The Good Snake

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The Good Snake

I am not a fan of snakes. But even I have to admit there are good snakes, and I am working on overcoming the fear of snakes. A few weeks ago we spotted one on the farm that was a very good snake. Then, last week my dad spotted it again. He wanted me to share what he wrote about the snake. Here is his article on the good snake.

Last weekend we were cutting up a downed tree in our yard. It was more than an all day job. After taking a lunch break, I went back outside and my heart sank as I observed this snake in the grass. No, I wasn’t at all upset at seeing a speckled king snake. They’re very beneficial and not at all dangerous. But at first glance, I thought someone had cut off its head! The body was moving, yet, try as I might, I couldn’t locate the head!

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I got right down close and poked it. The snake’s body moved as if sentient. Then, suddenly the head popped up and he/she glared at me in a “snakey sort of a way.”

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It turns out that this little beauty was busy hunting moles! Within a few moments it stuck its head back down in the mole hole and started looking again! I had never before observed this activity. I was, however, confirmed in my pleasure at finding a live king snake on my place!

Most people who like king snakes say that they eat venomous snakes. They might eat some of the babies. I believe they’d starve to death if that was all they ate. It’s even better news to know that they eat rodents!

Under certain light conditions, the speckled king snake looks almost blue, due to the yellow spots. It is, indeed, a beautiful animal; and, impossible to confuse with any other snake in the wild. Since it is both harmless and beneficial, we should always welcome it in our yards and gardens!

From the Homestead,

George”

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Escargo Without A Shell

One of our homesteaders from Homesteading Edu wrote an article recently that he told me he would like me to share. So, here is Escargo Without A Shell, written by George McLaughlin.

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Escargo Without A Shell

Okay, I admit I came up with the title for this article, simply because it tickles my funny bone! I have never tried eating slugs, and have no plans to try. Though, I suspect… they wouldn’t be all that bad. If you have ever gardened where slugs are a problem, you know just how frustrating they can be. Where there are appropriate damp conditions, slugs can become a huge problem, devouring plants in the garden faster than one can replant!
Slugs are most often a problem in climates with prolonged periods of wet weather. Hence, we rarely have to deal with them in Oklahoma. However, in other areas slugs can be a really big problem.
Here are a couple of remedies for slugs:

1) For minor infestations one can go out at night and drop a pinch of salt on the offending slugs. This kills them.
2) Hand picking and dropping them into a soap or ammonia solution will kill slugs. No, slugs don’t bite. They can’t hurt you. So hand pick to your heart’s content.
3) Diatomaceous earth, which can be purchased in garden centers will sometimes help. One simply lays it down around affected plants. Supposedly, its microscopic serrations will lacerate a slug. I have not personally seen this to work.
4) There are a number of snail/slug baits available, commercially. Most contain iron sulfate. The slugs eat it and die. In my experience, these baits are indeed effective. The most commonly available slug bait is called Sluggo. Apparently these baits do not harm other critters in the garden.
5) Beer! Yes, slugs are natural born alcoholics. If you pour beer into little dishes, even bottle caps, and place them in your garden at night, the slugs will flock to them, drink and… die! Bahwahaha! I did this when we lived and gardened in Indiana. My impression was that beer and iron sulfate were tied for effectiveness.
6) If your garden is fenced, and your situation allows it, it doesn’t hurt to free range some ducks in the yard. They’ll clean up on slugs, cutting down on those who make it to your garden. DON’T believe glowing reports about allowing ducks to scavenge inside the garden. I tried that a couple of times, using runner ducks, which are small. In every case the ducks had a party in the garden, destroying valued crops! I’ll never forget, checking on the “duck patrol” and seeing a duck nonchalantly pull up a young onion plant and swallow the whole thing, moving on to the next…. “Slugs? Who wants to hunt slugs when I can visit the salad bar?!” However, if your garden is surrounded by a lot of slug habitat, and it’s fenced, some ducks might indeed help.
7) Encourage toads in your garden. Leave a hiding place for toads, such as a weedy corner with some shade. Set out a shallow tray, flush with the ground, with water in it as well as some rocks, so a toad can get in, soak and get out. Toads eat a lot of pests.
6) Finally, it helps to eliminate weeds which conserve moisture near your young plants. So, while it’s sunny out, weed in and around your plantings. ”

 

Photo from: https://pixabay.com/en/snail-black-dirt-environment-grass-1836103/