Two days ago I looked down in the buckís pen from our backyard and saw Lee slightly
bent over, shooing something ahead of him with his hands, towards the buckís building.
The buck was standing back from Lee, acting a little concerned over Leeís actions.
"What cha doiní, Lee?" I asked. Thatís West Virginian talk for, "I say, whatever are you
"Iím herding this five foot black snake under the building to catch that rat that lives there,"
"Oh," I said very faintly.
I am not a fan of snakes. A certain type of palsy comes over me if I see a snake or think I
see a snake. I can shake better then a bowl full of jelly. I would totally collapse if it wasnít
for the thought that I might fall on the snake. Instead I do this quick little dog trot in place
and if I could just get it out of neutral, I know I could out distance any snake.
If I canít get the dogtrot going after I see the snake, then I have a variety of snake dances I
do. I jitterbug, do the watusie, mash the mash potato, and do everything but the twist. The
twist doesnít have enough foot action for me. I have done all the above mentioned dances
all at one time and all on the same spot. I have totally mesmerized snakes into motionless
with my snake dances until Lee could come and save us both. The snake from dying of
laughter and me from total physical exhaustion. Those aerobics instructors have nothing
over me. Iíve thought many times of an exercise video for people needing a workout. All I
would have to be able to do is stand in front of a camera and lift a snake up for all to see. I
could just see the fat melting action from that and the heart attack, and all from me.
What happened to Leeís snake he was herding? It did go into the tiniest hole under the
building where the rats live. Lee went on up into the upper yearling pasture to work on
fence. A little later he turned around and that same snake, or its twin, was behind him.
Evidently it had a regular route through that pasture and he was in the way.
Baby, our year old livestock guard dog, saw Lee from across the pasture and ran over to
say Hello and to check him out. Before she got to him, she stepped on that snake. That
snake took offense and reared back and hissed at her, wiggling the tip of its tail. Baby had
never seen anything like it and kept back, but herded that snake out of the pen.
That tail wagging thing of snakes always bothers me. The poisonous snakes in our area are
copperheads and water moccasins. Both double dealing nasty pieces of work, never trying
to get out of your way, but immediately biting. Make all the noise you want in the woods,
folks, thinking you are chasing away snakes. You are chasing away snakes, but itís the
nonvenomous ones. That olí copperhead stays put and waits to bite you with eager
And, heíll wag his tail while heís waiting. So will the black snake, house snake, garter
snake, racer, and whatever snake I am forgetting that lives in our area. Where did they
learn this? Weíre not suppose to have rattlesnakes in our area, up in the mountains, yes,
but not here. I am very suspicious over this, how did they learn the tail shaking thing unless
they saw it done? Now think on that and walk lightly.
That snake did leave Babyís pasture, but later we saw Baby walking along the hill, head
down, barking continuously, with a small herd of 22 yearlings following her to see what the
commotion was all about. Yep, it was that same snake coming back into what it considered
its territory. Baby herded the snake out of the pasture and into our backyard where it
disappeared behind our cellar house. Oh, joy.
Last year we had a multitude of gigantic black snakes come to visit us. I swear, someone is
feeding them growth hormones. Once I was down at the barn, getting ready to step into a
kidding stall to check on some girls, and I had to step over something to get into the stall. It
clicked in the back of my mind that I usually didnít have to step over anything to get into
this stall. I glanced down to see a six-foot long black snake looking up at me.
I did a high "eeeeeeeeeeeeeee", like air escaping from a balloon. I leaped back and unable
to go into my dogtrot in place thing, I went into my snake dance, all the time emitting blasts
of "eee!" "eeee!" "eee!"
Lee heard me and came charging into the barn. He immediately recognized my snake
dance. "What is it?" he shouted over my eeeees. "A snake? You havenít killed it, have
you?" Which I thought a particularly absurd thing to say. I was too busy dancing.
He spotted the snake, swooped down and picked it up. Its length was indeed almost as tall
as my 6 foot 4 inch husband. Then it slowly started winding itself around his arm to make
itself more comfortable. It looked trustingly into Leeís face. I thought I was going to puke.
He and the two yard dogs took it far off into the pasture and turned it loose. I just bet it
was drawing a map all the way out there on how to come back.
Not long after that we were down at the barn working on the hay baler. It is most natural
for a baler to break down right before hay season, or better yet if you are in the hay field.
Iím good at working on machinery. Iím an ideas person. Lee is the know how to make it
work type of person. My insights lead to great discoveries on why something doesnít work.
"Lee, that thingy really shouldnít be next to that springy thingy, should it? Iíd certainly
check that out. What happened? Did that close on your finger? I bet that hurt. I find that it
helps to cry. You should try it sometime."
While in the middle of giving my advice I happened to look up the hill towards the house.
Down the path came something black, shiny, and extremely long. I felt my eyesight go
blurry and a dogtrot fast coming on. "Uh, Lee, what is that coming down the hill?" I asked
"Well, look at that big fellow! I think heís the biggest one yet," Lee says, and he goes over
and picks it up. They never run from Lee. The snake just accepts the fact it is now going
on a very long walk out into the countryside with Lee, to be turned loose way far away
from a strangely dancing woman.