It’s alive!!!!!!!

After a few weeks of absolutely zero fiddler crab sightings in our tank, I headed back to the feed store to procure a few more. I was thinking that adding a few more more might convince the other two to be a tad more social. And really, one can never have enough crabs.

The normal aquatics guy wasn’t there, so I was helped by a sweet younger guy that luigiunfortunately had an almost debilitating crab phobia. Every time he swooped in the tank with his net, the crabs would angrily scatter while waving their claws at him, and he’d visibly shudder. Every once in awhile he’d actually catch one, but it would jump out of the net and cause him to simultaneously jump away from their tank. After about 20 minutes, he decided it would be okay to skirt the company rules and let me just reach in and grab whichever ones I wanted.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for crustaceans, but I fully admit that when I came home and swapped out the filters in the tank, I screamed like a little girl when Luigi came lurching off the top of the filter and onto my hand. Apparently he’d climbed up the filter hose and decided it made a fine home. Plenty of algae to eat, a dry spot at the top of the filter box, tons of privacy… everything a crab could want in a living space. At least now when he disappears again I know where to look first.

dragonflyBut Luigi isn’t the only critter to come out of hiding around here. Now that I’ve started running the sprinkler in the evenings, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of dragonflies darting around the farm. I love to watch them hunt, and apparently they enjoy playing in the sprinkler. So do the robins and gold finches. They exhibit so much gleeful abandon when I turn it on that I don’t even grumble when it takes me close to three hours to haul it around the yard.

Ceri, on the other hand, takes her sprinkler love to the extreme. We were so worried she sprinklerwas going to drown herself that we bought one especially designed for dogs. Of course, the box is covered with cute pictures of puppies playing in the water, but it definitely brings out the puppy in our 100-lb Shepherd. I’ll turn it on for her during the hottest part of the afternoon, and she would play for hours if we let her.

Time to call in the cavalry…

As long time readers might recall, there have been a fair number of epic battles on the farm to date, include the Winged Ant Situation of 2011, the Aphid Wars of 2012, and the Great Horsefly Annoyance of 2013. And in the 8 years we’ve lived here, I’ve never had to bring in professional reinforcements. Until now.


I was too scared to photograph the wasps. Enjoy some sunflowers instead.

It all started on a bright sunny day. A little too hot, but I wasn’t complaining – the heat is good for the corn. As I watered the grapes, I felt something crawling on my hand. Being the seasoned farm mama that I am, I just nonchalantly tried to shake it off without actually checking what it was. That’s when the burning started. And the screaming. The yellow jacket clinging to my palm didn’t give up until I scraped him off with the garden hose. Lucky for me, Gene knew how to make a poultice out of meat tenderizer that sucked all the venom out of my hand, and kept my whining to a minimum.

An amazingly accurate movie, as far as I'm concerned.

An amazingly accurate movie, as far as I’m concerned.

The next morning, I was out watering again since the temps were going to soar to almost 100 degrees. I wasn’t all that worried since yellow jackets aren’t exactly rare beasties in July, so it wasn’t so surprising I’d disturbed one. But when I watered the grapes again, this time I heard a most disconcertingly loud buzzing sound from the other side of the raised bed. When I slowly peered over the top of the grapevines, I was horrified to see the entire ground moving. It looked like a scene out of The Swarm – no exaggeration. There were hundreds of them, all staring at me. At least, I assume they were staring at me. I was too busy running away to notice.

bee guy 2Thank god for Google – I was able to find a wasp removal expert within minutes. I called the number, and he agreed to come out within the hour. I think my screaming “Save me from the beeeeeeees” the minute he answered the phone probably contributed to his sense of urgency. It was fascinating to watch him suit up and go to work, armed with an industrial sized Shop-Vac and a steely determination. I was going to contribute to the carnage by bellowing, “This time it’s personal, die wasps die!” but my words wouldn’t have had much impact considering I was hiding behind our truck the entire time.

Turns out there was a fairly substantial nest, complete with disgusting larvae, buried underneath the grapes. After taking the nest out and destroying it, he unsuited, then went back to vacuum up the stragglers. When I asked him why he wasn’t afraid of getting stung, he told me that killing off all the guards “demoralized” the rest, so they didn’t even try to defend themselves. Apparently my “get it off me” dance was just adding to the wasp’s self esteem, and that’s why I got stung so many times. Today I only saw a lonely yellow jackets buzzing around, and I made sure to let them know I’ve got the bee guy on speed dial.