Yesterday's weather was warm and overcast. Perfect snake weather, as it turns out. While next to the cow pasture, we spotted a small, quick olive green snake, that I think was either a Yellow Bellied Racer or a Smooth Green Snake. Then, over at the horse barn, no fewer than 3 bull snakes were spotted, two of which had to be removed from the barn so they wouldn't be a nuisance to the barn's inhabitants.
When we got home from visiting our cows, Boy hopped out of our car and immediately shrieked in fear as he nearly stepped on a snake sunning itself on the driveway. Excited, but admittedly very scared, he described the snake as "small and black with a yellow stripe." A garter snake, I deduced.
I used to see little garter snakes all the time when I was growing up, and found them beautiful and non-threatening. Relieved the snake now reportedly hiding in my patio garden wasn't something big and bitey, I suggested Boy guard the spot where it entered the garden until his daddy came home. He thought that was a good idea and set about watching the flower bed intently for the next several minutes.
A few minutes later, I heard the Hubby pull up in his diesel truck. He was as excited about the snake sighting as the Boy was, and grabbed a stick to gently move apart the leaves of the perennials to search for the hiding serpent. A few more moments passed, and I poked my head out the front door to check progress of the two serpent hunters, and came face to face with the largest garter snake I had ever seen, mouth agape and body coiled around my husbands arm.
I don't love snakes. I appreciate their role in the ecosystem, but they do make me a bit uncomfortable. My brother LOVES snakes, and every other creepy crawly reptile and amphibian. As a kid, he caught and kept all varieties of snake, frog and lizard in numerous terrariums in his room. As an adult, he actively searches out encounters with reptiles, hoping to capture and photograph them. Even with the amateur herpetologist in my family, I felt a mild sensation of nausea sweep over me, as I considered that the beast my husband was now wrangling was easily within striking range of my children without me even knowing it.
I asked my wide-eyed boy if that was the "little" snake he saw, and he shook his head, so I couldn't help wondering what happened to that little garter he claimed to have seen...was it still in there? Or was it consumed by this hissing behemoth that my husband was now handling? I may never know.
We gave each child a chance to pet the huge garter, and then we released it back into the garden to keep up its duty of eating the critters that eat our plants.
Though I may not love the idea of snakes all around me, they are a simple fact of life in the country. They bring far more benefits than detriments to our farm, as they control pests of all types. And in the 10 years we've lived here, I've seen fewer than a dozen snakes. So all in all, they make better neighbors than many of the human nuisances we have about.
I do have to admit, this particular snake sighting does make me a little more wary about poking an un-gloved hand into any dense undergrowth here on the property.