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Wednesday, May 30 2012



I committed murder Friday night. To be more specific, it was a mercy killing; Other Half committed the murder. I merely put the victim out of his misery. Still, I feel bad.

Friday night we were driving around the ranch in the mule and happened upon a copperhead. I grew up in rural North Carolina in a place crazy thick with rattlesnakes and copperheads. I've seen a lot of rattlesnakes but ironically, I'd never seen a real live copperhead until then. Still, there was no mistaking it.

There he was, minding his own little snake business, crawling across the red dirt road, illuminated by the lights of the mule. Other Half leaped out with a gun. I leaped out to hold Trace who is no fan of guns. Given the choice, Trace would choose to take his chances with a poisonous snake than a 'thunderstick.'

A few shots later and Other Half came back to the mule in search of a shovel. I went over to examine the poor victim.

He had been fatally injured, but was still alive. His little snakey head was up and moving, trying to figure out how to remove himself from the situation.  I felt sorry for him. It wasn't his fault that he happened to be in an area frequented by my dogs. I'm a 'live and let live' kind of person in most situations. (Other Half is not.)  I felt sorry for the snake. Then I remembered the bird dog I knew who died from a snake bite. So I reached in my back pocket pulled out a .380, and shot him in the back of the head. No more suffering for the snake. (But I still felt bad.)

Over the next four days, I kept the dogs close to camp. They all know how to ride in the mule, so when we explored the wilder part of the ranch, they stayed in the safe confines of their mule. It is their ticket to adventure. It keeps them safe, and just as important, it keeps the snakes safe from them. An unseen snake is a safe snake.

This morning, back at the cowhouse, I was beebopping around the corner of the house and ran smackdab into a large black yellow-belly water snake:

Despite the fact that I ALWAYS looks for snakes IN THAT VERY SPOT, the sight of the snake momentarily scares the crap out of me. I see the snake, utter a profanity while leaping sideways, and run smack into a tree.  The snake giggles but otherwise doesn't move. Even though it is big, I recognize that it's non-poisonous. I am feeding dogs. One does not stop in the middle of feeding 8 dogs. That act alone causes chaos.

Ranger, who has just finished his own breakfast, bounces over to beg for Oli's bowl, which is in my hand. He is standing a foot away from the snake - oblivious.  I point it out.

"Ranger, look out."

He glances at it.  "Yeah, it's a snake. Since you're too scared to walk past the snake, can I have Oli's breakfast?"

At this point, Trace has finished eating and comes racing around the corner to put dibs on Oli's bowl too. He runs right over the poor snake. Having experienced Trace bouncing all over me in bed, I know this is not a pleasant experience. The snake flips upside down, writhing and twisting in his haste to get away from the Border Collie toenails. Like a victim of a drive-by shooting, the confused snake rights himself and escapes under the propane tank.

Trace never even notices him.  Clearly snakes don't even cause a blip on his radar.

I continue down the path to feed Oli. Dillon comes beebopping down path. Gets to spot where snake WAS and slams on brakes. He doesn't even see snake, but is fascinated by the scent. Rut Roh! That is a VERY BAD THING! Scream at him and inform him that scent is "Nasty!"

He looks up. "No it's not."

"Yes it is!  That's NASTY! Leave it alone."

He shrugs. "Whatever."

As much as I hate to do it, Mr. Dillon is going to need a de-snaking clinic with a shock collar. Dillon's interest in snake scent and a ranch populated with pit vipers is a bad combination. We spoke with a man this weekend who told us about the daughter of a friend who was playing hide and seek last weekend. She hid in the pumphouse. A rattlesnake bit her three times before she could get out. Holy shit.

I will only carry "live and let live" so far.  


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Snakes are SCARY !!! Glad I only have mosquitoes, flies and tunnelling rodents on my property. Oh and the occasional skunk.
Posted by Terri's Pal on 05/30/2012 - 04:03 PM
Holy cow and they say our reptiles are dangerous. Rarely if ever have seen them. Vibrations send our lot running (slithering), always wear boots in bush don't jump over logs and walk heavy seems to work here on bush bashes.
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust.) on 05/30/2012 - 07:24 PM
Just a profanity? :-)
Posted by Eric on 05/31/2012 - 12:44 AM
Yeah, just a profanity, because even in my blind panic, a little voice reminded me the snake was non-poisonous. BUT. . . in the immortal words of Richard Pryor: "Snakes . . . make you hurt yourself!"
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 05/31/2012 - 11:11 AM
My girl border collie is very independent minded. And I found that offleash, she thought anything requested of her was optional. She was terrible around the horses. The e-collar saved my sanity. Mostly, she'll listen off of the vibrate function. Sometimes, she needs to escalate to a shock, and she responds to a very low level. It's given me a way to exact a consequence when she doesn't listen. More importantly, it's given me a way to FEEL like I I still have control. If you don't already have a collar, the dogtra ones are great - that's what I with a 3/4 mile range. It's 100% waterproof as it's meant for training gundogs, and just plain fabulous. Now, I am no expert..that's just my very recent experience.
Posted by Lindsay on 05/31/2012 - 11:15 AM
For the most part, snakes are peaceful creatures who just want to be left alone. We spent two days cutting down mesquite trees and clearly pasture. There is no doubt in my mind that we encountered copperheads and rattlesnakes during that time that we never saw because they were hiding. An unseen snake is a safe snake. Words most snakes live by.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 05/31/2012 - 11:17 AM
We have an e-collars. I used one on a dog I had (katy) who used to blow me off on her recall. While Dillon doesn't need one for anything else, he does probably need one for snakes. I hate to do it, but it could save his life.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 05/31/2012 - 11:20 AM

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