Who needs to decorate for Halloween when you have these guys around?
All spiders are venomous, because they need venom to kill their prey. However, prey usually consists of a variety of insects (including pest insects), and humans aren’t on the menu.
Venom requires a large amount of energy to produce, so arachnids typically don’t want to waste it on something they won’t eat.
For example, the much feared black widow spider is actually considered quite shy. The CDC reports: Spiders are usually not aggressive and most bites occur because a spider is trapped or unintentionally contacted.
Ah, the majestic male white-tailed deer and his…antler extensions?!?
Seriously though, I think this guy is so handsome and he loves visiting our house to nosh on all the falling acorns. He doesn’t care if I talk or make noise when I’m outside with him, he just munches his acorns. I just wish he could get that dang twine off his antler!
Investigating the car. I wonder if he saw himself reflected in the paint…
He’s got a dirty nose from rooting around.
You have to admit he’s kind of a stud.
What big eyes you have!
And what small eyes you have!
Mantis have two large compound eyes and three small simple eyes – the better to see you with!
We’ve had some unexpected visitors to our house this summer. One evening in July, I happened to be washing my hands at the kitchen sink when I noticed a black object moving around outside in the wood line underneath a pine tree. We do have a black feral cat around, but it was too big to be her. I thought maybe someone’s dog had gotten loose, but then I saw an ear and I knew exactly what it was. I yelled to my husband to join me and suddenly multiple shapes came into view. It was a mother black bear and her two cubs.
I could not believe my eyes. I began shaking and ran for my camera. I’ve never in my life had an experience like it and I may never have it again. We watched as Momma came down and invaded the bowls of cat food on our patio first. I had just fed the outside cats maybe an hour or so prior. I was bringing the cat food in around 9pm before it turned dark so that the wild animals don’t eat it. Well Momma bear was early and she helped herself to the leftovers.
Her two cubs, who looked like real live teddy bears, bumbled after her, playing and smelling the air, and standing up on their hind legs.
She must be a good mother. She looked thin and she had her summer coat on, but her babies looked happy, healthy, and playful. They made their way past my car and under the carport to the second set of bowls.
While eating, something spooked her and they all bolted up the embankment. We decided to go outside and check things out. I didn’t think we’d see them again. The ferals seemed very confused and scared. We could hear the bears moving around down in the woods so we went to take a peak. We spotted the cubs playing on a downed tree and Momma was near them. Momma began walking back towards our direction, but she didn’t see us at first. We shouldn’t have been out there, but it was mesmerizing. When Momma finally did spot us, she stood up on her hind legs and made a noise to signal the cubs. The cubs climbed up an extremely tall tree in what seemed like less than a second. That was amazing to witness. We knew we needed to get out of there and we came back inside the house, but we left our main door open and only shut the storm door which is almost entirely glass. Momma made her way back to the house to search for more food.
At one point, Momma came right up to the door and stood up on her hind legs right in front of me. My husband was watching at the window right beside the door. I could have reached out and touched her if the door wasn’t there. I began saying loudly and firmly: NO! NO! NO! and I finally shut the main door. I was concerned she could break through the glass of the storm door very quickly. My presence didn’t seem to phase her at all. She was constantly throwing her nose up in the air smelling. She was trying to find more food. She did run after one of our ferals a couple different times, but I think it’s because he kept hissing at her. I don’t know why he wouldn’t go to the opposite side of the house, but I think he was just very scared of her and didn’t want to move. I pounded on the windows when she lunged at him to try and distract her. We watched Momma for a long time. We went to different windows and doors in the house watching as she moved around the house. She walked so close to the sun room doors that we could have reached out and touched her in front of us if the doors weren’t there. It was an absolutely crazy experience, but everyone stayed safe. We’ve seen Momma and quite possibly some different bears several times since that initial experience, but I make sure not to leave any food outside longer than necessary. As soon as the cats are finished eating, I put their food away indoors. Our bird feeders are strung up high on small branches so the bears can’t get to them. They are gorgeous creatures to witness!
