Thursday, August 28, 2008

the owl and the rattlesnake

maybe you all are just plum tired of my owl stories. well, too bad for you then since i've another to tell.

last few nights theres been the orchard owl right outside my bedroom window just hoo-hoo-ing loud i can't sleep.i haven't heard one in months. last night it started up before it was completely dark so i snuck out onto the porch and caught a glimpse of it atop the telephone pole next to my house.

so as the usual protocol i've been extra careful, mindful of everything i'm doing.worrying and wondering about my friends keeping an extra watchful eye on all the many many animals. we've got these neighbor dogs...dogs known to have torn a goat to bits...that have been getting onto the farm through some damn hole in the fence and harassing our visitig goats so just to be safe i've penned the goats in the orchard down below.


i come out of the studio just before dark and the sheep and dogs are hanging out by the house when i hear that distinct sound of a pissed off rattlesnake. i haven't seen a rattler in years...we didn't have them in the high mountains. but there it was right in front of the house , hugging the edge of this grassy bush. so it rattled and hissed and lashed out at siren, one of my lambs. it was all so fast. she flinched and shook her head, so theres a chance she was bitten.

but right then i had to deal with this snake in my yard. i got the dogs and cats , put them in the house, shooed the sheep far away and had a panicky think. i went in the house and despite the sweltering heat, put on jeans, boots a denim jacket and thick gloves. i had the idea to spray it with water to try and at least get it away from my front door, which worked. watching it slide along the ground...not very hurried...was quite something. it was huge. and doubt well fed on all the big chunky frogs we've got all over the place.

i got it out to the driveway but realized it wasn't gonna go far. it just wasn't that impressed with me and my water and besides, my hose had reached its full length. so i dropped that and instead grabbed an old tin trash can, went over to the snake which was at this point coiled and pissed and waiting.

i covered it.
and had a another panicky think.
i thought about ways i could try to catch it up into the can and relocate it but it all seemed too risky. i'm alone here, ive no snake bite kit and beside me, theres too many animals that could get nailed. i realized i had to kill it.

i'm not a big fan of killing things. not at all. save for mosquitos, I'll stop and help drowning bees out of a water trough, i'll trap a spider in a jar and get it out of the house...once i relocated a black widow that had decided to nest in a high traffic area outside the house.

but this felt far more serious. so i grabbed my axe from the back of my truck, went over to the can, tipped the edge up slightly and waited. after a few minutes it peeked its head out and i made this gutteral determined sound and i smashed its head...then just kept bashing at it, the same -haaah- sound escaping my lungs with each blow.

then i dropped the axe and cried. i asked the snake to forgive me.

i'm relieved its dead. how horrible is that.

so the owl lets me know about death even when i'm the one that will make it happen.

tomorrow i'm goin to vegas to get a rattle snake bite kit...or 2.


Alison said...

Reading your story sent shivers down my spine. Is the lamb OK? I suppose that when we are pressed we will do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our "own".

I know that if I had to do the same thing I'd likely feel both bad and justified.

erin ambrose said...

i think the lamb will be ok...this morning she is up and moving around but her face is totally swollen.she can't eat, but my one concern is whether she is able to drink water or not, so i'll keep an eye on her. someone told me that i was lucky it was an older bigger rattler siince they are less generous with the venom, having learned to discern the level of threat and to conserve energy. unlike young male rattlers that are clueless and ramped up and ready to let loose and shoot their load at any given chance.

so....cross yr fingers for the little swollen lambosa.

Goat Yoda said...

I'd be real careful about the goats in an orchard- they will glut themsleves on fallen fruits and bloat. Usually no way to save them once they've done that- fermenting fruit is dangerous....

erin ambrose said...

not to worry about the goats, i had them in the pen thats next to the orchard, heavily wooded w/ oak but no fruit they busted out of there and are roaming the land now we're back to the biggest threat being the neighbors damn dogs.

these goats just need to go home.

Anne in K-town said...

Skip the snake bite kit. If you are bitten by a rattler, wash the wound with soap and water, take off any rings or bracelets, and head for an ER. It makes the wounds worse if you cut into them. And no tourniquets. That'll just concentrate the venom where it can do more tissue damage rather than letting it dissipate. Most damage from rattlers is tissue swelling and breakdown.

Too bad you had to kill it, but you have to keep the animals safe. Snakes scare me.

erin ambrose said...

oh yeah...i've learned pretty quickly that "snakes kits" are for crap. and are you anne?????

Anne in K-town said...

Doing well, Erin. Still on the rez and enjoy that very much. How close are you to Las Vegas these days? I passed through on my way to Denver a few weeks ago.

erin ambrose said...

i'm about a half an hour south of next time yr passin' through let me know!