24 October 2009

What a Difference in a Week

When I wrote last weekend, I mentioned that the high was 38F one day. It was densely overcast or foggy most of the weekend as well. Monday night brought a killing frost to most of the farm, even the milkweed was frozen. And yet, when the weather pendulum swung the opposite way on Tuesday, the forsythia and clematis bloomed anew.

The rapid swing from cold to warm triggered a natural phenomenon: tens of thousands of Asian lady bugs (Harmonia axyridis) swarming on the house, attempting to enter. As the USDA site notes:

"Multicolored Asian lady beetles are attracted to lighter colors: whites, grays, yellows. So, light-colored houses, especially on hillsides in forested areas, might serve as “homing beacons.”Once the lady beetles enter the walls of a building through cracks and crevices, they may or may not proceed to the interior of the building. Most stay in the wall spaces."

Thanks to the very poorly fitting screens and windows, hundreds made it inside but then had to run the Hoover gauntlet - I was busy with the vacuum cleaner for two solid days. Now they have left as suddenly as they arrived.

The cold of last weekend may also have served notice to the wildlife population that winter is not far away - you'd better be stocking up on food. The raccoons surely took notice. Our foster cat, "Hodge," has been spending the nights in my shop where he is warm in his little bed and protected from most predators. On Tuesday night, the raccoons tore off the flap of the cat door and had a party in the shop. They tore open every baggy in sight - no matter what the contents - washers, wooden pull knobs, rags, etc. and generally knocked over things, pushing them from shelves onto the floors. You may rightfully ask how I know it was raccoons? Because they leave their calling cards: poop piles. Last night I caught one on the back porch tearing open a huge bag of thistle seeds intended as winter bird feed.

Since Monday's killing frost, the week became unseasonably warm- last night's low was an incredible 65F and it is now 73F.

A storm blew across from the Midwest on Friday, changing the three days of gloriously blue skies to gray - and brought quite a blow as well. That wind is still gusting on Saturday afternoon; up to 34 mph according to my weather station. Its power has denuded many trees of their colorful glory until next year. The wind has been introduced courtesy of a new cold front, and by mid-afternoon, even with a good bright sun, the temperature has begun its downward trend.

1 comment:

judy borron said...

raccons are such interesting creatures to watch...it's a shame they can be so destructive.