Choosing to live in the country often means choosing to live close to Mother Nature. With that comes a slew of animals and other critters all over the place. Most of them will leave us alone but more often than not we end up with a few extra farm guests. I try to let them live harmoniously with me and my family but sometimes that is harder than it looks.
The deer that migrate through my field are easy enough to live with. The pheasant that has decided he owns my horse pasture is a bit bothersome sometimes but we get by. The birds that have been nesting on my back deck are always a pleasure in the spring/summer but they would prefer I stop using my deck while they are raising their family. The mice in my shed are fine until they chew through my feed bags and get grain EVERYWHERE. But the snakes…oh the snakes…they are proving more and more difficult to live with.
I have no issues with snakes. I have no rational, or irrational, fear of them. The snakes in my yard are not poisonous or overly large. Heck, they hardly ever bother me at all. The animals don’t even notice them. But in an attempt to live happily with them, I have run in to a few issues. Snakes enjoy curling up in my hay pile. This is no big deal until I move a bale and find a coiled mass of slithery serpent. As much as I love them, I can’t help but scream like a little girl and run away startled. After a brief moment to collect my thoughts I can return to work, but that initial startle gets old after it happens every other day for three weeks straight. Mowing the lawn around snakes is the most difficult task of all.
Last week I finally got the chance to mow the lawn for the first time in much too long. It has been raining way too much here lately. It happens to be the exact opposite problem from last year, but that is a topic for another day. While mowing the lawn, I came across 5 snakes of various sizes. If I can help it, I prefer not to run over snakes with my lawn mower. Sometimes I don’t catch myself in time, but usually I notice the little serpents in time to let them get out of the way. This last mowing session, I came across one snake that just would not get out of my way. I had to stop the mower, get off, and chase it into a tree. The plan was to catch it and take it to the other side of the lawn, where I wasn’t mowing, but apparently we were not on the same page. 5 minutes later (I know that doesn’t seem like a long time but when you are chasing a snake around your front yard it is much too long) I gave up and hoped the slippery creature would stay in the tall grass just under the tree. I lucked out and did not run over any snakes on this most recent mowing excursion. But I did have to stop way more than normal to let the snakes cross into a safer part of the yard.
If I did not love it so much, I would move into a much less animal friendly home. Cohabitating with nature can prove to be more trouble than expected, but we homesteaders are more than happy to compromise in the name of mother earth. I will continue to adjust my lawn mowing to keep the snakes happy, and my horses will continue to yield to the pheasants. As the years go on, we will all learn to live harmoniously together and this happy little homestead will be a lovely place for all to enjoy.