Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fall Meat Birds

Rhiannon (and I) anxiously awaited the early morning phone call.  We were already prepared for the arrival so when it was time to go, we jumped in the car and zipped into town.

We got to the post office and knew our package was waiting there for us before we even entered the main lobby.  The audible evidence was reverberating all around the painted cinder block walls.

Rhiannon goes up to the counter and asks the postman, "Are my baby chicks here?" to which he grins and says, "I'm sorry, but I don't think there are any chicks for you here today."  Rhiannon lets out a startled "Hugh?!", looks at him as if he's totally crazy and is adamant that her chicks are in fact in the back and points in the direction of the peeping and says to the postman, "Can't you HEAR them?!?".  His attempt at humor was stifled a bit by Rhiannon's inability to comprehend the man's apparent deafness and her indignant insistence that they WERE there.

He finally gave up the charade and slid the peeping box over the counter top to my now much-relieved daughter.  When we opened the door to leave, I swear she gave me a look like "What was that guy smoking?!"

I had originally planned on ordering from McMurray but because of my procrastination, they didn't have any available until the middle of September and I really wanted them no later than the 1st of September.  So on Monday I ended up I ordering thirty Cornish Cross cockerels from Estes Hatchery, who are located just two hours north of us.  I figured I should give a somewhat local company a shot and the fact that my carbon footprint wasn't all that big for the shipment, I felt pretty good.  All thirty-two fluffy chicks (they threw in two extra) arrived from Estes just four days after I placed the order, alive and peppy.  We performed the obligatory New-Chick-Ritual (dipping beaks into water & showing them where the food was) and left them alone to explore their new home.

I was hoping to not have to use the heat lamps for the nuggets, but it did get down to the 70's last night so I had to have Paul run the extension cord for it.  It was either that, or bring them into the laundry room.  And we all know how wonderful that is, don't we, Susan???

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's 'bout time

So, I'm late as usual.  Although technically, I didn't say when I'd draw the name for the "Better Off" book.  And, Rhiannon is busy checking on her new chicks (post about that later) so I did one of those internet random number thingies to pick the lucky winner.  I saw that there were seven comments so I just used those numbers and here we go:

Custom Random Number Generator

This program will generate a random number between two numbers of your choice. Just enter a lower limit and an upper limit and click ENTER.
Enter a lower limit: 
Enter an upper limit: 
Random Number:  
So, who's lucky number 5?

Heck, I have no idea.  Let me go check now.

Leigh is the winner!  Congrats :)

Shoot me an email with your mailing address and I'll get it out to you in the next few days.  And a big "Thank You" to the rest of my blogging buddies.....for participating in these giveaways (cheesy as they may be), for listening to my sometimes insane rambling, and for rambling on yourselves!  My Blogging Buddies ROCK and I appreciate each and every one of you.

Unless you're spamming me.  Then I don't so much appreciate as loathe you.  But luckily I haven't had to deal much with that.

Have a great holiday weekend.  Or just have a great "regular" weekend.  Because somehow I don't think the gardens and livestock give a chicken-butt that it's Labor Day.  Oh well.  Have a happy anyhow!

*** Hmmmm.  I just looked on the "final" post that's on my blog and the numbers I put in there are missing.  I guess you'll all have to just trust me that it was "5".  Maybe it got lost with those internal IRS emails.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sadness on the blogosphere

I was flipping though my blog roll and saw a post from Rural Revolution titled "Bacon and Eggs".  I was excited that she was featuring SciFiChick on her blog so immediately clicked on the link.

Lo and behold, SciFiChick was featured, but for something I never would have guessed.

She passed away last Thursday.  I'm still a little foggy right now, typing this.

SciFiChick wasn't what I could call a "Close and Personal" friend, but she was someone I wish I could have called such.  We never met, we never shared a cup of tea together, never canned a single jar of jalapeno peppers side by side.  But as many of you know, even these long distance blogging relationships can make friendships as real as those you make in person.

