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.

Permanent Hay

My memory pictures all show the hay either down and baled by now or at least in the processes. It is tall, wet, probably full of ticks, so I won’t venture into it. I can’t get to my berry patches to check on them. It should be about time for the Wineberries. The forecast doesn’t look good for them to come any time soon to mow and bale. We have 40 to 90% chance of thunderstorms every day as far as the weather app will take me. Yesterday the rain held off until late afternoon.

We had two packages to mail and a pick up from Tractor Supply of critter feeds and stopped by Southern States to check their seed stock. They rarely have more than a couple of people at a time in there during weekdays. I found two packages of hybrid sweet corn with a 78 day maturation window, which should give us a harvest well before the first frost. It seems odd to think of first frost when we haven’t even hit the summer highs and the garden isn’t producing anything but peas yet, but as a gardener, I have to think ahead. I am doing a germination test on the other corn before I send the seed company a letter. Two packets of seed won’t break the bank, but it is still about $8. Because it wasn’t raining when we got home, I pushed the wheel barrow with my spade , hoe, and rake over to the garden area. The spade and wheel barrow were wheeled around to the area where I changed the configuration of the chicken run and I dug two earthworm filled barrows of the richest black composted soil and dumped them on the freshly weeded and lightly disturbed patch where the corn should have sprouted weeks ago but didn’t. I was careful to avoid the sunflowers that did come up along the edge and left the two stalks of Silver Queen that did sprout and raked in the compost and replanted corn for the third time. The new seed. While I was at it, I replanted the two hills of Seminole pumpkins that also either didn’t come up or got eaten. Now to wait 7 to 14 days to see if the block of corn takes this time. The block is 11-12 feet by 4+ feet, 6 rows 27 inches apart, so if it will come up, it is the ideal arrangement to actually get some corn from the patch. It may be too late to plant the climbing beans because the corn has to be a foot or so tall before you plant the beans. I think as far as three sisters, it won’t be this year, but if we get corn and a few pumpkins, I will be happy. I had hardly gotten back in the house when the daily deluge began, so at least it got a good watering in.

The only area still unplanted is the old mint bed. It still lacks a box or border and as it is in an area of the garden where there is a significant slope, it needs something to hold the soil. The mint is continuing to pop up in and around that area and I continue to fight with it. I want to terrace that spot, but don’t want to purchase blocks. Huck’s coop, the failed A framed chicken tractor that we finally set on a cedar raft set on rocks for chick raising, has deteriorated beyond repair unless we removed each bottom board one at a time and replaced it, a job beyond my skills alone. And a wind storm a year or so ago ripped the hinged half of the top off. I am thinking about going out with the cordless drill/driver and taking the metal roof and plastic side panels off, carefully removing the hardware cloth to save for another project. I will salvage any of the good wood, burn the rotted wood, and use the larger rocks as my retaining wall for the terraced area. The smaller rocks that we put around the inside edge to hold in the layer of soil over the cedar post raft will have to be loaded in the tractor and hauled to a rock pile if the hay ever gets mowed so I can get to one.

After dinner prep as it continued to thunderstorm, I returned to my spindles to finish the Peacock braid of Falklands wool that I have spent the first half of June spinning. I had done the purples and blues with the teals and greens what I was currently working on. I did finish spinning it, took my final check in and scale picture for the Spin Along side.

Between the 4 ounce braid, the gray sample yarn, some Jacob for my rare breed credit, and the last of the wine colored wool for my shawl, I ended up with 166.17 grams (5.861 ounces). It was wound into a ply ball and plied on my wheel last night, but I haven’t measured it out to see how much yardage it is. The Peacock yarn is going to be the yoke of a sweater with the gray Shetland below and on the sleeves. A sweater entirely spun by me, almost entirely on Turkish spindles. The purples and blues are almost 300 yards. The July Spin Along side can be done the way the first half of the year, with 4 check ins and a final scale picture showing at least 25 grams spun, or we can participate in a Tour de Fleece that usually occurs when Tour de France happens. Since it isn’t happening this year, we are going to do the Tour de Fleece as a scavenger hunt beginning a week from tomorrow, the day the race should begin if it could. Each day an item will be posted, you try to find the item in and around your home and take a picture of it with your spindle on which you have spun at least 1 gram of fiber. One gram of fiber is not much, the neater green cop/turtle in the above picture is about 25 grams, so the amount that is normally needed for a whole month. It should be fun and at the end, the finishers, who found at least 20 of the items and spun daily will be entered for prizes that various spinners have contributed, including the generous donation of several spindles by the Jenkins. All of the wool spun during the competition has to be done on Jenkins spindles, this is the Jenkins group after all. My two spindles are empty and I purchased a 3 ounces of Bam Huey (a bamboo, merino blend) to use for the challenge.

These are my two favorite spindles.

Be safe out there. Please wear your mask for my protection, I wear mine for yours.


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.