Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Enmity, Part Two

A little over a year ago, we encountered a snake on our land; and I wrote here about how we dealt with it. Towards the end of that post, I wrote this: "I suppose that 2 snakes in 36 years is a pretty good ratio, but I think 1 snake in 36 years would have been better." Uh oh, I'm going to have to change that ratio again because, lo and behold, another snake has been sighted--and dealt with--on our property. 3 snakes in 37 years! Things are going downhill fast around here!!

Here's the story of this most recent snake encounter:

Tomorrow makes three weeks since Mother found the snake. She wasn't looking for one by any stretch of the imagination, since her dislike of snakes falls only slightly short of my own; but when she opened the woodshed door, there it was, slithering along, heading in a northerly direction. She had no weapon with which to end its life so she went to the garden shed to get a hoe; but, of course, by the time she returned, it had disappeared. It wasn't very comforting to think that A SNAKE might be in the woodshed; none of us spent a lot of time there during the next few days. We knew that it very well could have slithered on to a new location and that it was hard to tell where it was, but all we could do was keep our eyes open even more as we walked around in the yard and leave a hoe propped against the woodshed in case the snake was spotted.

Three days later, I spotted it. It was a Sunday evening, and the light was fading but still present in the sky when I decided to take a steak bone out to the dogs. I slipped my feet into my old, ratty outdoor shoes and headed up the hill. After giving the bone to the dogs, I glanced over into the chicken enclosure and thought I saw a dead chicken so I walked closer to investigate; and sure enough, it was dead. I lifted the lid of the coop to check for eggs and just took a little time to enjoy the evening air, then started to walk back towards the house to tell Jeff about the dead chicken so he could come out and take care of it. He always gets the dirty work around here. :)

I was walking carefully, alertly, eyeing the ground constantly, knowing that the snake could be around--or could be a mile away--who knew? And then I saw motion that could only be a snake. In the dimming light, I very well could have missed seeing it if it had stayed still; but when it moved from the grass close to me towards the woodshed door, it was instantly obvious what it was. Since it was moving away from me, I didn't run but stayed rooted to my spot, not wanting to look away for fear that it would disappear again. It paused on the gravels to the left of the woodshed door, and a flurry of thoughts flew through my head: should I try to kill it? it was very close to the hoe that was leaning against the woodshed door; if I tried to move close enough to grab the hoe, would the snake dart away before I could get it? who am I kidding; I don't want to kill the thing; I'd better call for help! thank goodness the kitchen window of the house is open and the rest of the family is gathered in the kitchen, enjoying our usual Sunday evening supper of popcorn; surely they'll hear me if I call... So I called: JEFF! My voice sounded strange in my ears; an odd note of stress and fear was present, preventing me from even talking normally. No response, so I tried again: JEFF! CAN YOU HEAR ME? I glanced away from the snake long enough to see Josiah's face appear in the open window, ready to relay a message to Jeff. Whew, they heard me! Yippee!! My knight in shining armor will come to my rescue! And he did, going first to the garden shed to fetch another hoe, then coming over to where I stood, still unable to move but keeping my eyes on that snake so we wouldn't lose him again. I pointed out the snake to Jeff (the light was fading fast by this point); and he went right to work, using a few well-placed blows to kill the despicable thing. My hero!!!!!

Once Jeff had seen the snake and was approaching him, I decided that I would back up a little, just in case that snake used the "flight" option of his fight-or-flight instinct. A little more distance between us would be a good thing, so I started to back up, then stopped quickly because my back suddenly went into spasms--extremely painful spasms, the likes of which I had never encountered before. The whole time Jeff was dealing with the snake, I couldn't even move, but could only stand still, gasping for breath as I waited for my back to recover. I guess I must have tensed my muscles as I stood there waiting for Jeff (ya think? me, tense? all because of a little ol' snake?) :) and some combination of that muscle tension and maybe a strange movement I made must have combined to bring on those spasms. I'm sure my body was also being flooded with adrenaline, released in a powerful whoosh as I had my own fight-or-flight reaction. Since flight was no longer a choice for me because I literally couldn't move because of the pain, I sure was glad that my protector was there to use the fight option! :)

After he killed it and my back settled down, I went inside, called my parents so they could rejoice with us :), then told the boys that they could come outside to look at it. We armed ourselves with flashlights (against what? the snake was dead!) before going outside, my parents hurried up the hill from their house, and we congregated by the woodshed where we gave Jeff lots of words of affirmation for his accomplishment. :) Josiah had no desire to touch the horrid creature, but David, as previously noted, was excited to hold it by the tail. Who is that child? Did he really come out of my body?? :)

As we stood around, we discussed what kind of snake it was and concluded that it was probably just a black snake. Jeff took some close-up pictures of it to try to compare it with online snake photos and identify it for sure, but I don't want to post any of them because I don't want my own blog to scare me. :) I know black snakes are harmless, but not when they cause heart attacks. If I could speak "snakese" I would warn any snakes who venture onto our property that this is an area that is hazardous to their health and that they should just STAY AWAY. I don't mind at all if they live in the forest across our neighbor's field from us...or even if they live in the field itself; just as long as it's not on our property, I'm fine. Is that too much to ask? :)

Not too many days after this incident, our neighbor girls spotted a snake on their driveway so they called for their dad who was working up at his machine shop and he drove a tractor over it to kill it. Since his feelings about snakes mirror my own, I'm not surprised that he wanted a little distance between the snake and himself as he killed it; a tractor is far superior to a hoe in that regard. I think even I could kill a snake by running over it. :)

Two snakes on adjoining properties in just a few days--yikes! What is (this corner of) the world coming to???


Valerie said...

ewwww! I would have been frozen in fear too. With my luck though it would have been found at night when Roger is working so I would have had to either kill it myself or run away knowing that thing could... yuck! I don't even want to think about it. So glad your little man showed up in the window to pass on a message to your hero to come fast and kill! :)

Morning said...

we used to have a diamond python that lived in the woodshed and dealt with the rats there -- it was a beauty, and didn't worry us at all. That said, when I saw a deadly red-bellied black snake under the washing line a year ago, I didn't like that! It just scooted away -- but we need to remember to tell Boo to wear shoes in summer, and stay out of the leafy patches!

Sally said...

You poor thing! You'll grow old before your time if snakes keep popping up around there.

Chris said...

I guess Mennonites aren't pacifist when it comes to snakes...LOL :)

Margie said...

I got the willies just reading about the snake.