The one that didn’t get away

Last year about this time, grandson 1 came to spend part of the summer with us. He enjoys doing so because he gets to use the riding mower and drive the tractor, but he also has to help me with farm chores. He helped move some fencing, work in the garden, and just about anything I ask him to do. He cooks some as well and gets lessons and new recipes to add to his book of Grandmom’s Spells and Magic that he got for Christmas a couple of years ago, a loose leafed recipe book with cards that can be filled out and filed, all in my handwriting that my kids and he call a font that should be on the computer. He and I were about to start work on some project last summer when I looked in the egg door of the coop and a 6 foot long Black Rat Snake that I had seen outside of the coop about a week earlier was in one of the nesting boxes. It had gotten eggs the first time and had come back for more. I wasn’t going to have that happen, so without telling him why, I sent him to our tool area to get my leather garden gloves and an empty 5 gallon bucket with lid. When he returned with them, I had him open the egg door from the other end from the snake while I reached in and grabbed it behind it’s head and snatched it from the coop. His eyes got huge and his response was, “Grandmom, what kind of magic was that.” We put the snake in the bucket, put the lid on and he held it from falling over while I drove a bit more than a half a mile away to the woods and turned it loose.

Well, because of COVID, he can’t visit this summer and I miss his help. This afternoon, I got the part of dinner that was going in the oven prepared and put in the oven and grabbed a basket to go gather peas and whatever eggs were under Miss Broody and when I opened the egg door, I spotted movement in an empty nesting box. I hurried back over to the house, grabbed the same gloves, a 5 gallon bucket with lid, and called up to hubby to grab his keys and his phone. He questioned why and I gave him a quick explanation as I dashed back to the coop, opened and hooked the egg door up and snatched this one out of the coop just as he arrived to snap a couple of pictures.

Not as long as last year’s, this one was only about 5 feet and where the one last year was lethargic, this one was a writhing mess, trying to wrap around my arm. Once calmed down and picture taken, it was plopped in the bucket, lidded and back to the same spot the last one was taken. Last year, I had to dump the snake out of the bucket and it didn’t even move away very fast. As soon as I got the lid off today, it went over the rim and off into the woods. While there, I spotted these cool black mushrooms.

I love mushrooms, but I would never gather them for food. Back home, the peas were picked and shelled in time to plunge them into boiling water for 3 minutes to enjoy with our dinner. The plants aren’t blooming anymore, but there are still many peas to pick, enjoy, and freeze.

I would never kill a snake that wasn’t directly threatening me, the dogs, or a family member, but they don’t get to be in my coop and eat the eggs.

Be safe. I wear a mask for your safely, please wear one for mine.


I have enjoyed watching the Finch care for her nest of 4 tiny mouths to feed. Once they hatched, I quit looking for a while so she could care for them. Over the weekend, I peeked again and instead of large gapeing mouths popping up, there were little feathered birds with proportional heads and big black beady eyes looking back at me.

It is amazing how quickly they go from awkward disproportioned nearly naked bodies to little feathered well proportioned birds. In the midst of the nasty weather this week, chilly, gray, and periodic heavy, heavy rain, she fledged these 4 little creatures out into the world. The nest is empty, the hanging pot can again be watered.

I know that the birdhouses by the garden have supported two nests of Tree Swallows and one nest of Eastern Bluebirds, the Barberry bush had the nest of Caroline Wrens, and these little finches. I think a Hummingbird has a nest in the breezeway garden, one flies from there to the feeder and back often, but I haven’t attempted to find it in the rain.

One of the wonders of spring is watching the nests of baby birds, the tiny rabbits kits, and the fawns. I discovered this year that something, probably the deer like Sunflower shoots. There were dozens in the walled garden under the feeders and everyone of them has been clipped off just above the primary leaves. I haven’t been weed wacking in there to let them grow. I guess it will get mowed down as soon as it dries up. I will then put down cardboard, move some rocks to the back side of the wall and start filling it with leaf mulch or compost. And still no corn. Two packages of seed from the feed store and both seem to be bad even though they were packaged for 2020. It is probably too late to try to find corn seed elsewhere and plant it now, though we have about 4 months til first frost.

Rainy Sunday Activity

The rain did come off and on today, so I chose to do stay at home activities. First thing this morning, I finished spinning the wine colored wool that I took on my walk yesterday and began plying it on my largest spindle. It was taking forever and after about 90 minutes, I wished that I had plied it on my wheel, but persisted throughout the morning and early afternoon.

I am trying to finish knitting a shawl with it before the end of June. This is the last 27 grams of the wool. The shawl had a major error in it and I had to rip it back about 2/3 of what I had already knit, pick up the stitches and start again.

After lunch, I started two loaves of sandwich bread for the week. Of course it had to be tasted while still warm.

I know that the fad during the pandemic is sourdough and I have made my share of it, but we both prefer yeast bread, half whole wheat with good stone ground flour.

Between rain storms, I took a basket to garden and picked a basket full of fat shelling peas.

While out there, I spotted 3 chubby asparagus spears among the thin ferny shoots, added them to the basket as well. Since hubby was having a chop for dinner with our corn, peas, and cantaloupe, I pulled a fresh small garlic bulb and a small potato onion. While out there I ran the broody hen off the nest for the third time today, grabbing the eggs under her. This has been a six week brood. Nothing I do breaks her.

The onion, garlic, and their tops were chopped along with half a green pepper that was in the refrigerator and sauteed to top his chop. There were enough peas for dinner and the first batch in the freezer. I planted about 2 or 3 times as many peas as usual and wish I had planted twice what I did. My dinner was many of my favorites, fresh sweet corn, just picked and lightly steamed peas, cantaloupe, and fresh bread. The hens get the pea pods, corn cobs, and cantaloupe rinds and seeds to make compost to feed the garden in the fall or next spring.

While wandering the garden, I picked a few raspberries and a blueberry, but they didn’t make it back to the house.

I love when the garden starts to provide and pay back for all the toil of the spring prep. Every couple of days the suckers are pinched from the tomatoes and the tomatoes and tomatillos are tied higher on their posts. I am seeing blooms forming on both. The cucumbers have been given a trellis, the bush beans are filling out, but no blooms yet. The potatoes have purple/blue flowers and desperately need a good layer of hay applied to them. I’ll tackle that the next dry day. The peppers aren’t doing much yet, but they will. I added more basil seed and a few Chinese cabbage seed to a bed that still had space. The only failure I am seeing in the garden is the corn. I have planted it twice and still only have 3 stalks and the pumpkins didn’t come up. I need a plan for that area that will provide us with something for the table, maybe more potatoes?