Monday, October 31, 2011

Vote for the 2011 Estate Walnut Label

English walnuts still in their green husk.
Every year, we harvest English walnuts from the two trees behind the barn.  I give many of the walnuts away under the label of Happy Snake Ranch Walnuts.  Somehow, that tradition just got started and you to get vote on this year's label.

The walnut crop is very, very small this year, possibly due to the wet and cool spring.  We are going to have a Walnut Harvest Party anyway which is a celebration of the brisk weather as much as it is about collecting summer-in-a-shell.  Here's the link to last year's harvest party.

Once again, you get to decide on the snake to be featured on this year's label.  The 2011 candidates are: 3 rattlesnakes, a California mountain kingsnake and a western yellow-bellied racer.  Pick your favorite for this year's label and say so in the comments below.  The snake with the most votes goes on this year's label.  What a beauty contest.

Sprinting rattlesnake
In May when the water tank suddenly stopped filling, the Silver Fox came out to the Dipper Ranch to flush the pipes to the springbox.  He warned me to be on the lookout for a small rattler basking on rocks lining the driveway.  I checked the driveway rocks and otherwise walked carefully around the farmyard for several days until I spotted a small rattler under the easterly barn door just as a friend was arriving for a visit.  I duly drafted the Deer Whisperer to help me capture the rattler which disappeared until I lifted up the rotting threshold.  I later released the rattler at a rocky forest edge above the springbox and it sprinted away with its newly marked black tail.

California mountain kingsnake
Over Memorial Day weekend, I found a California mountain kingsnake wedged into the lid of the springbox.  Photographing the calm, colorful snake helped me heal after a tragic accident across the road as described at Scales on My Sleeves

Basking rattlesnake - in the orchard in the day, hunting garage mice at night.
In September, I was keeping an eye on a rattlesnake in the orchard and it was keeping an eye on me.  In Dear J's:  Please Stay Out of Trouble, I mistakenly thought I had the situation under control until one night a buzzing noise surprised Cat King Cole and me in the garage, and then I decided 40 feet Is Too Close on a Full Moon Night.  

Western yellow-bellied racer with an attitude.
Next in September, I pulled a western yellow-bellied racer out of the springbox.  When I relocated it to the Newt Pond, it made a beeline for the water and then turned around and struck at my boot before scooting off again.  It made me laugh because racers are harmless but I got the point.

Follow-up rattler - also appeared in the orchard.
Just when I thought the coast was clear in October, a rattlesnake appeared in the orchard again.  I was initially confused, but figured out with One Part Rain, One Part Sun that this was another rattlesnake likely attracted to the same spot by the scent of the first.  They both got moved away from the farmyard (and the walnut trees).

Okay, so vote in the comments for your favorite snake to appear on this year's label of 2011 Dipper Estate Walnuts.  There probably won't be any walnuts to label, so that means a very limited edition printing.


  1. California Mountain Kingsnake

  2. Tough decision, but my vote goes to the Kingsnake!

  3. Well my vote has to go to the plucky WYBR.

    Lovely post, Cindy. These days, harvest rituals are probably more culturally important for keeping us connected to the soil rather than for any calorific content.

    Roger Deakin's book, Wildwood - a journey through trees, had a wonderful chapter on the walnut harvest in eastern Europe.

  4. How can one ignore the beauty of the King, and so goes my vote.

  5. Kingsnake- always my favorite and always beautiful.

  6. My vote goes to the Mountain Kingsnake ... especially since I have yet to run across one.

  7. Mountain Kingsnake! Nice and bright for a label, even though not as prolific as your rattlers.

  8. Mountain Kingsnake! Not as prolific as rattlers on Big Dipper, but certainly not a stranger to the ranch.


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