Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:06:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Poultry Palace Complete Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:06:35 +0000 Continue reading Poultry Palace Complete ]]> IMG_4514henhouse480
Coop installation by Karl Black of Black Hawk Construction who also put up the garden shed a few years back.

So you long-time readers might remember the great Chickalanche of the winter of 2014. All the snow off the barn roof came down with a swoosh onto our chicken pen and destroyed it. (And one of us got to say I TOLD YOU SO but we won’t go there.)

And then one of us insisted that we needed once more to offer our well-fed hens to whatever creatures get a hankering for some chicken–and they all do, every one of God’s creatures wants it some chicken, the list now including H5N1 bird flu spread by migrating birds. Oy.

But that’s a problem for spring, when (I speak as if I had any element of influence on the decision) we will get chicks and offer them up for dinner–to such creatures as this Coopers Hawk. Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled wildlife longing for a drumstick.

Click image to enlarge.

We are, this week, in charge of a neighbor’s small flock, and Mr. Cooper here was perched yesterday morning not far from their little plot, looking hungrily towards the four hens. That’s 8 drumsticks. All survived their free-range daylight hours, thankfully.

It’s one thing to lose your own hens, and another to have to report that the coyotes or the roving dogs or the raccoons or the rat snakes or the chicken hawks or a crazed, ravenous mob of field mice ate what you were supposed to be protecting from becoming dinner.

And yet, things could be worse. Think how much more of a problem this would be if the wildlife chicken-eaters discovered gravy!

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Blood Moon Rising Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:18:48 +0000 Continue reading Blood Moon Rising ]]> Personally, I have not been convinced that our lives are influenced by planetary alignment or other celestial events. But in the case of the “Blood Moons” of 2015, the heavens might indirectly with humanity’s help bring about earthly events that will be impossible to miss.

My concern is that the end-times “prophesy” [see links at bottom] coming largely from the pulpits of two preachers might play into the intentions and hopes if ISIS for their own apocalyptic final chapter. They are all a-twitter, gleeful as their Final Battle comes closer. The Blood Moon frenzy is only likely to throw gasoline on their fire.

You can read plenty about the predictable, non-spooky cosmological phenomenon of the full lunar eclipse in which the moon turns an eerie red while fully hidden in Earth’s shadow. This is being called a “blood moon” by Hagee and Blitz who claim to have “discovered” the connection between a couple of Biblical passages about the moon turning red before the end-time events begin to unfold.

What is not so common, but not without precedent, is that there will be four of these lunar events this year, the last on September 28. The woowoo, as it is being told, is that blood moons have fallen during significant historical events for the Jews.

Keep in mind that theirs is a lunar calendar with their holy days planned decades or centuries into the future based on the cycles of the moon. Keep in mind that some of the claimed concurrences of blood moons in Israel’s and Jewish history are not so closely synchronous as the preachers claim.

I might mention that one or both also have books on the subject and a “documentary” movie is in the works.

Someone asked me recently what I thought about this prediction and should they buy green bananas, and up to that point I had not heard anything about this growing angst in some church circles. If you also had not heard, chances are you will as the date in September moves closer.

I’ll have to admit, if I was going to re-read the Biblical accounts of the last days, I’d be inclined to see a place in all that for the Islamic State. I’d see a place in all that for the economic leviathan of the western corporatocracy and its armies that feed with apparent impunity on the blood and bone of creature and planet. There are some  really bad players on the stage. So yeah, I can imagine a show-down at the OK Corral.

But I am thinking that the odds are this highly-promoted blood-moon “sign of the times” will turn out to be just the most recent in long string of failed predictions–unless we let the tail wag the dog.

► What is a Blood Moon? | Human World | EarthSky

► Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar Eclipse Series Not a Sign of Apocalypse

► Everything you need to know about the ‘blood moon’ apocalypse debate – The Washington Post

► Prophets warn ‘Blood Moon’ THIS September will bring ‘huge earth-destroying earthquakes’ | Weird | News | Daily Express

► ‘Mystic’ rabbi issues ominous warning on eve of blood moon


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tEWWWsday (Snake)Tales Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:18:27 +0000 Continue reading tEWWWsday (Snake)Tales ]]> snakeCollage480
Collage was easy with the help of Fotor app for Mac.

