This and That and Other Things
(c) Jerry Davis 6/7/2005
"Little darlin'  pal of mine"

Sounding out words

When one of our grandsons was 6 years old and in kindergarten,  he had been learning how to sound out words.  I had left my medicine pill box on the table that had medicine for each day of the week.  The days were just abbreviated as SMTWTFS.  Lou Jane found one of our grandsons sitting at the kitchen table pointing at the letters trying to sound out the word on the pill box.  Lou Jane explained to him what the letters represented.  He then pointed to the letters and said the days of the week after she explained what the letters meant.

Bears and Berries

I have been telling folks that I have concerns that black bears may find out about the blackberries on our place and decide to move into this area.  Don't laugh.  A list of animals that have made themselves at home here in the last few years in the order of their appearance:  armadillos (should have been named yard hogs), deer, turkey, coyotes, nutria, beaver, feral hogs and cats.    Yes, black bears have moved back into Big Bend National Park from Mexico, about a dozen of them at last count.  Black bears have been in the Guadalupe Mountains for years.  Both locations not more than two days bear's lope as the crow flies from our berry patch.

Fire Ants "The sauntering days are over."

We have now been blessed with fire ants from East Texas.

If you think that fire ants are all bad it just isn't true.  Before the fire ants moved in about 4 years ago we had an epidemic of black widow spiders.  We were having a drought at the time.  Black widows flourish in dry weather.  I started wearing gloves every time I went outside to do any work.  Anything I would touch, move, turn over or put down for a few minutes had at least one black widow spider.  She would be in the process of making an egg pouch to make 50 more black widows.  The tremendous numbers of the black widow became a real health concern.  Most every fence post had at least one web.  When it started to rain some and the fire ants began to move in, I began to notice a change.  I watched the ants to see what they would eat.  Black widows leave a "silk" bag of spider eggs hanging in their web.  If times are good, they may leave several bags.  I began to notice that fire ants in search of food quickly found the bags and chewed their way in and ate all the eggs.  Now, you really have to look to find the black widow.

This week our cat, well, Lou Jane's cat Chester, in an attempt to show off his hunting skills brought a mouse and left it in front of the house for us to brag on.  Next thing I know, by the afternoon the mouse was a ball of fire ants.  Same thing happened to a vole that crawled up on the driveway. 

Just the other day I opened my toolbox which had a lid ajar some.  Inside were a couple hundred fire ants feeding on larva and spiders of the Dirt Dauber that had made a mud nest there.  Well I guess life just can't be perfect.  I sustained several ant bites while trying to get my toolbox back.

Last year, I left a dead copperhead in the front yard.  Two days later they had eaten everything but the boney skeleton.  The next day they ate the bones too.  It's too bad they don't like to eat armadillo.  Sinbad doesn't care about eating them either. 

They (the ants)  may catch up with me soon.  I find a few new fire ant bites on me almost daily.  Guess I will have to move a little faster.  The sauntering days are over.

"The Naked Indian"
   Madrone Arbutus
(click on picture to enlarge)

Rare trees along the highway near the intersection of 290 and 281.  A type of tree that I have admired for about 40 years now.  One also along the roadside near the top of Guadalupe Pass has made it to a very large size.  These trees replace their dark bark in the spring for a copper colored one giving them their common name of "Naked Indian".   The reason you don't see one very often is they don't like to be transplanted and are very particular about the soil and conditions for their survival.     photos by Greg

Other things around here at home, with the same copper color, are not as welcome.  Lou Jane's cat Chester killed a copperhead in our front yard  while we were out in the berry patch.  He has now been recognized for his courage and bravery.


I guess the pictures will speak for themselves.             
Other pictures of the aliens.  They have been observed here for several years now.


Update on the aliens:

Three days later I checked on the aliens.  No sign of them.  The six cocoons were empty and the food source that had been stored was gone.  

These are similar to the wasps that I call "Hole in the Wall Wasps."   The "Hole in the Wall Wasps" will find some food source and stuff it in any hole the size of their bodies and then put a cocoon in the hole and seal the hole level with a pure white stucco material.  It dries to a very hard substance.  Later the larva hatches from the cocoon, eats the food, eats his way through the plaster, changes to a wasp and repeats the cycle.



Little Stinkers:

(click on image to enlarge)


This nest had six baby skunks.

The eyes haven't opened at this age of 2 days.
A face that only a mother could love.

The nest was about 15 feet from my studio steps.

We tried to get a zoo to take these, but they do not
accept mammals.  I guess they might accept some
 animals that smell better.