Wild Things

I was in my bedroom on the phone with a friend when I heard the kids shouting downstairs about “The biggest black rat snake we’ve ever caught!”  They’ve been known to bring these things right up the stairs into my room to show me if I’m not quick enough to get outside with my camera.  So when they started pounding up the stairs I shouted, “Don’t you bring that snake up here!”  I was met with groans, and I wasn’t ready to end my conversation so I told them to go ahead, and while my friend laughed on the other end, I snapped photos of their giant snake.  That night the kids poured into the house after baseball practice shouting about a “giant bullfrog!!!”  That one was also brought right into my bedroom, where it was set down on my bed and promptly hopped across it, ending up underneath.    We got some pictures, and I responded to the “Can we keep it” pleas with a “No, that poor frog was not meant to live in captivity.”  It was awfully cute, though.

The following evening, Larkspur spotted a bird in the road, apparently injured but still alive.  I carefully picked it up and brought it inside, instructing the girls to grab a field guide so we could identify it.  With those bright red feathers, it was easy to determine that we had a male Scarlet Tanager, a bird that is somewhat rare to see because they live high in the treetops.  He seemed stunned and unable to fly, so we set him up in a box and hoped he would live through the night.  The following morning, we were all happy to see that Mr. Scarlet seemed more alert.  We took him to the animal hospital in our area that treats injured wild birds.  He will be transferred to a wildlife rehabilitator and will hopefully be released in the future right back at our house.

We were in the vet’s waiting room, the six of us (Seth and Job stayed home), for quite some time chatting with others who arrived with their pets.  There was a Catholic priest with a yellow lab puppy, a couple with an adorable little terrier, a standard poodle named Napoleon, and a nice fellow with a labradoodle.  The man with the labradoodle turned out to be the owner of the Chick-fil-A around the corner.  He gave us a stack of free milkshake cards, and even called ahead and asked them to start making the shakes for us!  Obviously, it felt like our lucky day.


*I am frequently asked for field guide recommendations.  I have a hard time with that because we have so many, and own multiple guides on our favorite topics.  However, if we could only have one, it would be this one.  It’s not by Peterson or Audubon, but actually Reader’s Digest!  We’re on our third copy because we use this one so much.

*I want a standard poodle, always have.  Napoleon really sealed it for me.

*Silas is the biggest “Wild Thing” of them all.  I don’t know what possesses him to come walking into my bedroom looking like that (wasn’t the first time).  Jonny was standing just outside of the frame and whisked him right into the bathtub.

*There were a lot more snake pictures, but I worry that I am going to freak people out with all the snake handling that goes on here. 🙂


  1. I hate to ask but what on earth was Silas covered in? I’m really really hoping it was mud/dirt but if he’s anything like mine, that could be something much smellier…

  2. I love, love birds! We don’t have a great variety in the big city here in So. Ca, I envy you the scarlet bird! I have a labradoodle who is 3/4th standard poodle (poodle dad and labradoodle mom) and I love her, she is the perfect dog.

  3. Katherine says:

    What a lovely interesting and interested life you and yours live. ❤️ I love that you follow their interests and Silas in the mud made me chuckle- but that pic of Bea swinging the club and her dress swirling out? You should enlarge that! Balletic ballistic Bea does golf;-))
    Always a lovely, real, heartfelt place to visit here Ginny, thanks.

  4. Susannah says:

    I Love love love snakes! But we live in the city so the are not really any in our garden! 🙁
    The frog was sweet, and the little bird was so beautiful!

  5. You are much more patient with what is allowed in the house.

    My kids know to keep animals outside…I admire snakes but from AFAR. I have one that looks exactly like the one your boys are holding living in my garden. I am happy to have him/her there as long as I know where it is while I am working. Also, my kid would be sponged or hosed off outside if he were that muddy. No way I want all that mud in my tub.

    • Dawn, I have learned to go with the flow–I try to follow Jonny’s lead and he is far more laid back than I am. And, I did insist that Silas be carried to the downstairs tub rather than being plopped into mine!

