Possum Update

A friend of mine wrote to me about my post of the other day “Just say Thank You, Dear” and my reply back to him:

Clayton

Never never never think about picking up a possum.  If you ever actually find a really dead one, take a look at the upper fangs. Slicers and dicers. And don’t let your dog get close to one  Final score:
Dog        0
Possum 1

NOW you tell me!  I got to see his fangs even before picking him up.  I lucked out as he did look badly beat up from whatever happened to him before playing dead on my front lawn.  Our puppy has caught and killed a couple of field rats, mice and birds so she is a pretty experienced hunter.

My scoring:

Dog           ½ (after all she didn’t really kill it)

Possum      ½ (it moved slowly enough it didn’t get me)

A stand off or tie depending which way you look at it.

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Just say “Thank you, dear”

Our younger lab, Gracie, acts like a cat and brings her finds / toys / kills to our front door or right off the front porch to show us how much she loves us.  The other day my wife asked if I had noticed the most recent present, which I hadn’t so I took a look and realized that it was an opossum.  It looked dead but then again it could be playing ‘possum.  I got a glove and a bag to put it into to dispose of it even though Pat said that she would take care of it as she was going into town and would be going by trash dump.

As I got close to it I thought I detected a slight movement so wasn’t overly surprised when I lifted it by its tail to start putting into the bag that it came alive and bared its teeth and spread its front claws to start to protect itself.  As it wasn’t dead and I didn’t want to leave it on the front yard I put it down while I considered the options.  I decided to bag it and then put it over the electrified fence that our neighbor put up to keep his goats on his property so that our puppy couldn’t get to it but if it was well enough to wander off it could do so unimpaired by our dogs.

As I walked back to the house my wife was just getting into her car and a called out, “Just say ‘Thank You’ dear”. She did but then asked why and when I told her she said it again with more feeling.

p.s. I went back to check on it later and it was gone. I suppose it stopped playing dead and went on its way.

[Ask an Entomologist] ASK US

I believe it was last year that I wrote about spiders with a seemingly unusual way to catch their prey and then at the same time how certain insects seem to fly in a “school” like fish swim in the ocean to better protect themselves from predators.  The spiders spin a single thread that looks to be about 6 to 8 feet long that in a gentle breeze goes out horizontally.  They do this on a number of branches so when all the threads are out it resembles like the red & white stripes on the American flag in the wind. That got me thinking of what were they trying to snare?

Then I noticed that some insect, perhaps lady bugs, flew in ‘formation’ in a cluster where they spiraled up and down. It looked like a double helix (now known for being how a strand of DNA looks).

Anyway, when I saw it again recently I decided to research it on the web.  That took me to the ASK US site and I sent off a note to Ask an Entomologist.

Here is their reply –

 

Hello Clayton,

Yes! There are some spiders that cast a single thread of web. One reason I know why they do this is to “balloon.” Some spiders cast a thread of their silk to catch the wind in order to travel somewhere else that is further away.
As for the insects flying around, there are many different types of insects that do this. It is difficult to make an identification without a sample or clear photo. However, there are many different family of flies that behave like that.
Best.
 Joanie

The Transformation is Complete! From Prince of Larchmont to Cattle Farmer in Mississippi

When you own not only a truck but a tractor, too, you are a full fledged Mississippian.

In a little quirk of irony the tractor I ordered arrived on my birthday so that makes it the biggest birthday present I have ever gotten.

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I already have almost 50 hours on my Kubota.  The good news is that no animate or inanimate objects have been hurt, yet.

My Brooklyn Girl Has a New Hunting First

The early days of hunting season are set aside for archers and ‘primitive’ gun (guns that need to be reloaded after each shot) folks as it is done at much closer range than with most rifle shots so they give more time during hunting season to those who are willing to do it the old fashioned way.  When I got into hunting some almost 20 years ago I bought a muzzle loader from a neighbor back in NH and just the other year I bought a crossbow to go hunting with my older son who has switched exclusively to archery hunting. Now that my wife hunts, we can both hunt as one of us uses the muzzle loader and the other the crossbow. However, she had not gotten anything with either until just recently.

