This is the kind of thing you're likely to find when you dig in a previously undisturbed pasture. Yes, it's one big honking earthworm--one of many I found digging a hole for a peach tree. I trust they will help us obtain many wonderful peaches that the cows in the nearby pasture will, hopefully, ignore. O.o
Let's say, just as a thought experiment, that the builder haphazardly mows the lot next to your property--oh, about once a month. Then let's suppose that during that month of growth, a lone milkweed springs up just in time for a momma Monarch to lay an egg which then hatches into a ravenous caterpillar which sets about eating and getting fat. Then let's say that a random person such as your granddaughter discovers said caterpillar on said milkweed and marks it with flags for rescue right before the next mowing. If I put this string of coincidences in a book, would you buy it?
Nah, me neither.
UPDATE (10-7-17): So, when I checked on the goober later that day, I discovered that he was gone from the milkweed. It was not entirely eaten, but he was . . . gone.
While I was wondering what to tell my granddaughters, I happened to glance at a tall grass weed about a foot away. And there he was, no longer eating, but stretched out in preparation for the Chrysalis Hang (not a scientific term). Since he was in imminent danger of being cut down, I uprooted the weed and brought it inside:
Unfortunately, I neglected to factor in the stem collapsing due to lack of water. So when I checked on him later that evening, the stem was empty and the caterpillar was crawling up another piece of furniture, looking for a steadier stalk.
After numerous mishaps, including dropping the goober several times, the girls and I managed to fabricate a stick that he found marginally acceptable. So he began the process of forming a chrysalis:
And finished up a few hours later:
After taking this last photo, I moved his wire cage to a protected spot on the back patio where we hope to see a monarch emerge in about 2 weeks.
So, just in time for Halloween and horror movies that I hate, one of the cows in the pasture behind us has a baby and will you look at that sweet clown face?
I tell you, God is the funniest guy I know.
I, for one, can hardly wait to see what happens when it rains.
On the left is the ditch in our backyard as of a week ago. Today's pic on the right shows the gradual progress in replacing the crabgrass with orange sedge, water ferns, and purple love grass, mostly. The clumps on the landscape fabric on both sides are strawberry tops mixed with corn husks and soil. From experience, I know these tops will sprout and send roots down through the fabric. We're gonna fill those black stretches with strawberries.
The excitement stems from the fact that this is a drainage ditch. It looked like this one month ago, when we had our last rain:
And I can hardly wait to see what doesn't get washed away when this happens again.
Update: Corn husks. The enormous field adjacent to our property was mowed a few days ago. It's SOP for the country, but this suburbanite is goggling.
As a reminder, this is what the drainage ditch in my backyard looks like when there's a heavy rainfall:
It makes me feel like singing--
Unfortunately, it also makes mowing the ditch futile. And the crabgrass that rules it will expand to conquer greater worlds unless it's contained somehow. Fortunately, I have a cunning plan:
The landscape fabric on each side of the ditch measures about 8 feet by 66 feet. This will theoretically kill the crabgrass so that I can plant more desirable water tolerant/sun tolerant plants--right through the fabric, if necessary. Meanwhile, I'm slowly digging out the crabgrass in the deepest part of the ditch and replacing it with these (orange sedge, river fern, and gulf muhly, left to right).
Here's the result of today's work: a river fern on the inner edge of the landscape fabric keeping company with some volunteer purple lovegrass transplanted from another part of the yard.
There are a couple more ferns in the upper right corner of the photo (in the deepest part of the ditch), but the rest of what you see is . . . crabgrass.
Sage bushes blooming that I thought were dead--like, 26 of them;
BIG Swallowtail--a male--enjoying the pentas before his big date tonight;
The first contenders to replace the crabgrass in the notorious drainage ditch (from left to right, two of each): orange sedge, river fern, gulf muhly.
Not fun: staying clear of floodwaters. I'm far enough from the coast to have only moderate rain, but hope my Texas friends and relations are taking care.
You're skeptical about that? I don't blame you. When my Bible reading approaches 1st Chronicles, I mutter, "No, not again. First and Second Chronicles are just a rehash of First and Second Kings--a whole long list of greedy assassins reigning over chaos for a few years before being assassinated by the next king wannabe."
But that's not all there is. Judah had a few righteous kings like Hezekiah, whose stories of divine deliverance are spectacular. But with them all, good and bad, the Chronicler throws in some pungent commentary. And always, always, there is something that will help you today and tomorrow if you take it to heart.
Herewith, let me introduce you to Jehoshaphat. His story is wild. The points made in it are momentous.
Cows do not. . . Yet.
UPDATE Thursday, 8-24-17: Above, you see the dogs standing on the near side of a drainage ditch. I've talked about this ditch in previous posts--looks all nice and neat here, doesn't it? That's because I had just mowed it. What a pain! And yet, after a good, heavy rain, it looks like this:
--and mowing becomes an exercise in futility.
I went looking for help, and got some great insight from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. The author of this article, Bill Lord, says, "So what to do with your ditch? Let it grow. The manicured look is not always best. A ditch with tall, dense vegetation is actually good for the environment. . . . [V]egetation is the best way to hold soil in place and to prevent flooding and preserve water quality."
Okay, I'm ready to be talked out of mowing, but the ditch is filled with nasty crabgrass that will take over the world if not mowed, dug up, or burned to the ground. SO, I found this wonderful list of native Texas grasses to plant instead--which means that I will have to dig up some of the crabgrass. Yay me.
Anyway, my daughter and I will be going to the local mega-nursery this weekend to see what they have. Wish me luck!
My first book, Chataine's Guardian, was published in 1984: the beginning of one wild ride.