Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote for 2010 Estate Walnut Label

Every year, we harvest English walnuts from the two grand trees behind the barn.  I give many of the walnuts away under the label of Happy Snake Ranch Walnuts.  Last year, we made a party out of it with guests, sunsetting, an appearance by the Deer Whisperer, and I boldly claimed that these are Estate Walnuts.

With the arrival of the 2010 storms, the walnuts are dropping and it is time to decide on the snake to be featured on this year's label.

The 2010 candidates are:

The Pensive Gopher Snake
The Pensive Gopher Snake was exploring the backyard on April 26th when I was undertaking the first big mowing of the spring.  I stopped the brushcutter and moved this 34" specimen to a grassy spot under old farm equipment along the driveway.  This photo shows the black line that crosses a Pacific gopher snake's forehead, appears to connect with the dark round pupils and then dives straight down below the eyes.

Nightsnake Scales on Linen
This California nightsnake is showing off its distinct neck blotch.  I recovered it from the main springbox on September 1st and before releasing it, showed it to several people so they could become familiar with this uncommon snake.  This could be the last snake I see on the Dipper Ranch in 2010 as I have never seen a snake after October for the length of the winter.

The Blue-tongued Rattler
The Blue-tongued Rattler showed up at the barn on April 25th and was the First Buzz of the 2011 season.  I moved it approximately one mile away  and marked its rattle with purple and green ink.  No Northern Pacific rattlesnake with purple-green tattoos subsequently showed up at the barn, so I guess I moved it far enough away.

So go ahead and vote in the comments section on which snake you think should be featured on the 2010 walnut label.  I will post the winner after the great walnut harvest next week.

Gopher Snake on Old Farm Equipment
Same gopher snake as above.  A patient snake, it tolerated me carrying it from one spot to another trying to decide the best place to move it so it wouldn't show back up in my multi-day mowing project.  Once I set it down, this snake posed on the old farm equipment until I suddenly reached out to move a grass stalk out of the photo, and then it struck at me.  It didn't actually bite me, just scared me enough to be respectful and to remember for the rest of the season - no fast movements around snakes.


  1. As far as an image, I'd go with the Gopher on the Old Farm Equipment. But I'd hurry up to Trademark or Copyright the name "Blue Tongued Rattler" because that could move a lot of some product in the future.

  2. I vote for the "Pensive Gopher Snake"

  3. Tough choice....
    I think I have to go with Gopher Snake on Old Farn Equipment if that's in the running. There's something about the front view (vs. side view) that has me smiling : )

  4. Somehow, I skipped a year! This is for the 2010 walnut harvest year and corrections to the post have been made. 2011 harvest does have a nice ring to it though.

  5. Is that stunning creature a garter snake? Anyhow, do you have an e-mail address to which I can send a better pic of the mysterious plant I shot as I attempted to shoot the spider?


  6. I like Gopher Snake on Old Farm Equipment best. But I wouldn't want to find any of the snakes pictured in my backyard!

  7. Biobab: funny YOU should ask as that is what I call the Hydee-Head yoga pose of this coast gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans terrestris) at

  8. I vote for the night snake- it isn't everyday you get to see these snakes!

  9. PS, oh Maestra de todas las ciencias - why the blue tongue? Adaptive thing or cold-blooded thing?

  10. I've been wondering the same thing. I believe I have seen snakes of the same species with different colored tongues. I am wondering if it is something to do with blood circulation? I took a quick look in my strange-facts-about-snakes book (Snakes in Question, The Smithsonian Answer Book, Ernst & Zug, a book I picked up on a lark at my fav used bookstore in SLO and it is fabulous). It didn't have anything. Someday when I have time to research further . . . but in the meantime, let's just continue to wildly speculate, errr, I mean hypothesize.

  11. Maybe it is from eating too many blueberries? :)

  12. I love our local walnuts. They are so much better than store bought.

  13. The votes are in on the 2010 Dipper Ranch Estate Walnut label at this post: Seasonal Attention Disorder


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