I guess I have several rat snakes hanging around the pasture and barns. I thought I only had two. A medium sized snake, about 5 feet long, was sharing a sidewalk with me Sunday morning. I didn’t want him hanging around the sidewalk with the grandkids coming over later, so I bent down and tickled his tail, hoping to make him take off for the woods, but he turned around and slid under the door into the outbuilding where I keep my wool. Hunh. Guess I won’t be getting into my wool anytime soon.
When I cautioned the grandsons later to watch where they stepped because of snakes, they were immediately excited. They wanted to see MeeMaw’s snake. Sigh. I cautiously opened the outbuilding door and danged if Barn Kitty didn’t come walking out. Barn Kitty had disappeared two weeks ago right before SwampMan’s surgery. I had searched everywhere for him and had opened that building door several times and called him with no response. I had given him up as lost and told SwampSon that his old kitty had disappeared and was likely dead. Barn Kitty had found us and followed us home when we were out walking about 17 years ago. Barn Kitty was pretty much flat, just bones and fur, but very happy to see us. I immediately provided him with water, milk, and food, which he was happy to get! SwampDaughter looked at him and didn’t think he would recover, but he’s reinflated somewhat today.
We were walking out to check some chicks while the boys were chattering about how disappointed they were that MeeMaw’s snake wasn’t out, when I told them that the snake was out. “Where? I don’t see any snake!” the boys said, suspicious that I was messing with them. “Right behind you!” And there was snake, minding its own business, hanging out by the sheep barn. The boys were VERY excited, particularly the youngest who just turned three. “Can I touch your snake, MeeMaw? Can I touch it softly?” After discussing how under no circumstances were they to ever touch any of MeeMaw’s snakes without MeeMaw being present, I allowed that perhaps he could gently touch the tail. He did, and rat snake whipped around, lifting his head about a foot off the ground and facing grandson (with MeeMaw holding him to yank him out of harm’s way, if necessary, because snakes will bite even if they aren’t venomous when they’re being messed with). MeeMaw’s protective presence was totally unnecessary. Old deflated Barn Kitty leaped in front of that snake, lifted his paw, and slapped that snake upside the head so hard that poor old Barn Kitty knocked himself over. Snake raced for the barn and slithered inside through a hole in the board.
Did I mention I have a slight rodent problem in the barn? Yes, I have a HUGE rat problem. The rats line up along the feed trough when I carry the feed bucket into the barn, and I’m not lyin’. They recognize me. They squeak in recognition and fight for the best places along the rafters above the feed troughs. A rat snake in the barn is good news as far as I’m concerned except for the creepy factor of the possibility of a bigass snake falling out of the rafters onto me in the dark. Uck. People in Jacksonville would probably hear me if a snake fell and whopped me on my head and possibly bites me on the nose or eyeball. Hunh. Maybe rats in the barn aren’t that bad after all.
Anyway, the kids kept a good lookout and saw the snake exit the barn and wanted to go look at it again. We went and looked and damned if another rat snake, same size, didn’t come slither along it, stopped and bit it, then fled back into the barn. For a moment there, until the bite, we thought the kids were going to get to see how snakes were made. We called SwampMan out to look at our little snake.
“That ain’t no damn LITTLE snake!”
“It is compared to the one that was draped across the gate!”
It poured down rain today, and the kids were very disappointed that MeeMaw’s snakes were hiding someplace. Barn Kitty has had more milk, water, and food. I was very disappointed that the grandkids had to stay inside today instead of expending their energy on the landscape.