Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is the time of year I find myself becoming very narrow-minded.  I am all eyes.  I have eyes in the back of my head.  Under each footfall.  I've come to expect startlement even though I've anticipated the appearance of these lovely, though dreaded, creatures.  I've mentally cataloged all possible places where they may be hiding. 

The chicken coop is number one on the list.  When I enter the coop to collect the eggs these days, I am focused on those "very narrow fellows" that populate our wild yard and outbuildings.   

Shoot!  I don't even trust the hose these days even though has been lying dormant in the same spot all winter long.  But it's black, with a yellow stripe, and is coiled (even the word gives me shudders!) right next to the peonies where I am likely to tread.

Day before yesterday, I was dragging a pile of sticks to the edge of the woods and accidentally brushed the end of a snake's tail with the bundle, which I had not noticed was sticking out into the pathway.   What was particularly unnerving--aside from the distance between the head and the tail-- was the speed with which the head poked up above the Lamiastrum at my intrusion!  The head was nearly 4 feet from the tail.  And talk about FAST.  I mean  F.A.S.T!!!!!  Black snakes are slow critters.  They eventually move when prodded.  This was not your typical slo-mo black snake.  There's only one kind of snake I know of that has lightning-fast responses:  a Black Racer. Same general family of snakes but...different.  If you'd like to know the difference (other than fast) between the Black (Rat) Snake and the Black Racer, go here:


It is legendary that if one has "black" snakes on their property, they won't be bothered with the venemous copperheads.  That said, it doesn't entirely inspire confidence in me that we are supposedly free of poisonous snakes because of competition with other snakes.  However, it also must be acknowledged that in 30+ years of living here JOTOLR, MM and I have never encountered a poisonous snake anywhere on our farm.  So...who knows?  Nevertheless, I am not willing to trust such folkloric claims.

There must be something in our  respective DNA's that either accept snakes or is reflexively terrorized at the sight of them.  I fall into the latter category.  I have no control over that lurching, gut-wrench feeling I get when I encounter them. 

On the whole,  I am grateful for them and would rather have them than not.  But, my narrow-mindedness is a summer trait that I know will be a part of my life forever. I flinch and run at the sight of one.  Reflexively.  It takes all the power I can gather to remain rooted long enough to get a photograph of a snake!

And I respect these animals.  Both the Black Racer and the Black Rat Snake are valuable assets to the farmer, so when I bumped its tail and it reared its indignant head, I did apologize as I made FAST progress in the opposite direction from where it was heading.


  1. You're lucky to have a good population of black snakes. While it's no guarantee a copperhead will never appear, the competition for food alone is enough to keep the populations down. But rat snakes in the chicken coop aren't a real good idea. They can develop quite a taste for fresh eggs.

  2. Elora -- Phobias of one sort or another can rock our being. My phobia is rather the two legged type found in the woods like wildlife but much more dangerous. -- barbara