jason recently posted about ways that living in the country can be different than living in the city. i have a few more thoughts about that… especially looking at ways that simply stepping outside can be different!

nature is, of course, much more present in the country than in the city. there is the beauty of the land and the nearness and noise of trees, crops, and lovely birds. and there are also creatures which you are much more likely to encounter in the country and for many of these creatures you need to know how to deal with them!

here are just a few of the creatures you can expect to encounter often, if not every day:


most people find these critters disgusting, and they certainly can be, especially when they swell up with blood. it’s frightening enough to find one on a beloved pet, but it also isn’t fun to find one on yourself (even if it has just attached). but, if you plan to move out into the country and you also plan to do nearly anything outside in the woods, you will definitely get some ticks (how does that country song go… “i want to check you for ticks”…?). expecting that you will get some and knowing how to deal with them is the trick.

sometimes you can feel them crawling on you before they attach, but sometimes you can’t. just know that you can avoid them somewhat if you avoid getting down and dirty and the leaf litter and if you try not to bump small trees or limbs (they can wait on these until they feel movement and then leap off). but for most folks who do a lot of outside work, this is hard.

we always check ourselves for ticks once we come inside and periodically throughout the outdoor work day. once we find one that has attached, our go-to is to dip a q-tip in tea tree oil and dab it on the tick and “mess with it.” most of the time, since the tick has just recently attached, the tick decides that his current location is no fun and he detaches and tries to move on (which means he ends up getting tossed in the toilet). but, sometimes they won’t let go and must be removed with tweezers. i am the primary surgeon (ha, ha!) in the family, and i always make sure to grab a little bit of skin when i pinch down on the tick’s head, to be certain that i do not leave the head still in our skin. so far this technique has not met with technical difficulty. despite this, the tick bites are very itchy for me–much less so for jason. we put a little more tea tree oil on the bite afterwards and watch the area to make sure nothing becomes infection.

ticks can carry different bacteria but it is unlikely that if you are bitten by a tick you will have any issues. but, do keep your eyes peeled and watch yourself; if you have any funny symptoms like a fever, a rash, an infection, or any shakes, go see a doctor!


we’ve seen a half dozen snakes in the past few days working in the yard; all of them have been harmless and they are always seen trying to get away from us fast. i love to pick up some of the little brown snakes, but we found another snake recently that we were not sure about… the markings on it were copperhead-like. upon further  investigation (we were safe!), we found that it was not a venomous snake. the way we safely checked to see was a multi-step process:

  • we saw that he was cold and sluggish from being found underground where it is still cool and noticed that he did not act angry and was not coiling to strike us. this says nothing about if he was venomous or not, but it did show that we were not in a high-risk situation.
  • because of the above details, we were able to look at his head shape, which was ovular as opposed to being triangular (usually venomous snakes have triangular head shapes, but not always).
  • since he was sluggish, jason was easily able to pin his head down with a tool (without injuring him) while i checked the underside of his belly to see how many scales he had below his anus. one row usually means that he is venomous and two means that he is not. this does not always apply but i know that it applies in our area, where the only venomous snakes are copperheads. i have even created a rhyme to help everyone remember this fact: “two is true for you, one is un-fun when done.” meaning: a snake with two scales below the anus will not poison you, while a snake with one scale below the anus will!

although most snakes that you will encounter are more afraid of you than you are of them (yes, that old cliche…) you still have to watch out for the occasional copperhead, which we luckily have yet to see!


this might sound silly, because you’re thinking of cows behind their fence quietly munching on grass. but what about a cow on the loose? so far, i’ve seen one of our neighbor’s cows out of her fence. this is generally amusing (even though bolt disagrees, and thinks that the cow is an evil bad guy coming to get us any minute!), but the sight also gives me pause. both times i’ve seen her out she has been right across the road, staring at me. it is an unnerving feeling to look up and see anything staring at you, even a cow. it makes me hope that i never see a bull wandering around…

cows are big after all! and what will i do on that fateful day when i look out and see a runaway cow munching on our vegetables? any suggestions, folks?