Live Your Best Life–What Does This Mean to You? Take the Well-Living Assessment

A Fiddleheads & Floss blog series : Well-Living Assessment


About this series:

What does it mean to you to “live your best life?” Though our versions of this are many, there are common threads in our human experience that unite us at a deep level of understanding.

“The Fiddlehead Life” blog series nurtures those places of the heart and mind where our humanity meets the world with wonder and seeks familiarity, grounding, and inspiration. I know, that sentence is a mouthful, but read it again:

“The Fiddlehead Life” blog series nurtures those places of the heart and mind where our humanity meets the world with wonder and seeks familiarity, grounding, and inspiration.

Christina M. Ward

This year as 2020 rolled around, I realized something. My normal excitement over a “New Year” seemed a bit….lacking. Normally I embrace the new year with the making of excited lists and the planning of new areas of growth in my life, but this year, the feeling just was not there.

I just completed my first novel. My new poetry collection is making best sellers lists. I am content with my family and relationships. But something–something feels stagnant.

I am sure I am not the only one feeling this way. Life is meant to be well-lived. We are meant as human beings to be ever-growing, ever-seeking, ever-changing and yes, joyous, even in the face of great struggle.

I am excited to bring you this series The Fiddlehead Life.

Join me in this quest for a more meaningful, pleasant, and satisfied life.

TO BEGIN:

You may want to get a notebook for this journey. A journal. As you read through each blog post you may want to write down the take-away that strikes you, the quotes that move you, and the snippets of advice that may help you along the way.

The first step of any forward motion is assessment. Taking stock. Looking around at what is truth and being mindful of your place, currently. Knowing where you are starting out makes it so much easier to assess your forward progression. Begin with the following assessment, making notes of any of the areas in your life in which you would like to see growth.

Well-Living Assessment

Taking the assessment also provides me with helpful information as I design the topics and material for this series.

I welcome you on this journey! Please share this post with your friends and invite them to come along with us. Let’s do this thing.


good life quote 1

~Christina Ward

–-author of “organic,” a poetry collection that sits at the heart of this “Live Your Best Life” movement. You may find this bestselling collection on Amazon at ORGANIC–FIDDLEHEADS & FLOSS VOL. 1


While you are here, visit the main page here: Fiddleheads & Floss and check out the new layout with handy menu tabs at the top to help you find the content you need to see today. On the right hand side there is also a navigation box for “Read Blog Posts by Topic” to help you narrow it down. Join the Author Newsletter to stay up-to-date.

Gathering Them — A Free Verse Poem on Leaps of Faith

Preparing a poetry collection.

photo by adege on Pixabay

Gathering Them

I am gathering them,
snapshots on a line,
puzzle pieces,
building blocks,
roots.

Together.

Individually, yes, strength.
Each a painting, a break in
the timeline of my life,
a check mark.

But, together

Together they say something bigger.
Together they are a timeline.

Snapshots become an art gallery,
puzzle pieces, when placed,
begin to lose their lines of separation,
a picture forms.

Building blocks form a bridge,
one to cross over into epiphanies.

Roots intertwine and feed our souls
up limb and out our branches
to each leafy finger grasping sun.

Together,
they are better.
Together, these poems
are my book.

My book, is me.

I am gathering them,
assembling them,
birthing them all over again
into one,
my fingers, my face, my hope
in the sun.

I am compiling my first poetry book. It is an act of faith.

Faith that others will want to support me and own a collection of my work — I promise, it is better than the quality of the above poem, which is little more than a bit of nonsensical rambling from a tired poet who promised to write a poem every day of the month for POMwrimo. (POMwrimo is a current event going on in my Facebook group for Poets from the Medium platform.)

The new book contains some of my best work, and a few poems that no one has ever seen before. (Yes, A World Without Butterflies is in the book.)

To say that I am excited is to barely brush the surface of this experience.

To all you poets out there — believe in your work. Honor your work. Never, ever give up on your work.