      • Your Jonny and my husband sound so much a like. My husband is laid back too, so laid back that he wouldn’t see the remnants of mud left in the tub after an event like that, so it wouldn’t get cleaned until I came along and found it and scrubbed it.

        Almost 17 years of parenting and I’ve learned what works for me.

  6. That is quite a snake! My daughter loves to bring wildlife inside, but it’s typically little garden snakes and the occasional large frog. The kids must have been so excited about the milk shakes! Sounds like it was a great spur of the moment sorta day.

  7. Thank you for the scarcity of snake pictures. I have to delete the ones of my boys with snakes off my computer because I can’t stand coming across them each time I’m looking at pictures.

  8. Wow, what awesome experiences! We are just loving that scarlet Tanager, so beautiful.

  9. Wow! I just saw a Scarlet Tanager for the first time yesterday. Adult male. I knew he was rare bc I know all the birds on my property. And we always have snakes and frogs, even woodpeckers getting brought into our home by my two boys.

  10. What an amazing childhood your children are having! They will learn so much compassion from these life lessons. I am falling a little bit in love with Silas by the way, he is just too cute!!!

  11. Hmmm…. I had wanted to call our second son Napoleon but my husband insisted the name was better suited to a dog….

  12. Oh, thank you for saving the tanager! He’s so beautiful!

  13. Ugh!! That snake is awful! I hate snakes..they terrify me. .in fact, my most recent encounter was while walking around a street fair when I had to pass a woman carrying around her two pet snakes. I had a panic attack right there. Blech! I do admire your children handling them so naturally, though.
    Having said that, I am an animal lover. When I was a kid I was always bringing home “pets” to nurse back to health. My favorite patients included Herman the turtle who i nursed back to health and released and a baby rabbit I found in the schoolyard having been hit by a lawnmower. The rabbit lost his little leg, but was otherwise in great shape and with the help of my biology teacher we got him back up and running (hopping) and released him as well. My dad bred rabbits growing up so I was completely comfortable with them. Here I was in my PE uniform, bloodsoaked from carrying this injured animal and everyone was staring at me like I was crazy!
    I hope to pass on the same intrigue and compassion to my own children. Our current devotion is even about animals and the glory of all of God’s creation.
    But I have to say…if any of mine come home with snakes or frogs…they’ll have to keep them outside :).

  14. That snake IS big! And um…when did your boys get so big! Yikes. 🙂

  15. We brought home our first ever spoo (std. poodle) 4 months ago. She was a little bundle of white and apricot fluff. She’s now 6 months old and is the light of our family’s life. She’s the most amazing dog. She’s smart, loving, funny, bouncy, and hilarious. I will warn you though that she’s energetic but is the calmest of all spoo’s I’ve met. So, unless you’re looking for a marathon runner, find a breeder who will pick a very calm puppy for you. Even the calm ones have plenty of energy.
    Also, poodles are VERY smart and need lots of training and ways to use their brains… in appropriate ways. Also, the grooming is serious. Brushing and combing every single day! I’ve learned to groom her myself to save the $60-80 every 6 weeks… but there’s a lot to be said for no shedding and fun hair styles!

    These are not “easy” dogs but after having one for 4 months, I can easily say that we’ll never have another breed of dog.

  16. One–that picture of Silas reminded me of your article from the last Soul Gardening Journal 🙂

    And two–my sister breeds standard poodles to help pay her way through school, they really are beautiful and so fun much fun! If we were to get another dog, that would definitely be it! Just let me know if you want to pull the trigger!

  17. Cassandra Elaine says:

    Watch out for those poodles! We had a gorgeous standard for six years and though he was an eye-catcher, he was tough to live with. Standards seem to come in either a tame, respectful type or a wild and crazy veriety. You can guess which one ours was. He finished a CGC but never could contain himself in the house. We now have a little moppet of a miniature and though he’s not so pretty, he’s wonderful to live with.

