Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall on Critter Farm...with caterpillars and gratitude

Fall is here, but things are still blooming away. These sunflowers are all volunteers courtesy of an energetic chipmunk who planted the seeds for me in my ceramic pot over the summer:

This frog is living among the tomatoes in the lower garden. He seems very relaxed, doesn't he?:

I tried my hand at growing hot peppers this year for the first time. I didn't have a whole lot of success, but I think this had a lot to do with our funky growing season of unseasonably cold and wet weather well into the first part of summer.

This is a Long Red Cayenne pepper - the only one I got. It sure is pretty, though. I wasn't sure if it would ripen before our first frost:

This is a Peter Pepper. Out of the three bushes I grew from seed, this is the only Peter I got. Funny little guy:

This is a Nu-Mex Sunrise pepper. I have very little hope that this one will turn color before a frost:

My German eggplant seeds produced two (count them) tiny eggplants in total:

It's definitely caterpillar season here. I found this guy floating in the big animals' stock tank. Despite googling everything I could think of, I can't identify him:

This guy scared me more than a little. He's a totally black wooly worm caterpillar. Country lore states that the coloring of a wooly caterpillar will foretell the upcoming winter weather. An all-black wooly worm means that a very harsh winter is in store. Say it isn't so!:

...But then I found this guy and felt much better about our prospects. See how his brown band is larger than his black bands? This means the winter will be mild. Yes!:

Alas, then I found this crazy guy, hanging out on the garage door - I'm not sure at all what he's trying to alert us to, so now I'm just really confused about what this winter will bring:

So, rather than worry about it, I decided to move on to the other caterpillar varieties wandering our property. We found this beautiful guy walking across the lawn right after we had mowed. He is going to turn into a Western Swallowtail butterfly come next spring:

And this one? Well, he's just plain showing off. I bet he spends hours looking at himself in the mirror:

In case you were going to ask, yes, the raspberries are still producing:

I wish I knew what variety this is - they just keep going and going and going and...:

I've already made raspberry pies and raspberry scones and raspberry cake...what's a girl to do with MORE raspberries other than make another batch of farm fresh raspberry jam?:

My chickens found their way to the lower garden, quite a distance from where they normally roam. They had a great time chasing bugs, watching me dig up my potatoes, and devouring any worms I tossed their way:

Also happy to help me out a bit this week? Pete and Reggie, my goat boys. I have a bit of celery left over in the garden that is now too bitter for us to eat, but these guys are more than happy to gobble it up for me. And their breath smells delicious afterward!:

It's funny. I had been feeling so sad about the end of summer and had palpable, physical dread over the thought of fall and winter, but now I find myself feeling ok with things winding down for the year. (Thank goodness, right?) As I do my tasks to prepare for the rains and colder temps, while I dig things up, cut things back, spade things under, and put things away, I find myself thinking about the time that has passed and how Jim and I actually have a bit of history here on our small farm now. This will be our third winter on Critter Farm - and I continue to love the life we've created here. My heart gave a jump tonight as I walked back from my barn, simply over the fact that I have a barn. When I come in from my morning animal feeding, Jim will sometimes ask me why I am smiling and I realize it's because my animals just make me happy. I absolutely adore them.
So I have a small request of you: Please remind me of this in about three weeks, when I begin to fuss and whine for the next six months about the endless dark days of rain, my feelings of isolation and how pathetic it is to be me living on this muddy, foggy hillside of a farm. I really do love it. I'm supposed to be here.
Happy October to you!


  1. i am just the opposite. fall and winter energize me! i have tried really hard to try to embrace the whole year though. i am so not a hot weather person. but i survived this summer and it was just horrible sunny dry HOT weather. and now we have the awful stink bug invasion. i planted jalapenos and all kinds of sweet peppers and got tons of them even though we had a drought. the flavors were actually more intense due to the lack of water. your place is wonderful and i love seeing your animals. you are one of my most favorite blogs to read. last year i saw an all back wooly caterpilar and we had the worst winter in history for this area.

  2. I am a relative new follower to your blog. Just thought I would say hi and tell you how much I enjoy the adventures and lovely goings ons at Critter Farm. I am a city girl living vicariously through all of you lucky folks who live in the country. You are indeed blessed, The Olde Bagg

  3. Ah, ha! So THAT is where all the Woolly Boogers have gone! This means you will have all the weather and we will not - either that or ours is going to be so bad they all went to Oregon for the duration. Oy.

  4. I envy your raspberries!
    my goats won't eat celery.

    You have quite the collection of caterpillars!

  5. The winter signs down here are saying a mild winter. There aren't many acorns on the ground which means a mild winter. Of course that method has been off on a few years.
    You have such pretty caterillars up there. I have yet to see one. Okay, other than those really big, ugly all green moth caterpillars.

