CowJam’s 5th

cowJam2017CowJam returned to the ranch after the inaugural event in 2012. Just so you know, it’s a chance to jam out in a space where no one cares about the noise, the bonfires or the bad-ish jokes… Purdue college friends get together to celebrate music and laugh about their lives before they really got out into the world… where they all fashioned quite different lives, unimaginable back then. We think the cows at least perked up ears for melodies and rhythms fronting the wind through hills and valleys during perfect cool afternoons and evenings at the farm.

Of butterflies and weeds

MBrealSo here is the real Monarch caterpillar chewing on an orange Butterfly Weed. The butterfly that laid the egg on the weed was born in the southern United States of Mexican parentage, destined to make little caterpillars in the northern states before returning to dust. This one is extraordinary. It will fly all the way back to Mexico to overwinter with other butterflies — in clusters that can be heavy enough to break tree limbs. Imagine anything about a butterfly that could be “heavy”…

I also discovered, from the Missouri Department of Conservation, that Monarchs, in all their life stages, are poisonous to potential predators. Milkweeds carry toxins that transfer in various toxicities to the insects — signaled by their distinctive orange and black color, of course.

I have discovered, beautiful as they are, Monarchs are extraordinarily strong and dangerous. I’ve been thinking of a lot of goofy farm parallels, but best leave it alone… It’s nice to have flashy, flighty visitors beginning from so far away every year.

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!