View Full Version : Tame Blackberries, Wild Snakes

Leigh Costello
08-27-2008, 12:29 AM
Well, as some of you know, I live near the woods, nearly in the woods. I have a great deal of flora and fauna to enjoy. I also like my flowerbeds, raised veggie beds and, my favorite, a tame blackberry patch. I get lots of blackberries. I pick from the 4th of July until about now. I have strict rules about picking, don't leave any ripe ones because the fauna will come eat everything. And don't break the canes. Cuts back on yields. I sell my excess to friends and keep the other 40 quarts or so for me and hubby. (Blackberries and sweet dumplings on a cold winter night in front of the fireplace, mmmmm.)

Well, Sunday evening I went to my patch and began picking. I noticed a nice shiny snakeskin. As I was bent over nearly eye to eye with said skin, I picked the berries that were close to me. Pondering actually moving and picking the next bunch of berries and just stretching waaayy over, my brain clicked in. Shiny snakeskin = fresh snakeskin, i.e. the snake is probably very close. I studied the snakeskin for about a nanosecond and determined a close snake is a little too much for me.

I began to twist my way out of the patch, not moving my feet. There was a snake and I sure wasn't going to chance stepping on it and having it crawl up my ankle! As I looked carefully in the fading light at the base of the berry canes, I saw something very black. And sort of snakelike. And it was moving. Towards my foot which was anchoring me from falling on my face. And my foot was covered by a couple of leaves. I quickly determined black snakes in MO are harmless. My brain knew this, but my heart did not. My brain kept my foot still, and sure enough, the snake slithered right over it. My heartrate had to be about 2000 or so, so I screamed, tossed the berries I had just picked and ran to the deck.

I just shook all over for a minute and calmed down. Rationalizing that the snake was probably just as scared as I was, and probably in the next county, I went back to the berry patch and retreived my favorite berry picking colander and retreated back to the house. Once inside, my loving and caring hubby said, "Did you say something a minute ago?" He was watching preseason football. I just shook my head and declared berry picking season had ended and went to bed.

I like where I live, I really do, but I sometimes wish animals didn't like it so well, too!

James Jaragosky
08-27-2008, 1:01 AM
Leigh I am glad to hear you and the snake both came out ok.
And your story has brightened my day.
Many times when people meet nature, nature looses.
Today it looks like a tie.:)

Norris Randall
08-27-2008, 5:31 AM
I thought some of you would like to see one of our GOOD snakes.

My wife however; does not like to be in the same area with any snake.
She told me a few days ago that she saw a snake in the fig tree and quit picking.

We came home from church and was picking figs for a friend that is coming by. We just finished picking next to this limb- had pulled upper branches down and letting them spring back up.

Right next to the wife was this limb about elbo level. I finally noticed that something was different about one of the limbs.

I told her to go away and grabed this critter behind the head and relocated him back to the edge of the woods.

I'm thinking it is a rat snake. What say you?
Now I wish I had taken another pic on the ground making exit.

Russ Filtz
08-27-2008, 7:48 AM
EVERY snake looks like either a rattler, copperhead, water moccasin, or coral snake to me!

Greg Cole
08-27-2008, 9:22 AM
Those black snakes can be a wee bit intimidating. They can get to be pretty big suckers. I've seen a few since living in MO that I've had to do a double take over... any snake that's 4-6 feet long and as big as your fore arm definately gets your attention.
We actually had a rattle snake in our building at work last year. It was only about 6" long and the diameter of a pencil, but a rattle snake just the same.
BTW, I am envious of the blackberries!
Looks like a rat snake from here.... eerily close in appearance to a rattle snake if ya ask me.

Belinda Williamson
08-27-2008, 10:39 AM
Darn, Leigh, and here I was about to ask you to send me some berries for a cobbler.

I swear, you should write a book about your adventures in the wild!

We have two, formerly stray now homesteaded, cats who live at our shop. In April one of them was bitten on the head by a moccasin, at 4 on a Saturday. One emergency vet visit, $185.00, a week of antibiotics and prednisone and she survived. About a month later the other cat was bitten on the foot by a moccasin. This time it cost $250.00 since she had to stay overnight at the vet's office. So, you think they would have learned their lesson about playing with snakes. Nope. Several weeks ago I was closing up the shop at the end of the day. The lights were off and the roll up door was open just a few inches at the bottom. As I'm walking through the shop with just enough light to see where I'm walking I notice the cats sitting about 4 feet apart and staring at the floor in between them. I thought this was odd, so I took a little closer look. Sure enough, they were watching a snake. Honey was closing the roll up door on the other side of the shop, the side where we keep the shovel. So I yell out, "Honey, bring me the shovel." To which he replies, as he's walking over to my side of the building, "Why do you need the shovel?" I say, "Just bring it and hurry!". He continues walking and says, "But why do you need it?" At which point I lose my patience and shout, "I need the dang shovel so I can pick this snake up and throw it at you!" I didn't though, I put it in the woods out back. It took a mighty effort on my part to make that decision though. ;)

James Ashburn
08-27-2008, 11:25 AM
Looks like a rat snake to me. I think I would have let it continue to guard my figs from the birds. I seem to only get a few for myself since they have been discovered by my little winged "friends".

