I’m in a car, so I have time for a few updates. Over at the Austin house, it’s been a good spring, thanks to all the rain. I’m really happy that all the perennial plants we got last year made it and have bloomed.
The Texas mountain laurel just had two blossoms, but it’s pretty small still. It’s growing now! Too bad I didn’t get photos.
I was really happy to see the Althea bush blossoming. It’s a beautiful plant. I love bicolor leaves, and the pink flowers have been great. It looks good all year.
I’m beginning to think my poor chickens are living under a black cloud, are haunted, or broke a mirror sometime in their past. They really just can’t catch a break.
You may recall that just last Saturday, I found an adult Texas rat snake curled up happily in the henhouse, with three eggs embedded inside him or her. That snake was removed, so I was really thinking all was well.
Nope. Wednesday night, Seth, the chicken tending volunteer, got scared witless when he saw TWO snakes in the hen house. He didn’t stop to try to identify them. For someone who lived in the boonies most of his life, he’s not real “ranchy.”
He called his mom, who told me. I said, hey, remember Tyler who lives right there? He can take care of snakes. Then I heard nothing.
I asked Mandi how it all went, and she said she wasn’t sure. He wasn’t talking about it. Wow. Nature is not kind to that boy (age 19). But I do understand that many people have big issues with snakes, even non-venomous ones.
So, I asked Tyler, who IS ranchy, what the heck had happened. He said the two snakes were the same kind and size as last week.
What, are they a family? If so, one of them ought to tell the others that the fun times at our coop don’t have happy endings.
Mostly, though, I feel bad for those poor remaining 8 chickens. We took care of one set of predators, only to be joined by another one. I think my friend Mike and I need to get working on the new and improved coop, not just talking about it.
It’s by Peter Wohlleben, the German forester who wrote The Inner Life of Animals, which I reviewed recently. It’s the third volume in a trilogy that started with The Hidden Life of Trees, which I promise to finish and review, too.
You’ve just got to like Wohlleben, because he does not give a hoot if others think his ideas are not quite “scientific” enough or if he’s personifying non-human entities. Nope, he just calls things as he sees them, and seeing is his specialty. He doesn’t just look around his forest or anywhere else he visits, he carefully observes from the macro level to the micro level, and from the far past to the present. He doesn’t hesitate to ponder about the future, either. To me, this is the kind of teacher we all need, because he inspires all his readers to think beyond stereotypes and actually pay attention to what’s going on in front of them.
All the scientists out there will also appreciate that he backs up his observations with recent scholarship and provides us with a hefty bibliography for further exploration.
Why is this important?
As I was reading this book, I began to get a sinking feeling of concern. Wohlleben chronicles all sorts of ways humans have interfered with the interconnected web of life on this planet, and how the consequences are very far reaching. Changing the types of trees in European forests meant some organisms had nowhere to live, while others could march in and find new homes (or eat new things). Not having enough shade in the forest also meant huge differences.
Note: this post is about the history of a single county in north Florida. I am quite aware that there were civilizations, settlements, and migrations throughout North America long before events I talk about here. In fact, my own ancestors were in Florida long, long before Alachua County was settled.
While we were visiting Gainesville, the county seat of Alachua County, Florida, I bought this slim book (published in 2015), mainly because I wanted to know what a “biohistory” was. The subtitle of this little gem, which was written by Francis William (Bill) Zettler, is “The story of life in north central Florida through the ages.” It turns out the book is based on a popular class Zettler taught for many years at the University of Florida.
He uses the term “biohistory” to refer to his method of presenting the biological features of the area in chronological order. It turns out to be very enlightening and makes me want to read a biohistory of other areas where I’ve lived.
One thing that helped keep the book short is that Florida was underwater a long time, so there were no dinosaurs to talk about. It also helped that Florida was hard to get to, so animals, as well as humans, took their time showing up once the land mass revealed itself. I’d never thought of that!
But eventually there were lots of giant mammals (megafauna), like huge sloths, beavers, mammoths, and shovel-toothed elephants (cool). They did fine until the humans finally showed up and killed them all pretty quickly, leaving only animals we see today (deer and such). There were also camellids and different kinds of horses, which all escaped to live in Asia and South America.
I’m finally feeling a bit better than I was last week. I instituted some processes and revisited some boundaries, which helped so much. Much of the reason I’m back at something like an equilibrium is that I took my own advice and slowed down, took yesterday off to just goof off with Mandi, Lee, and the dogs (separately), and let nature heal me by spending all morning today on the porch.
Our back porch has grown a nice hedge of sunflowers, which help keep it cool, and today the breeze was making the west side of the porch feel like a tropical paradise. So, I sat there with the dogs coming in and out, and just listened to the birds sing, watched the trees, and breathed. I got so quiet that the barn swallows, finches, and cardinals were flying in and out so close I could hear their wings (above the wasps). I highly recommend the porch sitting with no agenda method of de-stressing to all of you!
Hi, friends. I interrupt this period of “hermiting” to share a little bit of what I’ve learned about myself and how I handle stress and anxiety now as opposed to how I used to. I’m hoping it might help someone else to at least realize they aren’t the only ones with these confounding symptoms.
I’m lucky that a combination of a low dose of an anti-depressant, meditation, yoga, and a good therapist mean that I don’t have the generalized, daily, anxiety symptoms I used to. It’s just when things pile up or there’s some big new stress source (just family stuff; it’s okay) that my old symptom friends make a rare appearance.
For one thing, when that happens, I think to myself, “Oh, there are my symptoms again…I’d better pay attention to what is going on and see if I can ameliorate something and nip this in the bud.” In the past, I’d just wallow, think about how I must be at fault and must have caused this myself, and feel helpless.
So, today I went to visit my dear horse and donkey, who I hadn’t seen in a whole week! They’d already been fed, and Sara had ridden Apache in the morning. But I just had to say hi.
I brought Apache and Fiona out for some loving, and it became clear she had to be groomed, big time. She was almost all bur.
To remedy the situation, Sara and I chatted and groomed. Fiona was in heaven. She leaned on us and practically sighed with joy at the attention. After 15 minutes or so, she had a lot less hair and burs.
She happily showed us her feet, so we could check her progress. Eek! All sorts of cracking and ugliness. However, she seems happy and able to run and trot. We will see what the farrier says.