There is a buffer zone between our “yard” and the tree line that HairyFace calls Copperhead Country because he is more likely to encounter Copperheads (and other snakes) here than anywhere else; other than up in the virgin forest. This area is sloping, has a few scattered trees, the ground is covered with dead leaves (Copperheads like dead leaves because their coloring provides the perfect camouflage), and fallen branches. The ground is littered with big rocks, boulders and outcroppings. All make a great playground for snakes.
One afternoon HairyFace announced that he was headed up into Copperhead Country to do some bush-whacking. That’s like weed whacking, but includes saplings and honeysuckle vines along with large weeds. I told him he needed to stay as far away from snakes as possible. I was once bitten, repeatedly, by a Copperhead and spend a day in the doggy hospital and many weeks of recovery. It’s not fun, it is best to just stay away from them!
He said, “I’ll be careful, Chief” and he put on his boots and strapped on his snake gun. Obviously he wasn’t listening. “Besides,” he continued, “if I don’t keep the buffer zone cut down, the snakes will be coming into our yard more often. You don’t want that, do you?”
No. No I didn’t.
We have black snakes, various grass and garter snakes, King snakes, as well as Copperheads. Timber Rattlers are indigenous to this area and many are spotted in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but we have not seen one here. Thank God. Rattlers are deadly. Copperheads not so much.
Hairy doesn’t like killing things, and won’t kill the non-venomous snakes. They’re creepy, but they actually do good things like eating moles, chipmunks, and bugs. The large black snakes even eat the Copperheads. If a Copperhead wants to slither back into the woods, fine: it can go. But if it confronts him, he’ll take it out.
HairyFace went out the gate at the high side of the yard with his string trimmer and started cutting the brush along the outside of the fence line. That string-flinging-trimmer-thing of his is noisy! Blondie groused at him that he was seriously disrupting her peaceful afternoon. She finally gave up and went way down to the low corner to hang out in the shade of a big old oak tree and watch the road.
I was already inside. I knew better. That’s why I’m The Big Dog.
Once HairyFace worked his way out toward the trees, Volt decided it was safe to take up position on the Coolaroo. It was still noisy, but not so bad and there were no flying bits and pieces to contend with.
Once he got the whacking done, HairyFace turned to digging up and transplanting some ground-cover. He’s trying to deal with an erosion problem out front. That was nice and quiet, and we all appreciated it.
Finally he gathered up all his tools and came back inside the yard to put them away in the barn. Then everyone went inside. HairyFace got a drink of water, everyone else claimed a snuggle bed for a quick rest.
No shots fired, no snakes sighted. HairyFace said maybe the increasing population of Red-Tail Hawks in our woods is having an effect on the snake population. Snake meat is a delicacy in the Red-Tail Bistro. All the more reason to keep that buffer zone mowed down, making it easier for the hawks to spot slithery things as they head our way. Eat hearty our feathered friends, keep those serpents up in the forest.