Mourning a loss

It’s not all work work work around here…

About a month ago, I was in the mall when I noticed something that caught my attention. It was an ant farm that glows in the dark. On the box, they called it a “Space Age Habitat for Ants” that contains a “miraculous gel derived from a NASA Space experiment”.  And as any reasonable person would have done, I bought it!

Here’s what it looks like…


Cool, huh? 

Then I took it home and mailed off a card to buy some harvester ants from Canada. Apparently we’re fresh out of ants here in the U.S.  Fast forward about 3 weeks, and still no ants! I figured they lost my order. So I moved my ant farm into storage with the rest of my belongings. (I’m using storage while I move to my new house.)

And guess what! About 5 days after I moved the ant farm to storage, the ants arrived! But their ant farm was so far back in the storage container that I couln’t retrieve it without having numerous boxes and a huge sofa fall on my head. So I would have to find a way to keep them alive until I could get their “space age habitat” ready.

So I put them in a pickle jar. I poked holes in the top and put shredded wheat cereal (my favorite!) and some old ham (not so good) into the jar. I figured they could live for at least a couple of weeks in there. After all, they had all of the food they could ever need. I didn’t add dirt because I didn’t want them to get dirty and track that dirt into the “miracle gel”.

But I came into the office on Monday, and guess what! To my dismay … Half of them were dead. There were 20 total, so I only had 10 left. And I suspected that the other 10 would die soon at this rate. Since I still couldn’t get the ant farm out of storage and I didn’t really want to drive to the mall and buy another ant farm, I let the rest go free in the shrubs in front of my office! I figured they had a better chance of survival out in the wild than in my pickle jar.

Unfortunately, the 10 dead ants and the 10 living ants would never see their “space age habitat” … which I commonly refer to as “THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY”. It’s really a shame. Their ant farm was going to be “ant heaven”. I’ll never forgive myself for ending the lives of 10 Canadian Harvester Ants and endangering the lives of 10 others. And really, I have no right to even ask for forgiveness.

What could’ve been for these ants…


But what I can do is pay my respects to them for the joy that they brought to my life and the lives of the staff here at for the few days that they were actually alive. So today, we had a ceremony and burial for the dead ants. Here’s the toombstone for their mass grave…


The staff and I wore black to show our mourning of their deaths and the probably deaths of the others. Here is the staff trying to console me on the loss of the ants. Travis, the application developer, is on the left. Alex, the Chicago regional coordinator and the JV coordinator is 2nd from the left. Elise, the coordinator for Boston and the NYC/Tri-state area is 3rd from the left. Lauren, the coordinator for the Houston and DFW areas is on the far right. That’s me down on a knee in mourning…


I was inconsolable as they tried to remove me from the gravesite….


Just looking at that picture brings back painful memories. 

There is one ant that we’ll all miss in particular. His name is Antony Harvester. Here is his obituary…

Antony Harvester, 2 months old, of Canada, passed from this life Monday, May 14, 2007, surrounded by his fellow harvester ants, his owner Doug Smith, and the staff at Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 16, 2007, on the front lawn of the office. Burial followed at at the same location.

Antony was well known and well respected by the other harvester ants in his colony. He is probably most known for encouraging the other ants to “eat some sugar and hang on tight” right before departing Canada on his voyage to Texas. It’s as if he knew it would be a long and bumpy ride, but a ride worth taking. His encouragement led to a 100% survival rate of the ants from shipment to arrival.

Antony was very active in his colony. Some of his accomplishments include…

  • Named “Most likely to build functional yet aesthetically pleasing tunnels” by his peers in the tunneling profession.
  • Semi-Finalist in the Canadian ant bench press competition. Antony bench pressed 31 times his body weight with perfect form. The average ant can only lift 20 times its body weight.
  • Named to the list of “10 Sexiest Ants Alive” and by Ant Weekly, the species leading magazine. Pundits believe that his strikingly handsome exoskeleton led him to be included in the list.

Although Antony didn’t have a spouse or any children, he is survived by the dozens of other harvester ants that he inspired to live every day to it’s fullest. In these ants, and in the lives of the staff at, Antony lives on.

Here’s a picture of Antony in his prime…


He will be missed. And so will the other harvester ants who recently perished in my pickle jar.

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Doug Smith

Posted on May 16, 2007

Author: Doug Smith

MyHouseDeals was founded in April of 2005 and has since provided information on thousands of bargain-priced properties with over $7 Billion in equity (and growing!) In addition to property lists, we help investors succeed by providing valuable tools, resources and education. Most of the properties on MyHouseDeals are single-family houses. Many of these properties are wholesale deals, which are for sale by other investors. Others are motivated seller leads, which are for sale by homeowners who are often in a bad situation. These properties are typically discounted by far greater amounts than bank foreclosures.

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