Sunday, February 21, 2010

The First Snake of The Year

The First Snake Of The Year slid into the pond before I could get a photo. All I really saw was a dark colored tail slipping into the pond and under the aquatic vegetation. Herpetology has been a hobby of mine now for over forty years so I can tell you it was either a Banded Water Snake, or a Cottonmouth. The scales on the tail were strongly keeled, which is to say each scale has a ridge running across it longitudinally. The odds of it being the same Cottonmouth that was hanging around last year seem pretty good, but let’s face it; I’ve been here for nine years without any trouble from the local hot snakes so everything ought to go smoothly this year as well.
The problem this year is I have a Loki Mutt who is showing all signs of the beginnings of an almost religious belief in his own indestructibility. Worse, Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound, is showing signs he knows how to injure Lucas without getting his paws dirty. For all the dogs I have ever known Sam is both the most focused and the most damaged. Sam will stand directly in front of the plastic insulators I use as a gate for the electric fence. Sam hates being zapped by the fence but he’s watched me long enough to realize that part of the fence doesn’t bite. The Loki Mutt who hasn’t learned this thinks Sam will get petted more if he’s the nearest dog when I get home so Loki crowds the fence and invariably, Loki gets popped two or three times a week. Moreover, Sam has even learned to feign towards the fence, and then veer away. Loki, who never wants Sam to get anywhere first hasn’t learned to use his brakes yet. Sam will stand there looking incredibly pleased with himself as Lucas yelps.
Now I don’t really think Sam would let Luke get bit by a venomous snake intentionally simply because Sam wouldn’t allow such a creature in the yard to begin with, not if he had a chance to kill it. The real problem here is Luke doesn’t trust Sam’s judgment in danger, and rightfully so, and Sam isn’t looking out for Luke actively. Bert doesn’t seem to care about any of this, and I wonder how all this is going to play out if a serious snake gets into the backyard. I know the older dogs have attacked and killed Cottonmouths before, but they have always worked well as a team. Luke lacks a clear position on the team when it comes to hunting, I fear.
This is a lot more than just idle fretting. The fire pit is flooded and the pond is full of water for only the second time since I’ve been here. This means more frogs, and more frogs mean more snakes, which means a higher incidence of hot snakes. Oh, by the way, throw in the fact there is a mountain of branches and brush left over from the tree killing in the now flooded fire pit and suddenly there is brand new and perfect habitat for snakes! Food, shelter, and I might as well start renting the place out before some serpentine spring break.
On the upside Lucas shows every sign of becoming a very large animal. He is quick, strong, and he learns quickly. It’s going to take a snake with some size to him to do any real damage to Luke and as I have said I just don’t see Sam putting up with that. Whatever else may be, Sam isn’t letting anything with any size trespass in his yard. It is an interesting dilemma.
So here I am, a full month before the first day of Spring and already the warm weather worries begin. I am not likely to be able to greet the Solstice with a fire, as I am wont to do and it is very likely everything in the fire pit may have to be drug out to higher ground to be burned. I wonder what’s going to happen if we keep getting rain ( it is supposed to rain tomorrow) and a wet hurricane in June would turn the mulch pile into a beaver dam! But this is my life in Hickory Head, and after nine years I still have the dog I came with, and still have the dog that showed up here, and now have a dog I found on the road.

What will turn up next is anyone’s guess.

Take Care,

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