Halloween Across the U.S.

Looking for some frightening fun this Halloween? About.com has published a list of things to see this spooky season. From theme parks to The Big Apple, you’ll find events like Guavaween, a Latin-themed Halloween celebration in Ybor City, Florida; creepy corn mazes; horrifying haunted houses; and more.


The Pumpkin King outside of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, by Imperpay via Wikimedia Commons

Or check out The Travel Channel’s “Best Halloween Attractions 2014.” Not for the faint-of heart, these attractions have been chosen by Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans and paranormal expert Jeff Belanger, and will give you shivers to last a lifetime … if you survive the thrills and chills.





bee surprise

While out in the garden snapping photos last week, our farm photographer, Karina, was startled by a bee.

But not just any bee …

Not the industrious honeybee, who’s busy gathering pollen for the long winter ahead …


Not the giant, fuzzy bumblebee who buzzed past her ear, sounding very much like a very large, very close remote-control helicopter …


Yes, this bee had the signature yellow-and-black stripes …


but his upper body was bright, shiny GREEN!



What the heck? Were her eyes playing tricks on her? Was Karina’s camera lens hooked up remotely to Photoshop? She quickly snapped a couple of photos, then buzzed on over to her computer to find out more about this shiny, green bee.

Turns out, our visitor was something called a Metallic Green Bee (Agapostemon). They’re commonly called “sweat bees” because they resemble (and are kin to) other species of bees that are attracted to human sweat. But don’t worry, these little beauties are too refined to like your stinky sweat. There are about 40 species of Metallic Green Bees in both North and South America. And our guy was a guy—the females are usually metallic green all over, while the males have a yellow-and-black striped abdomen, like our guy did. There are two generations of Metallic Green Bees a year: one in the summer, which is almost all females, and one in the fall, which includes both females and males.


Photo by Dan Mullen via Flickr

These bees are ground-nesting, living alone instead of in a hive, although many can live in close proximity. Sometimes, a couple of dozen females share one entrance, but each one then builds its own little nest off the main corridor—a kind of Miss Lavinia’s Lodgings for Ladies, if you will. In this case, one of the ladies (Miss Lavinia?) guards the entrance and you can see her little green head sticking up slightly above the hole. Don’t mess with Miss Lavinia’s girls!

Keep an eye out for these gorgeous green buzzers … and their bright-blue cousins, Augochloropsis sumptuosa … simply sumptuous!


Photo by Bob Peterson via Wikimedia Commons





Beaches of Idaho

Here’s the view from our tent flap last weekend. Notice the little girl and puppy footprints from a weekend filled with digging in the sand, playing in the water, and enjoying a campfire. One last weekend sleeping under the stars before the weather cools.

September 2014 004



Dolbear’s Law

Today, dear hearts, let’s dabble in Dolbear’s Law.


I Vespri Siciliani by Domenico Morelli (1823-1901) via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, no—don’t run off!

Dolbear’s Law is neither as lofty nor as boring as you might think (c’mon, now, you know me better than that).

Forget gavels, girls, and take the hint:


Image courtesy of Walt Disney Productions for RKO Radio Pictures via Wikimedia Commons

Mind you, the clue is not so much “Jiminy” as “cricket.”

That’s right—Dolbear’s Law concerns crickets. More specifically, it reveals the relationship between air temperature and the rate at which crickets chirp.

It’s true. When crickets are singing in the evenings from spring through fall, you can actually figure out the temperature outdoors by counting chirps. Here’s how, according to The Old Farmers Almanac:

Count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, and then add 40 to find the temperature in Fahrenheit.

For example: 30 chirps + 40 = 70°F

It works for Celsius, too, in case you were wondering. Metric mavens can count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by 3, then add 4.

The cricket sound clip below plays for only a few seconds, but you can play with it to get an approximation:

As far-fetched as it sounds, this is an actual scientific fact proven by 19th-century physicist Amos Dolbear. At the time, he mistakenly believed that the number of cricket chirps determined the temperature, but he did come up with a factual formula. How he noticed or even thought to test his theory we may never know, but he published his findings in an article called “The Cricket as a Thermometer” in an 1897 issue of The American Naturalist.

And, as if THAT cricket fact isn’t mind-tickling enough, there is a rumor floating about that says a slowed recording of cricket chirps sounds like a human chorus. Listen:

Lovely, but can it be true? Read more about the mysterious music on Snopes.com.