Monday, May 4, 2009

"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do"

Even if it involves a shotgun....

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

35 comments:

ChristyACB said...

Great Job! Leaving a copperhead to make MORE copperheads where you know children you love are is not the right thing. Dispensing with it as humanely as you can is!

And I love the bee pictures too. :)

Christy said...

I'm so proud of you! I'm not sure I could have done it. Out of fear, not out of not wanting to kill it. I need to get my rifle out and practice with it some more.

Vee said...

Rhonda, what a suspenseful story! I was right there with ya... I'm very proud of you...that snake has no business in your yard. You did the right thing. I'm getting ready to shoot a vulture daily myself. They've moved from the outer ring of the forest to the trees right over the yard...unacceptable!

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

You did what you had to do. We live in the woods in an old barn and one day I came down stairs to see a copperhead looking up at me. He had gotten in through our solar panel grid on the floor. I picked up the closet thing next to me at the time, which was the hedge clippers I had used the day before and went after him. He must have known I was serious and quickly took off and headed back down the hole in which he came through and we were both happy. We sealed up the hole immediately and haven't seen him in the house since. Now chipmonks, flying squirels etc., well they are another story. But I wouldn't live anywhere else.
Love your blog!!!
~Debra

Michelle said...

You're such the cowgirl! I love it. Good thing you didn't get hurt by that thing too.

ga.farmwoman said...

You're right, Us country gals do what we have to do.
We have more rattlesnakes and water mocassins here than copperheads.
Good Job!
Pam

Val said...

Holy Crapola! I'da done the same thing. I grew up with rattlers and alot of them. Thankfully they let us know when they are around..... gosh Rhonda you had me on the edge of my seat!!

Farmgirl Cyn said...

YOU GO GIRL!!!
Mama had to take care of business, cause a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do!!!

Sand Flat Farm said...

Protecting your young just like any good mama would!

The last one I saw at the farm got chopped up by my garden hoe - he didin't have a chance!

Now, where is the picture of the dead snake?

((grin)) Vickie

Gary and Elizabeth~ said...

I just hate snakes too and yes if I had to I would have done the same thing. Great job! and the 12 gauge shot gun is a big gun and a bit heavy.I skeet shoot with a 20 and it's a comfortable length. But you have to do what you have to and if it means shooting a bigger gun then what we are comfortable using,well you just have to go for it. How scary and you were so brave, really brave.
The flowers were beautiful.
Enjoy your day,
Elizabeth

Back Through Time said...

WOW!!! I am so impressed!! Glad you didn't run away and did what you had to do!
btw~love the flowers
Michelle

Sares said...

Wow, you are one brave woman. Snakes are my least favorite kind of animal. I don't know why a lot of us fear them when they're usually small with no arms or legs! Thank goodness where I live we only have harmless garden snakes. I understand about nit wanting any animal to suffer, even a snake, you have a kind and compassionate heart.

Hope all is going well with the honey bees and have a great day!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

We have to protect ourselves together with our family. Without thinking about it, the snake could have easily put you in great danger, they are wild creatures and only know one way of life; survival.

Well done on your bravery!

CJ xx

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

What a story, and I give you lots of credit for your bravery...and courage! I loved all your photos and the way you take so seriously the taking of a life, even of a copperhead. But, I think we all know you and we also realize that you have a large investment of livestock in your yard, and that sweet boy does NOT need to be in danger with that copperhead allowed to live there.
XOXO
Joni

Angie said...

Wow, I don't think I could have done it. I'm terrified of snakes, and I think I would have chickened out and tried to talk someone else into doing it. You're clearly much braver than I am.

Anne Marie said...

My first wasp encounter was today and that scared the "doodoo" out of me...
so
bravo!

Erzebat said...

daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn! I am proud of you woman! momma dont miss when she is pissed. (whispering) dont forget, most snakes travel in pairs....keep that shotgun handy woman! (mauh) Liz

Brenda Eason said...

OMG I hate snacks so much. it makes me sick to think about them. great job girl.

BittersweetPunkin said...

Woohoo Rhonda...way to go!

I HATE snakes too and would've done the same thing!

We actually had a nice weekend here weather wise...but it's supposed to rain all week...oh well. I know my sunny days are coming soon!!!

HUGS,
Robin

Liane said...

Oh my goodness! What a day you had! I can certainly see why you need to protect your family and pets from such a creature - I've never seen a poisonous snake in RI.
Great pics of your bee collecting pollen - thanks for sharing, Rhonda.
Happy Tuesday!

Kathleen Grace said...

EeeeK! You are a brave woman Rhonda! Snakes don't bother me usually but a copperhead would scare me witless! I don't blame you one bit for killing it! I would be afraid that where there is one there is more though. Keep an eye out and, oh I hope that is the only one!

Andrea at Opulent Cottage said...

What a woman!! I hope that I might have been able to hold it together well enough to do the same thing, but I don't know!!

Barb and Steve said...

You are so brave! Don't know if I could do it. Mom's have great protective instincts though.

Kathleen from Eggs In My Pocket said...

I know how you feel! We have copperheads and rattlesnakes here. I hate to get into a confrontation with one and I hate to kill, but they will kill my animals if I don't get them first. Have a wonderful week. blessings,Kathleen

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

You're a regular Annie Oakley!

I found a copperhead under my car last spring. Our dogs had cornered it there. Yikes! My husband killed it using the same method you did.
Glad you're okay!!

Meggie said...

Great post and good job, Rhonda! Yup, we country gals gotta do what we gotta do. Glad you found that little bugger before it hurt someone or one of your critters. Love the shots of the honey bees.

Berte said...

I can relate! I killed a snake at my backdoor just this morning. You're right, snakes have a purpose but not where our children and critters roam. Great blog!
RiverBend Farm

Terri Morse said...

Rhonda, that was about the most exciting and scary story I've heard in a while. I'm with you. While I respect all living creatures, protecting your loved ones is top priority. Besides, I don't think I'd have slept knowing that this particular creature was lurking around my house! Copperheads are indigenous to Pennsylvania as well, and I have a friend who's child was bitten by one last summer. You did the only thing you could do. Wise decision!

Michelle said...

You're my hero!! I could never have done that!

Sunny Daze said...

Wow, what a story. Glad it had a happy ending. Hope you get a chance to visit my log. I posted a picture just for you, hot shot!
Love your banner.
Sunny

Mary said...

Good job!!
I picked up one by the tail when he was still a little dormant, and I was much younger and shall we say dumber? I put it in a mason jar to show my son when he came home from school. When my husband saw it he nearly croaked! I quickly learned the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake. I started shaking after my husband told me what kind I had picked up. Needless to say now all snakes have my respect.

farmhouse wares said...

WOW! What a great story. I'm so impressed with your bravery. I just saw a little garter snake in my garden the other day, and now I'm seriously debating wether I will ever weed there again.

ohiofarmgirl said...

You may be the bravest girl I know...good for you. You must master your environment for your family...wait till I show my dh. Dianntha

Cathy said...

I hate snakes too and I don't think I would have had the guts to do what you did.

Joy said...

Amen,Sista! Well done! I thought you were going to show us a pic of the blasted snake--whew! Glad you didn't--I might have lost my appetite for supper! And, BTW...that shotgun looks mighty old... did it belong to Daniel 'Boom'???? Heehehhee.