Anguem ex machina

Snakes are a regular hazard around the farm. So far, we’ve only seen blacks and browns around the place (we’d love to see a carpet snake or python, to keep the mice down without endangering the dogs, but there it is…).

We just found one in the water tank for the engine that drives the stock water pump. Little bugger thought it found the way out through the water return pipe at the top of the cooling tank.

Sadly, it found its way down into the cooling galleries around the engine and couldn’t get back out. Result: one drowned red-bellied black snake in the engine, requiring a rapid disassembly before it decayed.

The way out? Or not, in this case         Cooling tank connection to engine

Cylinder head partly removed     Head removed

The Blob

The Blob was found growing on the mulch in the orchard/food forest this morning:
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Luckily it was just the critter that inspired those awful movies, so it didn’t eat me when I poked it with a stick. That is to say, it’s a slime mould. Specifically Fuligo septica, or the Dog Vomit Slime Mould (often misnamed the Dog Vomit Fungus). It’s a wonderfully vivid yellow colour and about the consistency of pancake batter.

I’ve heard a lot about these over the years (and even battled them in the dungeons of my youth), but never come across one in the wild. I’m fascinated by the idea that autonomous single cell organisms, at some cue from the environment, will suddenly all decide to get together and form these large masses (this one is about 30cm across) on the surface of the mulch and either move around like a giant amoebae, looking for nutrients, or go into an orgy of spore making.

Given that the land is drying out dramatically right now, I’m assuming these folks have come together to sporulate, rather than to wander around eating tourists.

What a neat find on the farm. We love this place!

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