The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
It was a beautiful day, not too hot, windy, or humid to enjoy working in the yard. The perennial garden looks lovely, at least five purple passion flowers as big as dessert plates drape over the entrance. The ground was rather soft from earlier rains and allowed for easy plucking of weeds from the pea gravel walkway.
Roses are blooming unusually well and a few daisies have popped out. The goldfish in the pond are active after a winter where they all but disappeared. The little fellows were about an inch or two long when they came from the pet store and now the largest is about a hand-length. They are stunningly orange and have diaphanous waving tails.
I pruned the loropetalum that was growing wildly and blocking my view of the roses. The eucalyptus tree concerns me. It is tall, spindly, and was green until our last cold nip when the petals turned brown. I’ll leave it because I’ve discovered often a plant or tree will brown then turn green the next year. The eucalyptus was a gift in a small Styrofoam coffee cup. I’d hate to lose it.
The wooden blocks I used to frame a flowerbed had fallen over and were in disarray. I pulled them up and discovered a long earthworm buried in the thick clay-like prairie soil. He was sticking half out of a perfectly round hole only a hair bigger than he was. I had a lot of questions: how does he breathe, how does he move in that thick clay, what does he eat?
I determined to look it up but in the meantime, I eased him out and carried him to the opened window of the greenhouse and hurled him into the raised bed inside. This would be a better place for him. I stood quietly watching him through the window as he explored his new surroundings.
That was when a tiny mouse tipped out from the wooden blocks beside me. His back was bowed up so that he looked like a little brown egg. I greeted him, “Hello little mouse.”
He seemed unconcerned with me and tipped across my path. I went back to watching the earthworm inch its way along and finally disappear into the soil.
My internet search of www.thenakedscientist.com and www.scienceandliteracy.org answered my questions about earthworms. They eat dirt and decaying matter; occasionally venturing out at night and dragging fallen leaves into their burrow. Earthworms need moisture and breathe through their skin. In winter, during high heat, or drought, they bury deep into the earth in estivation, a reduced metabolic state, sometimes up to six feet deep.
Earthworms have many predators including snakes, birds, beetles, toads, moles, foxes, and me. A mole can eat 50 worms a day. Birds can hear earthworms underground and pull them out. If a predator chances to get the worm’s tail it will break off and wiggle attracting the predator and allowing the worm to get away. Not to worry, another tail will grow.
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