I will miss her blog posts.  I admired her straight-forward and in-your-face opinions about her political leanings.  I will strive to be a better canner because of her.  And I hope that she is already tilling up soil and planting veggies in the Great Eternal Garden.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Copy Cat Giveaway

Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg! just had a book giveaway on her blog and I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon, partly because I couldn't think of anything to blog about other than the 100+ degree day we're going to have today and partly because I promised myself I'd do some cleaning out of the bookshelves.

I just finished this book that and thought someone else might enjoy it as well:

It's about a man and his new bride's adventure into non-electric living.  They gave up almost every modern technological doo-dad and lived with a group of Amish / Mennonite / "Minimite" for eighteen months.  I think their little escapade took place in the mid 90's when there was a little less of the beeping, bleeping and dinging that goes along with the internet, instant messaging, FB, blogs and smartphones today.  Amazing how far we've "advanced" in just a short period of time.  And how pathetic it is that so many feel totally lost or, goodness forbid, "deprived" if they don't have the latest smartassphone or can't instantly connect with another human...but not face to face.

I will admit, I romantically long for ditching all (ok, most) technological "necessities".  To live more in harmony with the rising and setting of the sun as opposed to using the Powering On and Shutting Down of my laptop as my clock for the day.  I imagine my home would be cleaner, my garden less weedy and my rear end less supple if I didn't sit at the desk as long as I do now.

But until that day comes when I can tear myself away from the artificial glow of the laptop screen, I will continue to try to amuse you (and myself) via my blog.  So here goes....who wants to win this gently used copy of "Better Off"?  It's an enjoyable, quick read and there's absolutely no electricity involved!  You could even read it by Aladdin lamplight if you so desired :)

Just leave a comment that you'd like to enter in the drawing and I'll have my offspring choose a name from the hat (or feed bucket, or whatever other empty container I can find).  Contest closes on Friday morning & I will announce the winner sometime that same morning after barn chores.  Open to US residents only.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Crunch, crunch, crunch....

No, that's not me munching on a granola bar (although if there were any in the house, I probably would be munching on one now).

That's the sound of me walking in the front yard.  The heat and lack of moisture has finally taken it's toll on the vegetation.  And of course, my Fall Garden seedlings are taking a beating.  They are literally fighting for their lives.  I have to water them twice a day or I'm afraid they'll keel over.  The temps have been in the upper 90's for a week, it's supposed to get to 99 today and 100 on Sunday, and no sign of the 80's until Thursday (and the upper 80's at that).  I don't recall the last time we had any rain.

My poor mulberry trees (which are in pots, waiting for cooler weather to plant them) are almost dead.  I forgot to water them one day and although their leaves still looked nice and green, when I went to water them again, half of them were dried up!  Apparently it was so hot they didn't even have time to brown up and fall off, they just got blasted by our furnace-like heat and crisped up green!  I moved them to a sheltered location and watered the crap out of them, hoping they will pull through until Fall.

Everything else in the garden is crispy.  My strawberries are fried to nothing and I'm hoping that the ones that have been migrating out of the bed will survive in the weeds until I can transplant them back into the beds in the Fall.  Tomatoes and peppers are doing just fine though, even with minimal watering.

The animals, although not crispy, are pretty much unhappy  (although I wouldn't mind some crispy goat ribs out of Pickles the screaming jerk).  I mean, who wouldn't be?  Their water buckets get almost too hot to drink, the grass in their paddock is getting brown, the dust where there is only "dirt" is dusty and dry and hot and there's a family of horse flies the size of a cantaloupe that have been pestering them (and me) relentlessly.  I was able to smack one as it landed on Nettie yesterday and I heard it scream.  It was that big.

Well, it's starting to get light outside.  Finally.  I used to be able to go out and milk without a flashlight at this time in the morning but the sun if taking it's time getting out now a days.  Fall is officially just a month away, can you believe it?  Hopefully it will usher in some cooler, and wetter, weather.

In the mean time, if you want to find me outside, just listen for the crunching of vegetation and follow that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goat Milk Yogurt....again. Again.

I can never.  NEVER. make a really thick goat milk yogurt.

