Because of recent heavy rains, our gravel driveway had taken a bit of a beating in terms of erosion (we live on a spur of Big Walker Mountain and our drive curves about 300 yards up a hill; with a downpour, we can get a good bit of runoff from the hillside) so I decided to hitch my grader blade to my tractor (go here to learn more about my tractor) and level the driveway.
I find myself having to do this three or four times a year. It takes me about two hours and it ain't no big thang, as we say.
Because I don't use the blade much this time of year (I get lots of use out of it plowing snow later on), I keep it under a tarp out behind the fenced pasture.
One thing a person learns around here is that, in the summertime there is a snake lurking under every rock, behind every tree, in the rafters of every outbuilding.
So when I got to it, I intentionally lifted the tarp away from the grader blade carefully.
Sure enough, there were two huge black racers curled up beneath the tarp, all intertwined and not particularly pleased that I had disturbed them.
What was odd about the encounter was that the snakes, once disturbed, didn't slither off into the weeds. They untangled but circled the blade as if both of them were going to challenge me.
Under normal circumstances, I'd give the snakes their space. But on this day I needed my farm implement. They were, therefore, occupying my space.
As I backed the tractor up to the blade - to connect it to the three-point hitch and to scare off the pesky not-so-little reptiles - sure enough, one finally moved off into the tall grass.
The other one, though, wasn't going anywhere. He coiled up beneath the blade and signaled, "Come on, big daddy. Let's see what you got."
My thought was, "Look, you little reptile, go have your snake sex under someone else's tarp. I've got work to do."
So, with a good deal of effort and cajoling, I finally got the black snake to see things my way; he slithered away, obviously not happy with me.
I hitched up the blade and started heading off across the pasture toward the driveway. As I rode along, I began to think about the encounter. I'm no snake expert but it seemed the two that I had come upon had acted rather strangely. I thought it odd that they would be so aggressive, particularly the one that would not back off when confronted. Showing off in front of his mate is a commendable exercise - heck, I used to do it for Paula myself ... a few years ago.
But this was different.
Then an idea came to me. Perhaps I hadn't interrupted snake sex. It might be that I had unknowingly busted up a family. The two snakes might have been raising babies. That would certainly explain the aggression.
But I hadn't seen any babies when I lifted the tarp off the blade, and the blade is nothing more than a five-foot long steel ... well, blade.
I brought the tractor to a stop, put it in neutral, and jumped off. I walked around to the back, knelt down, and attempted to peer into the space that existed behind the blade itself and a support beam that ran its length.
It was too dark in the confined space to see anything. So I walked around to the other side of the implement and stuck my eye up to the narrow opening. And looked inside.
Something was looking back.
I knew immediately that it had to be a snake; the cause for the parent snakes to be agitated. I knew too that I was going to use that blade - on my driveway - that day.
The snake had to go.
But how was I going to get him / her /it out?
I decided to drive the tractor up to my garage and to prod the little tyke out of its lair.
As I headed up the driveway, I looked back, only to see a snake head and about twelve inches of snake body dangling below the blade. He was attempting his escape. Which didn't upset me at all.
He slowly worked his way out of the blade and plopped down on the driveway. All three feet of him. The cutest youngster a mommy and daddy snake had ever produced. He lay there for a few moments, got his bearings, and then slid off into the grass.
And my day progressed.
Another day on Snake Mountain.