-in-all, it’s sad that we have had to come to this.  But I do give major kudos to the state for finally doing something to support our natural critters, even if it had to involve money.

The Smithsonianmag.com email that I recently received posted this new report:

Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Grow Bee-Friendly Lawns

It’s part of their “Smart News” series which I love reading.

We try to do as much as we can and promote others to do the same, in all ways natural.  We saw our first Bumble Bee of the season just a week ago.  It was having a hay-day on our Honeysuckle.  I could not get close enough (or get it to slow down enough) to see if it is a “Rusty” or some other species.  I just loved that it chose to visit us.  The stupid boxer, Pig (yes that is his name) dog, spotted it and thought it was worthy of chasing – idiot!  Caught him snapping at it, so I had to chase him off of it.  His is supposed to be a smart breed, yet I constantly catch him doing really stupid stuff?!

bumble bee

I had a wonderful, beautiful wandering thought.  What if everyone in the world grew flowers?  They could be as simple as a single Daisy in a pot, or a rail basket full of marigolds, or a ton all over your yards (kind of like our home – we try to put flowers in everything).  Imagine not only the beauty but the benefits.  Feeding good bugs and birds naturally (FYI: I love it when our Humming Birds come to visit our Honeysuckle).

We also love to use companion planting with as much as we can in our gardens.  When I initially started learning about it, I was amazed at how many ways you can protect and encourage your own little space of land, just by using “buddies” while you do it.  Isn’t it nice to know those good friends work best together in nature, not just in humans?

Happy Gardening!

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WHAT SONGS ARE YOUR KIDS SINGING?

Do you know what your kids are singing?  Especially your very young kids?  Now I am no spring chicken anymore, but I know that one of the first things that kids learn is music – specifically singing.  They are taught at the youngest age to do simple rhyming song.

  • Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • One that my sister was taught was Chicken Riding? I, personally, had never heard it before or after she sang it (sometimes I think she just made it up to keep me guessing?!)
  • Itsy, Bitsy Spider – and so on.

The one children’s song that came to mind this morning is about one of my favorite creatures – the Bumble Bee.  “I caught a little baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me.”  (It’s kind of tragic at the same time – stings the kid, gets squashed, makes a mess of the shirt, and in the end, the kid gets into trouble…ahh, kids songs?!)

We have honey bees that are brought up from New Mexico every spring.  A company (friends) has our permission to pull their huge semi-truck onto our property.  Park it there, unload, and distribute over 600 colonies of bees.  It takes about three days to get them all spread out here in northeastern Colorado.  Then in the fall, they do the reverse.  We have extra free great pollinators all summer long.  (They should be here in the next couple of weeks.)

We also spend a fair amount of time every spring adding more (or new) good-bug-friendly plants to our yards and gardens.  The first few years on our little slice of heaven were kind of sad.  A few spots out front with a few flowers in them, but nothing to really attract our good bug buddies.  I can still remember the first time I saw a Praying Mantis.  Got so happy I cried a bit!

Over the years and our continuous work, we have managed to attract all types of garden helpers.

  • More Praying Mantis (green & brown – for those that do not know – female and male in our territory.)
  • Walking Sticks
  • The continued Honey Bees
  • Humming Birds.
  • An ever-growing variety of wild birds.
  • Lacewings
  • Ladybugs
  • Soldier bugs
  • And a variety of beetles.

The one that is closest to me, in more ways than one, is the bees.  We have several varieties here now.  The one that I did not see until just last year was the Bumble Bee.  I didn’t even think about it until I read this email: Mother Nature Network (MNN)

Bumblebee gets a helping hand from Endangered Species Act

I didn’t know they were on the endangered species list?  I know the Honeybees have been declining, so we help them as much as possible, but it never dawned on me that the Bumblebee is was having issues as well.

Maybe they should start teaching kid song to save things like the bumble bee instead of squashing it?  Maybe we could help starting now?

music notes 1

There was a little baby Bumblebee.

So I sat real still as I could be.

The Bumblebee came and sat on me.

Oh, what a wonderful thing to see.

Then he turned and smiled with glee.

Don’t ya just love those Bumblebees!

music notes 2

(Can’t write right now, because I can’t stop laughing at myself!)

Ok, so I cannot write a song, but you get the picture.  The idea of teaching our kids not to be afraid of things like Bumblebees, Honeybees, and Spiders just appeals to me.  I though, have my work cut out for me with my grandson.  He is a big giant panzie!  He can’t wait for summer, but asks every day if the snakes are out yet?  If I say yes, it is time, then he won’t go outside – grrr!

silly friendly snake

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THRILLED FINDING MY NEW GUEST!

Gardens and gardening is a never ending adventure for me.  Every time I go out to them, I find something wonderful and amazing.  Today is her day:

gardenspider-1

She is a common garden spider for out here.  The funny part is the first five years on our little piece of heaven; we did not see any of them?  Then, in the 6 year, they were everywhere.  We had a fun one that made a next on the old chicken shed.  The front of it was all chicken wire to let the sun in, and she found that to be a perfect spot for feeding.  We also have one of our well pumps right beside that spot.  Well, we would go to water the animals and turn on that pump, and she would spaz out. She was a massive predator!  The minute her web wiggled, even a tiny bit, she was all over it.  Most of the day she was very lazy and just hung out in the middle sunning herself.  But the first time I was trying to untangle the hose for the chicken water and splashed her web – I freaked out (my turn I guess, haha).  She came bolting across to where I hit her web, and I must have jumped back a foot at least!  They are not a small spider:

gardenspider-2

My fingers are right behind her in this shot, and she is not even full grown yet! Eeek!!  Her body alone gets about as big as a ping-pong ball, and those legs stretch out about three inches from that.  She actually has a pretty silver streaking going on, but I was at the wrong angle for the picture to properly show that.

Considering how aggressive she is toward bad bugs, how she doesn’t bother me if I don’t bother her, and I caught her eating a wasp – she is welcome to stay and call the greenhouse home!  Now I just need to remember that she is in there because this web is up as high as my head, and the place we turn on the swamp cooler pump is right behind her.  Would hate to not be paying attention and have her right on my face – double EEEK!!!  Happy gardening you all – and keep your heads up!
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