We just returned from another trip to North Texas and, as always, it was eventful. We were there all week, but not together. The boys went up on Sunday and brought some furniture, and lots of lumber to build deer stands so they can murder my animals. (just sayin') I came in on Thursday just as Son and his friend were finishing up their trip. Other Half stayed Thursday and then left Friday. I stayed until Sunday. That left me alone in a remote area with limited cell phone coverage. Several people asked me,
"Aren't you afraid to be there all alone?"
First of all, I'm never alone. I have Lily, and Dillon, and Ranger.
You are never alone if you have a Blue Heeler. You will always have a body guard. A Blue Heeler is like having a platoon of marines by your side.
Then there is the fact that I am a trained police officer for a large metropolitan city. Once you've gone toe-to-toe with crack heads and drug dealers, somehow creatures with smaller brains aren't that frightening. And we have already established the fact that I have firearms and won't hesitate to use them. Being a crime scene investigator in a large city will remove any hesitation you might have to pull the trigger.
Thus, I felt pretty safe. The only thing I worried about was one of the dogs getting bitten by a snake. Other Half has a friend who lost his Blue Heeler this weekend to a rattlesnake. They rushed him to the vet but he died anyway. So.... even though I'm a tree-hugging, environmentalist, and I normally practice a 'live and let live' philosophy, when it's your dog dying on that table at the vet clinic, we can discuss ecology and my willingness to shoot the little bastards on sight.
So if I see them, all copperheads and rattlesnakes die around here. End of discussion.
I have, however, forbid the boys to shoot my coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, and any cougars. (That may change when my sheep and dairy goats move up, but for now, it's live and let live.) That said, perhaps you can weigh in on this:
There has been much discussion about what left this. My first thought was that it was a giant hairball - coughed up by a really, really big cat.
Other folks say it's coyote poop. I can see that too. If the fecal matter has fallen out already, then I could see this being a coyote poop. On the other hand, I've had some big dogs, and that's a really, really long canine poop. Of course, maybe Wiley Coyote had a Thanksgiving dinner and left this giant Mr. Hankey. (See! I'm not so old that I haven't seen some of the cartoons you young folks watch. For those of you in my generation and above, google South Park and "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo." I'm not a big South Park fan, but the boys loved it.)
Anyway, the majority seem to lean toward coyote poop. When I found this, it was coiled, more like a poop than a cat hair ball.
And speaking of poop!
Check this out! These poops were all over the ranch! Someone has been eating a lot of prickly pear cactus!
You didn't realize when you sat down at the computer with your cup of coffee that this would be a blog about poop, did you?
But that's the thing about living with wild things. If you want to study them, you've got to study poop. There is even a word for it - scatology! I remember learning that word as a child and being fascinated by the study of animal poop. (I was a weird kid.)
Okay, but let's get away from poop for a minute to share some of the other wildlife I found this weekend.
These guys were everywhere. Now we normally have lots and lots of bugs, so it takes something really interesting to get my attention, and these guys did it. We were inundated with these green bugs. I counted over 15 in a 2'x2' patch of short weeds.
But it wasn't so much their numbers that earned my attention. It was their bad-ass attitude. Friends and Neighbors, when a little bug acts like a bad-ass, I begin to wonder if there isn't some truth to it. So I took lots of pictures, and warned the dogs not to chase them. (Catching grasshoppers is a big sport that I discourage.)
How does a bug behave like a bad-ass, you ask? Trust me, you'll know. Since I was curious, I studied them a bit. Most bugs are oblivious of you. You are no more than furniture to them. But these bugs will puff their antennae forward and trot toward you in an aggressive manner if you put your hand too close. Hmmm.... Bad-ass Bug!
Since I didn't have reliable internet access, I had to wait until a friend could post the pics for me on her facebook page. The result:
Blister Beetle - one of perhaps 380 different bugs called a blister beetle
That made sense. Son's friend had blisters all over the back of his neck where something stung him. I had crushed something in my pants a few years ago that resulted in a nasty long blister above my knee, so I knew we had blister beetles, I just didn't know what they looked like.
Oh well, since we have no hay fields we plan to use for horse hay, outside of keeping the dogs from eating them, they are no more a problem for me than wasps. Therefore when I caught them in the house, I just tossed them outside. See? I really do try to practice a 'live and let live' mindset.
I will admit to stomping a scorpion in my office though. I had a weak moment. In the future I'll try to toss them outside. That should last until the first time I step on one in bare feet in the middle of the night, or the Labrador eats one. Then I may have to go back to stomping them. We'll see.