Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A walk, at last!

Yesterday I did something I've been wanting to do for a looong time: I walked to the mailboxes.

This is a three-mile round trip and is delightful, but we've had such a busy summer and early fall that I haven't had a chance to indulge myself in months.

We don't get spectacular fall color around here, but the subtle shades are pretty.

I saw this little guy in the middle of the road. And I mean little -- no bigger than about six inches.

Okay all you herpetologist types, what kind? Gopher?

I put my finger nearby to offer scale on his size.

After taking these pix, I scootched him off the road so he wouldn't get squished by a passing car.

I couldn't help but notice these enormous rose hips.

I've seldom seen such big fruits -- some of them were an inch across.

Some people say this predicts a harsh winter. I usually don't put much faith in such predictions, because it seems every winter is predicted to be harsh by whatever folk signs you prefer to watch.

Nonetheless I'm forced to admit I've never seen such big rose hips. These are a phenomenal source of Vitamin C, by the way, and make a splendid tea.

White-breasted nuthatch.

Snowberries. These weren't especially large (I've seen larger) but they were very numerous.

Snowberries are mildly poisonous to humans but lots of critters can eat them.

Probably the closest thing to a palm tree we'll see in these parts.

Western bluebird. He was quite a distance away and the camera is at maximum zoom (plus the photos are cropped), so not the clearest shots.

These photos don't do justice to how blue and pretty these birds are.

As I came back to the house, I couldn't stop thinking about those rose hips, as well as the horrible storm in South Dakota. In other words, I couldn't help but think about winter. When you live in a northern climate, preparing for winter (pretty much year round) is a necessity. I'll feel better once we have our firewood in, the rest of our hay in, and everything battened down.

Before the snow flies, we also try to give everything a good cleanup and tidy-up. We drain and coil hoses, we pick up scattered tools and implements, we try to make sure nothing is left on the ground that could get buried under snow for six months. And above all, we stock up on feed for the chickens, dogs, and barn cat.

Lots to do in the next month. I guess I'd best stop wasting time on pleasant walks and get some essential work done.


  1. How do you keep weevils out of your feed?

    1. Weevils aren't really a problem here, but we store a lot of feed in clean dedicated garbage cans, mostly as protection against mice.

      - Patrice

  2. A pleasant life will always have room for a pleasant walk. I enjoyed the pictures a lot.

    I have no idea about the cute little snake, and I know you didn't ask about the rose, but...At first, I thought those hips were from a rugosa rose. Rugosas put out HUGE hips, in relatively moderate numbers as pictured here, and are exceptionally hardy. But these stems aren't nearly thorny enough to be rugosas. These virtually thornnless reddish stems, and the big hips, suggest maybe a Canadian Rose of some kind?? Very interesting. I love roses and always want to identify them.

    Just Me

  3. Patrice,

    Thank you for taking us along with you on your walk. I enjoyed all the pictures. The closets thing to a palm tree, not that's funny!

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  5. What a lovely walk. Did you go back and pick some of those rose hips?

  6. The rose hips here in MN are huge too. The acorns also. Ive never seen acorns so big. The raccoons who didnt make it across the highway have a thick heavy coat. Im guessing its gonna be a tough winter.

    1. One would think it obvious that nature reflects what has happened, not what will happen.
      That being said, I cut a couple of extra cords.

  7. I'd say its a garter snake of some type, not sure what subspecies of garter snake you have up there, but it looks similar to the ones in southern Idaho and the ones I seen when I lived in Moscow.

  8. Thank you, Patrice. I needed a walk.

    I think the little snake is a garter snake. It looks like the ones we have here. We value them. They'll eat carpenter ants. Plus they're always fun to handle (carefully) and enjoy for a few minutes. They've been active here this past week or so, and all the other critters and birds seem to be escalating their winter preparations.

    We brought in two more loads of firewood this weekend, and I still feel like we need more. I always do. lol

    Almost time to hunker down.


  9. I believe it's a Garter Snake.


  10. Patrice, walking is essential work! Essential to well-being, health, and your lovely photo ops for all of us to enjoy.
    Call me dumb, but I never knew what a rose hip was. I was too scared to ask. Now I know.
    I like my snakes too. Talk about essential work! They are priceless. I have 4 in my root cellar, Bogey and Bacall, Lucy and Ricky. We have not had a mouse there for years.

    1. This is a very interesting comment!

      I went for years not really knowing what a rose hip is either --- I felt too stupid to ask. (For anyone who's still afraid to ask, a rose hip is the fruit of the rose flower.)

      Anyway, I was particularly amused by the "4 snakes in the root cellar." Seriously? You have 4 snakes in the root cellar on purpose?

      That's actually not a bad idea.

      Just Me

  11. I was reminded of this story:

    It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was an Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets, and when he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the weather was going to be.

    Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood to be prepared.

    But also being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

    "It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the Meteorologist at the weather service responded.

    So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared.

    One week later he called the National Weather Service again. Is it going to be a very cold winter?" he asked.

    "Yes," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "it's going to be a very cold winter."

    The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find.

    Two weeks later he called the National Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

    Absolutely," the man replied. "It looks like it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

    "How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.

    The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy."

    1. lol, I just loved this story, thanks for the good laugh.

  12. A walk with a view. Wonderful. Doesn't it feel god to just get out and wonder around sometimes?

  13. I'm no good at identifying snakes, but it looks a bit like what we used to call a wood snake (call such because they mostly lived in the wood pile) We loved catching them as kids, and trying to get them to bite our ears for earrings, which seems to be a thing with all kids, my son now tries to do the same thing!

  14. We typically get our first snow that sticks the first week of October...just a few inches. This year we got several inches the third week of September. Then we got the rain, followed by the two day blizzard that SD got. Sunday it rained again, and it was followed by snow. The entire day Tuesday was spent digging out, fortunately while the sun was out.
    It's earlier, and it's wetter than usual for us. We've burned more wood than usual. I'm glad I have a strapping young man at home to help his father with all the splitting, stacking and toting inside.
    That said, I really enjoyed your walk!
    sidetracksusie (at home planning her retirement move to "less snow" area)

    1. The temperature in Florida is still in the 80s.....

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  16. Glad you enjoyed your walk... But remember, a walk is part of your health insurance program---most decidedly not a waste and should be engaged in as often as possible...

  17. We had the stink bugs and wolf spiders (which I love love love)coming in for the last several weeks. The chipmunks and the squirrels are as busy as ever. Weird thing is I have seen ONE lady bug. Last year our home was covered in them this time right before a big storm.

    Don't know if they all got blow away. That would be very sad indeed.

    We are due for a big winter.

  18. BTW, that looks just like our garden or garter snakes here. I couldn't say for sure though. We enjoy them. They keep our area nice and tidy and eat all the mice and the big bugs.

    God is a genius :) People who kill all the wolf spiders and garter snakes are missing out on free pest control.

  19. Patrice,

    I love a good cup of rose hip tea, it definitely is a good source of vitamin c. It's good to know some basic herbal treatments.
    I don't know about the winter and what is coming however here in Arizona I do know that it has gotten cold much earlier than normal, however this could change given that it is Arizona.

  20. Garter snake. Big year for them here in p.a.!

  21. Amazing what is seen when you take a walk! Hardly any acorns this year, but thousands of hickory nuts. I can't tell you how many buckets of them I have collected.They have a good, sweet, nutty flavor. It's going to be a very tasty winter this year!

    1. Oh, I'm envious. I love hickory nuts. We used to have a tree my mom would call a hickon. Not sure if it really was a hickory/pecan cross or thats just what mom called it. Must look for some hickory nuts around here.