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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

postheadericon My Husband is a Dung Beetle

*This post about my husband being a self-proclaimed dung beetle was first published in April 2010. Because it is just as relevant today as it was then, I’ve decided to share it with all of you again. For those of you newer to Red Barn Blue Skies, don’t be alarmed – we’re relatively normal. Enjoy!*

I am married to a dung beetle.

My Husband is a Dung Beetle at Red Barn Blue Skies

First off, let me state for the record that I did not call my beloved hubby this. At breakfast this morning, he announced to Mom and I, “I am the dung beetle of the family.”

While this is not a normal conversation in the majority of homes, it is really not a super surprising one for this group. We obviously aren’t the Cleavers anyway, so let me try to explain this bold statement.

The Dung Beetle

Hubby and I were camping last summer when we came across a funny sight while hiking. I had to stop when I saw something rather strange: it looked like a little turd cruising along the path in front of me.

Upon further investigation, we found that it was a dung beetle with a rolled up ball of poop. He was rolling it uphill and in a very straight path – over pebbles, twigs, whatever. He was a persistent little guy as the ball was about three times his size and it was very unwieldy.

We must have spent about fifteen minutes just watching as this amazing little creature kept to his task. He was the epitome of the saying that “the impossible is possible if you keep at it”. The manure ball would slip and roll back a few inches and he’d just start again on his uphill trek.

Fast Forward to Today

Now, the reason this morning’s breakfast table conversation turned to dung beetles is because we were talking about how ants can carry many times their own weight. We told mom about seeing the little dung beetle at work and Mr. MoonCat Red Barn mentioned that he had done some reading on these fascinating little bugs after our trip.

Hubby’s ENTIRE basis for saying that HE is the dung beetle of OUR family is the fact that the males are the ones who do all the work in dung beetle couples. They usually roll up the ball of poop and move it to wherever the female designates while she directs or even HITCHES A RIDE while he’s working!

If this hadn’t hit me as so funny and of course, inappropriate, I might have decided to be offended. But I chose to laugh my butt off at him. (It’s especially significant today as I “requested” that he move around a bunch of furniture yesterday.)

I did some reading myself on dung beetles and was really amazed to learn how beneficial they are to agriculture.  They can be found on every continent except for Antartica! I had already known (from my dad) not to kill any that we found out in the manure pile at the ranch but really didn’t know why.

I’ve since learned that they help keep down the fly population and thus the spread of disease in livestock. They make the manure inhospitable to the fly larvae and maggots. They are a very beneficial part of managing, rejuvenating, and sustaining pastureland. Learn more about them here. You can even find out how to start your own dung beetle farm!

I hope you enjoyed yet another insight into the not so ordinary happenings (and conversations) here at MoonCat Farms/Red Barn Blue Skies.

And just for the record, I did NOT hitch a ride on his back while he was moving furniture – I directed. 

Dung Beetle Toy

 

And here is one of the reasons I decided to bring this post back – LOOK WHAT I FOUND!

Hello Father’s Day present Mr MoonCat/RedBarn/DungBeetle!

And one for the loving wife (ME):

So ladies, do you have your own dung beetle guy in the family?

postheadericon Celebrate Earth Day with Thoughtful Acts of Green

Learn what you can do to celebrate Earth Day 2017 on April 22nd by creating your own Thoughtful Acts of Green.

 

redbarnblueskies.com Earth Day 2017

 

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 by about 20 million Americans. Those numbers have reached into the billions now with several hundred countries participating in the annual celebration of our planet.

 

We try to do something positive for Earth Day around here every year. My first time posting about it was for my 2009 Earth Day Pledge. One of our projects this year involves turning all of our feed bags into shopping totes. It’s a true recycle/reuse/repurpose task that benefits us and our family and friends. (I’m hoping to do a tutorial with pictures soon.)

 

What are Thoughtful Acts of Green?

Thoughtful Acts of Green are those actions you can take to help improve our planet. Recycling, replacing plastic bags with reusable shopping totes, conserving water and resources, and many other conservation methods are all considered green actions.

 

From the smallest thing such as planting a few bee-friendly flowers to larger actions like cleaning up your local streams and rivers – everything you do can have a positive impact.