I've tried every (yes, EVERY) recipe.  Heating the milk to X.  Heating the milk to Y.  Letting the milk cool first before heating it up.  Heating up the milk straight from the goat (AFTER I've milked it out, btw).  Using a homemade yogurt incubator.  Using a store bought yogurt incubator.  Making a nest out of wool blankets and perching on top of it like a giant mother ostrich.

Every type of starter under the sun. Yogourmet. Dannon plain yogurt.  Hiland plain yogurt.  Greek-style yogurt.  Store brand plain yogurt.  Vanilla flavored yogurt.  Organic fancy-pants yogurt.  Yogurt from cows that were given only yogurt to eat when they were young and then got weekly spa treatments in the form of yogurt facials while drinking yogurt smoothies.

But have I given up the goat (Ha!  Paul wishes I would give up a goat or five) even after all of these miserable failures?  Of course not.  I am, if nothing, tenaciously stubborn.  To a fault most times.

A few years ago I had the best, thickest yogurt I've ever made.  And I have yet to replicate what happened to make it so.  But the one thing I did was simple; let it sit outside in the sun.  And I, being Slothwoman, adore simple things.  This is what I did to make the aforementioned yogurt:

1.  Milk goat.
2.  Place about a cup of yogurt into a half-gallon mason jar.
3.  Strain still warm goat milk into the mason jar.
4.  Shake it up.
5.  Put it on the deck in the sun on a hot day.

6.  Take jar inside before it gets dark and stick it in the fridge.

I left the milk out there until the sun was about to go down.  And just for kicks, I opened the lid and stuck my handy-dandy digital thermometer into the jar at about 7 pm.  109.7 degrees.  Perfect incubating temps!  Of course, I'm sure it varied during the day (it was in the mid to upper 90's when I normally do this), but it seems to work well.  Once I bring in the jar inside, I stick it in the refrigerator until the next morning.

Of course, it's still nothing as thick as I'd like it.  It's still what I'd call a "runny" yogurt.  But seeing as I prefer my yogurt really thick, I guess I'm just being picky.  So I just strain it through some good cheesecloth for half the next day and out of a half-gallon of runny yogurt I get a nice and thick quart of goat yogurt.

If I ever find a local source for cow milk I'm going to do a side-by-side experiment to see if the cow's milk really sets thicker.  Maybe I should put that on my To Do list for next week.  I'll get back to you when I finally get around to it.  At least it will give me another blog post :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wasp Weekend

Paul was out on the tractor this weekend trying to subdue the Evil Forest when his tree-pushing and ground leveling efforts were cut short by the residents of a yellow jacket nest.  Apparently they didn't appreciate having their subterranean home plowed over and took it out on the unfortunate equipment operator.  I don't know how he managed to escape the wrath of an entire yellow jacket nest, but he got the tractor and himself out of range with only one sting on the leg.  It it were me on the tractor, I would have jumped off and left the still-running piece of machinery right where it was until it ran out of fuel, the hornets went away, or it got dark.  Probably all three.

I ran over a yellow jacket nest several years ago while walking behind a DR power mower and got stunk dozens of times.  I left the mower right where it was and ran for the hills.  About a half hour later we went back to try and retrieve the mower and the tenacious buggers were still attacking the thing.

We retreated to the safety of the back deck and tried to find out where the nest was, hoping to see a bunch of buzzingbastards, but didn't see any.  But what I did find odd was that I heard the familiar buzzing of Bald Faced Hornets (BFH)......and they were buzzing around the deck now.  Yes.  I can tell the difference between a yellow jacket, honey bee and BFH buzz.  Don't ask me how.  Anyways, I asked Paul if he was sure it was a yellow jacket nest in the ground and not a BFH nest (in the trees) he disturbed.  He was certain.  I was able to whack one of the buzzing offenders on the back porch and positively identified it as a BFH.  Where were these guys coming from now?!  I took a little walk around the house and found a BFH nest right under the joists for the back deck.  Great.  Not only yellow jackets, but now BFH.  Right under where I hang my laundry.  Luckily, that same evening we had company (i.e. somebody else to hold the flashlight) and Paul and Aaron took up the manly job of destroying the nest after dark.
The aftermath.
We've got Creepy Meats (Cornish meat birds) coming in two weeks.  And I needed to clean out the kidding pen / brooding pens for their arrival.  I've been putting off cleaning out the smaller pen because of this though:

