Our friend Mary said she has seen more snakes this year than any in recent memory. I was surprised because we have had the opposite experience. I can count the times I've come across a snake on our place since April on one hand; definitely not the norm for around here. Still, I'm on full alert every time I enter the feed shed. That is where the mice hang out so it only makes sense the snakes will show up eventually. Yesterday I approached the shed with my usual caution. There is a wooden door jamb at the entrance and I always stomp my feet on it a couple times to announce my arrival. Snakes don't see or hear too well but they are good at sensing vibration and will usually let you know if they are around. I listened for a minute after signalling my presence and, not hearing anything, entered to go about the feeding. The shed is not very big. It measures about 10' x 10' and seems much smaller once you are inside because of the hay bales on one side and the four large garbage cans filled with llama treats and chicken feed on the other. There are two old coolers stacked behind the garbage bins that the big feed pail and scoop sit on top of. I reached out and lifted the pail and there behind it, right at the level of my belly button, was a good sized rattle snake coiled and ready to strike. I backed up and considered my options. Now I know logically that a rattler cannot strike more than about half its body length and I knew he wasn't about to launch himself through the air at me, but I have to admit I was feeling a little uncomfortable with his obvious irritation at my presence. I did some quick calculating and decided that as long as he would keep himself visible I could go about the feeding and leave him to hunt down mice the rest of the day. I also know from past history that the vipers don't usually hang around the same place for more than a day, so I thought I could let him be and he might just get rid of a few rodents for my kindness. After Ken got bit by a rattler in the shed last year, I bought a grabber pole like the kind used in zoos. But I wasn't real excited about trying it out for the first time on a snake that was at waist level and pretty irritated. It took me about twenty minutes to finish feeding and that snake didn't stop rattling for any of it. Which I appreciated because it let me know exactly where he was every time I went in or out of the shed. Once I was done I closed off the cat door so Frank wouldn't stumble into a bad situation and I left the snake to his hunting. You can bet I searched the shed well before I entered this morning but, as expected, the slinky visitor had moved on.
We had a short, violent storm move through last night. It couldn't have lasted more than ten minutes but it still managed to cause some flash flooding in the coolies around the house. This morning I looked out and realized the blooms were all gone off the yucca in the garden. I am sure glad I took a photo yesterday when it looked so perfect! At first I thought the denuding must have been caused by the wind and rain last evening but then I heard a "ping, ping" coming from the gas grill and I suspected a different culprit. Sure enough, I went outside, pulled the cover off the grill, opened the lid and there, lounging in a bed of fresh cut yucca blooms was a lousy packrat! They have got to be one of the most destructive animals alive for their size. They collect everything! This guy looked at me like I was interrupting his morning tea and obviously expected me to close the lid and let him get on with it. Where was that rattle snake when I really needed him?! I called Frank the cat and showed him the critter and Frank did just what I expected - he turned tail and ran. He has been on the losing side of a battle with a packrat before and the memory was obviously still painful. So I did what I had to do. I got a broom and I chased his little butt out of the grill and into his hole in the garden wall. I am sure he will be back tonight and will probably collect the columbines this time!
A couple things I forgot to mention in yesterday's post:
1) I represented Search and Rescue by riding a four wheeler in the Fourth of July Parade in Cody on Friday. I am pretty sure that is the first time I have ever been in a parade and it was kind of fun. I was shocked by the hundreds of people lining the streets - I think the citizens from all the surrounding burgs must have come to Cody for the event.
2) I went totally gray on Wednesday. No, I wasn't scared or worried into it. I just got tired of putting chemicals on my head every few months to keep my hair blond. I have been dying my hair for more than twenty years. For the first few years it was just highlights but it wasn't long before I went to all over color to hide the incoming gray. My hairdresser said she would need to cut it short to get rid of all the color and I told her to go for it. I now have much less hair than either my father or brother. Debra warned me that people will assume I have been sick and she is probably right. Yes, it is that short. I had a friend take a photo of me so I could email it to Ken. He gets home in a couple days and I wanted to give him a chance to get used to the new look before he arrived. After all, he will have to look at it a lot more than I will. Lucky for me, Frank the cat and the llamas and chickens don't seem to care.