EWWWW! Is a gut response usually reserved for spiders and snakes.  Somewhere deep in our collective memory we carry a native fear buoyant on a  deep layer of disgust when it comes to certain kinds of animal. Plants, not so much.

I, OTOH, rather enjoy having both spiders and snakes a part of our warm-season co-inhabitants and have recently shared a celebration in webs.

But what I am realizing here past mid-way through the summer of 2015 is that we are not seeing our herptile regulars–the brown water snakes that bask on the rock foundation of the barn or the black rat snakes that sun on top of the sliding doors of the barn [the one pictured here is Lumpy–with probable tumor not a hen’s egg.]

We are not seeing the colorful corn snakes that have startled me imitating rope in the shed or the queen snakes basking in the blackberry canes that arch out over the creek or the rough green snakes we see every couple of years. It’s been maybe since early June that we’ve seen a single snake.

So where are the snakes this year? Is it just here on Goose Creek (that is always a few degrees cooler than most everywhere else) that fewer snakes are showing up?

Graphic cobbled using Canva

Are you seeing MORE snakes this summer or LESS than you typically do?

What triggered the direction of this morning’s thread was this NatGeo article below that elucidates the exact physiology of death by constrictor. Now this has a certain EWWW factor, if you’re up for some informative videos and deadly details. You’re welcome.

Why We Were Totally Wrong About How Boa Constrictors Kill

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Put a Bug in Your Ear Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:14:59 +0000 Continue reading Put a Bug in Your Ear ]]> I tried it and I didn’t care for it.

Fortunately, I was not alone, quite. Wife was just leaving for work at dark-thirty. I had been out on the back porch adoring the grand-pup who is officially boarding here while her family is traveling (vs the prior unofficial boarding overnight on our back porch more nights than not for the past few months.)

The yellow porch light draws fewer insects than a white light, but it only took one: a very tiny moth, enthralled by the lure of the bulb. Its erratic bumbling flight path took it just exactly into the waxy depth of my ear canal.

And thus contained inside my head it was not able in the tight confines of this dark orifice to create enough thrust to gain lift-off but only to propel itself deeper still towards my brain with unimaginably loud flappings and thrashings of its eagle-sized wings. Or so it seemed. And no head-shaking or banging with the palm, no amount of leaping or twirling would serve to do anything other than stir the lepidopt to even more panicked flailings.

The options loomed black before me. Do nothing: Leave the creature alone to flap until it died or succumbed to exhaustion; or Do Something: risk pushing it back even farther toward the eardrum with a pair of eyebrow tweezers–the only available tool suitable for this purpose in trembling hands in the poor light of the bathroom where the procedure took place with far too much emphasis for my comfort on speed–on getting the job done quickly so wife could drive off to work.

I am happy to report that things came out okay. Except for the moth.

Let Me Put a Bug in your Ear – Damn Interesting

Foreign object in the ear: First aid – Mayo Clinic

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Tomato Horn Worm: Gotcha! Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:03:51 +0000 Continue reading Tomato Horn Worm: Gotcha! ]]> IMG_4481hornworm480Moveable Feast: Dinner is served.

As a matter of fact, dinner is almost done for the eggs embedded with great accuracy and intention by the mother wasp into this otherwise invisible garden pest–the tomato (also called the tobacco) horn worm. See the horn up top?

She found and then injected the host caterpillar many times with her hypodermic ovipositor  (at least as many times as you see white cocoons of eggs-turned-to-pupae). Those eggs have hatched, turned to tiny larvae who have eaten caterpillar juices and tissues, and emerged to the exterior to spin an external cottony capsule attached temporarily to the host.

Each of these wasp pupae will fall to the ground, hatch this season or next year into more tiny braconid wasps, who will patrol my garden for more tomato horn worms. They can find them before they do too much damage. The human eye, not so much.