A paper wasp nest had been built in the smaller pen and I hadn't gotten around to taking it out.  Partially because I'm lazy, but partially because I've never been really bothered by the paper wasps and unless they're like right in front of my face, I leave them pretty much alone.  They are also very non-aggressive and the fact that I've seen them actively pollinating my garden helped with their survival as well.  They are so tame that I even feed Nettie in that smaller kidding pen every single morning.  They kind'a just shuffle around a bit when we go in there, keep a multi-faceted eye on us, and we both go on with our day.  I watched that nest go from a single celled nest being cared for by the lonely female to what it had become today.  I almost kind'a grew fond of them.  Well, not really.  But for what it's worth, I did feel badly when I had Paul destroy them yesterday.

Yes.  I put a hit on them.  Brutally murdered them.  But it had to be done.  I figure that the cleaning out the stall and the subsequent addition of 30 or so baby chicks and the constant in-and-out happenings of taking care of said chicks on a daily basis would eventually lead to me getting my first sting from a paper wasp.  Yeah, I know, I could have carefully taken down the nest at night, and relocated the residents somewhere else.  But that didn't happen.  Call PETA on me.  Do they care about insects or is it just animals?  Oh well.  For now we are relatively wasp-free and I'm happy.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Eating the Weeds, Passion Flower

Passiflora incarnata.  Passion Flower.  Maypop.  Several different names for one of the most beautiful wild flowers here in the Ozarks:

These beautiful flowering vines are the bane of just about anyone with a fence row and electric fence.  I've ripped out countless plants on the fence for the mule and they seem to come back no sooner than you've tossed the vines on the compost heap (or to the goats).

I know I should have been looking up uses for this vegetation because it seems as soon as I start ripping out entire jungles of this-or-that, I find out that they actually have some useful property.  

Oh, I know, they have cute little egg-shaped fruits that "POP" when you stomp on them (hence the name Maypop) and that their ripe fruits are yummy (although a pain to eat), which would seem more than enough reason to keep them around, but when they are shorting out the electric fence in the pasture it's time for them to go.

I've been keeping a few here and there around the gardens when they aren't in the way, mostly because I do occasionally enjoy snacking on them and the flowers are beautiful to look at.  But now I'm really going to make sure they have a spot here because I've just now tried making a tea out of the leaves and stems......and I absolutely love it.

Just recently I read that passion flower leaves and stems are used as tea for treating anxiety.  Which, without yammering on too much to bore you, is what I have been dealing with for quite some time now.  I made a tea from passion flower leaves and lemon balm, stuffed them in a quart jar, poured boiling water over it and put the lid on.  After about ten or fifteen minutes of letting it steep, I poured the liquid into a glass with ice, put in a few drops of liquid stevia and gave it a stir.

I drank two 32-ounce glasses of it yesterday.  And as soon as I'm off the computer and home from the feed store (damned ingrate goats are almost out of grain), I'm going to make myself another big ol' glass of Passion Flower & Lemon Balm iced tea.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I hate to say this....

...but last night and this morning feels like Fall.

We were outside yesterday evening and there was a cool breeze.  When nightfall came around, there wasn't the annoying and overpowering sound of horny, territorial Katydids but the soft chirping sound of crickets.

On a side note, I really need to do a scientific experiment on Katydids and their vocalizations.  They only seem to yell when it's hot at night so maybe I'll have Rhiannon do a chart next summer showing evening temperatures vs. Katydid calls.  In the middle of summer we can't leave our windows open at night because I can't sleep with all the damned insects screaming.  And it's not like a nice noise.  Oh no.  I could sleep to the sound of crickets or the sound of peepers, but Katydids emit a noise just as, if not more annoying that Pickles screaming.  And they do it all stinking night.
Think you're going to sleep tonight?  Not if I can help it.
Ok.  Back from the Katydid segue.

