Friday, August 31, 2007

robbers and thieves

Dear Hunts Poorly,

You sent along this photo and asked me, what is this insect? saying it had showed up a lot recently 'round there (Whitewater Valley, Southeastern Indiana)

Funny, as it has showed up a lot round here this summer, too. (transitional knobs of the Nashville dome above the Cumberland River Valley)

Your photo, is better than my photo (HA! you finally got one on me!)

The Robber Fly is really noticeable because he is big and zips around a lot and is very scary looking. Supposedly a fierce predator, but I have yet to see one devour something.
But his "noticiblitity" brings me to a theory I am working on about our focus, what we notice, and natural cycles.
You have to step back before the natural cycles were so disrupted to play this game...but, what if, things come to your notice not because they are particularly more prevalent this particular year, but they are messengers for certain people turned into particular channels..kind a like tv shows...there are different ones that appeal to different personalities. Too busy to go into it, but, why are there some insects that are symbolic and moving and cause people to form myths around them (like dragonflies) and some that are just there (like wasps, although I have an intense fondness for red wasps....)
Anyway, the robber fly is associated with the myth of Kokopeli, you can read more about them at this site, Robber Flys of Kentucky
which also lists a common name of one species as "hanging thieves" (isn't that a great kentucky-type name?"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

purple time of year

its that time of year when things turn purple and yellow, before they turn orange and brown. I once took a class from a fellow teacher at an environmental educators training camp about all the wonderful things you could do with golden rod. The mind is blank now though, with no time to research, but it amazes me how much I have forgotten...I know it makes a tan dye (whoopie) but seems like there was something nutritious?

it is also the spidery time of year, wish they had posted a photo with this article on a giant, cooperative spider web in Texas. Don't have time to hunt a photo down on the web, but surely someone has posted one? I like the idea of a bunch of spiders working together, doesn't seem creepy at all.

it is also the time of year we start getting rain (sometimes) last night we got about an 1/8 of an inch (another whoopie, but lets not look a gift raindrop in the reflection, or some such)
...I am currently discovering the joys of a rain barrel! you can turn 1/8 of an inch into 100 gallons!
I still have some kinks to work out of my rainbarrel/storage tote set up with hose running into pond. Need to plug up lower hole and put overflow at top so I can keep 30 gallons up at the house to dip into the washer (the laudramat is a drag) and let the rest replenish the pond..but don't have time to work on that to the workshop, with dogs and cat in tow and mules staring into the window.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

positively maypops

Did the early morning hike up to tinker with the spring (can you call scraping mud away from the intake tinkering?) and saw lots to be cheerful and thankful for (I always could stretch out a blessing as good as a penny)
If we could get a smidgen of rain, the wild passionfruit (Tennessee state wildflower, aka maypops) could finish ripening and there is a bountiful crop of them.
This is noteworthy for a future drought crops list. Interestingly, I had doubts about them earlier, as their flowers were much paler (almost white, instead of the usual purple of years past) and right bedraggled looking, but they put on a good mess, never the less. Now, did that drive you nuts (putting all of those parenthetical phrases in there? its also the way I talk and the sign of a lazy mind......)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No news is bad news, weather-wise

With all the excitement of the hurricanes and tropical storms, the extreme heat and drought occurring in the southeast is not receiving much media attention, but it is taking ALL the attention of the residents here.
It is extreme. REALLY extreme.
Our normal average annual rainfall is 54". We ended 2005 with 7 inches behind, then we ended 2006 10 inches behind normal (that's 17, in case you weren't counting) We are currently 13 inches behind on our normal rainfall to this date, for this year. That's 30 inches, if you count cumulative falling behind. Which I do, because my spring, which has historically never run dry, is.
Springs, wells, pastures, creek...all dried up. Flailing fish have turned into dessicated mummies in the heat..Heat? Oh yea.
Our average daytime temperature for August is low to mid 80's. We are going on three weeks at above 100. Above 100. (I had to repeat that, because that is what it feels like, day after day, redundant, dull, aching heat) and even longer if you count above 90 degrees.

As farmers, we were pretty much screwed out of decent first hay cutting and good pasture with the bizarre late freeze that occurred late in the spring. But then it turned off dry and hot.

What are you supposed to do with your livestock when the pasture is bare and brown and scorched and you don't have any hay for this winter, much less right now? Or even if you do have some little green stuff for them to munch, you have no water and they quite selling it in town for livestock, because they are saving it for people.

To understand the impact, you have to picture yourself without water to flush the toilet, or water the cows, or even take a decent shower. Residents on city water in our county are on water restriction, with water police out to bust you if you don't conserve, as the town's water supply dwindles down to nothing. But if you are not on city water, and you rely on your trusty well or spring, that for generations uninterrupted supplied water...well, you're out of luck.

This spring, I got a premonition and obsession to build a little pond to act as a reservoir for my spring in case the weather turned off even dryer than they were predicting. I got a used 15ft by 30ft pool liner off of Craigslist and rented a little trackhoe from in town and I was off to the races.

This little pond oasis and its development have kept me occupied and exhausted, and now, it is keeping me in toilet flushing water, livestock water and shower water as I save what little is left in the actual spring reservoir for dishes. This means alot of hauling of water, drinking water in jugs from town, and water dipped from the pond to water the mules, rabbits, chickens dogs and cat, water for the toilet, etc, until I get the pumping plumbing situation worked out...but maybe by then it will rain...they are saying "not likely, till september." I use all the water twice, whenever possible.

The little pond has been good for a cooling dip, and good for the holler's wild critters to have a place to drink, too.

Meantime, trying to focus on the positive gets harder as the hardships of farm neighbors mount and worries about where my own mules will end up because I can't find hay for them for the winter. It is also damn hard to get and stay motivated to get any work done when the temperatures stay above 100. My workshop tops out each day at about 107, and so I have to do all my shop work after dark, and I am not a night person.

I am getting some great frog pictures, however! and learning up close and personal frog and dragonfly habits.

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