Friday, July 11, 2008

Flying Things

In early May, I spotted six Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my reseeded dill plants.
The cats were large - at least to the fourth instar, and a couple looked closer to the fifth and ready to pupate. I was surprised at their size since it was so early in the year and I hadn't yet seen a BST anywhere in the yard so they must have been from overwintered eggs. DH and I kept a pretty close eye on them as the dill was just starting to get some growth on it and there was no way it would last through all six to pupation.

Then they started disappearing. Unfortunately, I didn't feel much like raising them inside this year and the wasps took them all. So when I spotted six more cats, all between their first to third instars, on my parsley in June - they promptly hit the old aquarium in the house.

When I've raised them in other years, they've been quite happy with dill, and only dill. When offered parsley, wild carrot and bishop weed, all were ignored but the dill. This year, as the parsley plants were all still very small and not going to make it through all of them, I again tried offering the different host plants. To my surprise, almost the moment that I introduced the bishop weed, all other food sources were completely ignore! Which was perfect since I have tons of that friggin' weed - unfortunately.

So, now all but one have pupated and I'm waiting on the first to eclose any day now. I dunno what the deal is with the smaller cat - he doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to bulk up or pupate. I've never had one be this slow before. Maybe he's just a slacker.

On another note - the Gray Catbirds are back and being nosier than ever. Yeah, noisy too, but these birds are nosey. We have nice conversations every morning as one particular curious male follows me around the yard. He's decided that a ten foot distance between him and I is satisfactory. lol, if the neighbors ever saw me out there first thing in the morning with my hair a mess, a cup of coffee spilling from my hand as I bend to inspect a flower or bug a tad closer and conversing with a tag-along bird who's watching my every move...
He's taken to watching me through the screen door in the mornings if he thinks I'm slacking on the morning walk. The female is much more wary and pays no nevermind to me at all. I think I've figured out where their nest is. The second pair have snubbed me altogether and could care less.

The wasps seem to be really numerous this year compared to other years. Something got into the bumble nest that was under the pond waterfall. Bummer - they were such fun to watch. Maybe they'll build another nest somewhere close enough for me to find. The honey bees; few, and no swarm was seen this year. Very, very unusual as we've had at least one come through the yard every single year for as long as I can remember.

The Monarch count: 1 male.
Also very unusual as we normally have tons flitting through the air by now. And I haven't spotted an egg. Not one. Weird.

The female Redheaded Woodpeckers is feeding twins in the front yard snag. Yay! I spotted carpenter ants at the bottom of the trunk though, so we may have to cut it down after all. I'd rather not, but I don't want it taking out the electric lines when it falls, either. The little ones should be getting close to taking their maiden flight.

I've scared two herons away from the yard and ponds so far this year, and the hubs spotted a White Egret, or it was possibly, I think, a Little Blue Heron (though he insisted not and I wasn't going to argue). He saw the entire bird while all I saw was the shadow, so all I can say is that the sucker was friggin' huge, whatever it was. As long as it stays away, I could really care less what it really was. lol.

The amount of crows hanging around the area this year is amazing! I'm not sure how many this particular murder contains, but they've taken to raiding other birds nests for the eggs and babies. It took them from the time I came inside to grab the laundry until I came outside to hang it on the line to clean out the poor Robin's nest she'd built in the pear tree. I felt so bad for her! They swiped one recently hatched baby and two unhatched eggs. I just caught the last crow flying away with the hatchling in it's beak as I came out the door. Poor Robin! Sometimes, I wish I owned a gun.

Both the Cardinals and Bluebirds are back, so that's good.

The hubs built a large Hummingbird feeder this year with PVC pipe as we had so many last year and I couldn't keep up with filling them all. Strangely, we only have a few this year. Maybe 8?

Our flying wildlife seem to be getting fewer and fewer (well, the good ones) every year. Not good. I wish the neighbors would get with the program and start creating some habitats for them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Can't Help It - I Need To Vent

Unless you've lived in a cave for, oh, I dunno...the last 2 years, you are quite aware of the stink-hole the economy of the US is in. And getting worse.

Ok, I can understand the griping. Seriously, I do plenty of it myself. Yeah, I'm a bitch that way. But, please - get over yourselves, people!

I am so sick of hearing, "Oh, it's such a hardship to me that I had to cut down from four movies a month to two!" or "I only get a manicure once a month now!" and "I actually have to cook at home three nights a week now!" also "I can only afford to buy one pair of new shoes a week and only get my hair and spa treatments once a month!" or "Oh, poor me, I'm so broke I can't afford gas for my SUV, but look at the two hundred dollar arbor I bought at the box store today!"

Oh. My. God. You poor babies! Can you hear the teeny-tiny violins playing for you?
Give me a break. How do you think people that couldn't afford to do any of that stuff before this crunch feel to hear you spew these pointless 'hardships' when they're trying to figure out something as simple as how to get enough change left over in the budget this month to get a loaf of frigging bread on the table!?

Most people are more worried about how to pay their electric bill (some that just went up 28%, thank you very much) and have enough left over to buy groceries to feed their kids. Or the choices of buy enough gas to get to work and cut your meds in half - freeze your ass off this winter because you can't afford fuel oil or just let them foreclose on your house altogether because it's coming down to heat this winter or the mortgage. Some are even handing their pets over to the animal shelters because they can't afford to feed them, for Pete sake!

And as for the gardening thing: What is it with you people who say you're growing veg to save money and then turn around and say you're spending hundreds, even thousands in some cases, for the 'have-to-have-or-it-won't-grow' shit? Put a damn seed (bought cheap/traded) in some turned-over soil/bucket. Water. Watch grow. Weed. Harvest. I'm so tired of hearing about the 'initial investment' of gardening. Unless you count seed cost and your labor, there isn't one!

WTF? Since when do you have to have soil delivered to your house by the yard? Synthetic fertilizers up the ying-yang? Lumber to build raised beds? Ridiculous amounts of soil amendments? Fancy mulch?

To hear some of you talk, you'd think you have to have thousands stashed away in the bank before even thinking about starting a garden! And no, I don't mean all of you, by any means. Lots of griping gardeners really do have legitimate complaints when it comes to money.

My biggest pet-peeve of all?
You have to spend mucho bucks on beautiful pots and containers because you wouldn't be caught dead with a plastic pot in your yard. Laws no! M-O-O-N! That spells if-you-grow-something-in-plastic-we'll-all-snicker-about-how-tacky-you-are! Ummmhmmm.

Our soil gets tilled, planted with seed or transplants I've started myself, watered only when necessary, mulched with old newspaper and weeded. The bugs duke it out all by themselves. Fertilizers are a luxury item - this ain't the palace gardens. Watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin and cukes all get plopped in a 5 gallon bucket on the patio with a mix of garden soil and homemade compost and watered. That's it. And you know what? That's all they need!

Spend hundreds and thousand to grow food? Not in this lifetime.

Seriously, I can't take this fake crap anymore. If you're one of the people who are honestly hurting and trying to make-do with what you've got, just know this: you're not alone. If you're not one of these people growing to have enough stashed away so you won't have to make a choice between a bill and food, then shut your pie-hole!