As I was saying, the weather was very Fall-like.  It's now ten minutes past 11 and I still have the windows open.  Which is strange for this time of year.  If we're lucky, I can open up the windows around 4 or 5 am and then have to batten down the hatches before 9 am when the sun starts to melt the window panes.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the cooler (but not cold) weather.  I love "needing" to have a hot cup of tea in the morning, then go outside later in just a t-shirt and shorts, and then come dark, I want to throw on a comfy sweater.  It's the best of all seasons because there's just a little bit of each season in each day.

I've already been tempted to buy some of those Pumpkin Spice and Mulled Cider candles.  Just this morning, I gazed up at my cozy-wearing teapot and kind'a longed for a cup of Vanilla Chai tea.  And although I know I'll regret saying this, but I also miss firing up the wood stove.  Not because I have to, but because I want to.  Oh no.  I don't want to have to chuck log after log after log into the gaping maw of the fireplace for weeks on end, but I want to light a fire late one evening just to take the chill out of the air.

As much as I love Fall, I have a Love and Hate relationship with it.  Because Fall means that Winter is fast approaching.  And even though I have no reason complaining about cold weather when there are those of you who live in the Northern Tundra and have like two weeks of Summer, I still don't like it.  And it's amazing how quickly I've forgotten that I, too, once lived in the Chicago land area where winters were riddled with Arctic-like blasts of frozen air and it would take weeks to get the bone-chilling dampness out of your body.  I don't know if I'll ever go so far as to wearing down jackets when it dips into the 50's like those crazy Florida and Arizona people do, but my blood definitely has thinned a bit.

But I suppose I should enjoy the last day of "Fall" today and get some barn chores done because we'll be back in the 90's by the weekend.  With lots of humidity thrown in for fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Eating the Weeds, Ground Cherries

About four or five years ago, I tried starting Ground Cherries from seeds I got from Baker Creek.  Not a one sprouted.  Not that I'm blaming Baker Creek, they are awesome.  More likely than not it was my black thumb that killed any chance of them even sprouting.  Anywho.....

A year after my failed attempt at planting a raised bed with them, I noticed some wild plants that looked exactly like the wonderful picture on the seed packet.  So I left them in the ditch where they had grown, and eventually, they produced bunches of those paper Chinese lantern thingies.  And I ate them.  And I didn't die..

So now that I know what the little plants look like, I just let them grow wherever they get a foothold.  Which seems to be, like, everywhere.  Apparently the deer enjoy munching on the younger plants and that's why I never seemed to notice the mature plants and their delicious fruits.  But now that Charlie is patrolling sleeping the area, the deer haven't been coming up so close to the house and the Ground Cherries have been taking off.

Paul had made me a small raised bed out of a tractor tire this spring.  Before I got around to planting anything in it, I noticed that there were tons of Ground Cherry seedlings popping up.  Whoo hoo!  Not only did I not have to plant anything in there (because I'm lazy), but it was something that I actually liked to eat.  I just had to weed around them, and it really wasn't that difficult because they took over very quickly. The fruits have been ripening the past few days so I've been munching on them whenever I'm outside.
That bowl contained only empty husks before I was finished
typing out this blog post.
Paul doesn't care for them, but that's perfectly fine with me.  I mean, well yeah, I'd rather have wild blueberry bushes or wild okra plants popping up, but I'll take whatever I can get, especially if it doesn't involve much labor on my part.  Slothwoman Gardening rocks.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Need for Mead

I'm not a big wine drinker.  I don't care for the bitter taste.  Oh, I've tried all the "sweet" wines out there, even Mogen David.....

"And I can feel my teeth rotting away from an excess of sugar that no amount of toothpaste can dislodge. I will taste those damn Milago coolers forever."  (I may send a prize to anyone who knows where that quote came from without looking it up on the internet.)

But even those supposedly sickeningly sweet wines leave a bitter taste in my mouth.  I mean, I guess if there was nothing else to drink and I really, really needed a buzz I'd down a glass (or four) but only for the lightheadedness that it would cause and not for the taste.

