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Survival 101

Posted 10/15/2012 7:07am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2012

The wooly bear catepillars (or as Frances and Riley used to say, calapidders) are on the move. I find them in cozy curls on the basements steps and in the garage or purposefully inching across the driveway.  They move with such assurance.  How do they know what to do?  Roy recently learned from a biologist friend that rattlesnakes somehow know without ever being "trained" that when they strike a bird they must hold onto it; preventing it from flying away before it dies.  Most of their prey they just strike then release, following it till the venom takes control.  How does that information get hardwired?  One of the many benefits of farming, at least the sort of farming that doesn't require us to be in an air-conditioned tractor cab all day, is that it brings us into contact with the natural world at work along side us.  The baby snakes have all left the mulch pile for their winter dens.  That same biologist friend told Roy that baby snakes usually use scent to follow the path back to a common den.  Who knows, perhaps they'll spend the winter months hunkered down around a small hearth, spinning hunting yarns that instruct the young in the ways of their stealthy existence.