I mean, lookit: Compare the color to the tomato leaves in the background. BAM! A perfect match. Compare the striations and diagonal lines on the caterpillar to those of the veins of the tomato leaves: BAM! Remarkable! Horrifying!

This sucker, got to hand it to him, is a marvel of camouflage, so I am indebted to the chemical tracking (I suppose) that makes easier wasp targets of such as this that would defoliate our ‘maters in no time at all.

Ain’t biology wunnerful?

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Webs Laid Low With Pasture Mow Wed, 22 Jul 2015 12:03:19 +0000 Continue reading Webs Laid Low With Pasture Mow ]]> For everything you get, you give up something.

We are very happy to have our pasture mowed. But that means that there will be no more spider webs festooned from the tall grasses, dew-covered and bejeweled, backlit by the sun when it finally crests the east ridge.

So here, two birds (er, spiders) with one rock: a brief tribute to our web weavers that will return after a few weeks of pasture uprising; and a subject to weave into a little story using a new media tool called Shorthand:social.

It really does offer a better photo-essay medium than the tiny width of this blog space for full-dimension images. Hope you agree.

Click image to VIEW STORY…


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Wasting Away in Margaritaville Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:34:36 +0000 Continue reading Wasting Away in Margaritaville ]]> WellsParty480This unidentified couple is being sought by the ASPCA for blatant cruelty to animals–here depicted using a crude flame thrower to roast a live lobster in the shell.

Making matters worse, they forced a naive, innocent parrot to look on during this gruesome display of wanton disregard for the dignity of the local wildlife on a recent Floyd County evening.

Meanwhile, the human wild life probably wound on til the wee hours, while this pair stepped on a pop top and limped on back home.

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Built on Rotting Foundations: CyberInsecurity Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:11:30 +0000 Continue reading Built on Rotting Foundations: CyberInsecurity ]]> July09_0124barn_480Now that I’ve lost you with the very title, let me say as little as possible so as to move onto other things.

I’ve been interested–and concerned–about the fragility of our way of life that, like it or not, has come to depend on the interwebs for commerce, finance, communications, strategic defense and essentially every aspect of life in the more advanced parts of the world.

The latest buzz is on the legitimate need for increased cybersecurity with a long list of corporate and governmental and utility hacks gaining entry (and stealing data and leaving behind various minor to major malicious bugs) that probably has impacted one or more of you-whether you know it yet or not.

But if increased cyber-security is all we focus on, the future of e-commerce, banking, all the rest of it: is crusin’ for a bruisin’.

Our existing rickety and incompetent digital infrastructure has its physical counterparts in the rotting bridges, foundations, water mains and power grids of the nation.  And we have continued to pile quick fixes for new major system functions on top of ancient code foundations and patches that will not forever support what is being placed on top of them.

When the wind blows, the cradle will fall. Last week’s simultaneous “hardware glitch” that variously impacted United Air, WSJ  and the NYSE seemed too much to be a coincidence. But it was. Probably. And if it was, it paints a disturbing picture of our nearsighted construction of a digital skyscraper on top of a chicken coup.

Not to draw the threat of cyber-attack with too fine a brush–take a look at the Norse Attack Map (which they say only shows about 0.01% of the actual exchange.

Further reading:

Computer glitches struck the stock market and United Airlines on the same day. Here’s why you didn’t believe it was a coincidence. – The Washington Post

Why the Great Glitch of July 8th Should Scare You — The Message — Medium

Cybercrime Blackout Would Cost U.S. $1 Trillion, Report – Fortune

Related articles

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One Man’s Junk: Info-Hoarding Wed, 15 Jul 2015 11:07:23 +0000 Continue reading One Man’s Junk: Info-Hoarding ]]> I confess to being a hoarder. My wife would say that my desk offers ample piled-higher-and-deeper evidence of that claim, but I actually need just so much disordered STUFF around me to make my mind seem like a relatively organized place by comparison.

The hoarding I am admitting to has to do with information. It started when I was a full-time teacher lo those many years ago (when xerox copies were all the rage.) It continued, digitally-enhanced of course, when I became a blogger in 2002 and ramped up a few notches when I went back to teaching a little at Radford U in 2004 and 2005.

