The chicken coop and woodshed project is done and we are now on to cleaning up a massive pile of logs that Dear Husband decided to pay someone to haul and dump in the side yard early last May. Yes, I said early last May. I have looked out the kitchen window onto a 15'x35' pile of logs for the past FIVE months. He apparently saw its potential as firewood. I, on the other hand, have only observed that it is a complete and total eyesore. An embarrassment at times. It sometimes reminds me of a time when I was in late grade school years and my dad decided to buy an old classic VW Beetle. Included in this purchase was a second VW Beetle that did not have any potential as a car that could actually drive. No, the second Beetle was solely for parts for the one that could (usually) have the potential to drive. And so there the "parts car" sat alongside the garage. My dad, quite pleased with himself. My mom, notsomuch.
And so the pile of logs.... Because I want this mess cleaned up, and because I actually enjoy physical and manual labor, and because I've been bored ever since I finished roofing the shed/chicken coop, AND because I love to run a chainsaw, I have been out helping Husband clean up the overgrown mess of wood that now has a place to be stacked (the new woodshed, of course). We wouldn't want "homeless wood" now, would we?
Until about two months ago, I wouldn't have known a Black Widow spider if one would have approached me and asked to shake my hand. I knew they existed around here, but that was in rumor only as far as I was concerned.
Then one day I had a client inform me that she spied a Black Widow on the sidewalk immediately in front of the door to my office building. But she reassured me that she killed it. Being a bit of an arachnaphobe, I was relieved to know that she had killed it. I did ask her how she knew it was a Black Widow, and she said it was black with the telltale red hourglass on it's belly. I actually did not know this information about how to identify a Black Widow, and never had the need to, as I avoid all things spider as much as possible.
A few weeks later I took the kiddos on a field trip to the local nature center, and on display was a Black Widow spider, and a Brown Recluse spider--the only two poisonous spiders that I am aware of that live in this area. I might add that the Wolf spider is much huger and much uglier, but not poisonous. I might also add that until very recently, I did not know that there is also a type of Tarantula that lives in this state. I think I am supposed to be reassured by the fact that this kind of Tarantula is not poisonous. However, I am really not at all consoled, as it is still a huge hairy spider.
A few nights ago I was digging my way through the wood pile and cleaning up debris when I dropped a pretty good size piece of bark that had peeled off a log in the pile. On the underside, which landed up, was a very large Black Widow spider. I recognized it immediately with it's fat round shiny black body, and it was turned at just such an angle that I could see the red hourglass. AND there were two largish egg sacs near it as well. I later learned that these egg sacs each hold approximately 750 babies waiting to hatch. That's 1,500 Black Widow spiders, my friends!
I did what any sensible woman would do whether she is wielding a chainsaw or not: I put down the saw., tried not to pee my pants, and yelled frantically for my husband to come and save me.
I can't help now looking at this still massive pile of logs as the absolute perfect home for thousands of Black Widows and Brown Recluses and whatever number of "non-lethal," but nonetheless horrifying, creatures certainly make it their home. But I try to stay focused on the bright side, which is that if we ever can get the mess cleaned up, chopped and stacked, even if I get bitten by a poisonous spider in the process--one with the potential to kill (don't bother trying to convince me that the odds of dying from such a bite are remote)--at least I will be warm as I lay dying by the roaring fire in the wood stove.