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Snakes Alive!!Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007, at 7:17 PM
Of all the pitfalls of living in the country, my continual running battle with snakes has to be the most ....ah, stimulating, shall we say? Nothing like the sight of a snake, slithering around your house to get the 'ole heart pumping.
I have learned to identify a few of these unwelcome creatures, sparing the black snakes as much as possible, so that they can scour the premises for rats, mice, and other more sinister species of snake. However, I fear that I shall never be comfortable with ANY of the creepy crawlies...
I can now classify some of my snake episodes, as follows:
1) Scariest snake: This has to be a large rattlesnake that I killed when my son Todd was about, hum, four? 1978? We had stopped up at the barn to check something in the garden, I think, and the snake came creeping down the hill from that very garden, slithering toward my pick up truck. I think he was watching my little beagle so intently that he didn't notice me. He was heading for the barn.
I didn't know what he was at the time, but he looked plenty ominous, and I was used to killing snakes with a shovel or hoe -- so I came up behind him and rammed the shovel down right behind his head, hard. As I chopped, I analyzed the problem. "Mm.." I wondered. "What kind of snake is this?" (Chop, chop) "Triangular head." (Chop, Chop) "Thick body." (Chop, chop) "Slanted eyes." (Chop, chop) "RATTLES!!! (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP, CHOP, CHOP!!!!) I chopped until there was nothing left of the head, and then I stood and shook....and shook...and shook...
This was before the age of cell phones, so I just stood and shook until my husband came back from wherever he was... When he saw the snake, he was very impressed, and he counted nine rattles and a button. He chopped off the rattles and hung them in the barn.
2) Most determined snake: This was a black snake which was determined to get to a nest of baby barn swallows whose mother was raising them on the back porch light. I was perfectly willing to let the snake go on its way, but I did not want it on the back porch. Ordinarily, a black snake will just retreat when confronted, but this one fought back and acted like a rattler, so it met the same fate as a rattler. I chopped it up in tiny pieces.
3) Most creative snake: Actually there are two black snakes in this catagory. One made its way up to look in the window of the back door, peering in while my son Todd was watching cartoons. I don't remember what happened to that snake, but I don't think it made it out of the vicinity alive. The other one was even more colorful, as it slithered its way up a lawn chair and from there over an old dilapidated desk to peer into my bow window in the living room. My two cats were highly alarmed and promptly did a silly shadow boxing routine through the window with the snake. I believe that snake may have bitten the dust when it, too, went after yet another nest of baby birds on the back porch the next day, though I believe these birds were phoebes, instead of barn swallows...
4) Most recent snake: I wrote about this one in my NSC column a couple of weeks ago. This narrative will be done in shorthand, as my arms are tired, and I'm getting creeped out by this subject:
7 p.m. Madeline happily blogging on Statesman site. Bark, bark, bark: "Mom-come-look-this-is-serious." I look out bow window. Dogs barking at the ground. Drat! Snake! Shovel? Hoe? Nope, 4.10 shotgun, as son has instructed. Put on tall boots, get shotgun and 3 shells, go out and check. Yep. Rattlesnake. Dogs run away. Me and snake eye to eye. Bam! Bam! Bam! Snake undamaged. Drat! Back in house, clomp, clomp. (Wait here, snake.) Five more shells. Bam, bam, bam! Snake still undamaged. Maybe I should look through the sights. Clomp, clomp - more shells. Snake almost to goat pen. Take aim. Bam! Snake flies up in air. Whoopee!! Bam! Snake flies up in air again! Wheeee! Bam, Bam, Bam! Snake full of holes, appears dead, but could be playing possum. Clomp, clomp! Get kaiser blade. Chop, chop, chop! Head is off. Snake certifiably dead.
Madeline posts next blog from jail on charge of killing endangered species......
Life in the country.....Gotta love it!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.