Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
A week or so ago, I was busily mowing with the rider mower outside the yard fence. The sheep had heavily grazed the patch and I wanted to trim it up so undesirable weeds wouldn't go to seed. As I mowed along the outer perimeter fence that borders the neighbors pasture, I noticed something black sticking up out of the grass. I slowed the mower, knowing that wasn't quite what a stick looked like, but what was it? About five seconds before the snake would have been mowed over history, I realized it was a snake, and braked hard.
That darn thing never even budged, but looked at me and the now stopped, but still running mower, then proceeded to slither across in front of us. As I finished the patch, I had to take care on each pass to avoid the snake. Finally I decided to run in and get my camera to take it's picture. When I got back out it was gone! I had left Boone in the yard so he wouldn't bother it. As I looked high and low for the snake, with Boone following along inside the fence, I finally decided the snake had turned and went back into the pasture. That's what any snake with a lick of sense would do. Just then, I glanced down, and about four inches in front of Boone's feet was the snake! Yeesh! Boone was oblivious, and I easily called him around to the back gate. He never did seem to know there was a snake anywhere about.
The snake was clearly on a mission. I mean it had come out of deep grasses of the pasture, onto slick mowed ground, with the mower loud and active nearby. Then it slid practically right under the paws of a huge dog, not to mention the pesky human that kept following it.
Once inside the yard, it went right up the redbud tree, obviously a path it had taken before. I was pretty sure it was probably after baby birds, but I never heard any commotion and once the snake went into the upper reaches of the branches, I didn't see it again.
I didn't really want to see it have a baby bird snack, but I'm a little ticked at the grackles that have invaded here lately. These are big black shiny birds, with loud grackly voices, and rude manners. I'm not sure they are grackles, but they look like and act like what I think anything named 'grackle' should. They continually foul the sheep water troughs as well as the birdbath. They can't just drink out of it, nope they have drop their huge droppings right in there too. They also steal all the dry cat food, so I have to put it up during the day and they are so noisy. Grack, grack, grack... Deep breath.
Back to the snake. When I moved in here years and years and years ago, there were two huge black snakes that also called the place home. We lived in peaceful coexistence for several years. These were monster snakes---six to seven foot long and almost as think as my lower arm. Since the place had been unoccupied for many years, I was happy to let them putt around. Afterall the old saying is that if you have black (or King snakes) around they will keep the copperheads run off. I have no idea if this is true, or just some positive PR the black snakes made up and promoted so they'd live long and happy lives. By and by though the snakes lives got complicated around here. First there was the dog, then the cats, then shortly after that a whole slew of kittens, and even worse, the chickens.
Since they moved to the further reaches of the little farm, I've only occasionally saw a large snake skin or a small black snake here and there and once in the chicken nests. So I was pleased to see that there were still large black snakes making their home nearby. They can come by anytime, but only if they keep those old copperheads away.