This summer has been a little bit strange. The spring was cold and wet and the summer has been hot and humid. Nothing has been totally out of the range that would be considered normal but the conditions have been such to trigger some events that I'll refer to as biblical plagues.
About a month ago I mowed our two acres and everything was normal. Two weeks later I mowed and was beseiged by small beige moth like insects flying in clouds as my tractor passed over. Thousands, thousands of these insects flew up as I passed through them, attempting to dodge their path. Yikes! I'm not a big fan of the insect world.
A quick trip around the internet resulted identification - sod webworms in the lawn. Got a strong stomach? Read about them.
Shortly after the appearance of the moth plague brown patches began to appear on the lawn. The old homestead was beginning to look like the Addams Family had taken up residence.
What to do? We called the lawn guy to come and zap them. I was reading that there are biological controls such as spreading nematodes but I would never be able to sleep with the thought that gajillions of THESE CREEPY ROUNDWORMS crawling around outside my window.
These webworms are an infestation in northern Illinois this year. When we were returning from Tennessee we encountered clouds of them as we drove north across the Illinois river.
If that wasn't enough a second plague has visited us in the form of an amphibian. Late one evening I went out the door on the small porch, intending to retrieve something from my car. I was stopped dead in my tracks. On the concrete porch floor was a knot of toads. That is the correct collective known for a group of toads but I much prefer "a slimy lump of toads".
I quickly retreated back in the house, not willing to confront the ugly creatures. Every night the scene was repeated. My son reported up to a half dozen toads on the porch when he returned from his late shift at the hospital.
Has my porch become the local toady disco? Personally, I want them to find another spot to party.
Although these things are an annoyance to us, in the time of our pioneer forefathers these types of occurrences - bad weather, insects and marauding amphibians - could have spelled death. They lived on a razor's edge of food production. The book Cold Mountain gives you a look into the seriousness with which people planned for the months and years ahead. The loss of your hog could mean starvation in the winter. Failure to stockpile enough firewood for the winter could mean you'd freeze.
Our recent visit to The Homeplace was a reminder of how hard these people worked to provide for their families and how organized, mindful and resourceful they needed to be just to survive.
Any unusual occurences in your area?