Saturday, May 21, 2011

Snakes on a Farm

I’ve had it with these mother%^&#!*& snakes on this mother%^&#!*& farm!

I know that living in the country requires me to do battle against more creatures than most people have to deal with.  But, snakes.  I mean Jesus; somebody needs to cut me some slack! It seems we are always waging war against some farm enemy.  And as we all know war is expensive.

For example: 
1)    Tons of cash was spent to enclose the vegetable garden with a 10 foot high stockade fence.  Not because I’m partial to the look of prison yards, but to keep the herds of deer out. 
2)    I don’t even remember how much it cost to have custom stainless steel screens made and installed on the chimney tops.  Those were necessary to keep out the chimney swallows that were loud and made a huge mess.
3)    Remember when the armadillo got in the house?  If not, go back to the December 2010 archive and read about it!  That one set us back $2,200 bucks to have the heating and air duct work rebuilt. 
4)    I’m on a constant battle with the wasps – the flying kind.  It seems they like to attach their nests to big old white houses.  I could have bought a new Mercedes for the amount we’ve spent on wasp spray. 
5)    I have yet to remove the cardboard pieces from the column tops on the porches.  I had to do something to keep the mud swallows from nesting there. 
6)    I pay the ‘bug man’ (that’s what he calls himself) extra to spray the carriage house.  It’s built at the edge of the pasture near the woods and seems to attract scorpions.

But, the current issue seems to be snakes!  Yes, snakes!  When I moved back to the farm full time a few years ago, I thought I left all the vipers in NYC where I used to work.  But it appears I was wrong. 

Notice the trees in the first two photos.  They are very old Black Walnut trees.  Now look at the third and forth photos.  See the holes in the trees.  Those are snake houses!  I’ve seen them there.  It doesn’t bother me so much considering both trees are about two acres from my house in the middle of the meadow.  Also, I did some research on the type snakes that inhabit the holes.  It appears they’re some type of King Rat snake and although they can get very large, unless you are a mouse or some other small rodent, rat snakes seem to be for the most part harmless.  So, except for when I cut the grass around those trees and I’m convinced a snake will leap out of the holes and attack me, we have learned to coexist.  Until now. 

See that tree in the fifth photo.  That’s an old Pecan tree.  See the hole in the tree.  That’s a snake house!  This one bothers me.  Why?  Well look at the next photo.  That tree is right next to the house.  The tree is along the walkway that leads from the front porch to the side porch and kitchen door. 

See the last photo.  That’s a bird’s nest.  I mentioned it in a previous post and I’ve been watching the parents care for the eggs.  Then, the five eggs hatched and I’ve been checking on them everyday. I took photos.  I was going to do a ‘watch the birds grow’ posting.  I will not show you the cute photos I took of the babies; it will only make you sad. Everything was fine until last week when I saw a 4 foot long rat snake slither out of the evergreen where the parents had placed the nest.  The nest was destroyed and the hatchlings were gone!  The tree where the nest was is right by the porch steps.  Yesterday while cutting the grass I noticed the snake by the Pecan tree.  I think it was a different one, because this one was even larger. 

I do not care for snakes.  Something must be done.  C tried to comfort me by explaining that at least it was a good snake.  Generally my point of view is the only good snake is a dead snake, but even for me it seems somewhat senseless to kill an animal that I know can’t really hurt me.  That is unless I’m out doing yard work and ran across the snake.  Then I’d probably have a stroke, which would be a problem. 

I’ve said before on this blog that no-shoulders are not good.  Think about it, name one harmless thing that doesn’t have shoulders.  Examples: bees, sharks, spiders, Mr. Burns from the Simpson’s, and especially snakes. 

I’m already trying to deal with eliminating the armadillos.  Although they now can’t get in the house, they’re still wreaking havoc on the landscape.  Now I have to trap a family of snakes.  How does one go about that?  I guess I could dangle a mouse from a string and yell ‘here snakey, snakey,” but that probably would be a waste of my time. 

