The Sss Word

Greenhouse almost empty of hay, with my snake-rake foremost!
Greenhouse almost empty of hay, with my snake-rake foremost!

OK, I know that I was raised in the suburbs and have had a few things to get used to in the course of raising sheep and goats. You know, difficult lambings, mud up to your knees when we have springs like this one (!), dealing with maggoty fly-strike in a favorite ram, heavy hay bales, driving rain and sleet, knowing when to say goodbye to your favorite ewe, milking goats at 4:30 on schooldays, etc. Sometimes my husband (who grew up in a community that was farming at the time) says, “I didn’t think you’d be able to do that!” and I just think that you never know what you are capable of until you try.

There is one thing that I don’t think I will ever get used to, no matter how long we live here and farm. I think it’s a primal sort of a reaction that I just can’t seem to get past. The “S” word. I know that they are not a dangerous population around here, but I can’t help being startled and getting a total shiver when one pops out at me. Yup. Snakes! AARGH! Baby rat snakes and garter snakes are beautiful in their own way (when I think about them intellectually)… but when they pop out of a hay bale that I have just picked up I tend to react more viscerally (you know, yelling, dropping the bale, and hopping around) until it’s gone someplace else… anyplace else, as long as it’s away from me.  Shiver, shiver!

I really appreciate the fact that the snakes are living there in the greenhouse, as I presume they are well-fed on the mouse population and are keeping them at bay, but I use my trusty rake before I grab a bale these days! When it’s time to grab a new bale, I use the rake to pull it off the pile and then I smack it a few times with the back of the rake head to wake any sleepy serpents, while loudly saying things like: Get up you lazy guys and get cracking! You aren’t catching any mice just lying around in that cushy bale!  It *almost* never fails.


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