Saturday, June 25, 2005

Yikes! Green Beans

Last weekend the beans were just beginning. I ignored them this week, but when I took a bucket out to pick some for supper, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The plants are loaded. So, some time tomorrow I better fire up the canner.

I Googled green beans and it was fairly interesting. Popeye was wrong, green beans have twice as much iron as spinach. They are in the same family as pinto, black and kidney beans. They are a Common Bean, probably because they derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru and spread by Indian tribes.

In case anyone finds green beans interesting to look at, check the picture for sale on Ebay. You can “Buy It Now” for $2.00!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bold or Daring Jumping Spider

I asked around the post office yesterday and there was agreement among the three other rural carriers that this black spider was the most common resident in and on mailboxes. No one knew its name, including me. I was determined to identify it without Chip's help, but alas, I gave up & emailed the picture.

As it turns out, this is an interesting little creature named Bold or Daring Jumping Spider. The University of Kentucky Entomology site has excellent pictures of all species of jumping spiders. Bold jumping spiders are very common and easy to recognize. They are the largest of the jumping spider group. Their unique quick "herky-jerky" way of moving along with their multiple eyes enables them to pounce on their prey with amazing accuracy. Most are black with red or while markings and hairy.

The information indicated these spiders like man-made structures--including mailboxes. Perhaps its because these places attract other spiders or bugs for them to eat. They are often on the outside of the lid and will drop or probably more specifically jump into the truck when the lid is opened. It was after this exact event recently that I panicked and grabbed the spider. He did bite and it hurt--not for long. They are not normally aggressive as I have found them inside my vehicle just walking around checking things out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Smell of Money

Today was the first full day of summer and it felt like it. Around my route it was in the 90s with a soft breeze from the south. Actually, a perfect wheat harvest day and it is going strong. The balers were out in full force also. The brome crop looks good. The
rains helped the late freeze damage.

With this hot weather, comes the smell of money as my Dad used to say. That would be the cattle and pig lots. I go by my big cattle operation around noon. The smell isn't too bad especially with the south wind. When our Salina Family lived in Garden City, we smelled huge cattle feedlots--this is mild in comparison.

Then this afternoon, I passed the pig farm. This operation is well run and the smell is tolerable. I think the lot closest to the road houses the boars. The pigs spend the hot days lying in a small shed with water sprinklers running. For some reason, pigs make me laugh with their grunts & smelly ways.

The worst smell by far, ever, on the mail route or anyplace for that matter, was when I delivered to a commercial chicken business. On a hot day such as today, I would actually gag at the smell. I would start holding my breath as I approached and try to only breath through my mouth while in the area. Thankfully, the chickens are retired.

Who would have thought that chickens smell worse than pigs. I guess I can put it all behind me because we had egg and bacon sandwiches for supper.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wheel Bug member of Assassin Family

A mailbox is a private container. The sanctity of the mail is assured every individual because of this Federal law. However, no one has informed the many creatures who find their way inside these boxes that they could go to jail or worse yet, squished, for being caught there.

As for me, I tend to ignore these little inhabitants. I figure if they leave me alone, then I will leave them alone. I was going to write a little about some of the freeloaders. But, after emailing Chip & following his information & links, there is one that deserves more space.

The picture posted above is a immature Wheel Bug, which, by the way, is a True Bug as opposed to a Lady Bug or June bug which are beetles. The mouthparts of a typical bug are made for biting, the true bug has a tube that pierces and sucks out juices.

The following is an account of how the Wheel Bug kills it's prey as written by Rob Curtis of the Hilton Pond Center

The Wheel Bug has some of the best-developed mouthparts of any True Bug. Its formidable beak arises at the anterior end of its long tubular head and unfolds forward. When it encounters a prey item--usually some adult insect or caterpillar--it typically lunges forward in its own slow way, grabs onto the prey with its front legs, and buries its hypodermic beak into some soft body part of the hapless prey. The Wheel Bug then injects enzyme-laden saliva--which immobilizes the prey within 30 seconds and turns its parts into porridge--after which the predatory bug sucks out all the victim's bodily fluids. This activity, of course, kills the prey item, which is why the Wheel Bug is classified in the Reduviidae--the Assassin Bug Family.

Note the eye which is called a "bulbous compound eye" and it also has a simple eye. There are two long jointed antennae which it uses to smell. When disturbed it produces an odor from scent sacs in its anus. These little bugs know what is going on in their world and those of us around them know they are there.

I learned two very important points about the Wheel Bug in my brief and not too thorough research. First, don't let them stick their beak in my hand and suck out my fluids because some say it hurts ten times more than a hornet sting. Secondly, don't kill them because these assassin bugs will eat agricultural pests such as grasshoppers larger than themselves. I will flick them off the lids & absolutely not let them fall down into the truck.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil

Wouldn't it be nice if it was this simple.

Salina Family liked the yard art.We had a great visit. Their yard is finished--they have worked very hard on the landscaping and it shows. The grandboys were superheros most of the day with towels for capes.