It was very quiet the evening of November 10th until 5:15 when I heard a shot that had to be Pat’s as she was using my muzzle loader. With reception so bad in the low spots I didn’t really expect to get a text from her so I waited until 5:30 (it being ½ hour after sunset which is the end of legal hunting) and then headed out and over to the Tin Can where she was sitting.  It is her favorite spot and is where she got her first deer the other year.

Pat had taken a shot at the biggest of 4 deer that came out after fortunately remembering that while she had put in the primer cap she had forgotten to load the powder and sabot and had rammed the load into place just before the deer came out and thus had taken a successful shot at about 30 yards.

Unlike the other deer she has shot, this one didn’t just fall down. She had been surprised by the amount of smoke and flame that came out of the muzzle and had to guess where the deer had been while the smoke cleared.  So in the time it had taken me to get over to her she had found the beginning of the blood trail. She waited for me to go into the woods to track the deer. We used orange tape to mark the trail and only had to go in about 30 yards when Pat’s deer had finally dropped. While under a 100 pounds it was a long way, comparatively, to get back to the camp. Our call for assistance to Dan our son and Hugh Leigh was responded to quickly and once the deer was loaded up off we went to Milner’s which does the processing of the deer into venison.

When she tells the story of her first deer of the season people are amused until they understand she did it with a muzzle loader which she loaded herself and then they give her the credit she is due for taking a deer with just one shot.

The Prince and “Big Red”

Truth be told, I never thought I would own a truck but we live in strange times.  Circumstances presented me a way to buy a truck at a very good price and our trusty Explorer has been suffering from terminal rust due to the salted roads of New England and from launching boats in the salt water when we owned a sail boat.

The truck did need a new engine but almost everything is less expensive here then in other parts of the country so I decided to go for it.

It is a Nissan Titan Chrome V-8 with a crew cab and short bed but for one’s first truck it is  mighty nice.  I have splurged for the dogs sake and gotten an all weather pad for the truck bed so they don’t slip and slide around while we are out cruising. I also was able to finally use a prize from a golf event to pay for the pad.

This picture also features a friend of ours from NH who now lives in SC who had been finishing up a long distance road trip where he picked up a cowboy hat along the way which complements mine as it is only fitting that I had my cattle farmer garb on for the picture with my truck.

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The Golf Coach and the First Football Game of the Season

As the golf coach I have come to realize that I have certain ‘obligations’ at Benton Academy.  The biggest is that the coaches for all sports go to the first football game of the season to support the student athletes who almost all are multi sported. As the first game was last night, August 18th, I put on my Raider red golf team shirt and went to the game.

As coach I don’t have to pay for admission and the ladies at the entrance all smiled and welcomed “Coach” Clay (which you may remember makes my wife smile as she never expected anyone, let alone a whole school of people to call the word coach and my name together).

It was a hot, muggy night with thankfully a gentle breeze to cool things off that had a rain storm of nearly a ½ inch of rain that afternoon, resulting with the ground which was already saturated with recent rains a soggy mess.  We arrived with the game having just started and already most of the players were covered with dirty brown water and mud.  One mother suggested to her daughter whose son was in the game to take him to the car wash after the game before letting him in their house.

We sat up in the stands next to our lawyer, who is 70+ and his friend of the same age.  So with him and his friend both well-known and my red shirt and finally my wife who seemingly knows even more people than even our lawyer, there was scarcely a man, woman or child we didn’t know.

But, back to the game! I love muddy fields as that is how the game should really be played, plus it reduces the chance of injury. However, it does make fumbles and turnovers a much bigger possibility and that was true last night.  Fortunately for Benton, they were the better team and the score was 34 to 0 by half time.  With my obligation fulfilled, and after a full day of running errands down in the city of Jackson, the “coach” called it a night.