But it seems that there will always be something in me that makes me want to make something myself.  Soap?  Oooo, I want to do that myself!  Milk?  Ooooo, let's get goats!  Bread?  Ooooo, I wann'a make raisin bread and whole wheat rolls and sourdough.  So I figure it was only a matter of time that I experimented with making an alcoholic beverage from scratch.

Honestly, I'd rather make homemade whiskey, but for some asinine reason, one is only "allowed" to make wines (and mead).  Tell me what the hell the government has to do with me making my own whiskey?  Wine is ok, but Whoa!  Hold on there, now don't you go making moonshine, that's just wrong!  What's the difference?  F'n overbearing, over regulating, overpaid and overzealous shitforbrains.  I'd better stop before I begin an anti-government rant.  Although I suppose I am overdue for one.

So, since our overlords won't allow us plebs make our own whiskey, I settled on making mead.  And actually, it's not all because of the feds.  It had a little to do with finances.  As in a still would be expensive to make and mead I could just make with some jugs of spring water, honey, yeast, a handful of raisins and some balloons.

Seriously.  Read that again.  Spring water.  Honey.  Yeast.  Raisins.  Balloons.

Even I could do that.  Shit.  My 5-year old daughter could do that.

Paul looked up a few recipes online and this is the one I pretty much followed.

We made two batches.  I asked Paul why we didn't make like fifteen gallons.  If I'm going to wait six stinking months for this stuff, I don't want to have to wait another six months after I taste it and decide I liked it.  I was obviously much more optimistic (which was kind'a strange) than Paul as his reasoning was what if we didn't like it and then we were stuck with fifteen gallons of "ick".  True.  So we only made two gallons.

But honestly, I'm the kind'a gal that will eat or drink just about anything I make, even if it's a little "off" or "meh".  For example, the squirrel we had last week.  The smaller ones were good, but the older ones were like chewing on an old tire.  But damnit, we killed 'em, skinned 'em, cooked 'em, so I was going to eat them.  So I soldiered through the tougher ones and just gave my jaws a good workout.  I figure the same would hold true for the mead.  It would have to be really, really, really terrible for me not to drink it.  Like so terrible that I wouldn't be able to hold back a physiological reflex to spit it out.

We started the mead on August 2nd and it is still bubbling away.  In a few more days, or whenever it stops fizzing, we'll take the balloon tops off, put the caps back on and stick them in the basement pantry.  And we'll probably do a taste test a month later.  Apparently, like wine, the longer you let it sit, the better it gets.  So I suppose we'll try to wait until January for the best outcome.  Just in time for Paul's birthday.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting Their Just Deserts

Our peach trees have been attacked by the darned grubs and as usual, the stinking squirrels.

They have been getting nice and plump on all those wonderful peaches.  And being the jerk rodents that they are, they are never, ever happy with the peaches that have already fallen, or those that I leave for them as peace-peach-offerings at the foot of the tree up at the road near their woodland hideout.

Nooooo.  They have to climb the peach trees and take a bite here, take another bite there, and then, after stabbing their sharp rodent teeth into no fewer than a half-dozen peaches, decide on that special one, pull it off the branch, and make their way into the woods to shove yet another peach into whatever hidey-hole they have chosen for their pirated bounty.

So this year was no different than last year's Running of The Squirrels.

Plink.  Plink.  Plink.

And supper was had by all.  They ate our peaches.  And we, in turn, ate them.

After finishing our supper of Shake & Bake Squirrel, fried onion & lambs quarters and zucchini fritters, we had a wonderful homemade / homegrown dessert.  Peach cobbler:

Quite a fitting ending, I thought.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Although our peach trees have been dropping imperfect fruits for the past week, I have still been taking advantage of them.  I think I've only encountered a dozen of them that weren't plagued by the damnable Plum curculio, gnawed on by the sudden influx of hungry peach-eating squirrels or pecked to smithereens by the chickens.  Most of the near perfect peaches I immediately cut up and shoved into my gaping maw or passed on to Rhiannon for some homegrown snacking.  Others survived a short stint in the fruit bowl.

