Late night sssssurprise

Posted 7/6/22

Allow me to share with you a story from this past week. It is both one that I wish never happened and one that I could hardly keep from sharing in The Way Out Here. 

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Late night sssssurprise


Allow me to share with you a story from this past week. It is both one that I wish never happened and one that I could hardly keep from sharing in The Way Out Here. 

If I’ve shared anything with you, my readers, over the past years, it is that not every aspect of living out here is glamorous, and even we outdoorsy folks have our sensitive issues. 

For me, there’s one that stands above the rest. Snakes. 

Now, over time I’ve developed a hard-earned respect for snakes, acknowledging that they control other pests like mice and voles etc., and for the most part they want little to nothing to do with humans. I have come so far in my tolerance of snakes that I no longer attempt to kill anything I see slithering, although they still give me the willies. 

For those snake advocates reading this you would be proud to know that I have even come to terms with the family of garter snakes living in my vegetable high tunnel. 

Typically we see each other and we leave each other alone, or they slither off. To me, this is an acceptable middle ground. 

Earlier this spring, I was lying under one of our chicken coops, repairing the skirt wire, when unbeknownst to me a garter snake decided to get friendly and attempted to crawl up behind my back. I never knew it was there, due to the quick reaction time of my father-in-law, who saw the snake, snatched it away, and tossed it back into the nearby bushes. 

My wife, who stood nearby, apparently looked on with wide eyes, knowing how I would react if suddenly forced to cuddle up with a snake in close quarters. 

It wasn’t until the next day that they told me, out of concern that I’d respond less than positively to the encounter. Honestly, it was fine with me. The way it went down certainly seemed about the best possible outcome for all involved.

However, that is not what happened this past week. 

For the record I do not go seeking to kill snakes. In fact, as it may be apparent by now, I’d be perfectly happy not to encounter them at all. But I have rules. At the top of those rules is that all snakes must stay out of my home.

It was a Tuesday and I had been up since nearly 4 a.m., working. It was nearly 10:30 p.m. by the time both boys were wrangled into bed and 11 by the time the chickens were tended to for the evening. At 11:30 p.m., I ran myself a shower and noted the towel on the rack for when I got out. 

As I exited the shower, I realized that what I thought was a towel was in fact a washcloth. Not terribly concerned, I went into the bedroom, looking for a towel, to no avail. Unfortunately, this meant I would have to continue my search downstairs on the living room couch where the fresh laundry was.

Let me just pause at this juncture to make two points. First point is that it was a good thing I ended up having a reason to go downstairs at all, as I might never have had the following encounter. Second point, it may be inferred that I was at this point still free as a bird, so to speak, and would remain so for the duration of the ensuing confrontation. 

As I descended the stairs, I flicked the light switch, illuminating the hall that leads to the kitchen and living room. Prior to my final step down, my eyes locked with steely realization on the sudden coiling movement I detected just ahead on the hardwood floor in front of the baby’s changing table. 

At this point, I didn’t know what kind of snake it was, only that it was nearly two and a half feet long, covered in brown markings, and not long for this world. 

Not wanting to let it slip away somewhere irretrievable in the house, I called to my wife. My eyes never blinked as they followed the intruder. 

As she came down I instructed her to find me something long enough to either handle or dispose of the unwanted guest while I kept it in view. 

Fortunately, we’ve been behind on cleaning the house, so there just happened to be a canoe paddle in the foyer. Wielding my paddle, I forced the snake out of hiding, since it had decided to withdraw under the changing table. 

Bad move for the snake, because it infuriated me that it would be near anything to do with my sons. 

The moment it was exposed I struck and stunned the snake before getting an empty coffee container and scooping it up inside. 

The way out here, we try to get along with nature, but there are boundaries for both us and the animals we encounter. 

As it turned out it, was merely a milk snake, which is non-venomous, similar to but with key distinctions from the copperhead. Copperheads also have brown markings, but have unmarked triangular heads as opposed to the ovular marked head of the milk snake. 

When an animal comes into my house uninvited, and poses even a hint of danger to my children, there is no longer a moral debate of how to handle the situation. Genesis talks about the enmity God put between the woman and the serpent. As it happened, this time it was the wrath of the father that played out.

snakes, ourdoors


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