 

Some of the things you might consider to help your world be a better place:

  • Educate yourself and others about the environment
  • Plant a tree or twelve..
  • Plant wildflowers for yourself and future generations – check out these Earth Day seed bomb bags
  • Join local conservation efforts
  • Learn about bees and beekeeping
  • Recycle/Reuse/Repurpose – whatever you can
  • Teach children the importance of recycling
  • Volunteer to help turn your city green
  • Learn what you can do to help endangered species
  • Take THIS QUIZ to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint

 

Get outside this Earth Day and create your own Thoughtful Acts of Green to make this a better world for us all.

postheadericon Delicious Autumn by George Eliot – Sunday Selections

This week’s Sunday Selections is a poem from George Eliot entitled “Delicious Autumn”. It is the perfect accompaniment for my photo of a pair of herons flying south for the winter.

Delicious Autumn

Delicious Autumn by George Eliot at Red Barn Blue Skies
Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.

postheadericon My Frog Boyfriend

Do you kiss frogs? I’m thinking about it. I might just have a new beau, in fact I’m pretty sure I have a frog boyfriend. He is very shy, but he still serenades me every day. He loves it when I give him a shower in the morning.

The hubby knows about him and approves of our relationship, he’s not green with envy at all about my new guy. Of course, my new guy IS green… Meet Bo-Frog, my new boyfriend and the King of the Frogs here at Red Barn Blue Skies.

Frog Boyfriend at Red Barn Blue Skies
Bo singing to me

My Frog Boyfriend Bo

This little cutie lives in a pot of lavender on our front porch. I first discovered him last week when I was watering the plants. This little sweet froggy voice piped up and was singing away as the water sprinkled down over him.

Bo has become my own little personal opera singer. He sits in the same spot every morning (and evening) and serenades us with his song, especially when the misters turn on. He’s in his element.

Read more about the differences between frogs and toads. We have a lot of both around here and no, I’m really not planning on kissing any of them – except for the little prince below.

Frog Boyfriend at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

postheadericon The Truth About Frogs and Toads

Many people are mistaken when they think that frogs and toads are the same creatures. While they are both classified as amphibians, they are two distinct animals.

Frogs and Toads

Frogs and Toads at Red Barn Blue Skies
Mr Toad and Froggie

Frogs

A few facts about FROGS:

~ They must live near a source of water

~ Their skin is moist and smooth, it appears to be slimy

~ Their back legs are longer, allowing them to jump much higher than toads

~ Many have suction-cup type webbed toes which allow them to swim and cling to walls and other vertical or smooth objects

~ Their eyes are higher on their heads and tend to be more round-shaped

~ Their nose and body is usually more narrow than the toad’s

Frogs and Toads at Red Barn Blue Skies  2 Frogs and Toads at Red Barn Blue Skies  3 Red Barn Blue Skies Frogs and Toads

Toads

A few facts about TOADS:

     ~ Can live in drier, more arid areas without being close to water

     ~ Their skin is much drier than a frog’s

~ They usually have bumps that are rough to the touch on their skin

~ Toads don’t do much jumping, instead, they do a waddling run or take tiny hops

~ Toads walk on shorter, stubbier legs than frogs

~ The eyes on toads sit lower on their head and are more almond-shaped than a frog’s

  Frogs and Toads at Red Barn Blue Skies 4     

These photos are all from my garden and yards. We are very lucky to have the right conditions for these little guys to hang around and try to help us with our bug populations.

We have several color variations of both the toads and the frogs. The little green frogs that live in my plants on the front porch are so fast that I have a hard time catching them on film.

Frogs and Toads Frog House at Red Barn Blue Skies

I try to make it very hospitable for both of these little tailless amphibians to live comfortably around here. I have lots of overturned old pots that are half-buried in shady spots for the toads to burrow into and under when it’s hot.

I’m planning on adding a few toad houses in the near future like the one below.

Frogs and Toads House at Red Barn Blue Skies

The frogs enjoy some shallow pans of water with pebbles that I have in the shade on the front porch near their potted plant homes. They also tend to hang in the toad houses if it is damp enough.

Frogs and Toads Homes at Red Barn Blue Skies

For an added froggy treat, go here to meet Bo, My Froggy Boyfriend. He’s a cutie!