Strike 2!

by Catherine Johnson

Snake adventures at our house continue.

Sami the dachshund found a copperhead by our back door. Yes, it is gone.

Sandy has fang marks on the black tip of her nose.

I have too many outdoor pets to worry about. We see more snakes because we are outdoor people.  We have been lucky except for one year when we had 18 copperheads around our house.

The Benadryl has kicked in.

Later today, we found Sandy had also been bitten.

Warrior Princess!

A Spring Day in Texas

by Catherine Johnson

This past spring on a cool, clear day, my daughter Rosie and I picked up Master Naturalist Donna Lewis and Danielle Ramos in Milano at dawn.  We traveled to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site for an enjoyable edible plant walk.  Master Naturalist Patrick Still and his wife also attended. 

The group of travelers (this was before social distancing).

Along the way we saw chickens, longhorns, and wildflowers.  We then toured the “Birthplace of Texas” where in 1836 Texas declared independence from Mexico to become the Republic of Texas.

A new friend!

After lunch and Jet Fuel coffee to keep us going, we headed to the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence.  Donna kept us laughing with her tales.  Once she was visiting a nearby farm and a “nice” miniature horse bit her.  The children on the tour got scared and ran away! 

Beautiful gardens.

The Emporium was stunning, and we found our favorite blooming sweet peas.  We also found artisan beer, wine and snacks at the new bistro there.  While relaxing on a porch surrounded by flowers and wind chimes, we noticed a long black crack on a building which turned out to be a snake! We said nothing so as not to “scare the children”. 

Yeah, kids, that’s just a crack in the wood.

As we left, we saw a bride having her picture taken among the roses. We were too tired to stop for dinner, so Donna got home by dark—–a perfect spring day in Texas.

Snake in the Toilet!

I love this place! 5 stars! Photo by Pamela, through a window.

While we aren’t having meetings for a while, we are able to have our own adventures out in nature, or if we’re lucky, nature comes into our homes.

Chapter member Pamela Neeley is well known for having a home that’s welcoming to creatures of nature. People who have been to our meetings may recall that she recently had a skunk that liked to come in and check out her cat food.

It would come in through the pet door and make itself at home. It never sprayed or anything, but was quite clever.

They have the best restaurants here at Chez Pamela.

When Pamela tried to block the door, the patient skunk slowly but surely worked out how to remove the barriers, so he or she could search for snacks. Cat food is really delicious, apparently.

I guess the skunk got along well enough with Ruby the dog, though Ruby did alert Pamela to the skunk’s presence.

Skunks CAN make good pets, but that’s not something we Master Naturalists would suggest as an option. Besides, this is a wild one, and fully operational.

About that Snake

Pamela also has cats. They go in and out that same door the skunk used. Sometimes cats bring presents, as cats are known to do. Earlier in the week, the present Apollo brought was long, thin, and not dead.

The snake was first spotted heading into what Pamela calls the “scary room filled with boxes,” from where she had no chance or removing it. Since she’s so used to critters, she went about her business, until yesterday, when she noticed Apollo the cat was stalking the bathroom. Aha!

Well, hello!

The snake was taking refuge in a nice, damp place. That can scare the pee out of you!

After taking a bunch of pictures, Pamela contacted her team of friends on a group text for suggestions. And she got dressed. That’s important.

Ideas came quickly from her amazed friends. One idea was flushing, which was immediately rejected. That’s not being kind to our reptile friends!

Other ideas were use a mop, use one of those pick-up sticks that help the elderly, kitchen tongs, a net, and so forth.

Pamela chose the large towel method. She was ready to fling it into the bathtub if it got too wiggly, but it turned out the snake just curled up and she could easily get it in the towel. It was probably relieved.

Pamela took it to the woods a good ways from the house, and everyone was relieved.

What Was It?

Closer image of the scared snake.

Naturally, everyone in the Cameron ladies’ text group wanted to know what kind of snake it was, especially those of us who are Texas Master Naturalists. Pamela knew what to do, and uploaded it to iNaturalist, suggesting it might be a brown snake, judging from the markings she noted.

Soon she got feedback that the snake was a coach-whip snake. Now she’s glad it didn’t do its characteristic whipping action on her. Since the snake may have been in her house as long as a week, she also hopes it ate some scorpions or other annoying creatures while it was a guest in her home.

Share Your Stories!

Now that we are mostly sitting around looking at the nature around our homes, please share what’s going on with you! Maybe it will make up for all the meetings and classes that have been canceled. I already have one to share tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Observations of the Bird Station During a Summer Visit

from the notebook of Ann Collins

August, 2019

Our chapter mascot shows up on my property.

The Bird Station is an important component for my wildlife exemption. Plus its just a great place to enjoy the woods and the wildlife.

Since there are lots of ferns, I feel I must water often. It gets a couple of hours of water about every four days. It’s very hot and there’s no rain at all!

When the August temperature gets to 100 degrees, plants simply cook; they just about curl up and die or go dormant.

Every year I plant more and more ferns. This year I want to plant some flowering trees, red bud, camellias, and maybe a few azaleas. I can’t help myself!

Continue reading “Observations of the Bird Station During a Summer Visit”