Christina Ward 💗 is a poet who has a lot to celebrate tonight. Poetry is one of them.

So blessed.

12 Poetry Quotes that Teach us Self Love

you are worth it

Image by Maria Zangone from Pixabay

“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove — it is an ever-fixed mark.” — from some Shakespearean sonnet I had to memorize in high school. This poem still plays in my head fairly often and its meaning has deepened for me over the years.

Love. The poets have a lot to say about love, but I thought today I’d share with you some of the wisdom of poets about loving yourself. Being true to yourself. And being your own best influencer, cheerleader, and support system.

We begin with Rupi Kaur, not necessarily my favorite poet, but the simplicity found in some of her poems is truly inspiring. This little nugget is probably one of the deeper thoughts in her work:

#12

“Our backs tell stories
no books have the spine to carry”
― Rupi Kaur, quote

What story does your spine carry? Are you sharing that story with the world without fear or shame? We all have a precious story under our skins and it is worthy of our attention. Worthy of honoring.

#11

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain. — Emily Dickinson, “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking”

What makes your life have value? The attitudes and actions you admire most — implement. Time is a gift for you to use. May it bring out your best qualities!

#10

I CELEBRATE myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you —Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself”

When is the last time you took a moment to simply celebrate yourself? If Walt thought it wise — I might be inclined to think it is a good idea. Have you written a song of yourself?

#9

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth. — Joy Harjo, from “Remember”

Remembering your history with all its flaws, imperfections, tragedies — and victories, remembering your roots can help to put a life in perspective. Give yourself credit for being a part of history, your history, and the ones that come after you. We are all a part of something bigger — and this is a beautiful thing!

#8

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. — Mary Oliver, from “Wild Geese”

Oh, I love me some Mary Oliver. I thank her for this bit of wisdom — love, and do, and be yourself. You are worthy. Just…love.

#7

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.— Anaïs Nin, “Risk”

Anaïs Nin spoke from the heart, without fear. I love this snippet of her writing because it reminds us that we are all growing, changing, blooming. Nurture yourself in this beautiful unfolding.

#6

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops — at all — Emily Dickinson, from “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”

Hope. A precious and sometimes fleeting commodity that comes from within. Dig deep to find it when you need it most.

#5

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; — William Shakespeare, from Sonnet 116

Love perseveres. Are you loving with yourself through tempests? Do not be shaken — when all else is gone, or when others may fail you, you have yourself! This is a poem of love between people but the core message is of love. Loving yourself is a good place to start before you can love others honestly.

#4

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference — Robert Frost, from “The Road Less Traveled”

This poem reminds us that we all have choices and to be brave, be bold, be curious. Life truly is a journey and our maps are all infinitely unique. Be your own navigator, courageously.

#3

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
And if you dare to dream of meeting
Your heart’s longing. — Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from “The Invitation”

What are your deepest achings? Your biggest dreams? This poem digs deep with such simple language into the desires of the heart. It encourages us to follow our spirit in the direction of our dreams. I truly love this.

author’s quote and graphic

#2

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then lost close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be. — Shel Silverstein, “Listen to the Mustn’ts”

Shel Silverstein, author of some of my favorite books from my childhood, reminds us here to believe in ourselves with childlike fervor. — A deep-dive into Shel Silverstein’s brilliant work is a day well spent and a mood lifted — any day! (Start with The Giving Tree, and Where the Sidewalk Ends.)

#1

Pretty sure the number one here is obvious — and I can’t read this poem without hearing the deeply moving, captivating voice of Maya Angelo reading it.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. — Maya Angelou, from “Still I Rise”

The cathartic ancestral flow of this poem brings me to tears every time. But on days when picking myself up feels difficult, I hear her words chanting to me:

I rise…
I rise…
I rise…

Thank you for taking some time out of your day today to celebrate with me the wisdom of poets. And to celebrate you. You, are worthy.

