Archive for May, 2011


May 13, 2011




This is not a story about a horse.  When Lyndsey was very young, she just had to have a cat.  In fact, she had a few cats, but I don’t remember the order in which they lived at our house.  There was “Climby,” “Bonkers,” and “Caballo.”  We always allowed her to name the cats.  “Climby” climbed, “Bonkers” was goofy, but “Caballo” did not resemble a horse.  Nor did he have any ” horsey” characteristics. 

Caballo was a beautiful black and white cat…a tom cat.  When we brought him home, we asked Lyndsey what name she was going to give him.  She said, “Caballo.”  That is why we had a cat named “horse.”  I have never understood the mystery of where she came up with the name for each cat.  Caballo was a mean as a “junkyard dog.”  It wasn’t long before he just had a really bad attitude about everything, so suddenly he was my cat.  He would scratch and bite Pam and Lyndsey, but he and  I had an understanding….I would quickly slap him and turn him a flip.

There are many stories about Caballo because he lived 17 years, the equivalent of 84 human years.  He was the only one around our house that was older than me.  He finally became crippled and blind, so he and I visited the vet and put him to sleep.  He is buried at the edge of the woods next to our patio.  In fact, there are three more cats and a rabbit buried there.  Caballo was an outdoor cat and they have a harder life than an indoor cat, so his age was really closer to 100…or more.

Caballo like to catch squirrels and birds.  He would catch a squirrel and proudly bring it to the patio door to show us his prize meal.  I never saw him catch a squirrel, but I like to watch him catch birds.  We have many birds, and the mocking birds and blue jays are the meanest.  They seem to have an extreme dislike of cats.  Caballo used this dislike to lure them into his trap.  He  would walk under the trees where the blue jays and mocking birds liked to perch.  One of the  birds would swoop down and try to peck Caballo on the head.  He would totally ignore them for two or three attacks.  Then, when they thought they really had the upper hand, he would spin around as they neared his head and….a bird in his paws.  Ballgame over.  He was really quite deceptive.

There is another real character that roams this world.  He is the devil, and he roams to and fro seeking to lure us into his deceptive traps.  He seeks to kill and destroy our souls.  Caballo never changed his deceptive ways in catching birds, but the devil changes the appearance of his schemes.  But, in truth, they are the same evil schemes…they just appear different.  There is only one protection against those schemes and He sits at the right hand of the Father and continually intercedes for us.  He is Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 




May 11, 2011

The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), or simply RIFA, is one of over 280 species in the widespread genus Solenopsis.

RIFA are more aggressive than most native ant species and have a painful sting. A person typically encounters them by inadvertently stepping into one of their mounds, which causes the ants to swarm up the person’s legs, attacking en masse. The ants respond to pheromones that are released by the first ant to attack. The ants then sting in concert, often inflicting death on smaller animals by overloading their immune systems.

Red imported fire ants are extremely resilient and have adapted to contend with both flooding and drought conditions. If the ants sense increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water, with the workers on the outside and the queen inside.  Once the ball hits a tree or other stationary object, the ants swarm onto it and wait for the water levels to recede. To contend with drought conditions, their nest structure includes a network of underground foraging tunnels that extends down to the water table. Also, despite the fact that they do not hibernate during the winter, colonies can survive cold conditions as low as 16 °F (−9 °C).

Fire Ant cluster in water

Fire Ant mound

Uninvited picnic guest!!!!!

I don’t know whether you have ever experienced fire ants or not, but they are not lovable creatures.  Many times when you are aware of their presence (and attack), it’s a little late in the game.  Like maybe the bottom of the ninth inning, 2 outs, and a 3-2 count.  One ant does crawl onto your foot and sting you.  He will lead others onto your body and when he gets to your knee, he signals the last one to get on your foot, and then they all sting you at the same time.  Too late!  Ballgame over!

Once when I was playing a golf tournament, I had an experience with RIFAs that is truly unforgettable.  The competition was fierce and total concentration was called for.  I had it the ball into the rough up close to a tree trunk.  I had to get in a peculiar position to address the ball.  Once I had my stance just like a wanted and was concentrating on making a difficult shot, the RIFAs attacked me from my knee to my ankle, with a few inside my shoes.  In all my concentration on the golf shot that was needed, I had stepped on top of a fire ant hill.  You know the rest, except the very lively dance that I performed.  I have always loved to dance, especially with Pam, but believe me my fellow golfers witnessed some dance moves that were totally foreign to me.

Why am I writing about fire ants?  I have been putting out fire ant poison in my yard the last few weeks.  I will put poison on a hill following all the directions and the ants will disappear.  Then a few days later, a short distance from the old ant hill, another hill suddenly appears.  The new hills appear just about as fast as a host of ants will attack your body.  When I “googled” fire ants, I discovered how deep they dig tunnels during dry weather and it has really been dry this spring.  I know I will never rid my property of the fire ants but I would like to control them enough to just have a tie ballgame.

So what is good about fire ants? 

Fire ants are excellent natural predators and are biological controls for pests such as the sugarcane borer, the rice stink bug, the striped earwig, aphids, the boll weevil the soybean looper, the cotton leafworm, the hornfly, and many other pests harmful to crops. However, they also kill beneficial pollinators such as ground-nesting bee species. Seeds, fruits, leaves, roots, bark, nectar, sap, fungi, and carrion are all fire ant prey, and they are not shy from creating their own carrion either. They are proficient enough at overwhelming intruders that they can virtually clear an area of invertebrates, lizards, and ground-dwelling birds.

I am not bothered by many of the pests that the fire ants feed on or cause to leave the area but they do affect some of the vegetation around my yard.  I know that God has a purpose for each of us and all creatures, but sometimes I just don’t understand the purpose for some of those creatures.  I understand about the different Spiritual Gifts that God each of us.  I understand that God is in charge of all things in this world.  I also know that God’s Ways are different from the ways of the world.  When everything seems hopeless, due to the troubles in this nation (and world), it is necessary for us to not dwell on the troubles.  It becomes much more important each day to concentrate on the answer…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

GOD IS STILL IN CHARGE.  Depend on it and keep the faith.