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Some welcome, if rather disgusting looking, new residents

I noticed when I rolled the composter the past few times that our compost is now teeming with black soldier fly larvae – cool! We had them in the bins last year  when we lived in Candler, and at first I was very alarmed because I thought the compost had gotten infested with wasps that were going to get agitated and sting when I messed with the bins. Anyway, I got a couple of pictures back then, and did some research and discovered that these were a good thing. So when I looked at the compost the other day, and saw hundreds of huge gray wriggling larvae inside, I was very excited to see they’d found us again.

Soldier flies are very efficient at breaking down food waste and keeping pest flies away (hmmm… wonder if that’s why we also suddenly no longer have as much of a problem with fruit flies in there?) by making the material less inviting to them. Supposedly, the larvae are very nutritious; in fact people actually breed them to use as as a feed supplement for birds and as fish bait, which might be something to keep in mind for when we eventually get a few chickens. In the meantime, I am just happy to see they’ve taken up residence in our bin. 🙂

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Soldier fly on our compost bin last year (not a very good picture, sorry)

The white devil moves on, and we take a stab at fostering instead

We have been trying to find Arthur a home for several weeks, with no luck and the situation deteriorating around here badly. By the beginning of this week, all five of the other animals (well, except Cricket who considers herself invincible and was at literal risk of a heart attack from squabbling with him when he messed with her) were hiding from him and we were completely frazzled. We finally asked a local rescue group to help, and they agreed to take him at their shelter if we could help with space by fostering a more cat-safe dog. It was a great solution for him because during the day he will be able to be in a play group of other dogs at the shelter, and he’ll get exposure at adoption events. He’ll be much happier there and we really hope he finds a great home quickly.

In his place, we now have a little black Spaniel mix named Moon as a houseguest. She’s settling in OK so far, she does have a few issues we are working with but compared to what we’ve BEEN dealing with it’s a walk in the park. The past two months or so have been such a nightmare that we were questioning if we were even fit to have another dog, if something was wrong with us to have a situation get so out of hand, so fostering for a while — getting to work with other dogs without making the commitment just yet to take on another one permanently — seemed like a good idea. We’d actually considered fostering in the past, but hadn’t been sure how to deal with cat-safety; the arrangement we have is that we can trade out for a different foster if that turns out to be an issue.

Moon isn’t real certain about cats but if she stares or looks like she’s thinking of chasing you can get her attention and call her off, and she acts very contrite to have done something you don’t like. We could never quite get that concept through Arthur’s head at all.  She is a bit of a resource guarder (guards places rather than things) particularly with Lindsy, but we’ve dealt with that before on a much worse level with Mojo so we think we can work past it with her.

If nothing else, the past two days of relative peace in our house have been WONDERFUL. It’s nice to be able to actually finish a task – even sit and read a book, without chaos, calamity, and mayhem. I actually managed to sew a few collars this morning, the first time since before we got Arthur.

Hopefully as Moon settles in with us she’ll continue to make progress… she really seems like a nice dog but we’re a little wary after how the ‘quiet little white dog’ turned out to be such a poor fit for this household so for now we’ll just watch and hope things continue as they have started. Pictures will follow soon, and if any of our local readers know of a family that would like a beautiful little spayed, housebroken, sweet Spaniel mix, Moon is available for adoption through Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and she will be attending adoption events around Asheville.

Feel free to caption this one yourselves

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I broke my nose on Tuesday. I actually should have had Joy take another picture a day or so later when the ‘raccoon effect’ (i.e. two black eyes) was more developed. It’s faded quite a bit now and the super glue they closed the cut with has sloughed off, so it’s not quite so dramatic… still,, the possibility of the rest of the swelling and bruising having faded by Wednesday (when I have to attend a work meeting with all of the other field techs for the entire region) is pretty unlikely.

I was loading a rather battered and misshapen box containing a huge network printer from my van to my hand truck, and the box slipped from my grasp just as I was about to set it down. My hand truck is one of those ones that kind of sets back on it’s wheels until loaded; the box didn’t drop far and was so well padded it would not have hurt it, but it startled me and I kind of lurched forward a bit trying to recapture it. At the same time it hit the plate of the hand truck, catapulting the handle forward straight into my face.

All I remember is “Ka-WHAP!!” and rocking back a bit with everything going a bit hazy around the edges. Then I took a mental inventory… not gonna pass out — good. Doesn’t feel like a concussion… also good. Crap, that was my nose it hit, wasn’t it? I tentatively touched the end of my nose with my fingers and for a split second thought maybe it wasn’t so bad, it didn’t seem to be bleeding, and then the torrent poured fourth, pattering around my feet like fat red raindrops. Shit.

I snatched a cloth I had in the van for wiping my glasses and covered my nose, then looked around. I was apparently alone in the FedEx parking lot. I couldn’t move the hand truck with one hand, and the rag was soaking through fast, so I locked the van and headed inside. The FedEx guy who usually is there started off saying “hey, how’s it going…” then trailed off as he saw my face. He asked what happened and I had to admit that I had possibly just broken my nose with my own hand truck, then asked to use their bathroom to assess the damage, thinking to myself that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Noses bleed real easy when they are hit, right?

That delusion died when I saw that the blood was coming from a gash on the bridge as well as my two nostrils. Crap, this was going to be a trip to urgent care, and lots of red tape with work. I stuffed paper towel up the nostrils and grabbed another wad for the rest of it. The FedEx guy helped me get my boxes inside and off I headed to get my nose looked at. X-Rays confirmed that I did crack it (but didn’t displace the bones so no need to set it) but at least they were able to glue the cut rather than suturing. It could have been a lot worse… that handle had thick foam padding and I had taken my glasses off to load the boxes. Hopefully that is more than my share of excitement for the next little while.

Scenes from the garden that DON’T involve tragic plant euthanasia

OK, here are a few other pictures we took yesterday that are not quite so gloomy…

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Sunflowers (look close for Lindsy’s guest appearance).

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Happy sunflower close-up!

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Lindsy showing off the clematis (left) and jasmine (two plants on back fence) that we rescued from the end of season clearance rack at Ingles. The giant crabapple bush/weed tangle that used to occupy that space was chopped and dug out by me a few weeks ago.

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Parsley anyone?

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Our neighborhood hawk, who we hear calling frequently. Yesterday we heard a group of very angry goldfinches and this is apparently what had them in such an uproar.

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One of my favorite spiders, a black and yellow argiope.

The end of our 2009 tomato season

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Yesterday we burned all of our late blight infected tomato plants, most of which we’d not even gotten tomatos from yet. Maybe next year we’ll have better weather and better luck. 🙁