Friday, May 14, 2010

PART 2—Includes a Blast from the Past Story—“It’s not Charlie.”

Now about the potatoes and tomatoes. This late in the season it’s often hard to find tomato and pepper plants, or seed potatoes available here in OK. So I was concerned I’d have none of the above available for my garden this year. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

At first when I was checking Wal-Mart for the desired plants all I found were tomato and pepper plants starting at $3.50 each. Way too expensive for my shoestring budget.

Sean and I kept looking, finally pushed to the back we found some 9 packs of Beefsteak tomatoes. They had been marked down to $3 a 9 pack. They were tiny plants, but we kept digging around until we found the healthiest of the plants, PLUS many of the sections had two tomato plants in each one. So we purchased two 9 packs. I ended up with 25 plants to plant for $6. A great deal as far as we were concerned. Beefsteak is not normally what I raise for canning, but I could go $6 far easier than I could go the $3.50 PER PLANT!

Further digging around found some $3 bell pepper plants (when all others were around $3.50-$4 each) again there were 2 plants in each of the three pots we purchased.

So those went in the ground the next day and were companion planted with basil and carrots. The cages are already set around them and they are growing quickly, much to our delight.

The following week Sean dropped Gary and I off at Lowe’s while he went to do a mystery shop that demanded he do so alone. I decided to look for seed potatoes.

I found a location that had a sign that said the burlap bags of seed potatoes were marked down to $2 each. Unfortunately there were no burlap bags of potatoes in the bin. Instead there were 20# paper bags of red seed potatoes marked at $19.95 each—WAAAY too expensive and definitely more seed potatoes than I had planned on. In the same bin were peck baskets that contained mixtures that had potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb for $9.95 each.

Knowing that in the past I have on numerous occasions asked for and received discounts on items that are similar to items they have on closeout or the damage bin I decided to see if they would at least discount these items . So I approached the cashier and inquired about the burlap potatoes and the remaining products in the $2 priced bin. She told me they were out of the burlap bag ones, but since the others were now in the bin I could purchase those items at $2 each as well. So I did. I happily left with 2 peck baskets and a 20# bag for a total of $6.

Sean and I planted all the items the next couple of days. It was far more potatoes than we’d planned on and I had not planned on many of the other items, so we had to snug up the garden a bit, but I just couldn’t resist the bargain.

We already had asparagus and garlic growing in the garden, but we figured we could always use more. LOL!

While we were home we had a few visitors of the unwelcomed type. SNAKES! The first one was a king snake that Sean promptly removed from the area and re-homed far away from our bird eggs.

The presence of the second snake became well known when our best broody Banty hen started screaming bloody murder as she fled her nest under the front porch. Just as soon as he heard the screams Sean knew what was going on and ran out front to see if he was right. The water moccasin was just starting to swallow the first of her nearly hatched eggs when Sean spotted him.

We spent the next minutes scaring the snake away from the nest, first by waving things at it through the gaps on the porch to then spraying it with a jet from the water hose, then with a long pole we have for just such a purpose. This one was a fighter, and it soon became apparent rehoming was not an option with this snake. It had to be dealt with as it climbed a cedar that was taller than our two story Dutch colonial home. He ended up in the maggot bucket. Little Speck returned to her nest and all was well until…

Two days later we heard our favorite little wild bird that builds a nest every year on our back deck hollering like crazy. You guessed it a third snake—a rat snake this time. This too got rehomed.

All of these snakes made remember a blast from the past story I wrote about Sean being snake bit when he was much younger. If you don’t like snake stories just move on to part three of this long missive that contains some recipes to add to your Master Mixes stash.

So for your enjoyment here is “It’s NOT Charlie”


Again, if you don't want to read snake stories move on to part three. I do not want to make anyone uncomfortable.

When I was growing up my grandparents always kept a king snake around for mouse and rat control. Whether they lived in the city or in the country. So having a king snake in your garage was nothing unusual to me. My husband had agreed it was fine and we released one we called Charlie in the garage one late summer day. On and off we saw Charlie and he grew plump with the field mice that tried to find their way into our home.

The next summer my two children Sam and Sean came into the bedroom of our home. Sam was carrying a beautiful speckled king snake. "Look Mom I found Charlie!" I said, yes it was another king snake, but it was not Charlie, who was used to be handled, and this one needed to be let go outside. Being a stubborn child Sam argued with me that she was certain this snake was Charlie despite it being smaller than the snake we had released the year before. All this time the snake is becoming more and more agitated. Doing as all snakes do, rattling its tail and hissing. Unfortunately at the height of its anxiety Sean, the younger super allergic to everything child, happened to walk by.

Charlie took the opportunity to strike, nailing Sean firmly on the thumb joint of his right hand. Dadburn it! Now we had to hang onto the snake instead of letting it go. I sent Sam to put the snake in something it couldn't get out of, and Sean to wash his hand and then to the living room to sit down while I called ER. Like I said, Sean is my allergic child. When the tested him for allergies for 103 known allergens he reacted to 98 of them. I could see what was coming, an allergic reaction for certain. This is basically how the ER phone call went.

"St. John's Emergency Medical, How may I help you?"

"I'd like to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about snake bites."

"One moment please"

"May I help you?"

" Yes, my son is very prone to allergies and he was just bitten by a non poisonous speckled king snake and I was wondering...."

