Spiders, Muskrats, and Dust

October 23 – Recently as we were leaving the home of Harvey’s parents after a visit with Harvey, Dale pointed to the space under the garage overhang and said, “Hey, look at that spider.” There was a big garden spider in her web. “Look at all the egg cases,” he continued as he pointed to four light tan round balls above us. For a change, I had my camera when I wanted it. Running to the truck, I hurried back to the spider scene. But the spider and egg cases were too high for me to get a good picture!

Spider cases

Spider cases

I wanted to climb up the brick wall just below them, but I was too short to do that. Moving around, trying to find a way to get up there, I found a clump of black porous rock – just what I needed! All this time, both Dale and Janice, Harvey’s mom, were calling out, “Be careful! Don’t even try to climb up there! You’ll fall and hurt yourself!” Well, since I believe in that old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,“ I disagreed and scrambled up to that wall, opened my camera, and shot some pics of the spider and the egg cases. All the time I was standing there, Dale held onto my ankles while Janice tried to steady me from behind. Very nice of them to fear for my safety, but what was there to be afraid of? The wall was just about four feet tall, and wide enough that I wasn’t afraid of falling, especially if I didn’t look down!

Oh the muskrat made him a little round hole...

Oh the muskrat made him a little round hole…

When I mowed the pond area a week ago, I found lots of evidence to prove that a muskrat family has invaded the territory! Must be at least a dozen tunnels leading out from the bank into the water, with the impertinent animals taking over, just like the squirrels. They almost dare Dale to come near and do something about the problem. Just the other afternoon as we walked the pasture trails, we saw several of them sitting in the sun and watching us approach. Just as I noticed something not too far away from me in the water, that “something” muskrat disappeared in the pond waters. Another down at the other edge of the pond disappeared as well.

One muskrat trap, ready to go

One muskrat trap, ready to go

Poor Dale! He doesn’t want to be too discouraged, but I think he may be losing the battle. Folks have told us about people they know who used to trap those things, but nobody seems to be doing the job any longer. This afternoon, Dale hunted up a live trap he has used for other crooks in past years, and set it on the bank of the pond. I don’t think he expects to catch anything yet, being new to the game, he is not sure that the bread in the trap will tempt our pond enemy. I hope it does!

It is so dry and dusty around this area that it has more than made up for all of the rain and more rain that fell several months ago. When I come in from working outside, I feel like I will never get cleaned up again. I used to wash up as I always did, using the neat-looking white washcloth, but no more of that! When I finished mowing along the fence back by one of the pastures, I could just feel the dirt; I didn’t have to check in the mirror to see what I looked like. I didn’t even get the washcloth, but several times, I tore off some paper towels, several at a time, dipped them into the water, and washed with those. Good thing nobody saw how those towels had changed in appearance!

And the dust clouds fly...

And the dust clouds fly…

That reminded me of a couple days ago when our son David came out to help with various activities. After we had taken out all of the tomatoes, and anything else that had lost its use, I got the hand mower and started mowing off the grass on both sides of the fence where the cucumbers had grown. Talk about dusty!

No matter which way I pushed that mower, dust clouds just about enveloped me, and I often had a hard time seeing just where I was going! Sometimes when I stopped pushing, waiting a bit till the dust had more or less settled, the clouds finally stopped rising, and I could see several rows of gray dirt all along the path I had mowed, along with the places I hadn’t mowed yet. Little circles of gray were everywhere, that’s for sure. “How I detest those moles that have done this all through our lawn and garden,” I thought. “They sure have ruined the area everywhere, and no matter how many times I mow over them, even with the big riding mower, they are back in a couple days!”

However the diggers had nothing to do with dusting me this time! I never would have found out the real story, but when Dale saw the pic David had taken while I was mowing, and then heard me complain about the moles, he just laughed! I didn’t see anything at all funny, until he said, “You must have forgotten. I had spread out ashes from the pile back in the corner of the garden, so the ground would be better in the spring. Those moles didn’t do you any damage! You were just covered with nice gray ashes!” – CHRIS

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