Thursday, March 31, 2011

Can't Force Retirement

First, I'd like to point out that there are 5 eggs in my picture. I only have 3 hens that are supposed to be of laying age.
The other five hens must not have gotten the memo that they can retire now. They've been laying for 5 years.
Admittedly, I gave those hens the winter off. I did not artificially light the chicken coop. Maybe that's what made the difference.

Nearly every day, I get at least 4 eggs, sometimes 5 or 6. I do sort of wish the older hens would stop laying, as the quality of their eggs leaves something to be desired visually. Cloudy whites and heavily spotted with blood spots. All just signs of aging, but egg laying is hard on a chicken. They deserve a break.

I don't know who laid the tiny egg. It was fully formed, hard as a rock like all the other eggs, and had a white and a bit of yolk. Better luck next time for whichever girl laid it. I just hope the other hens don't catch on. You know it's got to be MUCH easier to lay a tiny egg, than a jumbo size one.
It would take 2 dozen of the tiny size egg to make a breakfast.

The picture below is for my friend, Danni. I know she'd ask. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Warning: Nightmare Inducing Insect Alert

Creepy Insect Pictures Ahead
**********************************

Well, for some folks a nightmare might be induced by my subject.
I will admit that this insect has some powerful 'freak out' abilities when it's alive.
Let me assure you, this one is very dead.
At least some good came from our 17* weather over the winter.


This tropical-rainforest-looking dude is a Red Headed Centipede.
They are not an invader from another country like our now common, Fire Ant.
They are native, not only to Texas, but to Arkansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico.


While my find is quite large, they have been known to reach 12 inches in length.


They eat mostly insects. Their favorites seem to be things with exoskeletons--crickets, pillbugs, earwigs, cockroaches and scorpions. Some larger ones have been observed killing and eating small snakes, frogs and toads.


Are they venomous. You betcha!

Can the venom kill you? Not likely, unless you are allergic. Which is also not likely.

Does it hurt to get bitten? Like a son-of-a-gun! Sometimes the pain lasts for two days.

Do they come in your house and get in bed with you? No, they prefer the great outdoors under logs and rocks. Unless you happen to have rocks and crickets in your bed.

Is it normal to scream like a little girl if you happen upon one while moving rocks? Yes, yes it is.


I have posted many times about Texas' many less savory creatures. Creatures that won't be pictured in glossy pamphlets you might receive from the Texas tourism bureau. Please be assured that the Texas countryside is not swarming with Centipedes, Coral Snakes, Rattlesnakes, Black Widow Spiders, Fire ants, Brown Recluse spiders, Flying Cockroaches, and Tarantulas.
I just want to share a little of the creepier side of our flora and fauna. Heck, everybody knows about white-tailed deer. Now you can say you know about Red Headed Centipedes.

Being a Texan is not for the faint of heart. It builds character when you scream like a little girl and survive to take pictures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Heart of a Leopard

Domestic house cats are only distantly related to the big cats of Africa.
Every now and then, we get to see a bit of evolution take a step back, to when house cats were more closely related to the big cats.
Observe.

Hobbes, who happens to be a year old today, is trying to decide which prey to take on.
The chickens and the doe are both at the proverbial "watering hole" (pile of veggie/fruit scraps from my kitchen).

In the wild, the leopard would survey the situation and figure out which prey he'd be more likely to overpower and drag up a tree.
Hobbes, being only distantly related to that cat, makes the wrong decision.

The doe isn't having any part in Hobbes' role playing and stands her ground.
After he figures out that he's made a mistake, she wanders off to take a nap with last year's fawn.

Here, Hobbes makes the better choice.
Luckily for all involved, he only takes pleasure in scattering the chickens.
They know he's little more than a tornado in a teapot.
The chickens are not in any danger, but Hobbes like to pretend they are.

Cheetah in Tree
photo courtesy of http://www.takeawalkonthewildside.net/

Hobbes does nap like a leopard though.
He also purrs like one.
Maybe they are more closely related on important matters like sleep and happy noises.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Phoenix Rises

His daughter, my beloved niece, Sarah was too pregnant to go to be with him during his last hours on this earth. She lives in Wisconsin, he in Missouri.
She had suffered in this same way, only a week earlier---her Aunt Mary died unexpectedly as well.
Two times in two weeks, she had suffered unspeakable loss. Both times she couldn't go say goodbye.
Thirty-eight weeks pregnant and unable to comfort and be comforted by extended family. Her sweet, supportive husband, Ryan and darling baby, Bella held her close through her storm. Kisses and hugs and silly moments helped dry her tears.
They waited for their baby to be born.

He surprised everyone by coming just two days after the death of my brother.
He, Grayson John, parted the ashes of my niece's sorrow, and brought joy and happy tears.

As humans, we make up stories to help us feel better when someone dies. I made one up when my first born came along, and my father had already passed away. My father would have loved my kids.
I believe in heaven. I believe in spirits.
I believed that my father met my children in spirit, before I met them in body.
I believe that my brother, did indeed, get to meet Grayson. I believe he held him and rocked him and told him stories. I believe he tickled Grayson's tiny chin with his mustache and nibbled his tiny toes.
It makes me feel better in the bittersweet moments.

Grayson has been, for me, a Phoenix that has risen from the ashes of my brother's untimely death. Happiness blends with sadness. Hope with sorrow.

Welcome, little man.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You Might Be a Redneck If....

...you can pick up a new dining room set and some buck shot at the same store.

You might also be a redneck if you holler at your daughter, just as the light is about to change,
"Roll down your window so I can get a picture!"
and she tells you,
"You took a picture of that sign the last time we came through here!"
and you tell her,
"I know, but it didn't turn out because the window was up and I was driving!"
and she tells you,
"Mom!!"
and you tell her,
"Just roll down your dang window. The light is about to turn green!"
and she sighs.
and you get a perfect picture.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blindsided

Rest in peace, my dear, dear brother John.
Kat, all my love to you and your daughter, Alex.

I don't have answers, but have no questions either.
The doctors just didn't have enough magic.
My heart just aches and I reach out for the arms of God and my family to get through the pain.
I wish I could have gotten there to say goodbye.
Sometimes, things just aren't meant to be.

December 7, 1956-March 10. 2011

I'll miss you, you old biker dude.

A memorial service will be held in Missouri on April 10th, 2011.