"Are you certain the child was bit?"

"Yes, I saw it happen."

"Then you've killed the snake?"

"No, it's very much alive and in my ....just a minute" (at this point I realized the snake was crawling out the holes of the cat carrier and I had to shoo it back in with a pair of scissors they were the closest thing handy). "Sorry, it was escaping the cat carrier."

"Let me get this straight, you saw your son bit by a snake and it's now alive and living in your cat carrier?"


"Can you describe the snake?"

"It's a non poisonous speckled king snake."

"You said you saw it bite your son, how and where did it bite him?"

Folks I am sorry to say, but this is where I made my BIG mistake...

"My oldest child Sam, was holding what she thought was Charlie, the snake, we were arguing about it being Charlie or not and just as Sean, my son walked by the snake RATTLED it's tail and struck Sean on his thumb."

"RATTLED IT'S TAIL!? Mam, can you describe the snake?"

"It's a non poisonous speckled king snake, I just need to know if Sean could have an allergic reaction and if so how I should treat it"

"Where's your son now? Rattle snake venom needs to be counter treated immediately."

"Sean is in the living room watching cartoons and it NOT a rattle snake, it's a non poisonous speckled king snake."

"You need to get here immediately so we can give him anti venom."

"I'll bring him, but you can't give him anti venom, he's allergic to horses and that is made with horse serum. Besides it's a non poisonous snake!"

After that frustrating call I told Sam to put Not Charlie in a more secure container and Sean to get in the van. Sam did as she was told and also brought out her favorite reptile book with a very good picture of a non poisonous speckled king snake in it. Telling me to make sure they don't kill the snake just because it was stupid enough to bite her dumb brother.

On the way into Tulsa I observed Sean carefully, as he was trying to look at Not Charlie through the opaque 1/2 gallon ice cream container Sam had put him in. The thumb was starting to swell so I enquired about how he was feeling. His response was he was worried about what they would do at the hospital. I told him they'd probably look at the snake, wash his thumb and give him a tetanus shot then say "That will be $50 please." Sean started to protest he had just gotten a tetanus shot the month before when he had reached for something as Sam was cutting with a pair of scissors, accidentally cutting Sean. I promised I wouldn't let them give him another one.

When we got to ER I groaned, the parking lot was full, the waiting room was full and I knew this was a nonsensical trip. Now folks, I'm going to tell you right now how to move to the front of the line in a packed ER. Here's what happened:

They were, as I said, backed up. An ambulance driver had just brought a man in on a gurney and they were busy admitting him when someone asked if they could help us. I said I had called earlier about how to treat an allergic reaction to a non poisonous snake bite. They asked if I had killed and brought the snake. I said we hadn't killed it, Sean had Charlie in that container. Right on cue Not Charlie rattled his tail in that hard plastic container sounding like the granddaddy of all rattle snakes. Like something out of a cartoon all of the sudden the only thing left in the area with us was a few papers fluttering to the ground and the poor guy trying to get off the gurney. Staff, nurses, patients and their families had all scattered to the four winds. I'm sorry, but it was hilarious! Sean and I started laughing, and the more we'd laugh the harder that snake would rattle its tail. We were totally alone with the man on the gurney and the snake. I assured the man it was a non poisonous snake and it could not get out of the container.

After awhile one little nurse peeked around the edge of the door and timidly said "I got the short straw. Which one is Sean and which one is Charlie." I told her which one and she told Sean to bring Charlie and come to the back. Instantly the back emptied and I had all the out front help I could handle.

As I filled out paper work I heard a high pitched female scream and then Sean's throaty laughter. I could guess what had happened. That is the fastest I have ever been able to get paper work filled out at a hospital. They quickly led me back to my son who was standing at a sink washing his own thumb with betadiene. No staff was to be seen anywhere in that back area. I asked Sean what had happened.

Because the snake was in an opaque container it had to be put into something clear for them to see it clearly. Just as the nurse had poured the very angry snake into one of the clear canisters for the respiratory machine an orderly had poked her in the sides hissing. He later asked me for the snake, as he knew what type it was and he wanted it to eat mice at his house. Not Charlie went to live under a trailer house. So the scream had been her, and Sean had laughed at the whole situation.

We waited around for the "Snake Expert" for goodness knows how long. Everyone and his dog kept wanting to give Sean anti venom and I kept saying no. Finally the snake expert showed up. Took one look at it and said "It's a non poisonous speckled king snake, wash the boy's thumb good, give him a tetanus shot and send him home."

As Sean started to protest I said, "he was in here last month when his sister accidentally cut him with a pair of scissors and we got a tetanus shot then." The doctor looked square at Sean and said "Let's see, last month you had to have stitches, this month you get snake bit what do you have planned for next month?" "Going back to school" Sean solemnly told him. Everyone laughed.

The doctor grinned and said. "So I guess you can go home now as your thumb looks very clean, I guess this was the most exciting part of your summer wasn't it?"

Sean looked at me and grinned wickedly, taking my hand and pulling me toward the exit he said "No sir, them catching an alligator under our camper at Walt Disney World was!"

I was wrong about one thing, it wasn't $50, it was $54.

Jan who wonders how she survived raising her kids in OK

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to mention that this story had me giggling and wiping my leaking eyes the whole way through it. It sooooo sounds like something that would happen in my family! Really enjoy reading your posts!