I've been busy - working on the garden, my volunteer activities, and taking part in my first political forum last night. I'll write about those things here eventually, I'm sure, but wanted to post these pictures a friend sent me a couple of days ago.
The first one just looks like one of our typical dry, high-desert chaparral hillsides, doesn't it? Nothing really very remarkable, is there? Or is there? Take a closer look, right there in the middle of the picture (for a closer look, you can click on any of the photos, or just keep reading).
These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago, a few miles north and east of here. When you get a bit closer, you can see that's not just a differently-colored pile of dirt down in that hole (I don't know that I would even get close enough to have taken these photos - gives me the willies just looking at them). It's alive! And moving!
It's an entire den of Great Basin rattlesnakes, just waking up from their winter's hibernation, out for a bit of sun. Now I don't really mind having a snake around. I don't care for the "startle" factor when I first see one, but for the most part they can really be quite helpful keeping the rodent population down. We've had a little gopher snake out under our shed for the past couple of years, and he's actually quite cute when he does his rattlesnake imitation - he'll curl up and shake his naked little tail and hiss.
But real rattlesnakes are a different story. If we get one around the place, we'll try relocating it - Aries will gently pick it up with a long stick and carry it down the road to the open hillsides. But some like the easier pickin's around the chicken coop (the mice really like the scratch corn we give the chickens as a treat) and come back. In that case we'll kill them, but have only done that twice in the 20 years we've been here. But this is still the wild west out here in some ways, so you always have to be aware of where you're putting your feet when out hiking in these hills - especially around open rock formations in the summer and into the fall. And once you hear that distinctive rattle, you'll never forget it.