The web scrapbooking persisted during the halcyon days of blogging whilst generating a wide-ranging newspaper column every two weeks for seven years (for the Floyd Press and Roanoke Star–once Star Sentinel.)

This blog post–should I actually hit publish rather than delete it at the last moment–began in my mind with the intention of actually pulling out several of the saved snippets from this month’s hoarding list– you can see a piece of the list in the featured image.

But now I have run out of coffee and also know I have exceeded the number of words that mark the end of a blog-reader’s tolerance for screen time without a cat picture or youtube video. My apologies for that. For both of you who are left standing, read on…

Today’s preferred method of info-hoarding  saves webpage title and url (via Firefox add-on called Fire Link) to a table created for this month for this purpose in OneNote for Mac. The green column is for tags to help me remember who sent the link or what I intend to do with it (blog, read, watch, send, research etc.)

If I collect a link that I want to read right away and annotate and keep permanently, then I save it to diigo and on the first reading, highlight pertinent terms, phrases and paragraphs with sticky-note comments.

Both OneNote and Diigo have very good search capabilities. So if I remember something I read six months ago about trilobites that would fit well with something I read today about loss of biodiversity,  I can go back and pull it up and think about weaving that into something interesting for–NAH.

Now mostly I just collect rumination-fodder of a morning and drink coffee until it’s gone. Someday, perhaps the thing I thought I was going to write in this space this morning.

OOH! Another link gathered from the Zemanta links to this post!

TeachThought – Learn better.

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The Worms Crawl In: The Marvel of Death Part One Wed, 08 Jul 2015 12:47:30 +0000 Continue reading The Worms Crawl In: The Marvel of Death Part One ]]> moleCarrion8480Walking back to the house from where the bear had left his calling card (in yesterday’s post), we noticed a commotion on the ground near the bridge over the branch. The ground seemed to be boiling with eyeballs–the dark spots on the white pronotums of broad flat beetles that were relative late-comers to the carcass of a recently-deceased mole.

The flies (in an assortment of sizes and shapes–look closely at the larger image linked here) had come first to the feast as they typically do when a creature makes the instant passage from alive to dead–an amazing transformation, really, that as much as any other phenomenon carries us some distance toward a “definition of life.” But more on that tomorrow, perhaps.

Not surprisingly, since there is an ongoing supply of dead things, there is a wrecking crew for that job–the beetle family Silphidae–that specializes in the location and disassembly of the cold corpus of recently-inanimate vertebrate animals. You can see at least two species here: the oval-shaped eye-spotted American Carrion Beetle and the more slender orange and black Tomentose Burying Beetle.

When you hunker down to gt a really close view of these lovelies (as I know you will now do the very next time you happen upon a corpse–if nothing else, pull over when you pass recent road kill for this opportunity!) look for this:

Tiny tan mites are often observed on the wing covers of the American Carrion beetle. Some suppose that they serve in a mutualism: they get a free ride to their next meal, and the beetle is kept free of surface bacteria.

But the story and the team-work goes much deeper than that. As soon as the flat carrion beetle lands at the work site, the mites leap off and begin eating fly eggs and even young maggots that compete with the beetle for the flesh of the frog, snake or roadkill possum.

The burying beetle, as you’ve already guessed, are excavation specialists. They dig beneath the carcass until it is in a trench, then cover it up after laying eggs in the meal, out of the reach of other beetles or flies. They will even dismember small bodies to make the burial go quicker.

I discovered with some dismay that there is a burying beetle that once was found over much of the country that is now endangered, found in only five states. Since there is still a steady supply of dead creatures, what could account for such a change for an animal whose dietary needs are always in adequate supply?

One piece of evidence apparently suggests that the extinction of the passenger pigeon may have played an early role in the eventual drastic decline of this particular burying beetle that looks very much like the ones feeding on this particular mole.

Hiker’s Notebook: American Carrion Beetle

Nicrophorus tomentosus – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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