Snakes, Swiss Chard & Automobiles

Rattlesnake decoy among the Swiss Chard to deter the White Tail Deer
Rattlesnake decoy among the Swiss Chard to deter the White Tail Deer

A week ago today was a day for snakes. Though – sadly, I must add – it was not a day for living snakes…

Rattlesnakes and White Tail Deer

Let’s start with the good news. Or at least the benign-if-slightly-amusing news. To set the stage, imagine yourself walking across the still dewy lawn south of the carriage barn. A light morning mist still hangs in the air adding a slightly bluish, fuzzy aspect to the vegetable garden, orchard, and meadows beyond.

Your eyes would suddenly, inevitably notice a coiled rattlesnake in the middle of the Swiss chard!

Approaching the southeast corner of the vegetable garden your eyes would be drawn to the delicious, spicy radicchio growing in the cedar raised bed at the corner. Next your eyes would dart to the bright orange nasturtium sprawling alongside. Perhaps you would bend over and pick a succulent, young leaf to munch on. The flavor drifts somewhere between the subtlest peppercorn and cinnamon stick.

As you wander along past two varieties of beets interspersed with a fresh crop of radishes your eyes would suddenly, inevitably notice a coiled rattlesnake in the middle of the Swiss chard!

But don’t panic. It’s not real. More precisely, it’s not a live rattlesnake. It is a lifelike rubber decoy. Before I explain to you why this rubber rattlesnake is coiled, rattle raised and head drawn up and back with fangs bared, here’s a quick backstory.

Rattlesnake decoy among the Swiss Chard to deter the White Tail Deer
Rattlesnake decoy among the Swiss Chard to deter the White Tail Deer

Duck Doodoo

Back in May Lake Champlain water levels were low and dropping. But June brought rain, rain, rain. The lake level went up, up, up.

Doug called to say that two ducks were cuddled up asleep with the rubber rattlesnake…

The shoreline shrank, so the mallards decided that our dock was the perfect place for snoozing, eating, and… evacuating the rather rich byproduct of their rather rich diet. This stinky mess created an undesirable obstacle course for accessing the boat. So we hosed and scrubbed. But within a few hours the situation repeated itself.

After many weeks of duck waste remediation (DWR) I suffered a small stroke of genius. We needed a decoy predator! I researched and discovered that others had found that a coiled rubber rattlesnake deterred ducks, geese, seagulls, even pelicans. Perfect.

I placed the order and chuckled my way down to the dock on deployment day. An hour or two later Doug called to say that two ducks were cuddled up asleep with the rubber rattlesnake…

White Tail Deer Decoy

What to do with a worthless rubber rattlesnake? A few silly pranks came to mind, but before I could regroup and execute, I discovered that Doug had transferred the rubber rattlesnake to one of the Swiss chard patches in our vegetable garden that the white tail deer have been devouring. Good idea!

It’s too early to determine for certain whether or not the rattler is going to dissuade the deer, but I’ll update you if there’s any news.

Corn Snake Roadkill

In sorrier stories, this unfortunate sight caused me to pause during a recent bike ride.

Is this unfortunate snake spotted on Willsboro point at the end of July 2015 an anerythristic corn snake?
Is this unfortunate snake spotted on Willsboro point at the end of July 2015 an anerythristic corn snake?

I pedaled past this exotic roadkill on a Willsboro Point bike ride, and circled back to try and identify the unfortunate fellow. Aside from the always disturbing sight of roadkill, this snake instantly reminded me of the mystery snake I spied in the rhubarb a few years ago. In fact, I’m almost 100% certain now that is the same species I failed to identify then.

A quick search online suggests to me that it might be an anerythristic corn snake. Check out the photograph below and decide for yourself.

An anerythristic corn snake (Source: Wikipedia)
An anerythristic corn snake (Source: Wikipedia)

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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2 Responses to Snakes, Swiss Chard & Automobiles

  1. Andrea says:

    Very entertaining, although I am very sorry about the snake that was run over. That happens to black snakes here in NY too, when the snakes bask on the warm roads in the summer. I’m very interested to know if the snake decoy deters deer, or whether the deer get used to it, like the ducks. Could you please post an update when you have something to report? Thank you!

    • virtualDavis says:

      Thanks for your comment, Andrea. Sorry to hear about the black snakes. I supposed it’s a universal problem. We see the same thing here with our Timber Rattlesnakes. Sad to see such large, impressive snakes vanquished by automobile tires.

      As for the rattlesnake decoy, the deers were even less daunted than the ducks! They munched the Swiss Chard and Beets right next to the rubber snake despite the fact that it looks startlingly real. Oh, well. Smart ducks. Smart deer. Silly people!

      We did come up with a relatively effective solution for the deer though. Our current “garden guru” suggested a couple of strands of fishing twine around the garden, one about knee-high and the other about three feet off the ground. It’s kept the deer out except when somebody (me, my bride, a friend) fails to notice the fishing line and snaps it by walking through. Then the deer stroll right in and help themselves until we replace the fishing twine…

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