Medium UPDATE–Here’s what you may have missed

Fiddleheads & Floss Newsletter

Hi to all my WordPress followers!! This week on my Medium account I did ALL of my links with the “Friend Links” which means that YOU–even if you are NOT a Medium member, can enjoy this content. I thought I’d share the newsletter with you! Read below to see what you may have missed over at Medium. I promise, I will get some of these poems posted here as well 🙂 Have a GREAT weekend!! If you would like to follow Fiddleheads & Floss on Medium, here is the link:

https://medium.com/fiddleheads-floss

What a week — sucky for MPP but a lot of great writing! Fancy that?

Here are a few highlights — all friend links so you can share this with friends or other writers you think may enjoy it. Thanks guys!

First offDid you know I am related to an ax murderer?

Two writing prompts for you!

Emily Dickinson Poetry Prompt (Thank you Jenny Justice for your response to this one — I really enjoyed it!)
Haiku Prompt (This one is from House of Haiku — they have great prompts!)


Poetry is queen this week!

This Poetic Sea (Thank you to Heath ዟ and Anna Rozwadowska for all you do to support L.L. writers!! You guys are the best!)

A terrible uninvited guest — IN MY BATH!!

Ladder-back Chairs

I Grow Restless

Late Night Ladies

The little guy that sent my heart through the roof this week when I stepped on him!

Without this guy I can hardly walk.

Poor Icy — R.I.P (Dennett thank you for your condolences and understanding!)

On the Outskirts of the Blue Ridge


Don’t miss these writing articles!

Are you running on a hamster wheel for Medium?

For the sake of Great Story


Articles to inspire you — win at life!

You need to be doing this right now!

The worst boss I ever had.

That is all for this week — stay tuned for a great poem due to post any day now— Rivers Through the Wasteland.

Happy weekend everyone. My tribe. My people. You guys are the best.

I hope you have found something wonderful here to read and share. Delivering content that makes your life better or more meaningful in some way is remarkably rewarding — so let me know what you appreciate and I will do more like that 🙂

One poem this week I wrote in less than 2 minutes and gave it ZERO edits — hoping that this would make it feel more authentic, be more relatable, connect better with readers — it received 1.1K claps in 12 hours. I learned something here. About not leaving my reader behind with poetry so complex that it isn’t enjoyable — thanks you guys for teaching me!

One more thing: Zach J. Payne has started a pub for SONNETS!! Here’s the link: Sonnetry Be sure to give it a follow — and get to writing some sonnets!

~Christina

Late Night Storm in July

a free verse poem

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

It feels like a deep rumble in the belly of the earth.
Roaring through the skies like it came right out of 
the ground, a fat belch set free to shake the darkness
in the skies. The churning light, pulsing within its
thundercloud womb, burning to strike trees 
from root — the shift and boil and release.

That rumbling billow cannot be simply the shifting of air.
That sound that brings me to melancholy depth,
inner cogs grinding away, time anchoring to emotion.
A soul sitting still is moved by these sounds. 
Now, the rain. Paced and steady she is carried in
on the bowling thunder that unearths me. I imbibe energy.

I am jolted. The summer storm alights with all her fury,
unleashed on thirsty ground and earth-clinging trees,
bending in the throes of her gusts. Dripping patter
hammers the roof, drums out the monotony of a day
too long and a night too short. She is unleashed,
a great pendulum of ferity, flogging the night sky,
and I am unbound. My inviolable spirit — reborn,
a fat baby slapped again and again.



This poem was originally published on Weeds and Wildflowers, a Medium publication.

My name is Christina. I am a poet. 
:::i paint with words:::

Abysmal You

Free Verse poetry


Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

I dream of things unspoken.
You shake me to the surface
sleepy-eyed, confused.

You might still be real.

There might still be one moment
that is mine.

My nakedness aches.
I don’t want
the gray
the shadow
the memory to absorb you.

Eyes wide and blind, I am a child,
abandoned, untethered.


