I was a little bleary-eyed this morning after a rather good night at Cómpeta’s first hoe-down, which involved much merriment, a few glasses of wine and a bit of a late night. However my animals have no respect for a hangover and Sheba plonked herself on my chest at 7:00 am, followed shortly afterwards by Liana calling from her stable, both animals demanding I attend to their respective breakfasts.
I left David in the land of nod whilst I dealt with the noisiest one first and fed the cat, got dressed and battled through the hurricane force winds to attend to the needs of my horse. Once I had fed and mucked out, Roly and I departed for our customary morning walk. When I reached the top of the steps from the garden to the drive I noticed five or six inactive processionary caterpillars, which I stamped on for good measure and kicked out of the way. I suspected that we had trodden on them in the dark when we returned home last night and that the rest of their creepy-crawly buddies had wriggled off on their way to pastures new.
At the end of our walk, and about to descend the steps, Roly and I both noticed at the exact same moment that we needed to take quick avoiding action, when we suddenly saw that the rest of the procession had arranged itself over the top three steps. Roly jumped smartly to one side whilst I let out a squeal of surprise. They must have been there when we set off on our walk, but I just hadn’t seen them. I was very pleased to note that Roly naturally was aware that these creatures are a real danger – although he always avoids them when we come across them whilst walking in the mountains, I wasn’t sure if this was by good luck or design.
When we see them on the mountain tracks I consider it my responsibility to be vigilant, avoid them and remove myself from their presence as soon as possible. However, when they invade my space I treat them very differently. We have developed a seemingly sure-fired way to deal with them. So I went into the house and boiled a full kettle of water and poured it over the caterpillars which rendered them defenceless for long enough to stamp them into a hairy, squelchy mush and then scrape them with a trowel into a carrier bag for disposal. It is then necessary to make sure that all areas (steps, boots and trowel) are well cleaned so as to be free of the highly irritant hairs.
This done, Roly and I went back in the house for our well-earned breakfast – and all David knew about the episode (when he finally roused from his beauty sleep some time later) was the ‘before the masacre’ photos shown here. And I am sure you will be pleased to know that there are no ‘after the massacre’ photos!