Name These Insects

I refuse to close the blog this week with a dead farm animal.

So let’s block out that bloated sheep with some funky insects, and name these caterpillars.

I think the second is a no-brainer and the first might be a little tricky, but you be the judge.

Both are Maryland locals, photographed in August and September, respectively.

This first one wasn’t indoors; he was found on a bathmat draped over a porch railing.



Here’s entry #2.


Happy guessing.


Well, it happened

Remember last month, when I wrote that our sheep are defying the odds by refusing to die? And I added: check next week to see if I jinxed them.

Well, I should have written, “check next month.” Because it happened: I jinxed the sheep.

One in particular.


From a distance, I half-hoped that she was just dozing like a dog, wedged against the shed. But when I approached and only 4 scattered, there was little doubt.

It was bound to happen. At least three of the ewes were mature when we acquired the herd 8 years ago. (We started with 6; one died in the first year.) Sheep live 10 to 12 years, but one Katahdin sheep site estimates the lifespan at 7 to 12 years.

So she had a good life… aside from being periodically terrorized by Maisie’s high-speed herding style.


And there was that one experiment with mutton busting in 2012.

But the kid fared far worse than the sheep.



If anything, life has been too good for our flock; they’re all in the 200 pound range and they do not hesitate to throw their weight around when we try to minister care: deworming and hoof trimming.

I will spare you the unsavory details of moving and disposing of a dead, bloated, 200+ pound sheep. I’ll just say that it was smelly and physically challenging. And Martin and I wanted to burn our clothes afterward.

So if it’s possible to retract a jinx, I’d like that option, please.

The final four are welcome to stick around awhile longer.


Pigpen’s Demise


Fear not, our car Pigpen is not dead yet.

But we have a do-not-resuscitate order, and the end is approaching.

This summer, when the exhaust system started rumbling and the main control panel failed (disabling every operable knob except the radio), we had Pigpen triaged.

The findings weren’t good. If Pigpen were human, he’d be on hospice care. Repairs exceeded the car’s value, but the auto guy shrugged and said, “It is drivable. It’s not like it’s going to explode or anything.”

That’s when I decided to drive Pigpen to the bitter end.

And this is a horrible image — especially egregious from a horse owner — but I liken Pigpen’s impending doom to the carriage horse in the movie, Gone with the Wind.

Remember when Scarlett is desperate to reach her family’s plantation, Tara, and see if it survived the Union’s siege? Scarlett pushes this wretched horse to his breaking point. In a silhouetted scene, we see the poor animal give out; Scarlett flogs the horse until he collapses and dies.

That’s kinda how I picture Pigpen’s final moments: rattling down the road, until the car can’t manage another mile and slows to a silent stop.

Other times I imagine a Hollywood ending: we are cruising down the road when suddenly, the axle cracks, the wheels fly off, and the car vomits a flood of engine parts all over the pavement.

Then a tow truck driver scrapes up Pigpen’s remains with a giant spatula.

That’s my prognostication.

So why mention it today?

Because it was particularly chilly this morning. And when the kids piled in, I said, “Remember riding in Pigpen this summer without AC? Well, we’re facing a similar problem. There’s no heat.”

The solution seemed obvious: use our newer, functioning car. And I assumed that the kids were on board when Had announced, “I know what we can do!”

But instead she said, “Blankets! We’ll wrap ourselves in blankets!” There was no objection from the other two sitting back there.

“Okay,” I said, “We’ll be just like the Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. But in a car, not a carriage.”

That’s what I said, but personally, I couldn’t see myself bundled in blankets. And there’s something that the kids don’t know: one other button still functions in that pathetic car.

The driver’s seat warmer.

Of course a faintly-warm cushion is a paltry source of heat, but it’s fine for now.

And who knows if Pigpen will reach winter without self-destructing and spewing belts, hoses and gaskets all over the road.

We’ll just have to see.