  6. Your post made me smile, you have a wonderful farm. As long as we get a few sunny days, I think I can make it through the winter. And remember, I'm 20 mins aways for a coffee cheer up!

  7. Yes, you are supposed to be where you are! And, yes, I will remind you of your smiles, your happiness, your gratitude when fall and dark winter days surround you. I will say kind things like, "Snap out of it!" Just kidding. I will commiserate and try to cheer you up.
    Have you noticed how hard it is raining today and how dark it is?

  8. Just keep on smiling, Danni. You live the best of the best life in the country, especially appreciated after living in the city. That's exactly how we feel after forty years of our adult life in So. California. We love country living and never would we go back to the city!

  9. Ah ha!! I have moments like that too! I can be walking around and I think, I have a barn! I have a tractor, not a very good one, but it's still a tractor, and was built the same year I was born! So we're still young yet and got years left in us! lol

  10. My three jalapeno pepper plants produced well over 200 beautiful little hot things this year. I dehydrated a whole bunch and am hoping that will help keep us warm this winter! :)

    SO jealous of all those wonderful caterpillars! We don't get the variety here that you have.

  11. Those caterpillars are fabulous! Love all the colors. We have a bunch of the rust and black striped ones here, but I don't know what they are.

    Glad to hear you are still enjoying your farm life! It is gratifying to live a life you love. I feel the same here, though we've been here just a year and a half now. We contemplated taking a job elsewhere and moving over the last month or two, but we really love what we are doing, and the promises the future holds.

  12. I will remind you ;)
    Can't believe all the caterpillars! I still have a few peppers making but they are very small...trying to decide whether to put everything away or plant a round of winter hardy vegetables. We'll have mild weather here until January. We pay for it in the summer though and even right now when it's impossible to be outside for any length of time due to the heat.

  13. what fun shots of the catepillars!

    And what a peaceful insight into your end of the summer feelings. I will copy them, then paste them in an email to you should you start whining too much later in the winter :) After all, what are friends for?!

    thanks for sharing.....

  14. PS: Another thought as I re-read your post.... if we didn't have "endless dark days of rain, feelings of isolation" then we wouldn't fully experience the joys of life that come with the sunshine.....

    you do have a wonderful place.....and as always....thank you for sharing....

  15. I'm not looking forward to rainy days either when I have to keep my chickens and Morgan locked up away from the mud. At least you have good run off being on a hillside. And you do have a barn! I'm a little nervous because someone stole some goats and chickens around here. I don't want my chickens to go missing. Maybe bad muddy weather will slow the thieves down? My daughter said we should think about getting some guard donkeys.

  16. Thanks for the great caterpillar pictures. You are very lucky to be living your dream; you have a wonderful place and your animals are so precious. City life is not for me, but for now I am stuck living in the city. I think we all dread winter and it's drearyness. But then when spring arrives we are renewed. So let's all keep a stiff upper lip and we will get through winter together.

  17. I love the little swallowtail guy. He looks like a little mudpuppy with eyes looking right at you! I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling this way about the end of summer and the impending dark, gloom that hangs over us for so long. True though what JaneK commented, it does make us truly enjoy the sunshine. I just wish we'd see a little more of it!
    You certainly make life wonderful for your animals though....rain or shine! :)

  18. I so enjoyed all the catepillar pictures! Such a variety! Winter is fast approaching isn't it? But from the sounds of it, you won't go hungry with all your garden produce, even if you are short a few peppers.
    Just freeze your extra rasberries. Then when the winter blues hit, you can fix a "fresh" rasberry pie and pretend its summer for a few minutes.

  19. Great post. I love taking virtual tours of your farm. Those NuMex chiles will taste wonderful eaten green. Just remember to roast/broil/char the tough skins off first. Then stuff them or slice them up for soups or stews. Yummy! I usually grow cayennes every year, as well as other hot and sweet chile peppers, but this year's crazy weather really stunted their growth and production. You are not the only gardener having an odd summer crop. I got some Roma tomatoes, a few Green Zebras and a couple of Sungold, but that's it for tomatoes this year. A few chile peppers ~ jalapeno and Anaheim. Very poor production this year.

  20. When I saw the picture of the red Cayanne Pepper I spent more than a few moments wondering; "What kind of a nightmare worm has leached onto that poor flower!"

  21. Awww Danni! Third year at Critter Farm! Hard to believe isn't it!!! You better pinch yourself each morning when you wake up! It's a dream come true.
    All the critters look great! When you don't know a bug send it to They've never let me down! I'm happy for you and keep smiling it'll always bring bright skies your way.

  22. I just love reading your blog my friend! It makes me so happy to know that you are happy - and you are thankful for it! Yay for you!:-) I wish more people had the courage to follow their're an inspiration! BTW - say hi to Jim for me!!


I ♥ it when you leave a comment.