Earlier this summer, we had adventures with our first rattlesnake! We’ll call the snake a male, but it could very well have been a female. Regardless, I found him right outside our shed sprawled out on a garden hose.
I was walking towards the snake when I saw it. I thought, “Wow, a snake!” Then I thought how beautiful it was with it’s intricate markings, and I didn’t instantly recognize the species. My eyes wandered down to the velvety jet black tail and that’s when I noticed the rattles.
I got my husband who came out to see him and discuss what to do. We watched him for a little while until he moved into some wood pallets right nearby. We didn’t want to kill the snake because they serve an important purpose in the wild. However, he made us a little nervous being so close to our shed and our outside critters. We called a local biologist who owns an animal control company. The owner wasn’t able to visit us that evening, but luckily the snake stayed tucked in his pallet over night and the biologist came out early the next morning. He was very impressive and quickly had the live snake in his bucket, ready to be transported.
The snake will be used in training for others learning to handle venomous snakes. The two foot serpent was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had recently shed. It’s illegal to kill any snake in Virginia unless you are in imminent danger and I’m so happy the biologist was able to safely live capture him! I think this was the best possible scenario where the snake gets to live and everyone involved stayed safe. I’m thrilled with how everything turned out. We just have to keep an eye out for others. Snakes will be migrating back to their dens soon so that they can spend the winters there. We live in an area with a large number of rattlesnakes, so we’ll be vigilant!
I’ve not yet spent a year in my “new” house, but it’s been absolutely amazing to watch what each season brings with it. Being here and watching the greenery of Spring start to appear after a cold snowy winter has fascinated me. I don’t believe I’ve ever had the privilege of living around such biological diversity, from the native wildlife and plants, to the decadent flowers planted by humans. Early Spring brought these lovelies into view, and I can’t even identify all of them:
Fruit Tree Blossoms: I loved taking some of these photos on cloudy days just after a nice rain. Although the lighting may not have been perfect, the water glistening on the petals were so delicate and intriguing.
I’m not sure what kinds of bushes these are on, but when these bloomed, we had a sea of gold around the house. The flowers looked like as if they were full of sunshine.
Wysteria and Sweet Shrubs
Sweet Shrubs: these give off a very sweet smell.
Blooms on a Bush
Dandelions: I don’t like mowing these because our pollinators need them!
Last year was a big year for me. Lots and lots happened. One of the best “happenings” of last year included a new bundle of joy. Meet my rescued rottie, Artemis.
She looks imposing in that photo, no? She’s an absolute sweetheart with us.
I found her as a stray and she was in horrible shape. She was emaciated and suffered from heartworm and intestinal parasites. She had large wounds on her body and she reeked of urine and was caked in mud and probably other things. So my husband and I took her in. She’s been through surgery and heartworm treatment, and she’s finally all healed up!
She absolutely LOVES the snow and cold weather, so we had lots of fun with her in the recent snow storm. We sledded, and rolled around in the cold white fluff. She ran and played right along with us, and it was absolutely amazing. Enjoy these photos of our silly, loving, sweet little goofball!
Time to play!!!
She loves her toys. I’m so happy she has them.
Throw it again!
Hopping in the deep snow to go get the ball!
Time for a snow snack break!
She was watching us to see if we were going to throw the ball again.
I love that sweet face.
Peeking out of her house to make sure she’s not missing any excitement…
This photo pretty much sums up our day!
Lots of new stuff coming guys…
Busy busy busy working on items for the free day at Mill Mountain Zoo on Sunday!! I’ll be a vendor with a variety of different goodies featuring your favorite animals! Hope you’re excited – I am!!!
In other exciting news…my online shop should be open VERY soon! Soon you’ll be able to order your favorite photo canvases, t-shirts, and other photo and design items right from the comfort of your own home!
Lots of exciting things to come – plus updates on this amazingly hectic, wonderfully bizarre, tragically beautiful year of mine! Hope to see you tomorrow at the zoo!