Critters…

I’m no stranger to country critters.  Raccoons.  Possums.  Coyotes.  Hoot Owls.  Buzzards.  Snakes.  Spiders.  Mice.  You name it, I’ve encountered it.  (…probably.)  Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve necessarily ENJOYED my encounters.

If you know me well at all you know that among all of the above listed creatures, mice rank at the top of my list for giving me the heebie-jeebies.  That’s a very technical term… heebie-jeebies, you know.  It’s that feeling you get when something creeps you out to the Nth degree. It’s become a comical thing in our household… me and my heebie-jeebies.  There’s even a dance that goes along with a heebie-jeebie attack.  It’s quite comical, as well.

After moving further south I have a NEW “top of the list”.

Friends, meet the Kansas rattlesnake.

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Insert screams, shudders, tingling sensations in the spine, any sort of heebie-jeebie type dance movement that your body may involuntarily convulse in.  These dudes are BAD to the bone.  …and they like to lurk in all the wrong places.

This guy was happily minding his own business in the tall grass next to the hay barn at our house.  Grady happened to be weed eating on this particular day and “got him”.  This is just a little too close for comfort.

As I said before, I’m no stranger to rattlesnakes.  They frequented the yard I grew up in as a child on our family ranch not far from where we are now.  But… that was a REALLY long time ago, back when dirt was being invented, as my kids like to say.  So, it had, OBVIOUSLY, been “a while” since I ran into one.

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This was the very first one we came across since the move.

**Sorry for the gore, but I don’t like to take pictures until they’re good and DEAD.  …and “chopping” them is the only effective form of extermination.**

This guy was under that big rock in a pasture where we have a set of pens for shipping out cattle.  Tucker actually found him, which frightens the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of us.  He had been playing out there while he wasn’t needed.  After we were done loading cattle and sent the cattle pots (rancher’s term for a semi hauling cattle) on their way he told Grady that he “thought” there was a rattlesnake under a rock, but wasn’t sure.  Lo and behold he was right!  Mr. Rattles was just chillin’ out under that rock.  We made sure to educate Tucker on what they look like and sound like.

Throughout the summer Grady has come across many more.  It’s routine for him to carry his pistol in the truck for easier extermination.  He tries to bring home the rattles for Tucker, who is fascinated with them.

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I’m really hoping that this collection stays small!!!!

 

Peace, love and NASTY rattles.

The Snake Wranglers

It was another weekend of ranch rodeo adventures for the Buckcreek/Lonesome Pine Ranch team.

This particular rodeo is always a fun one for the team and our families.  We ALL load up and set off for a four-hour road trip complete with extended family and the best of friends.

I’m not sure what it is about this group of people, but there never ceases to be a dull moment in our company.

Last night, the final rodeo performance, all of us wives, children, grandmothers, aunts and honorary aunties sat huddled under our tent trying to stay dry while it rained and rained and rained.  We had one more event, calf branding.  The team wasn’t winning so we were prepared to watch the event and promptly leave.  Grady had joined us, as the fifth teammate was going to work this event.  He got up to get a beer and that’s when the drama began.

Cindy P., Susan, Kay and Roseann all sat at the back of the tent, while Abbey, myself and Steph sat at the front.  The kids were all scattered about in between playing and carrying on.  We were all dressed for the sweltering heat in flip-flops, sandals, shorts or cropped pants.

This shows our setup. Relaxed, kids playing, no worries.

Roseann had JUST joined us under the dry comfort as she had been filming each performance.  She sat quietly resting when she felt something move across her foot.

Not wanting to alarm anyone she said to Kay, sitting next to her, “A snake just crawled across my foot.  Kay, a snake just went over my foot!”

Kay jumped up and saw it.

“Snake!  Snake!  I see it!”

“It’s going under the stroller!”

By this time EVERYONE under the tent has jumped and turned our attention to the action around us.  I pulled the stroller toward me as Kay shoved it out-of-the-way.

“THERE IT IS!!!”

There’s something you should know about Kay.  She. Hates. Snakes….  What she did next possibly saved the life of any of us under there that night.

Kay with Punkie. Peas in a pod.

“I’ve GOT IT!!”

Instinctively, Kay stepped on the snake’s head.

“It’s a RATTLESNAKE!”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Didn’t you hear it rattling!?!?”,Kay proclaimed.

Well, I was just far enough away that I wouldn’t have heard it, but Kay heard it.  She HEARD it rattle and saw it start to coil. 

“Get something sharp, get a knife,” she kept saying.

I was looking around because I knew that Grady HAD to be close.  He was just there.  He ALWAYS has a pocket knife.  He walked up and I yelled at him, “Get your knife out!  Kay’s on a rattlesnake!  Get your knife out and kill it!”

He came over to assess the situation, told Kay to stay where she was, stepped on the other endand pulled out his knife cutting the snake off at Kay’s shoe.

She immediately jumped off and looked to see where Paxton and Tucker were.  They had been playing in the dirt not 4 inches from where the snake met his demise.

Grady stomped back on the head, as anyone who knows about snakes knows that one can still strike after it’s been decapitated.  He held up the body and sure enough, it was a VERY young rattlesnake, three rattles.  Young rattlesnakes are more dangerous than the larger, scarier looking ones because once they bite they don’t have as much control of the venom released and can release larger amounts into their prey. 

I shed some light on the situation at Grady’s feet so he could stab the head and dispose of it properly.

Look closely, three rattles.

Casey, the representative from WRCA came over to see the commotion.  She told us that we should probably reconsider sitting there any long because a snake den could be nearby.  More than likely our slithery little friend came out of hiding to enjoy the cool temps brought on by the storm, and where there’s one there’s probably more.

With her comments we ALL decided we’d had enough for one night.  Kay and Susan had the boys packed up in the car and under snake bite assessment before we even knew the plan.

“They’re going with US,” Kay declared.

Within 15 minutes we had loaded chairs, strollers, bags, kids, moms, grandmas and aunts and high tailed it from that spot.

As we all gathered back at the ponderosa we smiled, chuckled and retold the story from each of our respective perspectives.  Grady saved the rattles to show everyone and turn over to Kay as her trophy. 

Without the quick thinking of Roseann and Kay there’s no telling how our evening would have otherwise ended.  I’m fairly certain someone would have ended up with a snake bite OR we would have had a not-so-friendly travelling companion hitching a ride in someone’s bag or stroller.

So, to Kay and Roseann, thank you so much for putting your fears aside, remaining calm in an unnerving situation and saving our babies.  You are our heroes.  We love you and FULLY understand if you NEVER set foot in Meade , Kansas, again.

Peace, love and snake charming.