The Southern Home Bestuary: Living with our critter friends and enimies.

The Southern Home Bestuary
May 27, 2009, 7:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Photos taken during initial house stabilization

Photos taken during initial house stabilization

I live in a house that was started in the 1790s that is located in the woods 8 miles from town. This is the seat of a historic Georgia plantation. This was a working plantation, and Whitehall, the name of the house, was not a grand dwelling from Gone With the Wind.  In the main house there are only six rooms. – two upstairs, two downstairs and two in the one-story lean-to portion. There was a detached kitchen, which I replaced as an office.

When I rebuilt the house, I took one of the lean-to rooms and made a bathroom out of it and put the kitchen in the matching room on the other side of the house. I also made access to the attic, replaced the original plastered walls with sheet rock, closed up half the windows, two of the rear doors and dropped the ceiling of the downstairs rooms a foot. To mask these changes I recovered the exterior with vinyl siding.  The new double-pained window sets that I installed and the foam insulation in the attic and walls helped my heating and cooling bills. Nonetheless, these alterations also provided ample room for a variety of insects, gastropods, rodents, reptiles, birds and even an occasional amphibian to homestead. Instead of only having a home, I had a biological community.  Lucky me.

Some of these creatures are harmless, others are obnoxious and a very few are dangerous; and these are just those that live inside with me. Outside is the domaine even more “wild things” that also fit in the previous categories.

This blog concerns how to coexist with those besties that live with, among and close to Southern homes.  When I describe them I will state whether they are nice to have around and need to be assisted in their life cycles, those that are harmless that we can coexist with, those whose populations need to be controlled (and how) and those that need to be evicted. 

Recent arrivals in the South from the North will quickly note that there are many more varieties of living organisms present here than they are accustomed to dealing with. Snakes get a lot of play in northern folklore about the South. Sure, we have many varieties, but only a few are poisonous. If I find a raddlsnake  close to the house, I will kill it. Perhaps I will dispose of one or two a year. The majority of the other snakes, even though they may grow to 6 or 7 feet, are harmless and are best left alone to do what they do. They mostly feed on small rodents and this somewhat thins the population of rats, mice and squirrels.  The more they eat, the fewer I am apt to have living in the house with me.

As the blog progresses I will proceed to describe my adventures with these creatures in no particular order. If a person were to do this exhaustively there would be volumes about insects, as these are by far the most numerous co-inhabitants. I will only talk about some of the more obnoxious, dangerous or interesting ones. Similarly, there are many books on birds. Those that I can identify that live with, and very close to,  me I will talk about.  Rodents and larger mammals will receive a disproportionately large mention, and these have both pest-control aspects as well as can make a significant contribution to mine and my dogs diets.

I have a history of eating what I take. This is documented in my books Practical Bowfishing (Stoeger, 2004), Crossbow Hunting (Stackpole, 2006) and Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound (AuthorHouse, 2009). I also have another blog, Backyard Deer Hunting that features putting inexpensive eats from the outdoors on the family table.

While this blog is based on my own experiences, comments are welcome. Be warned; however, that I kill things and very often eat them. This is a part of the life cycle binding me  and the creatures that I live with and among.  I have no intentions of making this anything more than a fun, practical treatment of real-life events. Those who want to pursue this subject with more scholarly rigor, can  go to the Web and find the nitty-gritty about scientific names, related species and so on. I will not attempt to do that here.

1 Comment so far
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Dear Mr. Smith,
Your comments on the Southern Home Beastuary amused me. Also learned something about snakes that I did not know. Looking forward to more of your southern adventures !

Comment by Sharon

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