Dangerous Territory

There’s always a surprise lurking around the Hermits’ Rest. Some of them are dangerous. I came home from checking the chickens and snakes yesterday evening to see Alfred with “something” between his legs. He sure looked happy.

Look! I have a thing!

Upon closer inspection it appeared to be, um, skin. Huh? He was loving it. If Carlton or Vlassic approached, he roared like a lion. It seemed to be skin from a deer.

I’m not sharing.

Lee said Carlton found it by the arroyo. But Alfred took it over. Okay.

The light turned this grass pink.

Later, I needed some exercise, so Lee and everyone except Alfred went for another walk. The light led to many stunning photo ops. I turned around after taking a picture, I saw Vlassic emerge triumphantly from the tall grass, with something as big as himself in his mouth, with Carlton trailing behind.

I got something, too!

Oh my. I think it’s the other side of the deer. Yep. Where’s the inside? Where did it come from? Our guess is that someone had the hide on the back of their truck after dressing a kill, and it blew off. Well, it isn’t deer season. Hmm.

This thing is great! (The hair is on the other side.)

Any ideas? Who or what did this?

And watch your toes! And your nose!

As Lee and I were heading back to the house, we saw what looked like yet another hunk of skin. Oh no.

I am NOT a lump of hide.

But I quickly recognized the shape. It was Snappy, our resident snapping turtle. Or maybe Son of Snappy (or daughter). I was glad the dogs were off rolling in poop, because I could do without them losing a toe or nose.

Hey. I bite.

Luckily only Vlassic spotted Snappy, and he listened when we told him no. We got the dogs in safely.

I later looked out the window and saw Snappy ambling on toward the pond behind the house. I guess it was pond switching time.

Let’s go inside. It looks like there are two suns.

I’ve had enough weird and dangerous things for a little while.

The Year of the Snake?

You’ve heard all about our snake and chicken issues. Today I was happy to see the hens in the chicken yard, so I could give them some new food. But as I walked toward the yard with the food, I saw a funny-looking garden hose. That was yet another snake. It was heading under Tyler’s bedroom, where I’m thinking the eggs now are. Sigh.

I’m pretty sure this is a garden hose, says Rosie.

The chickens didn’t care. They just wandered by it and went out to eat bugs. Sigh again.

Continue reading “The Year of the Snake?”

Chickens Can NOT Catch a Break

I’m beginning to think my poor chickens are living under a black cloud, are haunted, or broke a mirror sometime in their past. They really just can’t catch a break.

Here’s a rat snake that was found in a shopping cart in Midland. So friendly.

You may recall that just last Saturday, I found an adult Texas rat snake curled up happily in the henhouse, with three eggs embedded inside him or her. That snake was removed, so I was really thinking all was well.

Nope. Wednesday night, Seth, the chicken tending volunteer, got scared witless when he saw TWO snakes in the hen house. He didn’t stop to try to identify them. For someone who lived in the boonies most of his life, he’s not real “ranchy.”

Here’s a cute spider to take your mind off snakes.

He called his mom, who told me. I said, hey, remember Tyler who lives right there? He can take care of snakes. Then I heard nothing.

I asked Mandi how it all went, and she said she wasn’t sure. He wasn’t talking about it. Wow. Nature is not kind to that boy (age 19). But I do understand that many people have big issues with snakes, even non-venomous ones.

So, I asked Tyler, who IS ranchy, what the heck had happened. He said the two snakes were the same kind and size as last week.

What, are they a family? If so, one of them ought to tell the others that the fun times at our coop don’t have happy endings.

Mostly, though, I feel bad for those poor remaining 8 chickens. We took care of one set of predators, only to be joined by another one. I think my friend Mike and I need to get working on the new and improved coop, not just talking about it.

8 Chickens + 0 Eggs = ?

Finally, a non-introspective post. Read it anyway!

Yesterday when I checked the chickens, there was just one egg, from Rosie, and it was in a weird spot, not in the nest boxes. I thought to myself that just didn’t seem right.

Today there were no eggs in the henhouse. Because I was suspicious, I entered carefully. I saw this very satisfied coil of sated slitherer:

I like this buffet!

Totally explains chickens way out in the pasture and lack of eggs! I left.

Continue reading “8 Chickens + 0 Eggs = ?”

Hermitage

A bunch of stuff beyond my control has come up, so my posts will be short, and perhaps sweet for a while. I’m having to be more hermit-like.

It’s a downer of a time, anyway. Horrible storms everywhere, people having accidents or injuries throughout my circle, friends and loved ones in mental pain.

Quite wavy, isn’t she?

I was glad to save this long rat snake from getting run over on Monday. I wasn’t so lucky today, when a roadrunner turned around and ran straight in front of my car. I said a big blessing.

My gardenia never looks good. This was a nice surprise.

At least when I got home to Austin, I had flowers to greet me. Flowers always help, as did hugs from Anita.

My Althea has rebloomed!

Office Snakes ‘n Stuff

Spring is the time when things get moving around. We’ve had mouse visitors at the ranch house, but the dogs took care of that.

This li’l guy is a rough earthsnake.

The Hermit Haus office also got a visitor yesterday. Our neice, Kathleen, was there working when, to her surprise a little wriggly fellow crossed the floor. Luckily she’s a farm gal (she lives on our farm in Yorktown where Lee’s dad used to live).

