Itís been a busy morning. Iíve been industriously leaping, jumping, stomping and stampeding out of the barn. And, itís all because of that black snake. It all started when I innocently stepped out of the feed room and a three foot long black snake, quite leisurely, went past my foot and under the feed room floor.
He/She was so casual in doing this that Alice, the backyard dog who was assisting me in barn chores, never even noticed it slithering right under her as she stood there. Which I should be grateful because if it had been a dog we had years ago, Katie would have immediately pounced on the snake and shook it. She had a thing about snakes and once she shook a snake so violently that she flung it out of her mouth and it shot past my head. After that shock, letís just say I barely crawled back into the house.
I called this snake a he/she, but I think it was a she. A PBS documentary once said the larger snakes were female. But, then, we do have this five foot long black snake at the upper barn, so maybe this was the male, or maybe another female on her way to being five, six foot long. Or, longer. Oh, my.
Last week a black snake the same length went unconcernedly past me and went under the feed room floor and the next I saw, it had gone into the stall beside the feed room, went up the wall to the board over the stall door and continued on that way. She was either looking for mice or for baby birds up in the rafters. Lee then found another one at the other end of the barn, quite happily snooping through some hay bales we had down. We had two big black snakes working the barn that day.
Lee will not kill black snakes. He says they are too helpful. But, when I start hyperventilating too much, he will pick them up and carry then out into the field. They seem quite unconcerned about the lift to a new place, wrapping around his arm and looking content. He points out that it is better to have black snakes around than the poisonous Copperheads. I agree whole heartedly on this, though when I unexpectedly come upon a black snake Iím sure it adds a few years on my age and adds even more gray hair to my head. Itís a knee jerk reaction I canĎt control. Snakes are so slithery.
So, as I was finishing out my chores after seeing the black snake, I was shocked to see how many things actually resemble snakes. Something I hadnít noticed before during winter. The electric heat lamp cord lying there almost sent me into a stampede out the barn door. That stick the dogs had carried in to chew on, that little darker shadow than usual over in a corner, and the orange strings from the hay bales that hadnít been picked up, sent me in a tizzy. Now, how many times have you seen an orange snake? By this time color did not matter, everything was suspect. Senses on hyper alert, Iím sure I could have sailed out of that barn in seconds flat if my mind said, ďSnake! RUN!Ē
Oddly enough, the goats donít pay attention to these big black snakes that wander around them while they are napping. Weíve only had one snake bite I can think of on the goats in all our years of goating. Years ago, one yearling came in with a badly swollen left leg, the swelling going up into her chest. I called the vet and the vet said nothing was to be done with snake bite on a goat. I went ahead and put the girl on penicillin and if I had thought, I would have also put her on Benadryl. Even the livestock guard dogs are unconcerned about big black snakes sliding by them. Either these dogs are so laid back nothing rattles them or they have seen so many black snakes, they are unconcerned. Wait a second, I have to go and breathe into a paper sack and get my breathing back under control.
And, I donít know how many times I have gone and looked in a stall at a goat and see her looking at me and then look above me, watching something moving just above my head. Now I know it is that black snake scouting up above, searching for mice and birds. Thereís even a black snake thatís the same size as the one I saw at the barn, it passes me as I am going into the cellar houseÖÖÖ.. Wait a second. They are all the same size, are they the same one? Do I have a stalker? A Black Snake Stalker?!!!!!! That particular size and color of snake is everywhere!
Okay, get a grip. Thatís ridiculous. Right? Anyway, if ever you do come to look at my goats, youíll recognize me. Iíll be the tall goat farmer that looks one hundred years old with lots and lots of gray hair.