Monday, June 28, 2010

Snake Out of the Grass

Another day, another adventure on the IBTC Farm. Today’s lesson, boys and girls, is about rattlesnakes.

I received a call from day care today that Becca had a fever, so I left work early to pick her up and bring her home. I had her rest for the afternoon, and when it was cool enough outside to put the goats into their barn (it gets rather stuffy in there), I started cutting the fresh fruit and veggies for mama goat Salsa, while Becca volunteered to get the grain started. She headed out the back door, and a few minutes later I heard her scream.

Now, Becca shrieks at almost anything that surprises or displeases her outside. A spider, a lizard that surprises her, stumbling on a stone. She’s asked me before, with indignation because I didn’t come running, “Didn’t you hear me SCREAM?” I’ve told her, yes, but she does it all the time, and it’s never anything serious.

This time I knew it was serious. This was not an eek because she was surprised, but a full body scream of fear, so I dropped what I was doing and headed for the door, just in time to meet her, grain scoops in hand, panting and scared. “I saw a rattlesnake!”

It took time to figure out where and what happened, but finally, after she calmed down enough to remember, she could tell me exactly. She was rounding the corner of the patio paralleling the deck, getting ready to step up onto a small platform and ramp that run between our house and the studio apartment next door. She was angry at me because she really didn’t feel good and didn’t want to help with chores, so she was moving at a clip, luckily looking at the ground. She still came up on the coiled snake on the platform faster than either of them wanted. She screamed, it rattled, and then it slid off the platform to the right and underneath, and she ran up the steps to the left.

The first thing I want is a gun. I know that I don’t want to go after any future rattlesnakes that I might see with the plan of bonking it on the head with a shovel and then chopping its head off, because WHAT-IF-I-MISS?? So the first thing I do after getting as much info as I can from Becca is call my dad to find out what kind of gun to get. Luckily, he’s good about talking me through things and down from such over-the-top ideas. I don’t really need a gun at this point, and right now it would be more hazard than help. We run through the things I already know to do, and when he and Mom mention boots I realize that we cannot be doing chores in flip-flops or clogs during the summertime anymore. It’s HOT here today, though it was cooling nicely at the time, but we don our boots. I’m sure that we looked quite the pair, in shorts, tank tops and cowboy boots. Daisy Duke, we’re not, but it got the job done.

Next call was to my landlady. Her husband surprised me by answering the phone, as he’s not often here and I didn’t know he was expected today. It cracked me up when he told me that Bette is the snake killer and turned the call over to her right away. She is a sweet, lovely, petite retired school teacher. She explained to me that she uses a heavy metal rod to throw onto the snake to hold it down, which allows her to clobber it with a shovel and take its head off. She’s done this more than once, and I like the approach that buys more time and distance using the pole. She says she’ll bring it down here, and I should call her if I hear any rattling.

We completed chores cautiously, which took about twice as long, and I don’t think either of us are going to use that ramp for the rest of the summer. As Dad reminded me, snakes are part of living in the country. True, but they are not allowed around the house. I hope this one took off and none of them show up at the house again.


  1. I used the ramp this morning. It's cool out, and I was cautious, slow, and made plenty of noise approaching. I probably won't use it if the weather is super-hot like yesterday, but I am *not* going to let a snake keep me from using my property. So there. :-)

  2. I can only imagine how having a snake around the premises would throw a wrench into your daily activities. But you know you're doing all the right things -- boots, making noises, etc. -- and I'm SO glad you're not letting fear take over. Luckily, rattlesnakes aren't aggressive, as you likely know and, as the saying goes, are more afraid of you than you are of them. One suggestion: you and Becca might want to get into the habit of LOUD SINGING when you're doing your chores. :-) It's fun, and it'll frighten the little buggers. (Not to suggest that your singing would scare a snake....) ;-)


  3. That incident yesterday totally woke me up again to being more aware around the property, especially in the summertime. I had grown complacent, and you just can't afford to do that around here. The consequences could quite literally be deadly.

    I love your idea of singing! :-) Though when I started singing in the truck this afternoon, Becca reached over to turn on the radio... lol

    I read a blog entry by another writer today that didn't just speak to me, it sang out to me. You might enjoy it too. Check out the blog for Cold Antler Farm - my dad introduced me to Jenna's adventures, which in some ways parallel mine. Specifically, look at the entry for June 24th first - Specks in the Distance. I like this line especially: "I can't help but believe the farm is teaching me how to become the person I hope to be." She had some struggles and doubts recently with some setbacks, but she turned them into lessons learned and growth opportunities, which is how I like to view these escapades myself. The URL is I hope you will keep reading mine after you read Jenna's. ;-)