It had been a good day, all in all. I had spent most of the day with my dad, sitting at the table drinking juice and reading the WSJ. We baked a cake and washed dishes by hand, did a load of laundry, visited the clinic for a chat with an old friend. I even ran into a dear, dear friend from high school whom I had not seen in twenty years and he gave me wonderful words and wonderful hugs.
A good day.
I drove home and sat out in the sweet light of late afternoon, reading with a cat on my lap. Once the mosquitoes had nailed down my precise location and radioed that information back to headquarters I decided to pull up stakes and move camp. I watered a few plants, stomped on a few tomato worms and turned on the drip system for the young trees in Maggie's Wood.
The sun disappeared behind the corn field and I was finishing up the last few repairs on the drip lines when I heard the chickens squawking at full volume. Coons! I thought for sure I had misjudged the timing for slamming the door and took off at a fast walk toward the coop.
YOU CAN NOT HAVE MY CHICKENS YOU LOUSY COONS!
I banged on the walls with my pliers as I rounded the corner, hoping to scare whatever it was out of there. Stepping into the darkening room I saw not a raccoon but a huge Black Snake heading for the nest of eggs in the corner. (cue the ominous music)
As a back story, one of the hens has been sitting on the nest of eggs for about a week. She doesn't know that nothing will hatch in a coop without a Rooster. She only knows that it is time to sit and she does. The snake had his eye on the entire bunch and I had my eye on the snake. The chickens were perched high on the roosts, yelling encouragement in my direction.
Usually I can shoo the snakes out the door but this one wasn't budging. I kicked the wood chips at him. He turned and started toward me, mouth open and tail 'rattling'…well, not really rattling, but shaking. I threw a brick at him and then another. He had me cornered at the back of the coop so the chickens and I all ran for the door at the same moment, bursting out into the semi-darkness together while the snake turned and slithered toward eggs. He has successfully bluffed his way to the prize.
I suppose I could have let him have the eggs, since they were useless to me by that time anyway and certainly weren't going to hatch, but that would have let him think he had permission to raid the chicken coop any time. "Sure, Buddy, come on in whenever you get the hankering to have a little egg on your toothless face." NO WAY, JOSE.
He was all over the eggs, there in the corner, so I picked up a brick and threw it at him. SCORE!
I threw another one. I grabbed the half of a cement block that sits out in the run and threw that. A DIRECT HIT!
It didn't even faze him.
As they say in Wonder Pets: This. Is.
Serwious. (Yes, that's the way they say it.)
I stepped out the door and waited. (Sometimes he will leave by himself when I do that). Sure enough he turned and started for the door to the run and as he rounded the corner and was trying to slip through the chicken wire I retrieved the block and nailed him again….and again…and another time. Now I had him trapped under the block but he was still very much alive. He was hissing at me, mouth wide and head jerking in my direction. If he ever wriggled free I knew he would come for me in my sleep and bite me to death, ripping the flesh from my bones. ("My mind is going, Dave." *name that movie.)
Okay. I needed to rethink this attack and get some better weapons. I needed to fight smarter.
I went to the garage and grabbed the flat bladed shovel, came back and began hacking on his neck. A simple beheading I thought. Easy enough.
No. Not so easy, as it turns out.
Hmmm….I remembered one of Danny's favorite sayings, "Get a bigger hammer."
I went back to the garage and grabbed the machete.
Yes, I have a machete. You don't?
It was fully dark by this time, so I turned on the flashlight app on my phone, went back to the chicken run, leaned the phone up against the wire of the run and delivered what I thought would be the fatal chop. WHAM! And another. And yet another…. and two more. For the love of Pete! How hard is it to kill a bloody snake anyway?!
I lost all of my sense of self-control and hacked away…..
the snake lost his head.
I emerged from the run drenched with sweat, eyes flaming, adrenaline pumping through my veins. Victory is ours! My chickens and their worthless eggs were safe! The free world was safe! Hallelujah! Sound the trumpets and bang the cymbals!
Okay. I'm better now and from this distance I can honestly ask the big question:
What is it about snakes that sets me off like that?
They're creepy, that's what.
They have no arms or legs or wings and they move in weird ways and when they turn and come at me I want to kill them. I'm not proud of that but it's the truth.
I felt a little bit hypocritical about the entire affair because not two weeks prior to this I had tried to convince my daughter, Audra, that snakes are not evil, they are okay. They are an integral part of the circle of life and serve a very useful purpose in the world. They should not be killed willy-nilly.
Oh well, so much for that argument. By the way, this isn't the first time I have lost my mind and wailed on a snake like a screaming banshee straight out of the fires of hell. Oh no. Ask any one of my children about the time I beat a water snake to death with a red, plastic bat while screaming my lungs out. (In my defense, my children were very young and were all swimming in the same pond with that snake and I didn't want them to be eaten alive. It could have been a water moccasin. You never know. (Except that it wasn't, as it turned out).
Anyway….all the eggs were broken by the bricks and blocks that were flying around in the hen house, so now the setting hen is in deep mourning. Fine. Blame me, go ahead. I'll be the bad guy.
I'm glad it was me that happened onto that snake in there and not one of the grandkids stepping in to gather the eggs. On the other hand, it would have been kind of neat for them to have seen him….I guess?
Not on my watch.
Let someone else teach them about snakes.