Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Know Why You Really Dropped By

To see pictures of snakes! (Oops, should have written SPOILERS before that.)

Quiet query day as we have only one in the queue and it's scheduled for tomorrow, so you know what that means: random picture roundup. I emptied my camera, and look what I found.

This rotating wall cloud dropped a funnel about 2 miles away on Tuesday night. Lots of tornadoes in the area, but nothing as devastating as those in Joplin and Oklahoma City.

This little rabbit dropped by recently while I was working on my WIP. Yep, another picture taken directly from the window in front of my desk.

This handsome red-breasted, red-headed, red-rumped male house finch, with his mate, built a nest in an artificial fern I hung outside the office window for some winter greenery.

It was a quiet neighborhood until the barn swallows moved in about 10 feet away. The barn swallows are extremely territorial and keep trying to run the finches off. These little finches are tough, though, and are hanging in there. I just hope the babies aren't pestered when they start learning to fly.

I thought I had lost this season's crabapple crop to the storms. There were dozens and dozens of baby apples on the ground after a couple of the worst storms. To my surprise, it looks like it will be one of the healthiest crops I have had in the 6 years I've been here.

Two rat snakes have taken up residence in the chicken coop. Every summer it seems one or two snakes move in with the chickens for a few weeks looking for a free lunch. They eat the eggs, not the chickens, and I usually have a surplus so I let them stay. When they leave -- though why they EVER leave such a cush joint with an ongoing all-you-can-eat-buffet bamboozles me (unless they just get sick of eggs -- I'd understand that; I know the dogs and I reached our limit long ago) -- they'll help keep the mouse/rat/etc population down. Of course, that sometimes means they move into the feed shed, so I spend a lot of time watching for snakes during warm weather. I used to catch and relocate them before I realized it wasn't really worth the effort.

These snakes are about 4.5 feet (1.5 meters) long. There's dead space behind and under the nest boxes (which are about 18 inches across - there are two snakes sharing one nest box in the middle photo) where they can curl up and be out of the way when I'm cleaning. One is shy but the other doesn't seem to be afraid of me. It tucked its body away and peeked its head out after I snapped the photos. In fact, I was cleaning about a foot away from its head and it just stayed there watching me.

And so I don't leave you with memories of snakes, here are some Mexican Hat wildflowers. These are one of my favorites and, since I haven't mown in awhile, they are taking over a couple of my smaller pastures.

I'll go look for some more photo opps. You can send more queries ;o)


Landra said...

The snakes kinda scare me, and the whole tornado thingie 2 miles from you. Glad to know it didn't get any closer and that you are good to go.

Thank you for the other wonderful reminders that won't leave me thinking of those snakes... gosh, those things are a lot bigger than I imagined.

I couldn't do that, get that close to a snake and take a photo. The idea makes creepy crawly.

Beckah-Rah said...

My dogs know the word 'bunny.' They respond to it the same way they respond to 'bone' or 'bacon.' A mad frenzied sprint to the windows (or the ends of their leashes), almost foaming at the mouth to find them. Although my puppy's favotire playmate is this frog that lives on the corner. He hops after it like he thinks he's a frog, too. And my dog Punkin killed a snake once. Shook it like a rag doll, and I was too shocked to scold her for getting that close to one!

Jo-Ann said...

Snakes have their place in the ecosystem. Good for you, Phoenix, for not bashing them to bits on sight as some people might have. They have proven their worth by keeping the rodent population down. Are rat-snakes venomous?

In my house I make the same arguement in favour of letting the spiders be. They're mainly daddy-long-legs (and it's a complete myth that they're the most venomous type of spiders on earth, their venom is actually weak!). They catch flying insects so my view is that we can cut down our use of insecticides - a good thing in my book! Well, I'm the only female in my house, surrounded by four fellows (ok, the youngest is still little) and guess what? They're all scared of spiders, and want to whack them with their shoes. It's my job to catch them and toss them out!

I should remind them that they're lucky we dont have snakes lurking about!

Whirlochre said...

Okay, so I have a mangy cat, a box full of uncollected recycled plastic bottles and a some dead shrubs that didn't make the winter.

Plus, it's cloudy. in that drab, grey, uninteresting way.

You win.


Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Landra: I wouldn't get that close to poisonous snakes, either! I've only had one rat snake get aggressive and that was because I was actively trying to catch it. I couldn't blame the tyke for that. I admit it's in my DNA that when I see a snake my first reaction is SNAKE! But it's like most things; the more times you're exposed, the less volatile your reaction ;o)

@Beckah: There are a couple of times around here it hasn't ended well for the rabbit. I've learned to refrain from calling attention to bunnies or squirrels in front of the dogs.

LOL at the image of the puppy hopping after the frog!!!

I bet Punkin bragged about killing the dragon to all her friends.

@Jo: Some of my other friends Down Under have mentioned spiders in your country as big as basketballs. :-O I'm not sure what I'd do if confronted by one of those! Too funny that "the boys" are creeped out by house spiders and you're the rescuer (of both boys and spiders).

Rat snakes aren't truly venomous, though they have minute traces of toxins that could cause an allergic reaction if you're sensitive to it and they bite you.

We do have 3 poisonous types here: copperheads, water moccasins and rattlesnakes. I had a 5-foot rattler in the backyard once and convinced it to move on by herding it out with a loooong metal pole. After coiling up and shaking its tail at me initially, it moved on quietly and I never saw it again. Thankfully, because the ducks stay in the backyard a lot, and, like Beckah's dog, I was afraid my pups would tangle with it.

@Whirl: But you have a sock monkey.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'm weird. I like snakes. The way they move over your hand is just amazing - so much muscle in such a small body. Not about to touch a wild one though. Good to see you living in harmony with them.

I'm the same way with the spiders. They used to really creep me out, but that's mellowed over time. I let them stay where they are if at all possible, though I tend to hose the black widows out of the yard. My wife isn't that happy with spiders in the house and we both remove them if she sees one.

While visiting my mom, she casually mentioned the tornado that took off the top of the tree at the front of her yard. Her house is set pretty far back, but still. That's too close. Everything's missing her these days, thankfully.

Thanks for sharing the great pix!

Jo-Ann said...

Oh, Phoenix! It's in the Australian DNA that you adopt a bored, laid-back tone and casually drop some information about how ferocious and deadly our wildlife is.

For example: Crocs? Yeah, dont worry too much about them, it's been at least one month, maybe two, since there's been a fatal attack. Snakes? Sure, we have 9 of world's 10 most deadly species here, but there's anti-veneme for all of them, provided you can get to help within thirty minutes. And so on.

And try to not laugh when an expression of sheer terror crosses the tourists' faces. It's all true, but no urban-living latte-sipping Australian has ever seen a croc or snake in the wild, let alone being nibbled by one.

So I'd be taking the "spiders the size of basketballs" thing with a grain of salt.

But seriously, if you ever do come down here, watch out for the drop bears - they dont say much about those in the media for fear of harming the tourist industry....