Tonight, when I picked up the last bale of hay in the corner of barn, I found a three foot blacksnake looking back at me, not pleased to be disturbed. I, on the other hand, was quite happy to see him. We are unwilling donors of grain and alfalfa hay to the rat and field mouse survival and reproduction fund. Having a snake around means there are substantial penalties for withdrawal. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Burn's "Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beasties." I simply would like them to eat less than the sheep do.
My attitude towards snakes is not, I regret to say, typical of farmers around here. The old-timers wage an never-ending war against snakes of all sizes, shapes and colors. Poisonous, non-poisonous, it makes no difference. God tells the serpent in Genesis that the son of the woman will bruise his head. Folks around here seem to take that as a command, rather than an obscure messianic prophecy. Tonight's blacksnake seemed more elegant than subtle and tempted me not at all. If he wishes to share the local rodent population with us, he is more than welcome.