On Friday, we had about 17 kids from a local children's home visit for a Nature Trail. The kids from this home are regular visitors to our farm in Bourrou and it's always great to see them. The kids who have never been before are easy to spot, with that "Bored by the whole thing" look and their unsuitable footwear. I love watching the regular kids showing them around and usually, by the end of the visit the whole bunch are interested and excited about what there is to see.
The four dogs came too and added to the fun. It's so nice to be able to walk Judy in the woods now that she's learned to obey us and not hunt when we don't want her to.
In the woods, Fabrice showed us a great selection of Badger holes, as many as 18 which means the sets house a lot of badgers and the tunnels they make probably go underground for hundreds of metres.
On the way back up to the house, we looked in a puddle and saw deer prints and one the kids noticed a skinny worm and just as we were about to dismiss it as "Just a worm." I decided to pick it out to have a closer look and discovered that it was a Horse Hair Worm (Phylum Nematomorpha or Gordian Worm) - an insect parasite.
Horsehair eggs are laid in the water in long strings where the adults live. After hatching, the larvae penetrate some aquatic insect, they escape in some unknown way from this host and find their way into a second host - usually a beetle, cricket, or grasshopper. In the body cavity of the second host the larvae continue their development eventually passing out into the water where they become mature. Since the adults live only in water, those that survive probably emerge from terrestrial and flying insects, who are their second hosts.
This is a video of a cricket infected with Parasitic Gordian worm who jumps into a swimming pool and the worm emerges from the cricket...
After the woods, we came back up to the house and the kids hand fed the goats, the chickens and geese and I'd love to post more photos - especially of the kids' faces with the goats - but I won't (Bloomin' internet...) so you'll just have to believe me that a great time was had by all !