Wrong Caterpillar!

swallowtailI just discovered — what I thought were Monarch caterpillars (in previous post) are really Eastern Swallowtails. My mistake — still, do have a few Monarch caterpillars who are on the right plants in the garden.

The “horns” are biggest give-away. When you bother the little creatures, they pop out scary orange protuberances. They also like herbaceous plants — fennel in particular.

Thanks to Texas Butterfly Ranch and photographer Monika Maeckle for clarity and great demo!

Life Happening

Fall is full of life around here! We have four little calves, or more, on the ground right now. Dennis found twins yesterday — and a young mother that looked like she needed help getting their twin motors going. He coaxed her up to the barn with babies on the Mule (as in Kawasaki) and made sure they had a good dose of colostrum for their first day out.

Cows don’t often have twins, but when they do, they bear watching. Often the mother will reject one for practical survival reasons. It may be an instinct to mother the stronger one that chases her around for milk — and she simply forgets the other one. Often a cow will aggressively reject one. That happened last year.

Sometimes you can “graft” a rejected twin to another cow that may have lost her calf — if the timing works out. That happened last year, too. One calf though became our baby. Google got personal, bottled attention every day for three months!

MonarchMassOther things are happening. A surprising number of wildflowers wait all summer to bloom in the fall. And Monarch Butterfly caterpillars appear. I have orange butterfly weeds in the garden that often attract the winged ones, but this year they chose my Italian parsley for a veritable brood nest! They have taken all the leaves and are munching away on the stems now. I may try to get them onto the orange weeds so they don’t run out of food! If I can transplant their munching, maybe I will be rewarded. It’s hard to discover chrysalises, but maybe this year…

August Smacks of Summer’s End

Today my squash plant took a droopy turn and hummingbirds outside the office window seem to be sucking up to head south. Kids are getting the last squeeze of fun out of summer days before school starts.

Nights are cool now, but probably just an interlude before the last blast of Missouri heat — when the Fescue grass goes so dormant I won’t have to mow anymore. We had a city-size (read, small) bonfire last night just off the porch, watching planets and stars twink on in the rich blue-black of space that we see here on earth. A nice night to bookend the heat just last week…

Cows and calves like this weather, too. I could hear them calling to each other over the last couple of days — that means they’re either on the wrong side of a fence, or just happy for cooler mornings… Dennis checked all the waterers this morning and walked around with young heifers and older weaned calves, giving them a little protein to grow on.

buttDmplWe’re soon going to sell some weaned ones, but keep a group of heifers — we’ll call them “little heifers,” to distinguish from the bigger heifers that will have their first calves next spring. We are considering a Gerloff influence heifer sale next spring for them. Charlie Gerloff has been supporting our bull battery for a few years, the heifer’s sires.

Last week one of those guys put a good size butt-dimple in my truck fender when he tried to crowd into the garage — and then decided he needed to turn around. He probably pushed the truck body up over the frame a few inches while imprinting his hind end into the metal. Drat!

That’s life here, some idyllic and some unfortunate…