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Learning during a pandemic

It's a very rainy, windy day at the farmette. Warm, though. Supposed to go up to 14C today.

We're deep into the Covid-19 pandemic and nobody is predicting the end. Day by day, it gets weirder and weirder. We haven't been off the property since Thursday, when I went to get groceries. News from around the globe is really grim. Thank goodness it's warm enough that we can get outside, get fresh air and roll around in the dirt. Which is what I've been doing for two days.

Cleaning beds is hard, though satisfying work. Here's a 'before' picture of the corner of the property. Forgot to take the homemade dragonfly in over the winter, so he's looking extremely weathered. I also left a lot of leaf litter - to make my job even more satisfying this spring (she said wryly).

It's amazing the things you encounter when you get up close and personal with the ground. I met this wee guy towards the front of this very bed. All curled up and trying to make himself invisible. I looked him up online, and apparently he's a woolly bear caterpillar (also called the woolly bear worm), and according to folklore, he's a predictor of how harsh or mild the winter will be. The bigger the rust-coloured stripe is in the centre of his body, the nicer Mother Nature will be. I didn't stretch him out to check...thought I'd leave him be.

Eventually, he'll turn into an Isabella tiger moth, which is a gorgeous, orangey-peach colour with black dots all over it.

The moth is apparently ubiquitous in North America, and people even throw festivals dedicated to its little larva. In Banner Elk, North Carolina, they have a big do every October at which they 'race' worms - along strings - all day long.

Contestant owners call them cute names like Patsy Climb and Dale Wormhardt. There's also live music, food and crafts, and a finale in which the winning worm is paraded out to predict how harsh the winter will be. Last year, Wild Worm Will predicted a pretty average winter - temperature and snowfall-wise. An eye-popping 20,000 people showed up to the festival last fall! Who friggin' knew?

It's truly astounding the kinds of things you come across on the inter web when you're basically quarantined and bored. Thank gawd for technology during these trying times.

Stay safe and stay home everyone.

Until next week. (When I'll hopefully have a decent 'after' the clean-up pic of the bed).


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