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Archive for August 28th, 2007

Habitat news

This morning Smokey was waiting (impatiently, of course) for the door to open.   He had a particularly urgent need for my attention today, as he had brought me a present. 

Coiled in front of him on the concrete floor of the carport was an extremely small, very upset, and quite feisty snake.   I told him he was mean, and let him into the house.   The little snake, which was about the size of a pencil, kept making striking motions, which was just silly.   I mean, first of all, he wasn’t a danger to anything bigger than an earwig, and second of all, he wasn’t a venomous reptile.   It managed to keep Smokey from annoying it further, though, so maybe it wasn’t all that silly.

It is difficult to identify young snakes, but I am pretty sure that he is a racer, since I have quite a few of them on the place.  

It made me very happy to have evidence of  propagation going on in the wildlife habitat.  I see the turtles making it every once in a while, and I come across little guys that are only a couple of inches long every once in a while.   Smaller than that, and they are hard to spot.   I also think they are pretty circumspect when they are small.  But the only way I know that the snakes are having babies is when Smokey finds one and brings it to me. 

 A long time ago, when we were living out on the farm, he tried to bring us a baby copperhead, and the resulting bite on his face made him quite miserable for three or four days.   For quite a while after that he left the snakes strictly alone, but apparently it has been long enough since that happened that he has lost his fear of them.   This morning he seemed quite put out that the snake did not want to play.  Thankfully, the young snake was quite unharmed by the capture, and I released him in the labyrinth.

I walked my new rocks (from New Zealand and Morocco) into the labyrinth under the full moon last night.   Did you get up at 4 in the morning to take a look at the lunar eclipse last night?   I did.  Ruby was very confused.   “What are you doing out here this early?  You NEVER get up this early, Mom,” she seemed to be saying.   The lazy girl did not even get out of her doghouse, but lay there pensively watching me as I stood naked in my back yard and gazed at the shadowed moon through my binoculars.

I was watering the pots on the front porch and trimming the dead yarrow stalks yesterday.   I tried to root a new rosemary plant this year, using a propagating cup.  It worked just fine, the branch grew roots.   Unfortunately, when I removed the cup to transplant the new rosemary, the potting soil all fell apart and many of the fine roots in it were broken away.  I potted the start anyway, but I guess losing all those fine roots was too much for it.   It appears to be dead now.   I am an optimist, however, I am still watering it hoping that it has just pulled back all its energy to the roots and will be coming up again.

The whole point of this story is that as I was contemplating cutting it back some, I was looking at the dry dead sticks of the rosemary “plant”  and I realized that it was acting as the frame for the web of a very tiny orb weaver spider.   I had to use my magnifying glass to see what kind of spider it was.   The mother spent most of July occupying a web that ran from the eaves to the stone facing next to the porch light, seining up the mosquitoes and moths that were drawn to the light.   I considered taking a picture of this miraculous child.  

The little spider is smaller than the head of a pin, and her (his?) web is three inches in diameter, quite a prodigious accomplishment for such a tiny arachnid.   I got out my spray bottle and made a fine mist to outline the web.   But it was all too fine and tiny for my poor camera to replicate.   I contented myself with observing the little spider, who was very excited by the appearance of “dew” on its web.   It scurried about quickly, visiting the drops and drinking , before the heat and dry of my kitchen evaporated it all.  

I decided to wait to prune the rosemary, and put it back outside.

Jim will get home this afternoon.  I can hardly wait, I have missed him.  And there will be a new chair to admire. 

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