Yesterday was a beautiful Spring day here in North Georgia (Sorry Robin, I wish I could send some of this to Washington). We were between rainstorms and the sun was shining brightly, the humidity was high and the air was wonderfully warm. I was on a mission, to capture a photo of one of my honeybees collecting pollen from the wild Cherokee Rose that grows along the back fence of my garden. I was happily traipsing along, intently eyeing the large bush covered in glorious delicate blossoms whose fragrance is so strong and sweet it permeates our entire property. I thought I caught a glimpse of one, buzzing from flower to flower, so I moved in to get a good picture. I had taken a few steps when suddenly, I froze as my eye caught a glimpse of brown coiled up in the periwinkle vines that run rampant along the back fence. It was a Copperhead, about 2 steps away... right in my path.
~no this is not a photo of the actual snake I saw, I got this photo from Google Images~
I hastily retreated!! Since I was dressed in a skirt and canvas sneakers, my legs suddenly felt very vulnerable. I wish that I could claim that I handled the situation in a calm, no nonsense manner, but the truth is that the Fight or Flight syndrome took over, the adrenalin started pumping and by the time I reached the house I was shaking like a leaf!
But now I had a problem. There is a large venomous snake in my backyard. The yard that my chickens, chicks and ducklings roam around in.... and most importantly the yard where my little Blondeheaded boy plays. Something has to be done about it. My husband was on a bicycle ride, 10 miles away. I called my neighbor Mark to see if he would come and dispense of it... he was not home. Well then, it looks like it is up to me.
I knew I would have to shoot it, no way was I getting close enough to kill it with a shovel or a hoe. I thought about my handgun, but what if I missed and scared it off. I called my husband for advise. He told me to use the 12 gauge shotgun. It was big enough to do the job, but small enough that it wouldn't knock me back on my bum. He talked me though step by step how to use it because it had been years since I had fired a shotgun and could not remember how to operate it. He also told me to use ear protection... very good advise.
I traded out my sneakers and skirt for bluejeans and rubber boots and set out to do the deed. I returned to the place where he had lain, soaking up the warm sun, only to find that he was gone.... DRAT!!! I had wasted too much time. Well, this will never do, I can not have a poisonous snake slithering around, sneaking up on us when we least expect it. I'll have to find him. So I began to cautiously walk around, my eyes scouring in every direction... where could he be!? I said a little prayer... "Please Lord let me find him, and please Lord, let me see him before I step on him, Amen." As I passed under the low-hanging branches of some small trees, the scene of a snake falling from a limb and landing on a soldier came to mind... was that from Platoon? A chill ran down my spine. Good grief Rhonda, get a grip, copperheads don't climb trees!
It took me about 5 minutes, then I spotted an old tire almost completely covered by periwinkle vines, not far from where he had been. That's where he is, I told myself, and why is that stupid tire laying down here in the first place! I go into the garden shed and retrieve my hoe, I'm not lifting that tire up with my hand. As I scrape away the vines and dead leaves, I see it!!! The metal rim is still in the tire and through the holes, I see it as it realizes it has been exposed and slithers to the outer edge trying to hide itself. I stand there for a moment, not sure what to do. I know as soon as I lift the tire the snake will run and I can't manage the hoe and the shotgun at the same time. Hmmmmm, what if I just shoot through the hole in the rim? No, that won't work. I can't be sure I will hit him and if some of the shot hits the rim it will surely ricochet and I will wind up shooting myself.
I decide to gently move the tire to the side just a little bit. YES!! That worked, I have exposed his back and he is not moving. I put down the hoe, take aim and BOOM. I am instantly glad I chose the gun over the shovel method, because suddenly his head emerged and even though he is mortally wounded, he begins to strike at everything. I reload and this time I make sure I get the head. Strange as it may seem, I didn't want him to suffer. I moved him inside the garden fence so that I can show my husband and my son who so wanted to take part in the hunt but after recognizing that his mother and her jangled nerves meant business, agreed to stay in the house until the snake was dead.
Then I put down the gun, took off the ear protection, picked up my camera and returned to my former mission....
My honeybee, blissfully unaware of the drama that had unfolded within inches, is going about her business without a care in the world.
Before I close for the day I want to state that I do not take killing anything lightly. I believe that each creature has a purpose and was place upon this earth by our Creator for a reason. But just as I accept the fact that predators in nature are necessary and only act on instincts and their need for survival, I also accept my responsibility to protect my family and the animals in my care. This means that I guard against predators such and coyotes, hawks, weasels, raccoons, black widows and poisonous snakes. And if that means I have to pick up the shotgun and dispense of a threat to their safety, well then, I'll take a deep breath and I'll accept the fact that I will do what I have to do. ~Rhonda