Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ugh. Just Ugh.

I'm remarkably uninspired. And grumpy. And, to beat the dead horse, hot. Summer has really beaten me down this year. I did have a bit of a hiccup in the day to day, though. Yesterday...man. Yesterday was messed up. Yesterday I had to do something I'd never done before and, if you'll excuse my sailor-mouth, it was a total mindf**k.

I was out chilling with my chickens yesterday, walking around the pen, making sure everything was both hunky and dory, when I saw my cat paying way too much attention to something just on the other side of the fence. My first thought? One of the bantam's escaped and met it's maker via cat. I quickly waded through chickens to go check it out only to find...a huge freakin' snake. I mean...huge. It was much bigger than the one I wrangled off the porch. And, it was caught in the wildlife netting we have surrounding the chicken yard. Which really sucked. I have no idea how long the poor thing was stuck there. At this point, I weighed my options. There was no way I was going to get close enough to it's head to release it from it's netting bondage. It was just a rat snake, but still...No thanks. I could shoot it...but we all know how that turned out last time, and with the cat and fifty very curious and brave chickens nosing about, I decided taking aim with my trusty ol' .22 was not a very good idea. Which left me with one option.

Without going into detail, I will say that I eventually succeeded in dispatching that snake to snake heaven. It was much more difficult than I expected...both physically and, later, emotionally.

As many of you know, for many years, I was a veterinary nurse. I have assisted with and performed countless euthanasias. I have witnessed the death of animals on many, many occasions and under many circumstances. I was wholly unprepared for killing that snake though. In euthanasia, it basically boils down to an overdose of a barbiturate. And nine times out of ten, it's very smooth and very fast. That's what I'm accustomed to. I am not, however, accustomed to what I did to that poor snake. And I know. I know. I had to do it. I couldn't let him get into the chicken pen. He was definitely big enough to eat my bantams, not to mention the eggs. I couldn't leave him stuck in the netting till B got home to dispatch him with alacrity and skill. He would've cooked to death in yesterday's heat. I couldn't risk the cat or the dogs getting to him while he was stuck in the netting and unable to get away. So. I had to do it. Logic. Cold, hard logic.

But, man. It sucked. Next time, I've got to think of something more efficient (and sharper) than a hoe.

Alas, this is what we've signed up for, here on the farm. These animals are my responsibility and if there is a threat to them in anyway, it's up to me (and B, if that threat shows up after work or on weekends) to protect them. So, I'll keep doing what I have to do. And, it not only messes with me on a very visceral level, but also on a "what right do i have to move into that snake's territory etc etc" moral/ethical level. I know many of you probably think I'm way overthinking this.

I'm still sick to my stomach.

I'm sorry, snake. I am so, so sorry.


  1. Sorry you had to do that. Sounds like it's time to sharpen your shovel.

  2. My baby finally killed something- you still upset I can tell but what if all you chickens and eggs were gone- - survival of the fitest sweetie- - march on- -Dad will be with you

  3. Yeah, I totally am with you on this. If faced with your dilemma, I would do as you did.

  4. thanks guys. it was totally a live and learn situation. i'm feeling better about it this morning. now i know to keep my machete handy.

  5. You had to to what you had to do,K. Sometimes it is not pleasant! :( I can't kill the chickens,Rick,Brother B,and Zach do that. Some day I may have to,though. I won't like it,but you have to do what you have to do!( Didn't I just hear that somewhere? lol)
    Have a nice day!

  6. I know, I know. And it wasn't (and isn't) the idea of killing the snake that's got me all in a tizzy. It's the fact that it wasn't fast and clean.It's the fact that that poor snakes last moments were very, very painful and drawn out. That, and the fact that he got killed just cause he was hungry and lookin for some breakfast...

  7. Ugh, I know that feeling. I had to do the same with a giant rat that ran over my foot while I was working in a horse barn a few years back. All I had was the shovel in my hand and my workboots. Based on its behavior, I'm sure the rat was already poisoned, so I was doing the right thing. But I took the first whack at it out of pure instinct, only to realize that I then needed to finish what I had just started. Definitely a good idea to keep appropriate tools handy for such things...

  8. Hi K!
    You poor thing! Don't worry, this too shall pass. I think when things like this happen for the first time, adrenaline makes us a little crazy and reactionary (is that even a word?). I have to admit though, I had to wipe tears from my cheeks.... I was cracking up. Sorry! :)
    Glad I found your blog on GRIT. Can't wait to read more.
    Hugs from So. Cal., Amber

  9. Hang in there! I go into hard core mode when faced with any threat to "me and mine". After that I go get a good stiff drink, and get over it.

    It isn't easy, but no one ever said we have to let threats to our livelihood go untreated. The snake would have struck out at you had you been close to its nest!

    Lots of Hugs