The Killing of the Shrew


It was quite warm early yesterday morning when I went outside to care for the ducks and chickens but the temperature steadily dropped from the mid-60s down into the 40s throughout the very rainy day. Overnight it was even colder–in the 30s. Brrrr. The cats snuggled with us in our bed. Kee-Kee lay up near my head and Timmy lay on top of me. Whenever I turned from one side to the other, he resettled back on top of me. One or two of the other cats slept elsewhere on the bed. With the cats and the warm blankets, we were very comfortable.

I always try to make the bed as soon as I wake up because the cats are more interested in getting their canned food treat and I can make the bed without them on it. But sometimes I’m late making the bed and I have to work around the cats. The photo shows how I make the bed when a cat is on it. Ha ha!

Today was mostly sunny, but the high reach only 55 degrees. The house was a bit chilly, especially in the morning, because we haven’t yet turned on our furnace. I could turn it on if I wanted to, but the chill was not intolerable and we are trying to put off turning the furnace on until we absolutely have to, which will happen soon enough…but not yet. The temps are supposed to climb into the mid- to high 60s this week, and I’ve even heard it could be as warm as 80 degrees this weekend, which is too warm for a furnace. So I stubbornly wore a sweater today, wrapped myself in a comforter, and drank hot coffee or tea (coffee in the morning, herbal tea in the afternoon).

Shelob blocked the entrance to her lair.

Yesterday I mentioned that Shelob, the huge wolf spider who lives in a burrow in the ground near the poultry pen, fills in the entrance to her lair when it rains. Yesterday afternoon I took a photo of her entrance. By then she had it so blocked in that it was difficult to even see that there was a hole. I kind of wonder if she pulled the green leaf over her lair to also help block the rain. She is clever. I haven’t seen Shelob for at least a month, but observing her lair get blocked and unblocked tells me that she is still alive. I always assumed that all spiders died off in cold weather, but I looked it up and learned from one website that:

“Because wolf spiders spend their lives in amongst the leaf litter where there are many more species than in the air, they have had to become hardier than many types of spider. This is why they are often able to attack and eat web-building spiders even of their own size. Of the wolf spiders that live several years, many will hibernate during the colder winter months either in a burrow or under a rock. Those that live under rocks tend not to hibernate fully, which would be very dangerous, but rather just become sluggish and only move if they have to.”

Observing and learning about wolf spiders has been very interesting, but I am still scared of them.

I almost accidentally drowned Shelob again today. The key words are “almost” and “accidentally.” I had supper simmering on the stove–I was trying a new recipe–when I went out to gather eggs and give the ducks and chickens fresh drinking water. I was in a hurry to get back into the kitchen and I forgot to turn off the hose. A few minutes later I glanced out of the window and saw water everywhere. It was about only about a foot or two from Shelob’s lair when I turned off the faucet. It did not reach her though.

Annie, Madeline, and the dead shrew

This morning I saw Madeline outside and was able to take a photo of her. I usually only see her when she is in the garage; she vanishes outside.  Later I found a dead rodent in the garage near the back door in about the same place that I saw the dead mouse the other day. Madeline the Magnificent has killed again! At first I thought it was another mouse, but when I scooped it up with a shovel to throw it outside, I saw that it was more mole-ish than mouse-ish. I googled “What is the difference between a mole, vole, and shrew?” and I learned that Madeline had killed a shrew. I learned that

  • A shrew has a pointed snout
  • A shrew’s front feet are not enlarged.
  • A shrew’s eyes are tiny, but visible in most species
  • Shrews have many habitats, depending on the species.
  • Shrews will reuse the tunnels made by moles and voles, and will also occasionally invade buildings.
  • Shrews feed on insects, earthworms, slugs, small animals, seeds and roots.

I had wondered if Madeline was killing mice in the garage or if she was killing them outside and bringing them into the garage. The shrew made me suspect that Madeline is probably bring in some that she has killed outside. I told EJ that one of my awesome readers (Lucindalines) had commented yesterday that “Ms Madeline is showing her appreciation for being loved, safe and cared for. She may also be showing that she likes her new home and is happy to bring you the best presents she can.” EJ suggested, “Or maybe she thinks she’s paying rent.” I think Madeline is very sweet. She and Annie always come up to me for lovings whenever I enter the garage.

The sunset was gorgeous tonight:

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