The Caliche Times Vol 2, No 3   8/31/99


Papiermache Nests and Aliens


We like to talk about dry weather, low stock water and dusty roads during droughty times but one final observation of things that are different has to do with changes in spider habits. Days when the temperature has been between 100 and 107 degrees, of which there have been many this month of August, the tan orb weaver spiders(Furrow and Barn Spiders) have been hanging down off the buildings out of their daytime hiding places. The black widow spiders, in great abundance, are normally not easy to see in the day time but are out in the middle of their web and very obvious during the day. I guess it is just to hot to go to go to bed and pull up the covers. We have also seen changes in other insects, such as the red and yellow wasps (city dudes call them bees) that’s OK, no offense intended that’s just the way it is, wasps are wasps and bees are bees . They (the wasps) have not been able to build large nests like they normally do. Maybe because they would have to haul water from long distances to make papiermache nests. These wasps like to mix a little cedar bark shavings, water and spit together to build the very nice and durable honeycomb nest to raise their young in. Their nests have been very small and the wasps have a "I don’t care attitude" during this hot weather. This has made the wasp-killing hornets very happy. They have been working full time dragging the unsuspecting wasps into their small tunnel in the ground where they are stored in suspended animation until the wasp killer’s eggs hatch and begin to feed on them. If you have seen the movie "Alien" you have a good mental picture of this "cocoon and suspended animation process." The mud daubers also collect all the small spiders that they can shove into their clay, honey-comb structured nests and then lay eggs in with the spiders. When the eggs hatch the larva feed on the spiders which are still alive. I’m glad they have an appetite for spiders --- it’s like the fellow from Louisiana said that works for me "You would have to make a lot of gumbo to get rid of them yourself." He said, "You know, if you order gumbo down in Louisiana and it tastes good you don’t ever ask questions about the ingredients." I said, "I’m glad to hear that and I will try to remember it too." I figure he is an authority on the subject since he worked in the oil field down there.


Giant Mud Daubers


Made a mistake the other day and started watering the yard to see what would happen. Next thing that happened was Barn Swallows came along and used the mud to build nests under the porch. They hadn’t been able to find enough mud until then. What a mess, if they could just be a little more careful and not drop mud on the car it wouldn’t be such a deal to put up with.


The Cow That Got Caught

You know, when you live in close proximity to cattle and talk to them and listen to what they say, you begin to think you know a lot about them and think you have see it all. I decided this week that maybe there was more to see and understand about cattle. Late in the afternoon, I was near the barn and noticed a long-tailed heifer* under the shed of the barn. She was the only member of the cattle herd anywhere around. Cows don't just hang around by themselves unless there is a reason to do so. This is a family herd that all grew up together and if one decides to jog, they all do. If one decides to drink, they all do. I decided that I better investigate this heifer and see why she suddenly decided to be a loner. So, I approached her. She could move around but wouldn’t get out from under the shed of the barn. As I went closer, I noticed she was "caught like a fish" on a short gate chain that had a full sized chain hook on the end. The hook was buried full up to its depth of about two inches in her nose. She was caught like a giant fish with sad eyes. Approaching any animal that is caught in a situation of entanglement can cause them to go into a shock of panic. My sudden nightmare vision caused me to see her jump back and rip off one side of her face if I tried to rescue her. I considered all the options and there weren’t any. I decided the only way to rescue her was to approach with a pair of bolt cutters and cut the chain, if she jumped back and ripped her face off it was still the only way; the chain had to be cut.


As I approached, she began to move back and tug on the chain. I think to myself, it is time to try some of that horse whispering even if she is a cow. Since I couldn’t think of anything clever, I decided to say something to her that she had never heard before and see if it would calm her down. So I said in a very small whisper, Shhh, Shhh, like I thought she would understand. She stopped tugging at that moment and looked at me as if to say, what are you talking about. During her moment of trying to understand me, I made the cut on the chain. She walked away free of the chain.

OK, Spivy, I am Not Calling The Vet

She still had the hook in her nose as she walked away as I did a bit of wishful thinking like "Please Lord let the hook fall out now and let’s end this." I waited for an answer but none came. The hook stayed in her nose. I said "OK, Spivy, (she has sort of an original name) I am not calling the vet for this one so just get ready, it’s just you and me." So, I drove her into the squeeze chute and caught her head in the gate made for that purpose. If you think a cow trusts you more with their head caught in a head gate, just stop believing it. Her demeanor indicated the hook was not on her mind at the moment. I reached for the hook several times and she said "get your hands away from my nose." I am thinking, "this is not going as well as I had hoped for", but I didn’t tell her that. After a few minutes of frustration, both hers and mine, she finally allowed me to touch the hook and it lifted right out.   I turned her out to the pasture where she could forget the incident and heal properly. I saw her at the water trough two days later and I could tell she was trying to remember where she had seen me before.


Come see us, we are always at home.

Follow the Rooster Tail

If you have trouble finding us, just follow the rooster tail of caliche dust across Texas and you soon will.   You can get to our house from anywhere in Texas if you drive long enough.


bulletLong tailed heifersusually heifers, 20 months or older that are of breeding age. Tails are long enough to touch the ground in some cases.

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