Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Snake From the Rafters

The barn just after it was built, prior to the fencing.

       Living on a farm we try to take responsibility for any of the possibilities which occur here.  We have a plan if we return home and find a black bear not simply in the yard, but in the house.  We have a plan if a coyote tries to bother either myself or one of my alpacas when I am making early evening rounds.  When we lived in the suburbs, we had pretty good contingency plans there too.

                   Several years ago we had a lovely large barn built.  In some ways I prefer it to our home, which is a good thing, because we certainly spend enough time there..  One side has stalls for alpacas, and the other has stalls for the horses.  There is a tack room, a staircase to an upstairs, and a large open area that we have used as an animal ICU now and again.  Late this evening, I had finished taking care of the horses, and I was about to walk our fourteen year old Siberian Husky.  My husband was finishing up alpacas and about to start on ducks and chickens.  One of our sons was feeding the cat, when we all noticed something simaltaneously.   A large black snake was slithering above our heads on top of the rafters. He wasn't the least bit deterred by the music and talking on NPR, the station which the horses seem to prefer.   This was not a positive thing.  I not only don't like snakes much, even if they are not poisonous, but black snakes get very large here and can sometimes be aggressive.  A bite from them can cause a dangerous infection.  My largest concern was that the snake would frighten the horses enough to cause upset sufficiently to cause stall damage or even injuries to a horse.  All the animals were pretty spooked this evening.

                   There really isn't anyone to call for such an issue.  We have to do something ourselves.  As one of our sons headed for the house to get something, I realized that we hadn't seen any mice or other vermin in the barn in at least two years.  Mmmmm.  Perhaps this snake has been living in the barn for awhile.  Our son returned with a snake hook which he has used to relocate snakes, a number of times here on the farm.  Normally, a snake curls up on it, and he transports them elsewhere and they slither away.  This time we weren't quite so lucky.   The snake simply refused to mount the large snake hook and slithered down and between the dividing walls to the stalls.   With the snake no longer obvious, the animals calmed down.
                  Tomorrow, bright and early I must do about two hours worth of work in there.   I hope the snake is gone.  The extreme heat of the last couple of days may have caused the snake to behave a bit differently than normal.

                  In any event, this is good training.  Anything can happen anywhere, and at anytime.   I hope we are ready.


Gorges Smythe said...

I've learned that if you grab them by the tail and keep swinging them in a circle, they can't reach back to bite you. Then, you can walk them a distance away and sling them over the hill.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

We have had them in the barn and house which isn't a good thing but I can't allow them to eat eggs and small chickens so I draw the line at that. I have used bird netting around the chickens which is deadly to snakes as the try to craw through it and are permanently locked in the nylon fence, this stuff will snake proof an area and is about $14 per 100 feet.

JaneofVirginia said...

My husband did that as a child to a copperhead ! I won't let him do it anymore ! LOL

JaneofVirginia said...

I may need to think about that. My normal policy for snakes is that we simply pretend we occupy a different parallel universe and we ignore each other ! We have killed clearly poisonous ones here if they are found within what is clearly our own territory. Copperheads are frequent here, and occasionally there are rattlers seen in extreme heat.

Lady Locust said...

You just discovered my phobia - I am so afraid of snakes. Can tell the difference between a king and a rattler, but don't like to see them long enough to do so. I'm not a big fan of geese, but they do keep snakes at bay so they are purposeful.

Kelly said...

Your barn is beautiful!!!!
I absolutely freak out when I see a snake, poisonous not poisonous it doesn't matter, yuck!!! My barn is tiny and I have to walk through where we keep the hay to milk the goat, if there is a snake in there and the hubs isn't home the goat doesn't get milked until the snake leaves :/
I hope that snake has moved on today so you can get your chores done in peace :)

JaneofVirginia said...

Kelly, Thank you. I wanted something smaller but my husband and daughter designed this based on older barns they had seen, and the builder came in with a good price. It was worth it because it is naturally cool in Summer, which is a huge benefit.
I don't like snakes at all. They frighten me ! Thanks for posting.

JaneofVirginia said...

Mmmmmm. I like Sebastopol geese and my neighbor has them. Perhaps I should get a couple of them. LOL Thanks for the tip !

Mamma Bear said...

Our black sakes do not get very big. Papa Bear tells me they keep poisonous snakes away. I am OK as long as I see them first and they are headed in the opposite direction. My closest encounter with one was on the front porch. I sat down on the wicker love seat and caught a small movement out of the corner of my eye. Blackie was stretched out along the top of the love seat right behind my head, I froze and screamed for Papa Bear to come fetch his pet. He was not in a hurry to leave even with a water hose turned on him.

That netting another poster suggested works wonders. I have it around my garden, chicken house, and the base of the poles on my birdhouses. We constantly find dead or almost dead snakes in them.

Love your barn. Can't wait until we get ours finished. It's slow go paying as you go and doing most of the labor ourselves.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, I am told that black snakes do eat copperhead snakes and others which are poisonous. For this reason alone I try to be tolerant of them, (if not encouraging)
We were very fortunate to get the barn when we did. The economy crashed and our builder was determined to keep his crew together and working and so they quoted a much lower price than they would now. He and his wife have since become friends of ours and we are very grateful for his contributions to this farm. He has built some other things for us since.
Best wishes and thanks for posting.