We had a great deal of fun recently getting an up-close look at the insects and other critters that live hidden away on the land. There was a pile of waste materials that had been sitting in a spot on our property for a couple of months. It was things we’d dug up when we first started land clearing: cement blocks, car parts, barbed wire, and stuff like that. I took the ATV trailer up there and loaded the stuff on, then took it towards the house where another pile awaited sorting. As I unloaded the trailer I discovered we’d brought along some amazing hitchhikers.
There was a colony of large ants complete with white larvae. Apparently they’d made a nest in one of the concrete blocks and I picked up most of them with the block. The ants were running around the trailer bottom in a mad frenzy, many of them carrying the larval cases. The kids and I watched as it quite rapidly went from chaos to some form of organization, as scouting ants found something in the trailer that seemed safe and soon led the rest of them over that way (until, of course, that item was lifted from the trailer). It was amazing to watch and we were spellbound for some time.
Besides the ants we had various interesting beetles, slugs, and snails and also a small garter snake in the trailer, which my daughter immediately decided to keep as a pet. She also made a video of the snake. Son was tickled to see a snake up close and even held it for a while. The snake was put into an old fish tank out on the deck but somehow managed to escape overnight (which I was sort of hoping it would).
This seems to have inspired Daughter to create a page in a recent Orca Books publication devoted to life “Under the Ground”. She also has been on regular snake-hunting expeditions around the farm to find a replacement for “Scaley”. Son isn’t as much of a nature buff as she is but he stuck around for some time as well observing the ants and the snake. So much fun in a trailer full of yard waste!