Friday, March 7, 2014

Snake sightings and a sad story

For the first time I saw a very venomous snake while I was out and about a week or so ago.  It was a green mamba, vibrant green sunning itself and stretched across the dirt path like a bad omen.  I gasped aloud and froze.  Thankfully it sensed my presence and made a startlingly rapid retreat into the nearby brush.  It seems with our surrounding neighbors burning off brush during the dry season it is causing snakes to take refuge at RFIS and our property.  Makes sense but a bit unnerving.  A long snake skin had been found not far from my sighting.  A cobra was seen near the chicken coop where my daughter, among others, cares for the chickens being raised for the agriculture science class.  Then just days later one of our beloved guard dogs Puma disappeared.

Denise had been looking all over our property and next door at the school, to no avail.  Hours later the girls studying in our living room heard a pitiful wailing of a dog nearby.  Steve and I checked it out and Steve found Puma under our house in a crawl space she is known to chill out in.  She was semi conscious and hardly responsive.  When Denise came into the crawl space Puma rallied and was somewhat responsive.  We gave her water made her as comfortable as possible to pass the night there.  The next day Puma improved dramatically.  By the day after she was almost back to her old self.  Unfortunately Puma took a turn for the worse and died a day later.  It seems to make the most sense that  Puma was bitten by a venomous snake of some kind.  She had been healthy and active just days before.  Tozer, our dog, has been in mourning ever since.  Just after Puma died Denise and I were sitting on the front porch while Steve and Gord buried Puma out back.  We were crying and sharing Puma stories while Tozer sat nearby drinking from his water bucket and resting his head on the rim of the bucket looking mournful.  About a half hour later Tozer took Puma's collar that Denise had been holding and tossed it up in the air.  He caught it and carried it down the porch and carefully laid it down and then laid down right beside it with his head on the pavement between his two front paws.  He looked at us with such sadness that we all teared up all over again.  It was like some scene out of Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows!  I never knew a dog could be so grief-sticken.

Tozer has not been himself.  He starts to chase after lizards in the backyard then stops and looks around for Puma then just goes to lay down on the front porch all alone.  Soon there will be a new friend to play with as two dogs are better than one for guarding and playing together all over our large compound.  For now Tozer is slowly adjusting to life without Puma.

Today after a really fun foods class where the students made amazing chicken dishes (from the chickens recently slaughtered from the Ag class at RFIS), I was walking home with another teacher, Michelle, and I saw another green snake slither across our path at the same place I had seen the other larger more vibrant green mamba!  Michelle didn't see it as I was looking right at the place on the pathway I had seen the other.  Also a snake had dropped down from a banana tree by two of our students near the door dividing the school property and ours.  And apparently there is a snake living on our side of the wall near the pathway the kids take to and from school, the guardian has spotted it several times but hasn't been able to kill it.

We have told the kids to take heavy steps while walking back and forth between school and home.  Snakes can't hear but can feel the vibrations from heavy walking feet.  They generally flee not really wanting a fight unless they feel threatened in someway.  I am stomping my way around these days.  No joke.  I do not like snakes.  The rains have started early this year and hopefully the neighbors will stop burning brush and the snakes will settle down.  I know they are all around but I prefer to be blissfully unaware of their presence.  Out of sight, out of mind!        

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