Bejeweled days and snake guts

We are several days into November, but today’s weather–a sharp downturn in the temperatures, a forecast of heavy rain and possibly even (gulp!) some snow, makes it feel as if November is finally really here. We’ve had day after day of glittering sunshine, which makes the golden leaves hanging from the cottonwood trees look like yellow bits of sunshine.

Are we ready for winter? Not really.

Are we ever ready for winter? Um, not really. Not entirely.

Amalia and I have been pulling down the tomato cages in the garden, making accessible the hundreds of leftover currant tomatoes to the chickens, giddy things, who charge into the garden as if on a life-saving mission, grabbing and scuttling off to enjoy their purloined treats in peace. The tomatoes are tiny and hang on the cages like glowing rubies. The garden is not plowed yet, and the yard and our paths have not had their final fall mowing yet, because of a busted mower belt, which hasn’t yet been replaced. Always we leave a few things undone, some years worse than others. Sigh. I wanted to get the garage really clean. And throw out some junk from the shed. Oh well. Winter, clearly, is not going to wait for us this year.

Last weekend, we had finally caught up on processing our firewood, and had finally gotten a nice pile of split wood stored in the shed, but the nice tree cutter who occasionally dumps a load of logs at our place just brought us a new load of some silver maple logs a few days ago. It wasn’t a dead tree, the proof being the blanket of yellow leaves that slid out of the truck and covered the logs, so it’ll take a bit of time for it to dry out enough to burn in our wood stove, even after we cut and split it all up. Amalia had just made a batch of chewy oatmeal and chocolate chip bars that day, and I climbed up on the truck’s step and handed a plate of them in to the two guys in the truck. They grinned like little boys. Those bars were well worth grinning over, I can tell you!

I was a bit sad to see them go (the oatmeal bars, not the guys), they were so rich and chewy (the bars, not the guys), but perhaps I can coax my daughter to make another pan of them today. I fear for our cookie-eating selves, once Amalia has left home, since she has taken over this very grave responsibility upon herself, and excels at it, too, happily for us. But we have a few more years before we have that sad scenario to contemplate. Amalia at college. No more chewy oatmeal bars for us. Boo on both counts.

Little Mack shows off his climbing skills, on our pile of firewood.

Little Mack shows off his climbing skills, on our pile of firewood. Yikes.

This time of year, we have a pleasant anticipation of cozying up in the house for a few months, but also a melancholy that every day could be “The Last Nice Day.” With today’s forecast on our minds yesterday, Amalia, Little Mack and I took off on One Last Autumnal Walk down the road, snapping pictures like crazy. After today, all this finery could be snow-covered. Of course, snow is lovely, too. In its own bone-chilling, blue-lip-producing way. Sigh.

So Long, October


There’s a long line of large round bales of alfalfa hay not far from our place. Little Mack delights himself in jumping down this line of bales, every time we walk down this road. This time Amalia and I joined him. It was fun. It was scary.

So Long, October

It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this–in order to jump from one bale to the next, you need to use your arms to propel you. Every bale is sitting at a different angle, so you must adjust your landing carefully on each one, to avoid sliding or tumbling off. Meanwhile you’re about six feet off the ground. Farmers are driving past slowly, wondering just what that middle-aged woman is doing up there, high atop those bales, leaping like a lunatic, acting like a kid. What the heck–!!?

Of course little Mack sailed effortlessly over them, one by one. Because of a recent ankle injury (I know I shouldn’t have been up there in the first place, but doggonit-–!!) I jumped gingerly, trying to land on my right foot just so. . . and it was worth the risk. It was fun. It was scary. But did I mention that already?


One of our neighbor’s dogs bolts out when we pass his house, and he follows us joyfully no matter how far we walk. I’m thinking about just letting him follow us home next time, he’s such a sweet and enthusiastic hound. (Just kidding, Greg.) So far we’ve always walked him back home, after our walk. So far.

The last time I walked along this road, I found two dead (and only just freshly-dead) garter snakes. Little Mack had been begging me to allow him to dig into the High School Biology set and dissect some of the preserved critters–there’s an earthworm and a couple of fish and a frog, I think–He had the scalpel! He had the pins and the tray! He could just do it himself if I didn’t have the time to help him!

I carried the snakes home to him, and we sat right down and dissected them, immediately. I’m not a particularly squeamish person, but the inside of a snake is dicey stuff, Gentle Reader. I felt a bit squeamish that day, I don’t mind telling you. Just don’t tell my little Mack, please, lest he use this bit of intel against me.