Onviously it was a small snake. Those are small holes.

According to her, it took a while, but she got the little fellow to exit the building, and he or she quickly beat a retreat down the drain outside the door. We’ve been checking for our neighbor since then, but there have been no further signs.

And those ducks

I continue to get a lot of joy from the whistling ducks. This morning, three of them were sitting on top of our house across the street. It just seems weird to see ducks up high like that.

Three ducks on a roof.

Of course, I scared them off before I could get a closer picture. But they made that hilarious whistlig duck noise, so it’s okay!

You disturbed us!

Weather?

Hope your Friday is or was a good one. At least it’s no longer cold here. Monday started off in the 30s, and on Thursday it was well over 90! Texas weather is something else!

Hike on Bull Creek

Our Austin house is minutes away from Bull Creek District Park and Greenbelt, a popular recreation destination and one of Austin’s most charming assets. It’s sad that Anita and I haven’t made our way over there after living in the Bobcat Lair for over a year. Today I was working from home and needed a break, so we grabbed my son and his partner, had some delicious barbecue at the County Line. There we enjoyed all the turtles and the massive carp hanging around wanting to be fed.

Check out those BIG fish.

Then headed over to check out the greenbelt. This was sort of a reconnaissance visit, since we knew we would not have time to go on a long walk or explore much, but we had plenty of fun.

big trees.
I skillfully hid a car and a trash can to get this view looking toward the road.

There are beautiful oaks here that you know were here all along, not planted by someone.

Ah, peace and quiet in Austin.

What a joy it was to explore the quiet creek and riparian area in peace and quiet. This place can be quite busy, but we shared it only with a mother and her two sons, who reminded me of myself twenty-something years ago. The littlest one was buck naked and running around with a stick, poking it into chunks of algae and laughing in the way only a little kid with all the time in the world, cold water, and a stick can laugh.

Continue reading “Hike on Bull Creek”

It’s Darned Damp

It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. Apparently a big cold front is on its way, so I should be glad it’s not snowing. Nonetheless, I’ve been wandering out in the rain looking at houses and such. 

Because I love you, my dear blog readers, I even went out to check what’s blooming and interesting in this soggy soil.

The first paperwhites struggle to hold their heads up in the rain.

I was so overjoyed to look out behind my office house to see that the paperwhite narcissus (narcissus papyraceus) were blooming that I ran through a LOT of puddles to take a photo and pick a stem. Glad I am wearing my fabulous waterproof shoes.

They look pretty droopy, but they tell me that in a week or two it will be glorious back there. I hope my friend Martha likes them, since she’ll be living in this house soon!

This little guy is only like 8 inches long, at most.

On the way back in I saw this poor, damp baby snake. This is not a great time of year for snake birthing. Maybe it’s an adult of a small species. It was identified by iNaturalist as a rough earth snake; at least that was the closest one I found. I hope it makes it to a warm den.

Continue reading “It’s Darned Damp”

Those Sneaky Snakes

Why, yes, I do have more to say about snakes. Thanks for all the great comments on the previous snake post! I guess all the dry weather had them all wandering around the ranch or something. (Aside: it has been raining this week, which we truly needed, but we could use more.)

snake-1332381_960_720
This public domain photo shows the cotton mouth and thick body of a water moccasin.

Another venomous encounter

Ralph at Wild Type Ranch reported a water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorous, also known as a cottonmouth) in his driveway last week. I’ve never seen one when it wasn’t swimming, so that was a big surprise to me. His dog tripped over it, so it wasn’t in attack mode. That’s good, because they are poisonous!

Another fact about these guys is that there is a non-poisonous water snake that just swims around, happily convincing people that it might just be a cottonmouth. That is usually what we see in our ponds. They get big, and are fun to watch while they undulate around looking for fish to eat (given the water moccasin’s Latin name, one can infer they mostly eat fish, too).

How do you tell them apart? Well, read this really good article, which I’ll summarize by saying that cottonmouths have a pit viper shaped blocky head, and thick bodies, while water snakes have thin bodies and a head that just flows into the body. Basically, leave them ALL alone. They’re really cool when viewed through binoculars.

Continue reading “Those Sneaky Snakes”

Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers

screen_snake
Safely behing my window screen, I captured the blurry image of a rattlesnake making a hasty exit.

Last Saturday night, Lee and I came home from a delicious Mexican dinner. I got to the door first and opened it, letting the deluge of dogs run toward Lee in the garage. I detected non-dog movement, and looked to the right side of the porch, where a three-foot (or so) rattlesnake was briskly making its way away from the commotion.

I took a good look, and yelled to Lee, “Rattlesnake on the porch! Enter from the left!” and he encouraged the dogs to make a wide turn as they ran back into the house unscathed.

I snapped the non-great shot above, and later posted in on Facebook. I sure got a LOT of responses there and in person! People said:

  • I could have DIED!
  • I should have shot it.
  • I should have beaten it with a sharp object (that was the neighbor, in person)
  • My dogs could have DIED.
  • It probably has a mate and will produce lots of babies!

I guess much of that was true, but by now, I’ve had enough experience with these guys to not be as frightened of them as many people are. This knowledge also helps:

…rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened; if treated promptly, the bites are seldom fatal. (Wikipedia, “Rattlesnake“).

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Live in Fear of Rattlers”

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