Sounds like the title of a new reality show doesn’t it? As the weather warms up here on the prairies of southeast Wyoming, one thing we always watch for is snakes. They’re kind of a big deal out here because they are common. Bull snakes and rattlesnakes are mostly what we encounter, with the occasional garter snake in the garden maybe. As a general rule, we don’t kill the snakes that are not dangerous to humans or animal, but I will shoot a rattler in a heartbeat. You can click here if you’re curious about how to tell the difference.
Last May, I sent Punkin out to the chicken house to collect eggs.
She was out there kind of a long time, but since she often gets side-tracked by the kittens in the barn or the swings in the yard, I didn’t think too much about it. Until Muffin (my younger daughter) came running back in the house screaming “SNAKE! Mama there is a snake in the chicken house!!”
Really? I thought..hmmm really? The kids have seen snakes before, on the road, but never in the yard. We usually don’t have any problems with snakes in the yard because snakes don’t like pecking chickens, snooping dogs, noisy kids etc…
So I was thinking about the likelihood of this being a false alarm as I hurried out to see what all commotion was about, when I heard Punkin screaming from the chicken house. She was in the chicken house here, where the arrow is, back behind the galvanized feeder in the corner.
She was yelling about the snake near the door. I didn’t see any snake. But she is was yelling, then I realized that the snake must be near the threshold of the door, down on the other side, where I can’t see it. Crap…oh crap!
So now I was thinking…. how am I gonna get around to the other side to shoot this thing? How should I aim so as not to kill a chicken, or blow a hole in the side of the chicken house? Is it a rattlesnake or a bull snake? I finally caught sight of its head and I was about 80% sure it was a bull snake. For my readers that live elsewhere, a bull snake is a non-venomous rodent feeder. I guessed it came for the water, since its been so very dry. Oh.. and now the snake realized that there are eggs to be had too. Great.
I wanted to keep an eye on it, so I hollered for Muffin to get the rake so I could drag up and over the threshold. I was thinking I would let it live since its a bull snake, not a rattler. It slipped through the tines of the rake, but eventually I got up up and out of the coop. I ended up stepping (gently) on the middle of it and pinning it down with the head of the rake while I decided how I was going to get this thing relocated into the tree ground west of the house.
At least I’m not wearing flip flops.
By now, I got the snake into the rhubarb bushes alongside the chicken house and Punkin was able to get out of the coop. I asked her to get me a feed sack from the barn, hoping I could somehow get the thing into it. Every time I lifted the head of the rake the tiniest bit, it tried to slither away. Not that I blame it. Shrieking kids.. hollering Mama.. barking dogs… etc… It kept twining the half of its body that I didn’t have pinned, around my leg. That was a little creepy. I have to say, I had the heevie jeevies.
I’m waited and waited for Punkin to come back with the feed sack. What was taking so long? She stopped to pet a little white kitten that was the only one of about 8 babies that is tame enough to let us touch it.
“Really? Really Punkin? You thought you’d enjoy a kitten moment when I have snake pinned down?” I know its not a rattler… but still.
(oh, the irresistible allure of baby kitties.) And, in case you’re wondering, that is why I had time to whip out the iPhone and take a few pictures.
After several tries to get the booger headed into the cat food bag, I thought maybe I could reach down and grab it behind its head. You know, like on those people do on the Discovery Channel. Nope, it was way too fast for that. The snake saw my hand coming and bit me. Quick as a flash. Now don’t freak out… bull snakes are not poisonous. Let me repeat. Not poisonous.
Finally, after some creative asp manipulation, I got the critter headed the right direction into a cat food bag. I dropped the rake and quickly gathered up the top of the writhing bag to carry out to the tree ground. All the while I questioned this relocation decision, since now the snake knows where it can get eggs and water. This one was a “gimme.” If it comes back, I’m gonna revisit the idea of using a .410 shot shell instead of a rake, a boot and a bag!
PS: Punkin swears she isn’t going back into the chicken house until winter. Forget the eggs.
This post was shared at the Homestead Barn Hop #109