Mendy and I have named all the various blacksnakes on the various farms where we’ve lived either “Snidely” or “Snidelina” depending on how large or how graceful and pretty they have been. Yes we’ve had pretty ones—long and slim with gleaming white undersides and shiny black scales. Ok, so it’s just me who thinks they are pretty and Mendy prefers not to see them at all. Still, we have not bothered them except in rare and tragic, chicken-related accidents…
Here’s a GREAT reason to tolerate black snakes: they prey on poisonous snakes! I’d always heard that said, but this blog post I came across thanks to Joy B shows a black snake in action with a rattler. Amazing.
NOT that I really want to see this wild-kingdom kind of action on my actual patio…..still, glad to know it’s not just a myth. Amazing photos. Check it out here. http://goo.gl/TeR24 at the blog Living Alongside Wildlife. (Photo, thankfully, by the blogger, not me.)
—A Larrapin Garden…currently in search of a new home in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Leigh’s posts on this blog may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email—usually on Wednesdays—to let you know what’s new. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany and recipes at the brand new Facebook page or on Twitter.Read More
Couldn’t resist adding this one showing his little woodpecker head in action!Read More
Wow! These guys can eat! These pictures are from about two weeks ago, when I noticed that there were DOZENS of Monarch butterfly caterpillars on a tropical milkweed out in the veggie garden that had eaten every leaf on the plant. Here’s a video snippet (1 min) of that plant:
So by snipping off the bare branches loaded with baby Monarchs, I relocated them to a milkweed that had plenty of leaves. They crawled off, eating all the way! The lesson here, same as last year: Plant more milkweed! Below are some pics of the relocated caterpillars…
And here is a tiny video (1 min) after the successful relocation:
Postscript to this story: Since the receiving milkweed plant is right beside the front patio, our front porch is now festooned with little leaf-green cocoons dotted with gold. We kept one (which was on a leaf I accidentally plucked) in a jar with a coffee filter over the top, till it emerged and we released the most perfect Monarch into a gorgeous September day.
Fly hard towards Mexico beautiful friends!Read More
Greetings from Larrapin Garden on the day before the rains start (again). Hurricane Ike’s rains should get up to NW Arkansas on Saturday and we could get soaked. Nothing compared to what may happen down in Texas. We’re supposed to get up to 4 inches each day this weekend, compared with potential 15″ of rain in Houston. Geesh, what a rainy year. We’d already had our usual yearly rainfall by June or July this year…
All the rain has had an amazing result on all the greenery and some things are still blooming even as the weather has started to get cool early. Those are scarlet runner beans growing on a fence and a happy bumble bee. The seed packed said “loved by hummingbirds” and that is so true. These are the 2008 favorites of the four hummingbirds that hang out at Larrapin.
Meanwhile, the Monarchs finally arrived after being absent nearly all summer. I think they are not so fond of all this rain.
The last month has been AMAZING for butterflies. We’ve finally got enough nectar plants to have been noted on the butterfly flight paths it seems! Their favorites: Tropical Milkweed (favored over the native perennial I see, but will plant more of both), four butterfly bushes (wow, deadheading will keep them blooming ALL the time), and scarlet runner beans plus assorted flowers. We’ve also got a lot of host trees – oaks, willow, river birch, wild cherry, with more to come such as Paw Paw…
This is a blurry photo, but it’s the first time I’ve seen this type of butterfly here. Will have to look it up. Anyone know the name?
Don’t let this pic fool you. It’s from mid-July I think, when we had enough dry weather to have good tomatoes… The one in my hand is the old fashioned Brandywine, which turns out to be as good as everyone says. The one on the right is Cherokee Purple, which we LOVE but this year’s batch was abysmal between the rain and the first time onslaught of stink bugs on the tomatoes. Will study up on organic control of those buggers next year. They poke the tomatoes just enough to scar them and make them prone to rot. We’ve had a few Ananas Noir (not pictured — but they are soft red and green swirled, both inside and out) and the oddly colored tomato remains the favorite tomato of Larrapin.
