Anyone want to hear about my weekend? Friday evening I had to batch up and deliver two dozen Painted Lady butterflies for a Saturday wedding. I got back home around eight, and then had to pack up five dozen Painted Ladies for another Saturday wedding. (Anyone have an efficient system for doing this?)
I got up at 5:30 a.m on Saturday to deliver these to Cape Cod. Major traffic jams were predicted, full of people determined to catch a glimpse of a tall ship going through the canal. I wanted to get down there and back before the crowds took over. On my way home, I harvested a part of a mature milkweed patch at an abandoned gas station. It will now rejuvenate itself unless some future owner decides to weed it out.
I stopped again to purchase some additional plants for the butterfly garden. My finds were a huge yellow cone flower and a healthy echinecea, as well as cabbage plants for the cabbage butterflies that hang around outside of my screen house. For some strange reason I thought I would have time to plant these.
Now nine-thirty a.m. and back at home, I cleaned and dried all that milkweed, fed larvae too numerous to count, and almost hungry enough to eat each other. Next, I prepared a butterfly feast of watermelon, sugar water, overripe banana and molasses and then systematically fed numerous dozen butterflies from the fridge out in the screen house. As my painted lady larvae scritched and scratched for cleaner cages and more food in the background. I strained and sifted Monarch eggs through Swallowtail Farm's "Oe Solution" and several rinses. (I am still hoping I didn't fry the last batch with it.) I suppose it is not rocket science, and I followed the directions and should have faith?
I ran out to the yard and gathered elm and poplar for the Mourning Cloak larvae I received from Melanie on Friday. I intermittently turned on my new "misty mate" to keep my butterflies happily hydrated. I gathered some host branches to inspire the Mourning Cloaks to mate. Next chore was rotating livestock in and out of the fridge. I hopped on line, checked my e-mail, and handled pressing business, like reassuring a nervous bride. I got the mail and received Butterfly Boutique?s knitted nylon plant sleeves. Of course I had to try them out! So, I sleeved some tall milkweeds with some of my Monarch livestock tucked safely inside. I then sleeved some poplar with Mourning Cloak.
The latest batch of Monarchs has begun to emerge. I searched for the tape and checked the new adults for OE spores. So far, so good. Next, I adorned a display cage for evening wedding with garden baby's breath, lavender and that flower that resembles Lantana, soft orange color.
I finally got myself a shower at three-thirty! I dressed and drove the butterfly display to the wedding, only a half-hour away this time. I waited out the service, supervised the release and got home by seven-fifteen p.m. Just in time to feed those hungry Painted Lady larvae. (They were good and did not eat each other.) Oh, and I ate some supper, too! Thank goodness my husband will pinch hit as chef; keeper of child, dog and rabbit; shopper and laundryman. However, he draws the line at having Painted Lady hatchlings drifting across his breakfast table! My son barely tolerates going in for a shower and encountering a cage full of red-dripping Painted Lady butterflies! These are just some of the strange sights my family puts up with.
Then there was Saturday. I got those plants in, and watered and weeded the nectar plants. Next, I collected and sterilized more eggs, then fed gravid butterflies. A few attempts were made at hand pairing. My attention then went to typing the minutes for the International Butterfly Breeder's Association. I then made another milkweed harvest out back and fed the breeding stock. A slew of plastic containers were then bleached for sterilization. Next I did some Internet research into why my website does not appear on search engine searches. After that, I batched up some new Painted Lady hatchlings with their artificial diet.
I am beginning to wonder about a profession where no matter how many hours a day you put in, the work is still not done. Butterfly farming? Gotta love it, love it, love it! I guess I must!
The message here is don't believe those who tell you this is an easy money game. It is a multifaceted, all-consuming effort just to stay the course. I would like to participate in a Wings of Hope Project, but after a weekend like this I am beginning to feel a little hopeless myself.
You know what makes me feel better? Remembering that I used to be very shy and thinking that I am now able to entertain a group of 100 people. Or, that not too long ago I didn't know how to turn on a computer and now I own a magnificent web site and chat with friends all over the world. And that I have a fabulous flower garden, when I used to not know one plant from another. Also, that I am an officer in an international organization, and I have my own mini-laboratory.
Best of all, I am surrounded daily by the incomparable beauty of butterflies and an abundance of caring, personal, virtual friends who understand exactly what I am talking about! Guess I am growing a lot more than butterflies here at Whispering Wings Butterfly Farm!
You all have a nice day!