Friday, May 1, 2009

No Bite - Just Attitude

There's been much excitement around here, lately. Spring has sprung, we had some rain, and there's all types of insanity with nature and stuff and this gets the little people all stirred up. As if I didn't already have enough excitement around here.

Yesterday morning I sent Jules out to feed the chickens. Now Jules is my low-key kid. I never thought I'd say that because he was born in a somewhat hysterical state and remained that way for about 8 years, but now that he's 11 he has calmed down. He has calmed down so much that sometimes I'm not sure he's breathing. His voice is already slightly lower and he has started the "mumble". Anyway, so I sent him out to feed the chickens and he came back in way too soon.

"Did you feed the chickens?"



"Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble, RATTLESNAKE, mumble, mumble, mumble."

"There's a rattlesnake in the coop?"

"No. Mumble, mumble, mumble, LIGHT SWITCH, mumble."

I didn't quite know what to make of that. I pondered and puzzled and tried to make a sentence out of the two discernible words but I wasn't able to do it. I hated to try again, as speaking seemed to be excruciatingly painful and exhausting for Jules, who was sighing and trying to go back to bed; but I tried again, anyway.

"There's a rattlesnake on the light switch?" This seemed implausible.

"YES. Mumble, mumble, ATTACKED ME mumble, mumble, mumble."

Our store room, where we keep all the animal feed and things, has unfinished walls. So the light switch plates are these blue box-things...that are nestled against 2X4's....and I tried to picture a rattlesnake perched on top of one and as soon as the image settled in my mind I did what any good mother would do. I began searching for another kid to go out and substantiate the unlikely (but still possible) story. First choice (teenage boy) was taking a 3-hour shower. Second choice, teenage girl, was surly but willing.

She went out. She came back in and said, "Yep. It looks like a rattlesnake on the light switch."

Dang. Husband. Gone. OF COURSE.

"Did it rattle?"

"Huh?" said the teenager who had already lost interest in the whole thing.

"Did it RATTLE?"

" it didn't. It just sat there."

"Was it curled up and all angry and stuff?"

"No. Not really."

This was not sounding like a rattle snake. When I had a rattlesnake on my patio last year, it literally threw itself into the glass french door trying to kill me. To use Jules's words..."It attacked me." And I could hear it rattling from inside the house. If it had, indeed, been a rattlesnake on the blue box, it probably really would have tried to bite Jules when he tried to turn on the light. The snake would have known he was there the minute he opened the door and would have started rattling.

So, once I decided there was probably no danger I went out to take a look, myself. I'm not proud of this, mind you. Anyway, this is what I saw. No rattles.

Rattlesnakes are scary and serious business in these parts. Don't you like how I said, "in these parts"? I like it. Anyway, just a few miles over, we have friends who live in what we call The Sand Hills. And none of them have seen rattlers on their properties. They have copperheads. Copperheads are also pit vipers. And they bite. But they're not aggressive. You pretty much have to step on one or pick one up to get it to bite you. Some of our friends have also seen corral snakes, which are extremely deadly but very shy and not aggressive. We've never seen a copperhead or a corral snake on our farm. Just lots and lots of rattlesnakes. When my husband was a boy growing up on this farm, one of his jobs was to move irrigation pipes with his siblings every morning before school (and my kids whine about unloading the dishwasher). The pipes were extremely long and he said as they moved them they could hear the rattles echoing through the pipes from the snakes inside. We usually see one or two per summer and we never stop saying, "Watch out for snakes!" whenever a kid goes outside, which is once every two minutes. After awhile, I'm sure it ceases to be effective.

Yesterday Jasper walked into the house carrying a shovel full of dirt (I had just vacuumed - which proves how stupid I am) while screaming,"Look! Dirt worms! Dirt worms!" Indeed, his shovel full of dirt held several earthworms, which we played with for awhile and then stuck in our compost.

