Snakes and Other Exciting Creatures

(Ann and other not-so-outdoorsy people might not want to read this!)

As usual, I am awed by God’s great creation and much of it being on this beautiful land of ours. I don’t get out as much as I would like, but occasionally a walk will be so interesting. The other evening I took a walk to the upper pasture. When I arrived at the damn in the back creek and looked to the left, there were three white-tailed deer. Compared to Virginia, the deer here are much smaller, but these were pretty good size for Tennessee. To get to the upper pasture one has to climb a very steep hill. (One sister suggested that a bench was needed up there after climbing it. After all, even the cat was panting!) About half-way up, I stopped to take a break and heard rustling to my right. To the right is another very steep hill a little ways away, and running up there (in the opposite direction, thank God!) was (I am pretty sure) a coyote. When the top of the hill was reached, there were no less than 8 wild turkey that were still eating as if they had not heard me. I was sorry that the camera was home. My husband was sorry that the gun was home!

Today I took a walk to get the mail. We have a bridge going over the big creek near the road. Well, I looked down to see if the usual water snakes were hanging out and I was surprised by a snake right next to me on the side of the bridge. He was trying hard to get under the bridge away from me. Since it was not “Blacky under the Brdge” as we like to refer to the black snake, I was a bit apprehensive. However, I do believe it was a common water snake, but never did see his face. As I was asking myself (out loud) what kind of snake that was, I heard a slither in the bushes. So, although that was not seen, I am pretty sure it was another snake. Then I looked down at the bridge and there sat our Blacky, not moving. I wondered if he was OK, so I found a stick and very lightly touched him. His muscles moved, and upon further observation I saw his face and his eyes were glazed over. “Oh, he is ready to shed his skin, that is why he’s not moving.”

The one class in high school that helped me the most was our Environmental Science class. Mr. Brown was our teacher, and Mr. Young was the other teacher who taught the same class, so they did a lot together. Mr. Young had permits to catch and keep some of the endangered snakes over the winter, which he housed in our classroom. We got to see the snakes eat (which was only about once a month) and we got to handle the snakes. That was the best experience I could have had to live in the woods, where, eventually I ended up with my husband. I enjoyed holding the king snakes the best. They were black and white. I didn’t like holding the Hog nose snakes because they were easily agitated and when they were agitated they “musked,” which meant had a real stinky goo come out of them. I remember going out during our class periods to look for snakes. The school owned the land across the street (they still do, but there is a middle school siting on it now) and we would go over there snake hunting. There were also bogs, wet lands of sorts in the back of the school where we would go. Many water snakes were caught there. One that I remember was very aggressive. We wondered why (gee, we just took him out of his home, could that be it?) However, when we got him to the classroom and into a temporary holding tank, he regurgitated a frog that he had just eaten. Poor thing. We always let those snakes go before class was over.

Well, I just posted a whole lot more than I expected. Someday I’ll have to post on some of the other neat things we did in that class. Unfortunately now, the budget has been cut so much that there are no more field trips like we took. What a shame. It was where most of my learning took place. Oops, I just stumbled upon yet another reason for homeschooling!

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