So, I decided that I must eliminate the snake’s basic needs.  Food was my first thought.  Clearly the snakes have moved in due to an abundance of food.  I have a cat who was hired to be a mouser.  Cats are not supposed to like mice.  Prior to the remodel this house had holes in it big enough for a horse to get in, but since the remodel there hasn’t been any issue with a mouse in the house.  However, I know they’re outside.  The cat’s food bowl sits on the side porch by the kitchen door.  For the past three mornings I’ve found mouse droppings in the cat’s bowl.  Now please, that’s the ultimate disgrace.  It’s bad enough the cat doesn’t catch mice; it’s totally another thing to have the mice belatenly shit where he eats!  There are a few people I don’t like, but if they showed up at my house and took a dump on my dining room table you can be damn sure I’d do something about it.  Between the cat’s lack of career drive and the fact that my house sits in the middle of 16 acres of fields and is surrounded by several hundred acres of forest and pastures, eliminating the snakes’ food source seems somewhat daunting.  Instead I’ve decided to eliminate their home. 

I’ve wanted to have those lower large limbs removed from that Pecan tree.  They’re shading some new hedge plantings.  But, I’m going to need professional tree folks.  They’re much larger than they appear in the photos and I have several other overgrown spots on the property that need attention, which now that I think about it probably harbors snakes. 

I’ve never gotten over a story some kid told me when I was about 10 years old.  She came to school telling us about a huge snake her mother found in their house.  It was laying across the drapery rod in their living room.  That story has stayed with me for years.  It’s safe to say it sort of messed me up.  Particularly since I was sure her mother had nice drapes.  Now, with that tree right outside the house, and a mouse obviously lounging on my porch, it’s only a matter of time before the snakes make their way to the porch and then invade the house.  If an armadillo can, I’m damn sure a snake can! 

Everywhere I look I see snakes (is that too Freudian?) Something must be done!  When is enough enough?  What’s next? Flying dragons? Stampeding elephants?

So, it’s either get the tree guy here, which is going to cost a small fortune or I’ll have to take care of the situation myself by going all Samuel L. Jackson on those snakes.  I rather not have to do that!  I don’t look good in a beret.  I’ll keep you posted, if the snakes don’t get me first.


  1. It's like the fucking Maasai Mara. I'd have to move.

  2. LOL! from my safe distance on the sofa.
    snake houses? who knew! i would be seriously freaked out too. i always thought i would have to watch where i stepped and now you have to look UP too?!! wait until you see them mating, that's disturbing!

    what about getting the snakes out of their houses (flood w/a hose if you can) and filling the holes with expanded steel wool? just a thought

  3. Don't read this if you want to sleep. Copperhead bite in Lawrenceville:

  4. I know a guy who was walking out his front door to go to work. As he stepped out from under the awning, a snake FELL ON HIS BALD HEAD! That's not all. The guy totally freaked (of course), and while he was gathering his wits, the equally freaked out snake slithered into the guy's house and hid in his hall closet. I don't know about you, but when I am walking out of my house, the last thing I am expecting is for a snake to fall from the $%&# sky!

  5. now is not a good time to mention the flying monkey epidemic?

  6. dude.
    that is just not awesome at all.
    get a mongoose.
    or some kind of snake catching varmint.
    i retract my self invite to your estate until this matter is resolved.

  7. I wanted my suburban backyard to be a park. I toiled for years to build stone retaining walls and planted trees and shrubs with gravel paths. As the young helper of the fence builder marvel,"Whoa. You got yourself some eco system as he nearly stepped on the snakes that has come to kill the mice who have come to live in the stone condos who have come to live on the organically fed bugs in my garden. But nothing has been as destructive as the #$%^!+% moles/gophers. Makes me long for a semi-automatic rifle...and a much better aim! Nature is a cruel and efficient teacher. Good luck.

  8. Have you heard of the Original Waspinator Wasp Deterrent? The dreaded wasps make our eleventh floor balconies uninhabitable unless we hang these rather ugly (but effective!) pseudo-wasp nests to deter the flying hordes we encounter from spring through fall. They're sold by Contech Enterprises Inc. --

    Snakes are most definitely not on my radar...

  9. Thinking downtown, we can add to the list "The Parking Lots of Dashed Hopes" between Porter and Lafayette just west of Sixth Street, there's also the walled compound of Brewery Park off Gratiot. Thankfully they have given up trying to lock the former Tiger Stadium site, so the opportunity persists for you to not only walk where every great baseball player once played, but also risk a trespassing violation.
    iron fence company


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