Original publishing: Abysmal You

My name is Christina. I am a poet. 
:::i paint with words:::

Christina Ward is an accomplished poet, aspiring author, and columnist for the Observer News Enterprise newspaper. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Catawba College in Environmental Science which greatly influences her work. She also studied creative writing and English at Catawba. Her poetry has been published in the Cameo print literary magazine, the Arrowhead print literary magazine, Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, and in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine.

Experience “Gaerver Pond” an original, Free Verse Poem

poem by Christina Ward

Image by Kerttu Northman from Pixabay

Gaerver Pond

Evening descends, darkness crawling into
the spaces of my yard,
Leaves spin then settle into shadow.
Fall brings herself in quietly this year.

Gaerver Pond is still,
save the concentric circle
disruptions of insect and air.

Beneath a green veil
mayfly nymphs squirm and crawl.
They will be devoured, in time.

I await the same fate.

Shifting, I am tired. Memory
skips rocks across the pond.
I remember nights of skin and sweat
Loving you so completely,
I forgot to be afraid.
I remember you.

The bench steals a last grasp 
of warmth from me,
as I leave it to the chill,
the anguished memories
that live here still.


Originally published: Gaerver Pond in Literally Literary

Don’t Miss Updates on Christina’s Poetry and Book Releases!

Update on My Emergency Surgery

and how you can help

Pixabay

Emergency Surgery Needed ANY FURTHER DONATIONS NEED TO GO THROUGH PAYPAL TO ENSURE FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE BY THE SURGERY DATE. PAYPAL EMAIL IS FIDDLEHEADSNFLOSS@GMAIL.COM

The Video

The Story

Sometimes life pulls the rug right out from under you. My family is experiencing one of those moments and instead of helping, as I should be doing, I have managed to create the perfect storm of a problem. If we hadn’t exhausted all other means, I wouldn’t be creating a crowd-sourcing campaign for MYSELF. I know these things are usually handled by a family member or a friend–but again, I feel like this is MY mess to clean up.  I know it is not my fault, but the heart sometimes is shielded to the wisdom of the mind.

I am doing this because I love my family and I do not want to burden them with this.

The situation:

I live with Robbie (pictured), our 14-year-old daughter, and my adult son (who works, manages his own finances, and pays us a small weekly rent.)
My boyfriend is the sole provider for our household bills. I am not working due to chronic health issues.

Robbie has lost his job suddenly (his company, without warning, closed its doors) and 2 days later I find out that I need emergency surgery.

After a pain flare-up three weeks ago landed me in Duke University for tests and an overnight stay, we have utilized every charitable program we can find to try to get answers. The pain is in my face, jaw, and head. There have been problems with numbness in my lip and chin, lip drooping on one side, embarrassing drooling on that side, and slurring of my speech. They called a Stroke Code as soon as I arrived at Duke.
I had intermittent seizures on one side of my face for approximately 48 hours until the stay at Duke, where anti-inflammatory shots were given bringing the pain level down and therefore bringing the blood pressure down from the ceiling, and the seizures slowly dissipated. 
The nerve pain has been up the back of my head with lightning fingers of pain across my scalp. Another nerve area on my cheek spreads across my cheekbone and chin. Another behind my ear. The bones in my face ache something terrible–but with all this pain there are no pain management options for me. I take medication already for nerve pain so the doctor raised that again but no additional pain-managing medications were given at any of the doctor visits.

In the difficult financial position, we are in, we spent half the rent for me to see the dentist–hoping that he would shed light on the situation.

He did. The dentist explained to me this:

I have two impacted wisdom teeth, one on either side of my face and both are sitting directly on a nerve going to my chin — this explains the facial drooping, the numbness in my lip, and the difficulty at times for my mouth to move properly when I am speaking (hence part of the stroke concerns previously.) 

It also possibly explains the nerve pain flare-ups in my head and the facial seizures.

I also have an infection in a back tooth and this is a big problem — the infection is not draining outward, but pooling back behind the impacted tooth and into my jawbone (and eventually into other areas of my head). 

