Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘nature

Spider’s Nest?

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There is a corner of our large paddock where the grass has grown pretty tall that I wander by frequently when pushing the wheelbarrow during manure management duty. I recently came upon what looked like a well-shaped hole formed out of the surrounding grass, almost like some burrowing animal was making a nest.

Being a person with no interest in getting surprised by a snake, I am hesitant to make close inspections in areas of tall grass. I didn’t see anything obvious at the bottom of that hole in the grass from my safe distance of slightly leaning forward.

A couple of days later, the hole seemed even more well-defined, and this time, there was an obvious occupant present.

Looks like a garden spider to me.

Does anybody know if the spider might have created that “hole” or is it more probable she was simply taking advantage of an excellent location somebody else had already made?

If it wasn’t the spider that made that nicely rounded nest in the grass, was it a bird or maybe a rabbit? Seems like all the birds around here prefer to make their nests in and around the barn ceiling and eaves. If we still had chickens, I’d expect to see that hole filling up with precious eggs, based on past experience.

I think it was the spider, but I have no idea if that is even possible.

Anyone out there have knowledge of the capabilities of Argiope aurantia?

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Calling

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2021 at 7:46 am

Orange Rust

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It’s a sad year for our wild black raspberries. An outbreak of highly contagious orange rust disease has infested many, if not all, of the brambles that are scattered about our property. It’s the first time we’ve faced this calamity in the nine years we’ve been here.

The devastating thing we’ve learned about this disease is that it can’t be cured. The infected plants must be dug up or killed. Before moving on to a different stand of plants, the tools need to be cleaned to avoid spreading the disease to healthy plants.

The thing is, the spores spread in the wind and we’ve already seen evidence of infection in so many places that it feels rather hopeless to assume we still have plants that aren’t already infected. At the same time, we don’t have much choice if we ever want to have black raspberries again. The fungus doesn’t kill the plant, but there will no longer be any flowers or fruit.

Part of me wants to just let nature take its course since that’s how the multitudes of berry brambles showed up in the first place. Easy come, easy go, as they say. But Cyndie has been making the most delicious black cap jam from the bounty of fruit we were finding the last many years, I’m finding it hard to face the possibility that might come to an end.

I’m also lamenting the addition of the unexpected chore of hunting down and digging up the infected plants when there are so many other tasks needing attention.

One consolation I am going to cling to is the fact we have recently planted some red raspberry canes that our daughter, Elysa, brought from her house (originally transplanted from my sister, Mary’s plot!) and orange rust does not infect red raspberries.

I know Cyndie can make a worthy raspberry jam out of red berries, and I’m willing to adjust my desires out of necessity, but oh, that black cap jam was somthin’ else!

Dang orange fungus.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Chicken Thoughts

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It was a good question. What are we going to do differently to protect our new chickens this time? When I heard myself answering, I realized how little in-depth thought I have actually given the subject.

Are we doing them justice by raising them amid the same risk of predation that decimated all our flocks before? I’m not sure.

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Cyndie has dubbed them the Buffalo Gals and the Rocketts in reference to their origins.

My primary reason for wanting our chickens to free-range is for the service they provide in controlling bugs. I’ve also discovered how much fun they are as companions and that they convert the things they find to eat into amazing eggs.

I’m not against considering ways we might dissuade such frequent attacks on our flock as we recently experienced. I will put renewed effort into staging my trail cam in locations where I might capture evidence of visiting predators to give better confirmation of what we are dealing with.

It feels a little like our efforts to constrain water runoff and control erosion or prevent excessive sediment where we don’t want it.

Nature does what it does. Our best successes will come from finding constructive adaptations instead of entirely stopping things we don’t desire from happening.

Imagine the predation phenomena from the perspective of the flies and ticks that try to survive on our land. They are under constant assault from chickens.

Our chickens face threats from their natural predators. We’ve decided to not confine them to fenced quarters that would make it harder for the fox or coyotes to kill them.

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Today, we hope to clean up the coop and try making some modifications to accommodate housing more birds than ever before. The Buffalo Gals will be moving to the coop soon. That will allow us to get the Rockets out of the basement bathroom and into the larger brooder tub in the barn.

We will give our chickens the best life possible for their time with us. Past demonstrations have shown their natural instincts help them control their own destiny up to a point. Their life here will not be risk-free.

For the time being, I guess we are demonstrating we are choosing to accept that.

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Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

Showing Off

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Some days it feels like nature is toying with us. Sure, fog can roll in at just the right temperatures, and overnight, ice crystals will form on tree branches. We love it! The look is festive and mesmerizing. So photogenic!

 

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You think you’re looking at the best scenery possible, but then nature lets you know you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Watch what happens when a little sunshine and blue sky is added to the scene.

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Now it feels like nature is just showing off.

What a gorgeous place it is that we live where the four seasons play out with such dramatic diversity.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2021 at 11:02 am

Lucky Surprise

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Well, well, well… nature didn’t have it in for me after all. That predicted snowstorm I referenced in yesterday’s post got upgraded several times, deservedly so, and smacked us hard with wicked wind gusts driving the falling snow horizontally, making it near impossible to tell whether the accumulation was actually from the clouds overhead or from flakes blowing in from South Dakota.

The deck railing doesn’t seem to collect any snow, but during last night’s final bedtime walk for Delilah, we discovered somewhere between 6 and 8 inches already on the ground, making the trek a bit of a challenge.

The silver lining surprise about it all is that we received hours and hours of significant rain prior to the snow. The rain completely cleaned the driveway!

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My big concern about the old glazed tire tracks becoming the base layer for today’s plowing didn’t come to pass. Hooray! Disaster averted.

Sort of.

Now we have the aftermath of the blizzard to contend with. There is an icy crust over everything from the mailbox to the chicken coop due to the rain that froze, and I’ve got a lot of plowing and shoveling to do.

A little over an hour after the precipitation had turned to snow, Delilah and I were traipsing along the main perimeter trail through the woods and I noticed the view ahead was much different than the view behind us.

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I took pictures of both scenes.

The frosted forest sure is beautiful to look at.

I sure am glad we had the lucky surprise of a clean start before the rain turned to snow.

I sure wish the shoveling was already done this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Planting Acorns

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When all around you the world appears to be unraveling in every direction, try planting a tree.

In our case, we’ve decided to take a crack at planting many. Last week we buried over a hundred acorns in a line outside the fence of the paddocks.

Since nature does such an amazing job of producing oak sprouts everywhere on our property, we decided to see if we could organize some of them to pop up right where we’d like to have them growing for the shade they would eventually provide.

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Note: WordPress has done another update to their format, changing the look of my editing space and eliminating options that I previously used when formatting my posts. I do not have the control I once had, so things may appear different from what you were used to seeing until a time when I figure out a new way to achieve the results I desire.

Already, I miss the good old days of composing my posts.

Disgruntled-ly yours,

JWH

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Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Goodnight

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2020 at 6:00 am