Sep. 21st, 2017

I… don’t have a photo that does her justice (for which some of you are probably very grateful), but I saw the biggest, most magnificent spider of my life today in the northeast window of the big barn today. I was midsentence talking to my sister and stopped dead and said holy shit look at that thing, and when I went over, my God, she was an orb-weaver, like Dolores– a spotted orb-weaver, neoscona crucifera, with the lovely tortoiseshell brownish-red legs and the abdomen, my God, this enormous gravid abdomen all in gray patterned like bark with the subtle cross pattern of spots, and she was, I mean, she was like, her leg span was about the length of my thumb, and her abdomen probably the size of my thumb’s first joint. She was enormous, she was magnificent, she was in the midst of wrapping up a fly, and her orb web very neatly covered the whole of the double window. Behind her was an untidy sheet of web inhabited by a giant grass spider, but she was larger still, this resplendent and fast-moving deadly graceful terrifying hulk of a beauty. I stood there dumbfounded, and then I tried to take a photo, which I’ll append behind a cut because not only is it not very good as a photo, it’s also a photo of a giant horrifying arachnid.

But she was– magnificent, and beautiful, and for all my big talk about Dolores, if something this vast and mighty had appeared in the yurt I would have 


the FUCK


and left it for her because Jesus Christ that’s an enormous spider.

I warned my arachnophobe brother-in-law to avoid looking at that window or indeed passing by in that aisle, because I know he would Not Be Chill.

This beast. She must have been decades old*. Hoary, and wise. Absolutely identifiable as the spider from Charlotte’s Web. B-I-L mused that he’d seen some words in cobwebs lately, and I said, Oh, this one had words, but they were in Greek I think, and my Modern Greek’s passable but I suspect this was Ancient, and I honestly don’t know Ancient Greek at all… 

____* to my knowledge, orb weavers of most types generally only live about 12 months.

Oh, related news: Dolores moved out while I was gone. I thought she was still there, but when I put the roof insulation in, the orb weaver in the roof ran out the roof hole, and I got a good look and it wasn’t her, it was a smaller female, so– I guess Dolores went outside to take her chances while I wasn’t around. I’m sorry she’s not there, but there’s a grass spider in my dresser drawer that I am NOT chill with and am going to evict. Let’s be real, I’d be cool if I didn’t wind up with any more spiders in the yurt this year… let’s also be real, that won’t happen, so I’d better prepare myself mentally.


You can’t even tell. She was fucking enormous. I should go back out tomorrow with the real camera, I’m sure she’s still there, she’s clearly one of the Endless. 

Look, though, when she’s folded up, she’s just all gray, but when she extends her legs, the hidden segments are reddish, mottled like tortoiseshell, translucent– I’d say beautiful if she weren’t a creature of horror. 

I could handle Dolores. Dolores was like… respectable big, like body thumbnail size with legs about the same. This spider, though. You can’t tell from this photo, but realize the cream-colored line back there is electrical conduit,  Romex, which is about half an inch wide, and she’s not much in front of it. And she was moving so fast.

I talk a good line about being chill with spiders but I am not. Holy fuck.
via replied to your post “I… don’t have a photo that does her justice (for which some of you are…”

Cute! <3 May her shadowy fortress o'errun with an army of sacrifices.

lieutenantbae replied to your post “I… don’t have a photo that does her justice (for which some of you are…”

I’m absolutely horrified by spiders, but after reading your description, I had to look anyway. YIKES

She’s magnificent and intimidating and I meant to go out with my real camera and take a proper photo but I’m spending all day at Middle-Little’s cleaning her apartment out, so. Tomorrow maybe.

I’m sure she’ll still be there, she’s Eternal. Maybe I can get a photo that conveys the tortoiseshell translucence of her legs. 


thesacredreznor replied to your post “ooh ooh so! They’re getting a new batch of day-old hens in October, to…”

ok i had to look at all these chickens because i’m living vicariously through you. have you considered Araucanas? i like them ‘cause they’re super weird looking and lay colorful eggs. or it looks like they’ve got a rare breed special which looks like a fun grab-bag. i’m so excited for you! someday i will get to have my own weird chickens.

I love the idea of araucaunas but I specifically need multicolored feathers that are neither red nor white, because they have those two colors already. [Not that I collect them, but I could.]

We discussed it, but having the occasional blue egg in the batch would probably be more annoying than useful– it would be distracting and weird to customers, unless we had enough of them that there’d be a green one in every dozen or so. It would just alarm people to open their box of eggs and have one so different. As it is the Reds lay any color from almost white to fairly dark brown, and the gradation is subtle enough that it’s not weird if you’re slightly careful when arranging each dozen. (They also don’t sort by size much, so we try to arrange the eggs within each dozen carefully so that a huge and a tiny one aren’t directly next to each other, so you don’t notice it as much. We separate out the jumbos, but that’s only because they won’t fit in the regular carton.) We tend to wash and carton eggs in quantities of like, 40 dozen at a time, and so beyond washing and sorting them, we’d also have to make sure the colors were distributed reasonably… it’d just be one more thing to worry about. So, probably no Easter Eggers, for now, and preferably no white-egg layers either, though it’d be easier to mix white eggs into brown ones since some of them are pretty pale… 

also, I love Easter Eggers, but they’re unreliable layers. My RIRs are little bratty egg-a-day robots and one of them lays for nine months of the year (no supplemental lighting or whatever the hell people do to make chickens lay in winter). The Easter Egger? she miiiight lay 5 days a week in high summer, and she only starts laying in May and ends in late August/early September.

Gorgeous, sweet, and her eggs are pretty as hell, but I’m glad I’m not reliant on her for income. Hell, I’m glad I’m not reliant on her for BREAKFAST: that’s what the RIRs are for.

The commercial flock is about 300 strong, and they’re all Rhode Island Red hybrid crosses– a commercial breed where the red is a sex-linked trait so the chicks can be sexed error-free (*ha almost. we have like. a dozen roosters. They’re white! But they were reddish as chicks, though there was some deliberate laziness in sexing, we suspect. We don’t mind; we guarantee fertile eggs for a couple of our customers who do hatchings at schools, and the roosters are good defenders too as I mentioned above). [The hybrid gets marketed with different names, always with Red or Brown in the name, but they’re clearly Rhode Island Red hybrids. They’re quite lovely birds, with many subtle color variations, and they’re nosy and canny and funny, but they’re also egg-robots.)

There are solar lights on the flock, so they’ll be getting 15 hours of light all year round. Which does shorten their useful life a little, but means that we don’t lose the income in winter. Demand for eggs goes down a little in winter, but since we have never quite met that demand, we still sell out every week all year round. So… Arguably, our hens still have a much more pleasant life than most commercial flocks, so the added pressure to lay all winter doesn’t really impact their quality of life that much.

If I had some dead-weight Easter Eggers in there for looks, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they didn’t pull their weight. But it would make it even more annoying to have to sort out the green eggs.

I know several people who delightedly keep them in their backyard flocks– those, and Buff Orpingtons, the veggie manager and I were agreeing, if we just had a backyard flock and didn’t really need to concern ourselves with production, we’d love those breeds for the look and their temperament. Orpingtons are so friendly! 
Farmsister was trying to refill the cat food container at Middle-Little’ apartment, which we’re helping clean after 2.5 beers each, and spilled and yelled, and we came in and she said “I’m sorry I was just making it rain for your lady!” Photo 2 in the set is Remi bandit-ing it up. (at Troy, New York)



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