I need emergency surgery to remove all three teeth. This is what my dentist said to me after a drastic exclamation at the x-ray imagery, composed and alarmed he explained:

“I have never seen anything like this before in my career.”
“It is no wonder you have been in terrible pain.”
“The nerve damage in your face may be permanent at this point.”
“You cannot wait.”
“This could end your life.”

So, at a point in our family where the income has been reduced to nearly nothing, I need emergency surgery–and soon.

My consultation with the dental surgeon is on June 4th. We will know a precise amount for the surgery then, but my dentist said it will be 2500 or 3000. I am asking 3000 because even if the surgery is less than that, our family could use the extra to help with bills during this difficult time.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with ortho on another matter and may also need neck surgery–this will be (mostly) covered by the Charity Care program, but dental surgery is not covered under this program.

I know there are kind people out there who wholeheartedly care about the pain of others. I do not want anyone to be burdened by giving. Only give if you are able to do so without putting yourself into a financial strain.

I thank you for reading and for your empathy–prayers welcome but please no pity. This is just another hurdle for us to leap and God cares for even the sparrow, so I know He watches me. Take care.

(To be clear, no medical or dental insurance, we were denied the dental credit card and denied a personal loan we tried to get, and because we are not married and my adult son lives here–they take his income into consideration–I get denied for Medicaid.)

A note on Robbie: This is a man who would do anything for anyone–ask anyone that knows him. The only thing worse than my pain is watching the stress and anguish it causes him. He is frantically trying to solve this problem and I want to ease his burden somehow.

Christina

The Update:

Surgery is scheduled for June 13. For those of you who missed the Facebook update: The dental surgeon is less concerned about infection as he is with the structural issues regarding the surgery itself. Apparently, there is little jawbone in the area to work with. When the two teeth are removed, part of the jawbone will also need to be removed, leaving a very thin area of jawbone left. This means that fracture of my jawbone is possible, maybe even likely. This will mean I may need to follow-up at the hospital for surgery to put a plate in my jaw. I have coverage through the Charity Care program at my local hospital so I hope that financially that will not be a problem. Although, I do not know what this means for a “pain forecast.” Another issue is the nerve. Both teeth sit directly on the nerve. I am told that removing the teeth “may not improve the nerve pain” in my face and that permanent nerve damage and/or numbness in my face is a possible maybe even a likely outcome. Again, I do not know what this means for a “pain forecast.” All of this is disheartening and has me very anxious but your prayers, messages of support, and your giving are life-changing and sustaining to me in this difficult time. I cannot thank you enough. It is humbling.

Help spread the word!

Weird Things Women Do

It’s genetic; I swear

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

As women, we have a few go-to moves that make sense only to us. Men have seen us do these things and raised a brow in wonder. (They have their own quirks too, as you well know, but that would be another post, another day.)

Boobs are very multi-functional.

My daughter-in-law and I are big fans of The Cell Phone Stash. While this is usually pertaining to cell phones, it is a well-known fact among us women that the best, most efficient pocket we own is our boobs.

You can stuff all kinds of stuff there! Money, car keys, your infant, so many things. And between my daughter-in-law and I, for the record, she could actually lose things in there. For me, I’ve never lost anything in there but there has been the occasion when an item goes missing and I check my boobs, just in case.

It is the perfect place to park your phone, on speaker, so that you may go about your business, your conversation companion none the wiser.

A sister move to The Cell Phone Stash is The Boob Wipe. I know you’ve seen (and ladies — you know you’ve done this!) a woman end a call on her cell phone and promptly wipe the phone across her boob. Because again the boob is multifunctional and the perfect place to wipe away the face print on the cell phone screen. A good alternative, The Hip Wipe, but watch out for those sequined or bedazzled britches. (That’s Southern for pants — one day I just need to do a write up for y’all on Southern lingo.)