So I’ll end this post with a chicken photo since the next post will be a Buckeye update. This unusual chicken is one of the two I picked up as day-old chicks at the hardware store to be companions for the solitary guinea that hatched back in June. The grab-bag chicks are both solid black. One (not pictured) is an Ameraucana,which was confimed when she laid her first blue-green egg! The second black chick has grown up to be quite lovely. Is she a jungle-fowl variety of chicken? Not really sure, will study on that later… Here she is. The white blob in the foreground is the lone guinea chick grown up. And completely convinced she is a chicken. Which is a good thing. It makes her the ONLY guinea who reliably roosts in the chicken house every night. From now on, all my guinea will be raised by chickens!
Thanks for stopping by Larrapin before the rain!Read More
I finally finished work for the weekend and wanted to post some pics I’ve saved for the blog, but it’s hard to be lighthearted when so many Gulf Coast folks are away from their homes (again) and don’t know if tomorrow will bring devastation or blessed false alarm. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who had to evacuate.
One September years ago in Yancey County, NC we had sudden and unexpected flooding the night of my birthday. We’d been having dinner with friends in Asheville and were driving the hour back home late at night in the driving rain. About two miles from our mountainside cabin above the South Toe River there were volunteer firemen and flashing lights blocking the country road. Past that point the river had flooded the highway and no one could pass. It was awful: midnight in the pouring rain, unable to get to our home and waiting dogs. I called a nurse friend who I knew worked 2nd shift and would still be up. Sure we could come stay with them. (Ahhh, there’s where real hospitality and friendship are pure grace…) So we spent a restless and distraught night wondering how high the river would be, would the house be ok, were the dogs ok, etc.
It was mid-day the next day when the river went down enough to drive home. I was so stir crazy with worry that I would have hiked the overland mountain route if if meant getting home. And that was just one night, all the while knowing that our house was pretty far up the hill from the river and very unlikely to flood. So I can only imagine what the Gulf Coast/New Orleans folks are going through, again.
Our home stayed safe and dry that time. So many others haven’t been that lucky. When the horror of Hurricane Katrina was going on, I heard a song on NPR that affected me so deeply I tracked down the CD. Singer Eliza Gilkyson wrote “Requiem” after the Asian tsunami. It is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard — a lament, a prayer. (You can hear the song and/or the interview here.) NPR played the song and the interview after Katrina. I remember tears just flowing down my face when I heard it. I got out the CD played it last night again, thinking of New Orleans — a place that stuck in my heart after just one visit there. I can see how people love it so much they will keep going back…
So here’s another prayer, a story of baby birds in the shed that houses our well pump:
Earlier this summer I knew something was going on in the shed when I saw a wren coming and going through the wide gap under the shed door. She’d flit back and forth, various insects in her beak, then back again. A little investigation revealed loud peeping coming from within the old grass-catcher bag of an old mower.
A couple of weeks later, I opened the shed to find baby birds about to take on their biggest adventure — flight! And in this case, life outside the well-pump shed! One little guy was up on the edge of the bag:
Others had already tumbled out of the nest and were huddled behind the axe….
Yet another had flown up to the window. This one seemed to be saying, “Hey, how does one get out of here!?” This is the pic from outside the shed:
I opened the shed door because mama and papa wren were outside cheeping wildly. One by one they fluttered out into the big world. Till one, the littlest was left:
I watched and waited, worried sick he’d be left behind. Then he fluttered bravely out like a big bird and kind of motored across the yard barely inches off the ground till he found some bushes to land in.
That night I kept thinking about those babies out in the big, sometimes bad world. I wished them safety, safe travel and blessed happy life. Tonight I’m sending out a wish for the same to the people who are suffering tonight: folks along the Gulf Coast, the folks flooded out in India, and to all who need one extra prayer tonight. Godspeed through the night, and the nights to come, for all of you, for all of us.Read More