Mike Wilkins
08-27-2008, 11:40 AM
MOTH BALLS. Moth balls contain the same ingredients as snake repellants you buy in the store. I scatter them around my and my neighbors yard to keep the copperheads thinking about another yard. Living beside farm land and protected wetlands, there will always be snakes. But I don't want them in the yard.

Lee Schierer
08-27-2008, 12:19 PM
We just picked enough blackberries for a pie this weekend, no snakes thoughWhen I was youg we went blackberry picking with my grandfather and my family in the hills of the Allegheny National Forest near Bradford, PA. We were up some logging road several miles and found a really nice patch of berries. We all spread out and started picking. At one point, I was near my Father picking and we could hear some one else in the bushes on the other side of where we were. They weren't being too careful of the canes as we heard lots of crunching and breaking, so my Dad hollered to be more careful. The culprit stood up and all we could see was the head and ears of a black bear looking at us from about 10 feet away. Apparently he enjoyed the same berry patch. We all, bear included, beat a hasty retreat and we left that portion of the patch to the bear.

John Shuk
08-27-2008, 8:50 PM
If the snake is shedding there it probably lives there. He is just there to get whatever rodent or bird he can catch eating those berries.

Bryan Rocker
08-27-2008, 9:01 PM
Thanks for sharing such a humerous adventure with us. My wife and I have had numerous close encounters with the slithery kind. Our biggest shock was coming home from the grocery when we lived out in the country in Oklahoma. I spied what I thought might be a snake on a brick flower garden next to the back door. To my surprise it was a snake skin that touched the ground and was over my shoulders and was only part of it! Yes it was a black snake but a dam big one. While in Oklahoma I did quite a bit of reading to make sure I could tell copperheads from all other non-poisonous species. The one great thing about snakes is they keep my mom away, she is phobic of them and won't come around if she knows we have seen them..... ;)

David DeCristoforo
08-27-2008, 11:18 PM
Can you smoke those snakes?

John Keeton
08-28-2008, 6:04 AM
We actually had a rattle snake in our building at work last year. It was only about 6" long and the diameter of a pencil, but a rattle snake just the same. Norris

Norris, you didn't have A rattlesnake. 6" long rattlesnakes don't migrate - it was there because its FAMILY was nearby. Use caution!

I am pretty tolerant of non-venomous snakes. My grandfather used to keep a black snake in the barn as his "rat killer." My cousin and I killed his snake when we were young, and he chased us yelling the whole way. Not happy.

We often see large blacksnakes, or cow snakes around the house. But, when it comes to venomous snakes, I don't tolerate them very well. Fortunately, we don't have that issue in this part of our county. Closer to the river, rattlesnakes and copperheads have been seen but not real common. I grew up east of here and spent a lot of time in the woods. Rattlesnakes, copperheads and water mocassins (cottonmouth) were plentiful.

Dave Verstraete
08-28-2008, 7:55 AM
Alright..my best snake short story from my time in Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I was there as an agricultural extension agent working to change swamps into rice paddies for rice production. I was walking down a drainage ditch with a Sierra Leone assistant when he told me to STOP. I looked at him and then at the spot he was pointing to in front of me. About 3 feet ahead of me was a Gabon viper. I backed up slowly and a couple of farmers harvested the snake. It sure was tasty at lunch with groundnut soup over rice.

David-- Obviously you are still not smoking. WAY TO GO!!!

Jim Mattheiss
08-28-2008, 8:40 PM
I have had several EEK! moments with regard to snakes here in my little acres.

I pulled a bag of mulch of a several week old pile of mulch bags in the yard.
2 snakes were curled up in the pile. EEK!

I was pulling apart a rubble stone wall next to my front stairs.
2 snakes were nested in the wall. EEK!

One morning I found a small garden snake dead in the garage. It had gotten into the garage and "Bullwinkle the Killer Cat " apparantly killed him.

The most interesting was an injured snakes that slithered thru the yard on a Sunday afternoon.
I walked out the front door on Monday AM and it was laying on the sidewalk (dead). EEK!

I told my wife that it was there and went to work. My kids played with it all day long.
They took pictures and it was later identified as a Ball Python. Apparantly an escaped pet.
The funny part is that it's currently in a box in my garage freezer. A snake-sicle. EEK!

I really should become more familiar with local varieties of snakes.

PS - I do shriek like a girl when I have an EEK moment . . .


Steve Clardy
08-29-2008, 4:34 PM
Someone mention snakes?

Nathan Hawkes
08-31-2008, 6:14 AM
This is my five foot long "rat trap" at the barn.....


david hines
08-31-2008, 10:01 PM
cutting down trees for firewood during the winter ,I sawed one into pieces with a chain saw . it was hibernating inside the tree about eye level. It wasnt fun to clean up the saw and my father didnt think it was a good enough reason to quit working that day.