The bathroom quirks that unite us

Make-up often blurs our cell phone screens which is just nasty and brings me to another thing we women do, often in the privacy of our bathrooms or with the sun visor flipped down in the car. We do a very good impression I call The Darth Vader.

This impressive move is annoyingly left out of the mascara commercials — the ones with the lovely models all wearing lash extensions or full fake eyelashes and touting the miraculous wonders of the Lashy-Luschious Perfection Mascara 3000. If the extensions weren’t enough to convince us of their dishonest expression of care for the length and breadth of our lashes; notice the other bold lie.

They apply mascara with their mouth closed. When we all know this is impossible. Furthermore, bring on the heavy concentration, the focused deep-breathing and you have it — The Darth Vader. We truly impress, even without Lashy-Luschious Perfection Mascara 3000.

(And men who wear mascara — make sure you implement this important technique. Since the dawning of mascara, this is the way.)

We have a few bathroom tricks up our sleeves as well, like The Upside-Down Hair Toss — how else would you blow-dry your hair? And there seems to be a rule on this one. If the hair is not tossed violently enough, it must be gathered and the toss must be repeated. More injury comes from this weird women’s activity than any other.

Except maybe The Hover. Men, I implore you to try this once. It’s kind of like a game. Sit to pee — but no part of your skin may actually touch the toilet seat. I won’t go into the potential for injury on this one, but it is crucial, especially in public restrooms, to master this event.

Why? If you have to ask that — we cannot be friends. And while I have your attention men; would it hurt you to take a hint from your ladies? Do you really think we walk around without farting? The Squeeze is your friend. If you need instructions, I am sure any woman would be happy to demonstrate this planet-saving, marriage-saving, face-saving technique.

Speaking of saving-face, there are just some moments in a woman’s life that we are not proud. I am speaking of The Hide.

Because sometimes…you just have to

It’s tough to be a woman. There are those moments when you want it. You need it. And you have to hide to get it.

I can best describe this moment by sharing the story of a woman I know well, and admire beyond the limits of humanly possible admiration. She’s a strong, confident, successful woman and she has two beautiful small children. And even she, medical doctor she, has perfected The Hide, as demonstrated by a Facebook post I once read on her wall depicting the eating of Nutella — in the closet.

Sometimes you just have to Nutella — alone.

I am proud to say that the last time the grandkids were here to visit, my teenage daughter demonstrated The Hide by hiding in her closet to listen to Pandora. Earbuds in, she demonstrated efficiently the genetic component to weird women quirks — I’m pretty sure she’s never known about The Hide — at least not from me!

Take care of yourselves ladies! The struggle Bus has our names inscribed on the side but we carry on! Let your weirdness shine.

And can we please get some realness on our mascara commercials? Darth Vader and all?


Thanks for reading!
Don’t Miss Updates on Christina’s Poetry and Book Releases!

Wrangling the Snakes

NO Mr. Snake–you cannot eat my silkie babies!

Robbie–who really wishes to be called batman–holding the successfully captured reptile.
  • TRIGGER WARNING — snake pictures below.

So this morning was exciting!

I love wrangling the snakes away from our chicken pens. (Although I don’t like them being there.) This is our first snake this season which is pretty unusual. I thought I’d share the story, the video, and the pictures here for you!

We have three chicken pens and in one of the pens are our silkies.

This is Merlin, our lavender bantam silkie roo and Icy our white bantam silkie hen.

This morning Robbie (my S.O. for those of you who haven’t read about him yet — he’s kind of a superhero 🙂 went out to feed the silkies and discovered a 5–6 ft black rat snake in the pen. Snakes eat the eggs and any baby chicks they can get. They must be removed from the pens immediately.

We have a very strict “no kill” snake policy and only break it if there is no other alternative.

We’ve killed snakes only twice — once when a black snake (thicker-bodied and stronger than the black racers) had the head of one of my favorite silkie hens in its mouth. The silkie’s name was Prudence and she was one of the two first silkies we ever had. We were too late and Prudence’s life was lost. That was the only time we’ve killed a non-venomous snake.

