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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slitherin'

When I lived in the Wild West, I did some cool cowgirl stuff. For those of you who read my previous blog, you might remember some of my old adventures like when I rode a horse for the first time, when I tried to break Penny the horse, the spiders, getting gumbo stuck, the first time I went hunting, the peeping Tom Turkeys, and the first time I went to a rodeo. But I don't think I ever talked about my snake encounters.

The first one happened when I had lived there about three weeks. My apartment had a side yard my landlords id a crappy job of maintaining. The grass was about knee high most all summer long. One day when I was walking to town, all three blocks away, I decided to cut across the lawn; I don't know why. I tripped over what I thought was a big, old tree branch... until it MOVED!! I went screaming across the lawn and didn't stop running and screaming until I hit the grocery store. I was shaking and bawling my head off and I was all sweaty ans snot streaming down my face. When I could finally hurl out the words, a local guy drove to the house and shortly came back. I "tripped" over a bull snake that was about 6 feet long. I think I fainted. The upside is that bull snakes don't hurt people; they eat rattle snakes. The other upside is, apparently, that on my way across the yard I missed seeing the huge coiled rattle snake that was on my patio. Oh. My. Goddess. The guy who went to see what I tripped on also killed the rattler.

My second rattlesnake encounter was when I was with another teacher. I was riding with her to her ranch when we came to a rattler stretched all the way across the road. Without missing a beat, she kept on talking but stopped her truck, ran over it, and backed up and down over it a few more times. then whipped out a pistol and shot the sucker dead. I think my heart stopped beating for a week. And she rendered me speechless.

My third encounter was, by far, the best and I didn't look like such a fool. Well, not until the end. In the spring of my first year, I went to help move cattle from winter to summer pastures. We all had horses saddled up with shot guns strapped to them, as well as a rope and gloves and a saddle bag. All the horses looked the same as far as equipment went; I don't think anyone intended for me to use a gun. It was just "there.". Now, I had learned to shoot earlier that fall so while I wasn't super comfortable with a gun, I knew the basic workings.

So all of us are spread all over, moving the cows (it's easier to herd cattle than kids because I've done both and can speak with authority). We all sort of had out own section of pasture to cover. I was doing my thing when I looked down and saw I was stopped about 6 feet from a HUGE rattlesnake. It was coiled and sunning itself on some rocks. It was shaking its rattle and looking at me.

Without thinking lots, I whipped out the shot gun, took aim, pulled the trigger and I actually killed the snake in a single shot. One shot. Then I rode away, got my straggling calf and headed toward the others.

That's when I saw the others. All 15 people lined up, halted in mid motion, staring at me, mouths agape. I rode over and said, "what?" Everyone started talking at once, cheering me, patting me. They said I looked like Annie Oakley out there, never missing a beat, sitting on the horse, hat pushed back... And how cool it was that the snake was in striking distance of me and the horse and I never flinched. Striking distance?!? Oh. My. God. That's when I started shaking and crying. The owner of the cows said he was just glad I didn't shoot the stray calf, which is what he thought I was doing. Hey, I was surprised as the next guy that I killed it, didn't shoot myself or a cow.

And those are my Wild West snake stories. In the immortal words of Indiana Jones, "Snakes? Why does it always have to be snakes?!?"

5 comments:

Curley said...

Bravo for you. I can understand why you don't like snakes. Not to fond of them myself.

Sinderella Studio Designs said...

Yuck! I don't think I could have made it through any of your snake adventures/encounters! I am practically fainting just reading this.
dana

Evil Pixie said...

I can handle the snakes. I grew up in Mordor, which was slitherin' with rattlesnakes. It's the spiders I cannot handle. I cannot even go into a room if there is a spider there. Even "Charlotte's Web" freaked me out.

Bryan said...

How sad that you need to kill them because you're scared of them and don't know anything about them. They were there before you felt the need to go hiking. Next time restrain your need to indulge your fear and let them go on their way, and they'll continue to not bother you in any way, other than by existing at all.

I know I won't convince you. Just try.

Maggie said...

Curley- thanks!

Dana- sometimes, after these things happen, I have no idea how I survived

Evil P- I have spider stories too. I don't do well with those either.

Bryan- thanks for your interesting comment; however, I wasn't hiking in any of these instances, if you'll re-read and take note. And I've also worked with ranchers and know the dangers of rattlers, so while I respect your position and appreciate your comment, it wasn't always possible to just "let them go."