Snakes do more good than many realize
The weather this summer has been nearly perfect. If we could just get rid of the mosquitoes, it truly would be an idyllic summer.
This past holiday weekend was a great time for a cookout, so we headed over to Calvert County to see some friends on Saturday. They recently bought a house and had a baby, and we wanted to see the new digs and young fellow.
Their house backs up to Kings Landing and there is quite a swath of wilderness behind it. The grandfather, who doesn’t speak English, was in the backyard when we arrived. Later he came inside and apologized that he needed to get cleaned up before joining us for lunch. As it turns out, he had been out back killing snakes. My friend translated his Spanish, but the gist of his snake policy was to “kill first, ask questions later.”
Folks, that is not a good policy. Snakes are a unique part of our wildlife and do so much more good than many people realize, but they have a bad reputation from folklore and old wives’ tales, and many people are scared of them. But the needless killing of snakes is just that, needless.
Corn snakes, black rat snakes and king snakes all do us an important service by helping control the rodent population. Farmers know this, and I bet there are lots of homeowners who’d like to see a decrease in the amount of rats, mice, moles and voles that are unwelcome visitors to their yards and houses.
There are over 20 different species of snakes that live in Maryland. Only one kind of venomous snake inhabits Southern Maryland. The copperhead is pretty common in rural and suburban areas. A few have even been sighted in my neighborhood this summer.
Most snakes are going to retreat when approached by humans, but copperheads can be aggressive and will strike when threatened. And a lot of bites are the result of people trying to kill them.
The best snake policy is to leave them alone. And in case you didn’t know, it’s against the law to kill any species of native snake in Maryland, from garter snakes to the timber rattlesnake, which only inhabits the mountainous parts of our state.
So the next time you are gardening and are surprised by a harmless worm snake, or you are driving a country road and a black snake slithers across the pavement, give them a little space, try to avoid them and let them be. They are a necessary part of the ecosystem and do important work.
Nalgene bottles have many uses
It’s no secret the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Lexington Park is one of my favorite shops.
They were having a sale a couple weeks ago and I popped in with my girls to pick up some supplies. Anyone with kids knows you can’t just pop in to the store with them. My dad used to joke that a 60cent cup of coffee at 7-Eleven actually cost five dollars when you factored in the Slurpees and Slim Jims my sister and I would get.
While we were checking out at the register, a red water bottle on the hummingbird display caught my eye. The idea behind the bottle is you can easily make 32 ounces of nectar by mixing warm water and sugar directly in the container and then keep it in the fridge to have on hand when you fill your feeders. Over the years I’ve actually tried several methods of keeping nectar on hand in the in fridge, none of which have worked very well as I’ll explain in a bit.
The Nalgene label on the bottle sealed the deal. My kids all drink from Nalgene water bottles. They each have an assigned color and a couple each so they always have a clean one. I’d give them a 10 star rating. They are BPA free and made in the USA. All the parts including the stoppers and the lids are top rack dishwasher safe, which a lot of reusable containers just aren’t.
My oldest daughter has taken a Nalgene water bottle to school every day for five years. The kids have dropped theirs on concrete and asphalt time and time again and never once has one cracked. They must be practically shatter-proof. Sure the exterior gets a little scuffed up from all the use, but these water bottles are built to last.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years mixing sugar and water on the stovetop or in the microwave and then storing it various ways in the refrigerator. And over the years I’ve cleaned up a lot of sticky water that has spilled or leaked. The screw-tight lid on this bottle isn’t going to let a drop out.
And the bottle is bright red and says “Nectar Bottle” clearly on the side. This is important in our family because my husband has no fear of trying new things. For example, when I started using vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle to clean, within 12 hours he had already —much to his dismay — used the solution while ironing his work clothes.
Vinegar and a hot iron is not a good combination, and needless to say, he was not able to wear those pants to work that day. Of course, he claims that just 24 hours earlier that spray bottle was full of plain water. He has also accidentally taken a swig of sugar water I was storing in the refrigerator in an empty water bottle. So as you can see, this water bottle is almost a necessity in our house.
It costs $12.99 and I’m fairly confident it will last a lifetime. I’ve already been using mine a few weeks and, so far, no one has mistakenly sampled the hummingbirds’ water.