  18. I think you live an amazing life when it comes to snakes, frogs, animals. What a great to grow up!

  19. I love Bea’s dress–where did you get it?

    My brother had a standard poodle and he was super high energy. They ended up finding him a new home after several occasions where the poodle are dirty diapers out of the trash and. Omitted them all over the floor. BUT I bet your kids are just the people to handle a high energy dog, plus if you let a bullfrog hop across your bed, dirty diaper dog vomit might not bother you as much as some people. 😉

  20. How nice of that man to give you the milkshake cards! He must know what it’s like to have to wait in the vet’s with little kids. 😉

    What an adventurous life you all live! Fun!

  21. That bird is gorgeous! Hope he makes a good recovery.

  22. That is so cool!! I love snakes! I held my sister’s pet snake once and it was one of the coolest things ever.

    When I saw that picture of Silas I thought, “Please don’t be poop, please don’t be poop.”

    I’ve always wanted to rescue an injured bird. So jealous.

    Free milkshakes!! It was your lucky day!

  23. I love Silas’ adventure! What a great, keeper of a picture!

  24. Oh, the envy! Living here in Arizona, you don’t just catch snakes. The ratio of venomous to non is not in our favor., we have that same field guide and love it. It was recommended by the kids’ guide in a class they took there in DC. They loved the course and demand to take it whenever we are there long enough. You may want to check it out; I know there are offerings in a couple nature areas. The course is through Ancestral Knowledge ( http://www.ancestralknowledge.org/event-registration/home-school-programs-ee/ ). And the fact that Silas announced his dirty diaper as well made me laugh!

  25. oh how fun!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 that dog too, how lovely. What a wonderful event with the milk shakes! God gives us so many mercies!!! That makes my heart just smile! 🙂

  26. My son loves the snake photos! He’d love to be out in our yard catching snakes but unfortunately the majority of snakes in our neighbourhood are extremely dangerous. I am happy for him just enjoy snakes from a distance at this stage (he’s only 7)!

  27. Ack!!! I am so scared of snakes…. The only good thing is that I assume he eats rats which I loathe as well. 🙂
    You are a such a good mama for letting them bring all those critters in your house!

    haha – Your comment about Silas cracked me up….

  28. Great photos! I love them all, including your muddy, wild thing 🙂
    This is what childhood should be!

  29. Does it make me odd that seeing Silas covered in mud gave me more goosebumps then seeing the snake?

    • No–I also found that way more horrifying. Especially as he saw the look on my face and quickly added that he had a dirty diaper as well.

  30. Nancy M says:

    Wow, how neat!!! I have a 15 year old son that is an avid birder. I will share with him your photos. Also, he recommends his Sibleys guide for birders if someone is interested. Also , anyone that enjoys birdwatching and keeping up with the birds they see can go online to eBird and set up a list. He keeps up with his life list, his year bird list, county list and state list but this list is monitored by Cornell ( I think) and so it helps scientist to track and monitor migrations, etc. My son subscribes to several bird forums telling him where rare bird sightings are. It’s a never ending hobby because there are always birds to see. We have learned so much from him as he shares this God-given passion with us.

  31. First, Seth is huge! Not just the snake!

    Second, I adore seeing Gabe looking through that book. My 14 year-old daughter would do the same and look just as interested!

    Third, my 8 year-old daughter would just die if she found such a bird. My little bird girl.

    Sigh, sometimes it’s difficult to see these dirty, country kids while my kids live in a city apartment.

  32. I’ve been wondering which field guide purchase for our family. Your recommendation sealed it for me! I’ve had lots great luck with your book posts….The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Oh She Glows cookbook….well, it goes on. Those are most recent anyway! So I’m ordering right now! 🙂

  33. Leatrice Ynostrosa says:

    Wow, that is a big rat snake! Usually I am the one bringing the kids cool things, lately birds that are have fletched that fell out of the nest. This year alone we have had a grackel (which wins ugliest baby bird), a sparrow, and a mourning dove. All successfully relocated back to trees near the parents.
    But we found a mud turtle that was quite snappish last week, which was awesome, since we are learning about them!

  34. Oh my, you are nature people!

  35. Lol. We have a well worn copy of that book! We love it.

    And wow! Your big boys are starting to look so… old. 🙂

  36. I hope that when my son is old enough to catch snakes, I am as brave as you are!

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