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I’ve been fencing, and fencing, and fencing, and all the other shinola required to facilitate fencing, and even pulling down some old fencing … and not one whit or a jot of this has dinky-do to do with utilizing my epee (what? doesn’t everybody own an epee?).

Tiger salamander in search of a pond.

But this morning I headed out to tackle a few more posts only to discover this little guy. A tiger salamander. He was in pretty rough shape and out of his normal element, but I think I pieced together enough evidence to figure out his story. I bet he went walkabout Thursday or Friday, when it was raining here, but took a tumble into one of the fence post holes, then I inadvertently shoveled him out today and unceremoniously dumped him into a heap of dirt.

He crawled out of the dirt pile, but I don’t think he had much more effort in him than that. His skin was dry and peeling, he was covered in dirt (even his little protruding eyeballs), and he was listless. Fortunately, I had some water and a bucket with me so I scooped him up with the shovel, eased him into the bucket and gave him a shallow layer of water.

I took him to the house to show John and grab the camera (hoping the little guy would rally — I really didn’t want to photograph a salamander carcass). He freshened up pretty quickly so I took him back to the place I found him, for a second shot at freedom and a short photo shoot.

This is his pouty look. We tried both cute and sexy, but the light wasn’t right and the mood was all wrong, understandable considering the time of day and his recent brush with death and all.

I hope he gets cleaned up before he gets home. He troops into the house like that and his wife’s gonna beat him, fo’ sho’.

I told him to clean his whole self up, but look at him with his dirty head and grit still sticking around his eyeballs. I bet he didn’t bother to wash behind his ears either.

Can’t learn that boy nothin’ at pam[at]


Four rattlesnakes on the property in two weeks. Three of them within 12 feet of the front door. Today’s had wedged itself into the space between the house siding and the front steps, so it was at the front door but, technically, also two feet down.

In some ways it seems like I’m splitting hairs to point out that the snake was two feet away when it was directly below the doorway … and normally I would love to jump on the drama of the snake being at the front door … but since we’re talking about a poisonous rattlesnake, I think two feet away from where your feet are and wedged into a pretty tight spot is very significant.

Not quite a mile away, but it was a lifesaver.

John and Cooper walked out onto the landing, heard the snake, and launched into a clear space to reconnoiter. John figured out what was going on and opened the front door to tell me about the snake (unnecessarily at this point because —WTF?! — I could hear it buzzing) and enlist some help. Cooper wanted nothing to do with the front steps at this point, so he was let into the little shop to find a happy place in the nether regions of that clutter. John and I used a broom handle and an aluminum rod, that he produced from who knows where, to herd the snake from its hidey hole, so I could kill it with the weed whacker. (Which is, apparently, my snake-killing weapon of choice since we didn’t put a shovel by the front door until after this latest snake.)

I hate to kill things. I really do. I would have to be pretty hungry before I would kill animals even to feed myself. But somehow killing a rattlesnake that is virtually at my front door doesn’t bother me so much.

Nope. This is the real rub: We have all these frickin’ rattlesnakes here AT the house, and I’m still getting mice?!

Lazy bastards at pam[at]

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