The walnut crop at the Dipper Ranch is huge this year. The guest bedroom is crammed with English walnuts drying in trays, box lids, buckets, and bags while Mango and Cole guard the harvest from mice. Every year (well, almost every year), we pick a photo of a different Dipper Ranch snake for that year's walnut label. Vote for the snake to be featured this year and you may be the lucky person to whom I give a bag of shelled walnuts.
|Just a small portion of this year's English walnut harvest at the Dipper Ranch.|
These are special walnuts. I once met the orchardist who planted the four trees about 40 years ago. When they were still in the neighborhood, his family would cordially ask about the health of the walnut trees and I would deliver them bagfuls of walnuts at harvest time. I collect the walnuts off the ground behind the Dipper Ranch barn, dry them in the ranch house, and crack them while watching movies on long winter nights. Since these walnuts are from a unique place with an amazing diversity of snakes, I give them a unique snake label each year. The cool weather that signals the trees to drop the walnuts is the same that sends the snakes into their winter dormancy. So while I'm spending the fall days collecting walnuts and enjoying the view of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I am also reflecting on the past year and my snake visitors.
|A snake of all things.|
|Retrieving a California nightsnake from the springbox.|
|California mountain kingsnake in buckeye tree|
|The California mountain kingsnake was an agreeable model while I tried to photograph its unique bands.|
|The eclipse-watching rattlesnake got marked with black ink on its tail before I released it in the dead skunk pasture.|
|I hope this 44"-long gopher snake ate a lot of gophers.|
|A well-fed rattlesnake.|
|Upon turning it inside-out, this was obviously the shed skin of a rattlesnake.|
|Possibly a pregnant rattlesnake.|
|California nightsnake showing the distinct dark shield-shape on its neck.|
There were other Dipper snakes throughout the year, but these were the most photogenic.
|Keeping track of biodiversity at the Dipper Ranch.|
I will generate a random number between 1 and 100 on Tuesday December 11 and the commenter with the random number closest to that will get the walnuts. I'm on a big kick with random numbers. It's starting to drive my boss mad.
California mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltizis zonata
Northern Pacific rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus
California nightsnake, Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchalata
Pacific gopher snake, Pituophis catenifer catenifer