The other kill was a copperhead snake that was inside of our “big girl” pen (the pen with our standard-sized laying hens) and since Robbie was out of town at the time, I was left to handle the snake alone. It was a small copperhead, orange-diamonded and beautiful.

I know it’s weird but copperheads are my favorite — they have the most colorful, beautiful pattern.

I hated that we killed this snake and to this day it does not sit well with me. (We do not have health insurance and I thought it simply too risky to try to relocate this venomous snake.) My son arrived home shortly after I discovered the coiled visitor and he was able to help me ‘take care” of the situation.

We have probably relocated in excess of 20 snakes on our journey as chicken parents and before Robbie came along and started “protecting” me a bit too much when the snakes come around — I was the family snake handler. They called me. I showed up. I have relocated many snakes!

It is always a huge shock to find a snake in the pens. No matter how snake-friendly you are, it is a blow to your nerves. This morning Robbie’s heart was racing as he ran into the house yelling basically for “all hands on deck” we have a large snake.

All four of us ran out the door.

This was the view as we all arrived, one with a rake (for pinning the head or pulling) and one with a laundry bag, and Robbie and I donning our gloves.

Yep, it was a big one! Icy will not be moved. Chicken mommas are VERY brave.

Meet Icy, our very brave momma hen. She is a white, bantam silkie, and she is my prized hen. She, as you can see is very brave, and will not be moved off of her clutch of hatch-ready eggs. This is an older snake, who has most likely weighed the risk-reward options and decided to wait her out. It would have been a very long stand-off.

Chicken mommas are very brave. They will die to protect their young — as the roosters will die to protect their hens.

I have seen roosters fight off things twice their size but for some reason they do not step in when it comes to snakes.

Icy sat firm.

Robbie refused my first offer to drag it out by the tail and let him get ahold of the head. He opted for the drag-and-toss method, slinging the huge thing through the air and into the grass.

This prompted a frenzy of activity.

The snake landed in the grass and immediately fled in my direction. I was grabbing at it. Robbie was grabbing at it. Abby was chasing it with the laundry bag.

Alex pinned the head with the rake (one of those retractible bendy rakes) and I began shoving the snake’s writhing body into the bag. The head broke free.

Robbie yells for me to back up and I am arguing that “I am fine baby, it can’t hurt me.”

The snake wriggles free and we chase it a few more times before Robbie got its head beneath his shoe. The snake wrapped its body around Robbie’s leg, all the way to his lower stomach! That thing was long!

Robbie is exclaiming “This is not cool. This is not cool!”

I get the bag and again I am wrangling the body off of Robbie’s leg and into the bag. Robbie stoops to pull the draw string and released the snake’s head. Luckily it withdrew putting its entire self now into the bag. Draw string pulled.

I tied the string tightly around the top of the bag while Robbie held the bag.

Victory!

Time for release!

Robbie and I took the snake to an area a few miles from our home where there are industrial buildings but no nearby homes that may have chickens. There is a large forested area there where we chose for the release.

Here’s the video of the release!

20190526_133611.mp4
Video of black rat snake relocation and release. drive.google.com

  • *Correction — I do believe now that it was a black rat snake and not a racer — the underbelly was black. It was just very shiny and that threw me off.

Sorry if the video is sideways…I am SO not the tech wizard. But you can see a successful release. (I did not show myself in any pictures or in the video because I am having this crazy dental issue — you can tell in my talking that my mouth is swollen. But at the time of this video the pain wasn’t too bad, thank goodness. Adrenaline is also a factor there. See here and here for more info on that.)

And when we returned home to check on Icy…we found she IS at hatch time!

Congratulations Icy on your hard work and bravery paying off!

So Icy has one baby and there are a pile of eggs there waiting to hatch. I’ll add more pictures of the babies to this post as they hatch out and begin their explorations of the world.

Now if you will excuse me…I need to go and ice my back. I am getting too old for this.

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