I know I'm being a bit of a big girl here but I'm having real trouble getting to grips with the snake thing.

I'm below Montelimar and in the middle of agricultural fields, I can't expect never to see wildlife.

But this last week (of a longer stint where I'm starting to clear the gardens and make buildings secure ready to move some stuff over) I've met a longer than a metre snake in the garage and last night a smaller 50cm version in the barn attached to the house, that bothered me enough not to sleep.

The garage incident may have been my own fault as I moved some irrigation tubes from a field into the garage. The snake was possibly in the tube. Needless to say that tube is now back in the field.

The barn incident may have resulted from the roofer being up there and causing disturbance. The snake likely came from behind the dot n dab plasterboard.

But regardless, it's bothering me and my French neighbour is not always around, fortunately he's saved me both times so far.

Is there anythng to be done to keep them out of the house and buildings, any devices, any tricks or tips?

Acquire some hens. Snakes hate hens and will move away if there are any around*. If you have a lot of snakes you will have to have free-range hens.

*So I am told. It may be an old wives' tale.

However, anecdotal evidence: I met but couldn't catch (it rushed off in a panic) a huge 1m50 grass snake on my terrace pre-hens and haven't seen any since near my house (even though I no longer have hens).

I think that once you've cleared the garden and outbuildings, the area will become far less attractive to snakes. They are only aggressive when they feel threatened. I've been bitten once, and that was the result of walking into long grass without checking what was in there!

Thanks both.

The clearance is ongoing, after years of neglect there's a lot to do and nearest the house has priority.

I'll see what keeping hens entails, that sounds like my perfect solution.

Cats also seem to work. And in particular, used cat litter! They don't like the smell, apparently. Either way, since we got our cats we haven't seen a single snake, and we were warned that our garden was home to several vipers. But I couldn't swear there's any relation between the two things.