As the peaches fell off the trees, they were hastily processed almost each day, dunking them in boiling water to release the fuzzy skins, then cut apart to get rid of the grub-munched parts and immediately tossed into a gallon zippy bag and put into the freezer.  There weren't enough at one time to can so I'll stock them in the freezer until I have enough to make it worth firing up the canner.

We're not the only one with peaches coming out the wazoo.  There's a local farm that has started stocking peaches at the farm stands and they were asking 89-cents a pound.  Oh, how I almost jumped on that, but figured I should work on our harvest first.

I'm not sure what else to make of the frozen peaches other than jam.  Not that I really mind making peach jam as I believe we are out of it in the pantry, but I was hoping to add some other peachy pantry item to the shelves.  Maybe a Peach-Blueberry jam?  Mmmmmm, that sounds good.

Does anybody have any interesting peach canning recipes they'd like to share?  Because if I happen to pass by another 89-cent peach place, I don't know if I can contain myself and may end up buying a bunch anyhow.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bug Week, Striped Bark Scorpion

Technically the scorpion isn't a true insect, but an arachnid.  It's creepy, it's crawly and it crunches when you step on it (hopefully with shoes).  Bug.  Or close enough.

We have one type of scorpion around here, the Striped Bark Scorpion.  I've seen an occasional one in the garage, under a log, and unfortunately, one under my foot.  My bare foot.  And got stung.

One evening after dark, I walked outside to the porch to get Charlie's food dish and as I walked back inside, I felt a very painful sting on my toe.  I immediately though I got stung by a wasp as that is what it felt like, and as soon as I turned on the inside light to find the source of my pain, I saw not a wasp on the floor, but a scorpion scoot across the door threshold and under the wood trim around the door.  INside the house.  Great.

After (and during) much swearing and fussing, I called Paul to come and find the bugger as I didn't really feel like having a scorpion indoors with us.  I showed him exactly where the scorpion went under the trim and he couldn't see anything so I insisted that he pull the trim off the door frame.  That little bugger had wedged himself so tightly between the wood trim and the logs of the house that it was impossible to yank him out of there.  Not wanting to have him scoot to his freedom and someplace other than where we could see him in the house, my mind raced as to what we could do to kill him.  Wasp spray?  Too messy for indoors.  Shotgun?  Too much incidental damage.  Acetylene torch?  Not happening with a log home.  So I did the next best thing; I grabbed a metal spatula from the kitchen and wedged it into the same spot the scorpion was hiding in hopes of hearing a satisfying "crunch".  Which, thankfully, I did.

Although I ended his life that evening, the sting continued to throb for a full three days.  Oh, and did I mention that about an hour after the initial sting, my tongue started to tingle?  Pretty weird, but apparently not that uncommon of a symptom.

Normally I'm not a huge murderer of bugs that aren't eating my garden, destroying my home or actively seeking me out for target practice.  I've actually caught several scorpions and put them in jars for Rhiannon to look at and then later released back into the wild (i.e. the woods behind the house), and as luck would have it and seemingly in anticipation of "Bug Week", I caught one just a few days ago:

And I have to admire the females as their gestation period is a long eight months, she gives birth to them (as opposed to laying eggs like other arachnids) then she allows her children (called scorplings, how cute is that?!?) to ride around on her back until their first molt, usually about a week later.  The baby scorpions then hop off Mom & attempt to find lunch and establish a territory of their own.

The Striped Bark Scorpion eats other insects and arachnids like spiders, flies and centipedes (and occasionally an annoying male if he won't leave after the date), but don't munch on them.  The venom they inject into their prey liquefies their insides so the scorpion can suck the yummy-ness out.  Some scorpions can go up to a year without eating and many may not even need to drink water as they get their moisture requirements from their prey.

I, however, am hungry (imagine that) and need to start thinking about fixing supper for my family.  I will leave you with one last tidbit of trivia about scorpions; they glow when exposed to certain wavelengths of UV light - like the ones in a black light - so they'd make a pretty cool companion the next time you're at an 80's roller rink and they turn on the disco ball and black light and play "Rock You Like a Hurricane".  Get it???  Hugh?  Ugh, nevermind.

I wonder if they'd have eight teeny-tiny roller skates for rent?