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Wednesday, June 20 2012

(Also titled:  How Nadine Never Left)

Despite the fact that my common sense tells me Rat snakes are good things to have in the barn for rodent control, I'm sorry, Nadine just gives me the creeps.  I'm okay with her/him at a distance, when I expect her, but surprises are bad for my heart. Therefore, every since the day Other Half assisted Nadine in her/his exit from the feed bin and she/he slitered under the hay pallets, I have just always ASSUMED that Nadine is still in the barn.

Other Half did not live under such assumptions. Out of sight. Out of mind. Not a wise way to live in my book, but he does spend less time springing away from bungee cords on the ground.

Farm chores are never-ending. Scout chose to double-barrel kick through the boards in his stall, trapping his back legs at the hock.

While kicking his way free, he did significant damage to the barn. Miraculously except for the loss of hide, his back legs are somewhat intact. The same could not be said for that wall of the barn.  And since fixing rotting boards in jungle-like heat and humidity has always been on my Bucket List, I was practicaly gushing with excitement to begin.

Monday:

Wake up looking forward to a wonderful, fun-filled day of fixing goat escape routes and broken barns. Joy, joy, thrill, thrill.

Watch Other Half begin tearing down rotting and/or broken boards. Nothing interesting here. Wander off to fix goat escape routes on my own. He hollers. Much like a child screaming, "MOM!" when you're out of sight, Other Half has a tendency to want his slaves close by so he can order his minion to do simple/unpleasant tasks. After a lifetime of this, Son has adapted to it, I don't do so well and tend to wander off when not given a task.

"I NEED you here with me!"  (Translated: "Hand me tools. I need a gopher.")

"I need to fix Oscar's hole!" (Translated: "What you are doing is boring and my time could better be spent hauling cattle panels and wire in the never-ending task of foiling goat escapes.")

"Well I need you here."

"OKAY!"  (Screamed in the tone of Alvin the Chipmunk)

Since handing someone tools is B-O-R-I-N-G, I begin to fiddle inside the barn, addressing clean-up tasks that have been bugging me, but still staying close enough to be a slave/minion.

Begin by picking up feed sacks that Other Half carelessly discards on floor. Pet Peeve - I put them in garbage or use them as trash bags in the house. What? Doesn't everyone replace their Hefty Bags with Oat Bags? Take the opportunity to smugly lecture Other Half on his messy habits. He refrains from throwing a hammer at me. It does cross his mind though.

Cautiously pick up 6 sacks. Fold and stuff them inside each other. Hay is gone now. All that remains is wooden pallets on the floor. Two Used-To-Be-Good-Before-He-Left-Them-On-The-Barn-Floor-With-Bugs-Rodents-And-Snakes horse blankets are sitting on top of a pallet. Use a hay rake to cautiously, carefully remove blankets.  Squirm and EEEk as palmetto bugs (Fancy word for Giant Freakin' Cockroaches!) scramble over and through blankets.  Other Half observes this and smirks,

"What are you afraid of? They're just bugs!  Call Lily in here and let her take care of them."

Border Collie Lily has been employed in the house as a contract killer for bugs, but I because I didn't want her involved in this particular (read: nasty, probably dangerous) activity, I had left her in the house. Other Half continues to taunt me as I cringe while watching bugs crawl in and out of blanket. I am annoyed. The minion is not happy. She is hot, sweaty, and immensely dislikes cockroaches. Move second blanket. Recoil violently across barn.

Other Half laughs.  "Nadine?"

"YES! And she's GROWN!"

  "Boo!"

This is only funny to Other Half because he is on the other side of the barn. Had he pulled up a blanket to find a 5+ foot snake underneath, he would have been richocheting off the walls too.  Although my initial reaction was less than admirable, I recovered, curious to check out the New & Now Scarier Nadine.

 Old Nadine

 New Nadine

Apparently a steady diet of mice is good for a snake.  I don't doubt this is the same snake. She is in the exact same spot Other Half released her. And after all, why leave? Nadine had a good thing going.

And here's the part where the crew mutiny began:

"Finish taking your pictures, and move her out of here."

"I'M not moving that snake!"

"Well, she's right where I need to be to repair that wall."

"That's YOUR problem!"

He stands there, from the safety of the snake-free side of the barn, and stares at me. This is a mutiny. The line was drawn in the sand. (Read: hay dirt)  Nadine is now pissed/frightened and is rattling her tail. This is smacking against the blue tarp giving a fairly nice rattlesnake impersonation. It does nothing for my confidence. I am NOT moving that snake. Other Half comes over to inspect Nadine.  Yes, she is MUCH larger. No KIDDING!

He picks up shovel she is hiding behind. Nadine is not happy. She is trying to find an exit. He tentatively pokes her with shovel. Nadine decides to slowly exit Stage Left. She slithers through the pallet toward the feed bin. As she moves we get a better idea of exactly how long Nadine is now. Yes, that is a standard size wooden pallet.

 

 Impressive. At this rate, the next time I stumble upon Nadine, she will be so large that I will surely faint dead in my tracks.

I can see it now: Other Half will walk into the barn to find me passed out beside the feed bin, a bucket of oats spilled all over the floor. He will ask, "Nadine?"

And Border Collie will nod.

We left Nadine safely (for Nadine) under the feed bin. I made mental note to remember to ALWAYS wear boots when shoveling out oats. Although Nadine has proven multiple times she is a peace-loving snake, bare ankles around a large (insert: ANY size) snake gives me the willies.

Can I have an "Amen" here?

 

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:03 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Comments:
Amen! And you are a much better person than I because you believe in the "live and let live" approach to non-poisonous snakes. I believe all snakes are trying to kill me by making me quit breathing when I see them - eventually that will lead to heart failure! RATIONALLY, I know they are good for the environment in controlling rodents, etc., but EMOTIONALLY they all give me the willies!
Posted by Janie on 06/20/2012 - 02:52 PM
I'm sorry she gave you such a scare. She's beautiful! You do know you can whack OH on the head with that shovel when he's being so bossy and snide, right? :)
Posted by CeeCee on 06/20/2012 - 07:09 PM
Um, just a really dumb question here, but did Nadine change color during the growth spell? Cos she sure looks to be something much more than what she used to be.
Posted by Beth on 06/20/2012 - 07:20 PM
Amen and AMEN!!!
Posted by Janet on 06/20/2012 - 09:01 PM
I'm pretty sure it's Nadine. After she showed up the first time, I did a lot of research on the Texas Rat Snake and she/he was a juvenile. This snake is just an older version. They can get quite large (eeeek!) and can be nasty tempered and bite. They can also rattle their tails to imitate rattlesnakes. When frightened they can look very scary. But they are very efficient rodent hunters!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/20/2012 - 09:32 PM
Like Beth, I wondered if it's really Nadine due to the color changes. You wouldn't get me stepping inside that barn. Yes, I'm a wimp around non-mammals. Some call me a wimp, period. Kudos from me for your live & let live philosophy! I praise it, yet I'm not good at following it.
Posted by Terri's Pal on 06/20/2012 - 11:37 PM
As the snakes mature, their color changes. The adult Texas Rat Snake is a scary looking beast for people like me who aren't big fans of snakes. I wasn't even keen on BABY rat snakes. It helped quite a bit to do a lot of research on them when she showed up the first time. Education helps control my fear of snakes. (But they still scare me!)
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 06/21/2012 - 11:12 AM

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