I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Paying attention is required

Happy 4th everyone.
I hope that all of you are having fun , staying cool, eating good food and enjoying family.
Spent the week here by myself. The Prospector went on a fishing trip in British Columbia and has been gone all week. When he leaves for any length of time, this is when Murphy's law always seems to rear its ugly head. This morning it was in the form of a huge Rattlesnake.
We have a resident King snake that lives under the old goat house, but he has either gone on to better hunting grounds or been dispatched by a hawk or owl. Haven't seem the King in a while. He is obviously not taking care of business around here.
This morning, early, the dogs were barking at the back door. I thought they saw the cat. She likes to prance around where they can see her and then runs into the garage, just to annoy them.
I yelled something like, "Hey, stop barking at Annie." and they ignored me... kept barking and started doing their "something wild has entered the area" bark. Cutter gets a sort of hysterical edge to his bark and turns in circles. That he was doing.
I went to the back door and looked out toward the garage.
There it was, slithering across the concrete, the biggest Rattler I've seen in a long, long time.
This is when I went into overdrive. I called my neighbor and he said he would be there as fast as he could.
We always have a plan. The Prospector had already showed me where to grab the bucket and the "snake wrangler", a long tube with a rope inside of it that you pull to tighten.  The plan was for me to loop this around the snakes head and lift it into the bucket. But this was a BIG snake.
I took the wrangler, left the dogs in the house and went out through the front door and around to the front of the garage. I found a container... a big, empty, green plastic planter. It was deep enough, I thought, but now I wasn't sure I wanted to do this. When I looked down the sidewalk I could see the snakes head right at the corner of the garage. I hoped that it would stay right there until my neighbor came. It did.
"D" arrived, had his revolver with him and we went through the garage and came out a door that put us behind the snake. It was over before I knew what happen. The big snake was dead.
My neighbor is a very good shot.
This was an old Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and a beautiful specimen.
It was a venomous snake that chose to come into my yard. I can't tell you how this pains me, but I cannot have these rattlers near the house. If I were braver, I would scoop them up and take them to the river like I use to, but when they are this big, and as I get older, I cannot try to relocate them and I will not just scoot them away. We have had too many larger dogs bitten and I will not take the chance with my Corgis.
This one had 14 rattles.
The more a Rattlesnake sheds, the more segments are added to its rattle. When the Rattlesnake vibrates its tail, the segments click together to produce the buzzing rattle sound.
Rattlesnake rattle button
The smooth pear-shaped button of new born Rattlesnake
Rattlesnake rattle with button
An unbroken rattle with a button at its tip
Rattlesnake rattle without button
A broken rattle ending in a tiered nubbin
The tissue that makes up the rattle is like a thin brittle fingernail. Just as a human can tear a fingernail, when the rattle gets longer than about 8-10 segments, some may break off and be lost. If the string of rattle segments ends in a smooth rounded button, all the segments are there and the rattle is complete. If the rattle string ends in a squarish or tiered nubbin, the rattle has been broken and some segments have been lost.
  You cannot tell a Rattlesnake's age by simply counting its rattles.

(The above information is from this site. Thanks to F. Wayne King for the illustrations.) 

This seemed like an old rattler with a broken set of rattles.

The end of the rattle was rough and broken.
Its markings were really amazing.
"D" took the snake with him. He will skin the snake and freeze the meat. This is a good thing. At least the snake will be of some value as food.
The weather is still very hot. I check the whole front yard, bushes and all the corners where a snake might be resting, before I let Carl and Cutter out. This is a labor of love.
They have their anti venom shots but they are little dogs and must be protected.
Annibel, our barn cat, takes her chances everyday. I always check the chicken boxes before I retrieve the eggs.
I continue to watch everywhere.

"Look before you leap, for snakes among sweet flowers do creep."~German proverb~
( and along garage walls, under wood piles and in unsuspecting corners.)

Have a Happy 4th of July.


  1. Charming BagladyJuly 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Holy $#/&! That is a most impressive rattler. It would be great if your neighbor would give you the skin --- you could make a cool hat band for your sun hat. Now that things have calmed down, I hope you're enjoying the 4th. Mugs & I are watching The Music Man, one of our favorites. Dawn

  2. geez you had quite the adventure...that was a monster....but a beaut...glad the meet is getting used...its not a bad meal at all...

  3. he was quite a beauty alright. I completely understand your apprehension and mixed feelings about killing them. Nature is cruel and you must do what is necessary. Enjoy each day and keep your eye out for the rest of the snake family!

  4. Wow what a whopper. Glad you had a neighbor to help you kill it. Hope you had a nice 4th. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. So glad your neighbour came to the rescue, I'd hate the thought of you wrangling with that monster. Hope you and your lovely dogs continue to stay safe while the fisherman is away.

  6. Gosh he was big. Wonder where he has been and why he chose your house? Glad he will be busy tasting like chicken. Tina

  7. A rattlesnake bite is severely life-threatening, so you had no choice but to send this big guy to his eternal reward! I always enjoy your blog and photos...

  8. Yikes, you a such a pioneer up there on the mountain. One visit from a varmint like that would send me scurrying for the foothills. We have no venomous snakes on the Western side of Washington. Maybe the odd recluse spider. I'm happy about that. Hope things become a little less eventful for you!

  9. That is really tragic to think that he's been around so long and has his life end like that but on the other hand I don't know how I would react in the same situation.
    Scared out of my wits and probably not brave enough to wrangle one!
    Why do they come around the house? Are they in search of food or water?
    Happy 4th of July to you and your family Connie.

  10. Wow...he was a big one! They are common around here too, and you do have to keep a watchful eye!!

  11. aaaarrrggghhh you are braver than I am Farmlady i could not live in their environment, I am terrified!

  12. Love blackberries. Love the Mary Oliver poem. Snakey, not so much. But I know he's valuable in the grand scheme of things there on the mountain. Enjoy your pie and I'm off to see what the heck Clafouti is!


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