Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Snake Saga

Just a quick update tonight on the snake saga.

Yesterday I did a lot of work out on the pasture: digging musk thistles (an official Noxious Weed in the state of Kansas), repairing fences, moving the portable electric fence, troubleshooting the electric topwires that carry the charge to various parts of the farm. Usually Toss is out there ranging around on the pasture with me, hunting mice and generally enjoying the wide open space as much as I do.

But yesterday, instead of running around, she was glued to the fence between the sheep pen and the garden. There is about a half block (23' x 50', plus lanes) of ground that is part of the Graduat Students' community garden, that they are not using. I've bordered it with the portable electric fence so that the sheep can mow it until the grad students are ready to plant it. A few days ago, I flash grazed them on it (12 hours, to grub things down pretty well without them picking up too much parasite load from the short grass). In the middle of the block, there was a tuft of higher grass left where a tree branch lay so that the sheep couldn't browse under it very well.

I finally opened the gate to this little paddock for her, just to try to figure out why she wanted in that pen so badly. I certainly couldn't see anything to attract her there....

She made a beeline for the tree branch, and I walked up to get a closer look. I guess I was expecting something like coyote scat.

Looking for all the world like a shadow under the tree branch, one of the black rat snakes lay draped across a desecrated wild rabbit nest. The snake's shape clearly indicated the ingestion of a number of baby wild rabbits.

Rabbits, of course, can a serious pest in the vegetable garden, but in fact I have rarely had detectible crop damage in recent years. I think I'm beginning to understand why, and to more fully appreciate the role of these handsome snakes in the Community of Life here at Pinwheel Farm.

I'm also appreciating anew the relationship that I have with my beloved old Toss, that let me pay attention to her interest and respond to satisfy it. And I appreciate her wisdom, patience, and cleverness in directing my attention to a matter of happy concern to me.

1 comment:

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