So long, October

He is 7 and we are opening up snakes and studying all their parts. What will we do for High School Biology, I wonder? I’m not sure I even want to imagine that yet . . .

I’ll be linking up again with The Prairie Homestead and also Frugally Sustainable, in their marvelously informative and entertaining Blog Hops! Join me!



16 thoughts on “Bejeweled days and snake guts

  1. Gena Livings

    I love this time of year!
    My husband and I live in the Northern California forest area so this time of year always means preparing for the cold winter months ahead. Your stack of fire wood looks just like ours! Well, maybe not quite as high but “close!”
    I just wrote an exercise post the other day explaining all the different types/forms of healthy exercise and cutting wood and jumping on hay bales were included on the list!!
    Keep up the good work! 🙂
    Healthy blessings

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Gena, I’d like to read that post! I’ve always thought about writing a post entitled Farm Woman Work-out, which would include lugging bags of chicken feed (50 lbs!) out to the chicken coop, chasing a rooster out of the blueberry patch, hauling buckets of water, etc. 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Roy, great suggestions. I regret that I was in a bit of a hurry that day, and we didn’t take the time to draw the insides in our sketchbooks, as we usually do. Looks like I’ll have to keep my eye out for another snake on the road . . .

  2. Anita-Clare Field

    Well that’s some pile of wood, I have a basket. Still the weather is still ‘reasonable’ and not fire lighting season. I used to love jumping on hay bails when I was a kid, there was a huge wheat field next to my Grandma’s house. As for the snake, well its science and therefore important. We did rats at high school 🙁 Great post, Amy.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Anita-Clare, we heat a good portion of our house with a woodstove, so that pile of wood will be long gone by spring!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      thanks Susanna. Those bales are there for the winter, so I’m actually looking forward to going back on a nice day and jumping them again! I think I’ll put an ankle brace on first, though, next time . . . 🙁

  3. Alana (@RamblinGarden)

    I will tell you what you do (and you know it better than me, having already raised 5 other children to my one son, total). You hope Little Mack doesn’t switch his love to chemistry and make explosives in the basement with his high school chemistry kit. (I suspect that’s why the modern kits only have micrograms worth of chemicals). So, I will tell you a totally unrelated story about my cousin Alan, and how he brought home a bunny one day, intending to kill and dissect it. The rest of the family would have none of it and built Mr. Rabbit (or maybe it was Miss Rabbit) a hutch for his or her short but happy life. P.S. Cousin Alan is now an emergency room doctor.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh please, Alana, don’t even mention the word “explosives.” Since you told me such an excellent story (good for the rest of the family that saved Mr. Rabbit’s life–for a time, anyway) I’ll tell you one. The other day Amalia and I were out doing chicken chores together, and she found a little enclave in a wooded area near the chicken coop. There sat one of my best cooking pots with a lid (I wondered where that went!) a little footstool, a box of matches and many (many) burned matches, along with something charred inside my pot. Mack!!! Yikes! So now, when he comes in from outside and I ask “what have you been doing out there?” and he says innocently “just playing” I will know that that means he might have been trying to cook something in the woods, using my favorite sauce pan, and many matches. Yikes. Thanks for your excellent comment, by the way! 🙂

  4. Francene Stanley

    nother thing I wonder about is: Will you call Mack ‘Little Mack’ forever? When He’s over 6 ft tall? Or is that his temporary persona for the blog? Hehe.
    Your blog drew me out of my sedatory life to jump over bales with you, enjoy the gold sparkling from autumn leaves, and anticipate cozy fires with all that split wood.
    You’re my idea of the perfect woman. Leading your family, nurturing, feeding, growing–just plain caring. Long may you live in peace and harmony with nature.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thank you, Francene.You are a sweet woman. We call Little Mack lots of things–we call him in to supper, we call him down when he’s being too wild, we call him Mack or Mally or MAL-A-CHIIII! I’d love it if you lived closer and we could head on down the road for a long chummy walk and chat. I’d love to pick your active brain on so many fronts. I wouldn’t force you to hop those bales, either. 😉

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sophie, I’ll admit that I shuddered just a bit when we sliced into that snake, too. But a mum does what she has to do, eh?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Some parts of our state got some snow this last week, but we just received rain. This coming week looks like it’ll be cold enough for snow, easily. brrrr!

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