Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cabin Life: A Summer Snake Encounter

The Big SnakesI just got back from the neighbor’s house, where we had a couple of beers by the fire.  Even though I tend to have a beer by the fire whenever it’s not raining, it is nice to share the fire with friends.

On top of the pleasant evening, it is actually starting to feel like summer.  We’ve had almost three whole days without rain.  I am really excited.

There’s been a lot going on out here at the cabin.  I bought a new woodstove and am waiting for it to be delivered.  The new woodshed will be up and doing its job within a week.  The chickens are growing and the coop will be built and operational in two weeks.  The peas in the garden are growing like crazy, and the few that I’ve eaten were sweet and crisp.

But on another note, the snakes may be getting a little comfortable in the yard.  Now, granted, I don’t mind snakes and appreciate the services that they provide, but I had a bit of a run-in with a few, and they’re getting on my nerves just a touch.

Last week, we had a warm, sunny day for the first time in a while.  I got the four-wheeler going and took a ride down the road.  It’s about a mile to where the pavement starts, and I cruised up there and turned around.  Not long after I turned around, I was startled by something on the handlebars.  There was a decent-sized garter snake winding its way around the cables and controls down back into the body of the machine.

The snake wasn’t big, and before I could grab it, it slithered down the controls and under the plastic body.  I glanced down in there to see if it was easily accessible and noticed a bunch of stuff that kind of looked like a nest.  When I leaned over a little farther, I could clearly see two more little garters curled up in the nest, and the one from the handlebars making its way around.

I was startled, but took off for home and figured I’d dig them out when I got back.  I pulled into the yard and my friend pointed out to me that there was a rather large snake head poking out from under the seat, right where her legs had been dangling on our ride.  Now, I’m not afraid of garter snakes and routinely remove them from places where I don’t want them (like in the chicken cage).  But this one seemed big enough that if it did bite me, it would hurt.

Unfortunately, it’s head was resting directly on the release that would allow me to remove the seat and therefore remove the snake.  It seemed pretty docile, maybe a little woozy from the ride, but I grabbed a glove and pushed the snake’s head back out of the way and released the seat.

As I pulled the seat off, I was amazed at the size of this snake.  It’s body was wound around itself quite a few times, and it’s girth was enormous.  I followed the contour of its body all the across the width of the four-wheeler and realized that this snake had a head at either side of the seat.  This was two snakes, both equally large, wide and, luckily, docile.

I grabbed each one and tossed them into the long grass at the edge of the driveway.  They were hands down the largest garter snakes I have ever seen, and the fact that they were that close to my crotch made me uneasy.  I decided to leave the four-wheeler parked in the shorter grass, and walked over to the rock pile where it had been parked.  As I walked up and picked up the tarp, I saw seven different little snakes take off into the grass.  Hopefully they find a nice place to nest.  It just can’t be in my house, car, or four-wheeler.

 


Justin A Levine

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.







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