And this morning I awoke to the sounds of Camille screaming, "Look! Baby birds!" We have several families of swallows who summer with us every year. A lot of people consider these birds to be quite pesky, but we welcome them with open arms. They do poop on the porch, and that is annoying. But we adore watching the parents build the nests, lay eggs, feed the babies peeping out of the nests, and of course, FLYING LESSONS! We love flying lessons. The nests are all over the eaves of our porches and the little guys end up on our chairs, our pots, and US in their wobbly landing attempts. We ward off the cat. I almost said cats, as in plural, but one of our cats, Socks, has never even walked fast, much less caught a bird. Now Gatoman? The dude can catch a bird. Here's a picture of Socks doing his imitation of a bear skin rug.

We have a nail on our porch that holds a wind chime. And every year in late March a single swallow scout arrives and perches on that nail for about a week. Then he leaves, and later he returns with the whole brood.

And guess what's been eating my parsley? Caterpillars! Bleh. I called organic pest control (Camille, Jasper, and Jules) who gathered them and promptly stuck them in jars. And they fed them parsley that they picked from the garden. Sigh. Anyway, luckily they didn't have to feed them too long because they looked around here at the mess from within their glass jars and did what any sane caterpillar would do. They said, "Holy cow - what a mess!" And went into cocoons. So we're waiting.....

I could go on. Because I've only covered a small percentage of the goings-on of Mother Nature around here. But I won't. Because I am a Mother, too. And I'm a busy one. So let's just say we are grateful for the rain and all it has birthed. We literally went from a parched, dead place to a green place bursting with life - overnight. We are still about 13 inches behind in rain. It is unlikely we'll catch up. Our ponds are still mostly dry. And probably, in a month we'll be back to brown and crunchy. But for now? We'll enjoy the green, springlike atmosphere.

We've had none of the wildflowers we're famous for. Not one bluebonnet or Indian pink on our place. In years' past our fields have been so full of these that the sweet aroma wafting through my windows would give me a slight headache by the end of the day. But all of our prickly pear are blooming. We've been remiss in grubbing up prickly pear over the past couple (decade) of years. But currently they're providing us with our only splash of color. And we're grateful for their beauty. They are usually overshadowed and outdone by the wildflowers...hardly noticeable. But this year we're appreciating and enjoying them immensely. photo of the blooming cacti. Maybe next time.

Well, Obama just celebrated his 100th day in office. And this is my 100th post to Sardines in a Can. That's cool.

I'm going to go eat breakfast, now. Because yesterday? I ate nothing the entire day. I was on a 24-hour water-only fast. Curious as to why I would do such a crazy-a** thing? Click here.

A Famished Sardine Mama


  1. [shudder]
    No rattles? So what is it?

  2. Most likely it is a bull snake. And now he is loose in the garage :). Believe it or not, there are worse things here. For instance, I just knocked a scorpion off of my ceiling fan. Well, maybe its not worse. Uglier, though.

  3. On the other side of nature......he/she is contolling the ever present rodent issue that comes with storing animal feed. You won't have to call the Orkin Man!
    Miss you,

  4. Yep, it is all good. Ugly - dangerous - whatever - all good and necessary stuff. I'm sure there are species that consider us both ugly and dangerous, too. And they'd be right.

  5. Hey, Carol, Julie was here (Smith) and I READ your blog and loved it! So interesting, and funny too. I wouldn't mind a snake around, they eat lots of rodents and stuff. Yes, you're right, we have copperheads and the occasional coral snake but never a rattlesnake. We saw a young copperhead on the porch recently at night, and Andrew was tiptoeing after it in the grass (barefoot, mind you). It slithered on its way & we haven't seen it since.

  6. We think we have a rattlesnake in our backyard. Grace found a recently shed skin by the shed.

  7. Shudder! I don't like snakes. We live where it's hot enough for rattlers, but thank the fates, none has ever showed up on my doorstep.