Dino Digs and Tall Grass

Our youngest loves dinosaurs. For his birthday party in the spring, he had a dino excavation party. We gathered horse and cow bones from a friend’s pasture to replicate the dinosaurs. (Ssshh. The party guests had no idea I faked it!) I placed them in the field to look like the dinosaurs had died naturally or as a result of a battle with another dinosaur.

Let's find some dinosaur bones!

Let’s find some dinosaur bones!

They began in the treehouse with toy binoculars to look for dig sites.

Dig site, ho!

Dig site, ho!

Then they boarded the hay ride for the tour. As tour guide, I described the excavation sites and how the dinosaurs likely died. I loved the look of awe on their faces.

This is the stillest my boys have ever been.

This is the stillest my boys have ever been.

The finale was digging in sand buckets for toy dinosaur skeletons.

Dig for your party favors! Mwahahaha!

Dig for your party favors! Mwahahaha!

Some guests were unable to make it to the party, so I promised them a private tour. We were only able to give one before the pasture got overgrown. (Those goats are NOT earning their keep!) So we had to mow it. Bye bye, dino dig!

My father-in-law mowed around the dinosaur bones the first time. We got lots of cute little hay bales from it. The pasture got really overgrown again, so my dad decided to mow. This time I had to pick up the dinosaur bones.

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The grass was really tall!

I use my hayride setup for these things. It’s an old lawnmower without the mowing deck hooked up to a trailer.

After airing up the tire with a portable air compressor, I drove  through the jungle to gather the bones.

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Katie came to help.

While driving through the tall grass, a snake slithered out of the way. I only saw its dust-colored tail and couldn’t identify it, I stopped and tried to look for it. (It was probably a copperhead.) I didn’t look too hard. The grass was really tall, and copperheads are good at hiding. So I moseyed on.

When I was leaving the pasture, I turned too sharply and lost the trailer. It was too heavy to lift and put back on the ball hitch, so I improvised.

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Redneck lever and fulcrum. Y’all thought I was kidding when I admitted to doing this in my last post.

I unloaded the bones and branches into the burn pile just as Dad arrived with the tractor.

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Farewell, dinos. We shall cremate you soon.

The pasture is being mowed as I type. It’ll look so much better, but I’ll miss the dig sites.

The dino party was a lot of fun. I love to see awe and wonder on children’s faces. That alone made all of the work worth it. But how am I going to top that next year?

Making Memories and Sexing Chickens

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My oldest son wrote about us in class today. So stinkin’ cute!

It’s little things like this make me glad we moved out here. He loves those chickens. He loves to chase them and catch them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George…er Lacey, DeeDee, Buffy, and the rest. (We can’t tell the Rhode Island Reds apart!)

He loves those girls!

He loves those girls!

They definitely have their own personalities. One is always the last to leave the coop in the morning. She lingers in the doorway, checking things out. Another hen won’t let me push her around. When I try to herd her in a certain direction, she does that chest-bumping move against my hand or foot.  She even pecked at me once.

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They were so little then!

Several of them think I’m a pirate and they are my parrots. If I stand still, one or two will fly up to my shoulder. They stay there while I walk around and take the occasional selfie.

I acted like I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

I pretended I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

They are fun to watch in the morning. I open the door and they dash into the yard. They fluff up their feathers and fight. If one finds a cicada, she picks it up and runs. Several chase her until she chokes it down. It’s hilarious. So I throw them in the chicken run whenever I find them.

Lacey loves corn.

Lacey loves corn.

Besides cicadas, tomatoes are their favorite breakfast. They also love the corn we left on the stalk too long, tolerate bell peppers, but don’t touch hot peppers. I snuck some in for entertainment value. No takers.

Recently, I noticed one chicken has a more-pronounced comb and wattle than the others. It hasn’t crowed but might be a rooster!

Rooster or butch hen?

Rooster or butch hen?

Are there any chicken farmers out there that can tell? Should I perform a crazy, chicken-sexing, voodoo experiment to find out? Supposedly, if I attach a needle to the end of a string and hold it over the bird, the direction of the circle should tell the sex. If it goes clockwise it’s male; counterclockwise for female. Or is that only with chicks?

I can just imagine trying this. I’ll have to catch it first!

They routinely make me look foolish. Last week, I tried to herd them into their house before it got dark, and they didn’t want to go. They dodged me, ran around me, mocked me with their little chicken laughs. So I lost my temper and chased them. Cussing. I realized how ridiculous it must have looked, but no one was around. Half of them got chased in, the other half had to be caught individually and tossed in the door. By the last one, I was feeling pretty smug. I probably looked like Rocky when he caught his chicken.

I hope you seriously didn’t watch that whole video. It’s the most obnoxious one I could find!

Check out my post on September 16th about my upcoming children’s book.

Wild Pigs and Car Trades

“Redneck is a derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the southern United States. … [S]ome Southern whites have reclaimed the word, using it with pride and defiance as a self-identifier.” –Wikipedia

‘Cuz we ain’t all technically farmers, ya know. And farmers around here sometimes have a degree in agriculture. And a crazy streak.

'Nuf said.

‘Nuf said.

My neck is not red (long hair), but I am rockin’ a farmer’s tan. My husband still requests a short version of the mullet.

“Just leave it long in the back so my neck doesn’t get sunburned,” he says.

But I’m in charge of the clippers, and mullets are banned. At the rodeo, I noticed a teenager with a mullet like my husband used to have when he was a teenager. (That’s when I fell in love with him. What was I thinking?) Our son laughed. Hard. My hubby said he missed that haircut. He’s so lucky to have me. I won’t let him wear a certain plaid, button-down, sleeveless shirt in public, either.

Okay, I've done this before. But just because the 1-ton jack was too hard to roll through the field.

Okay, I’ve done this before. But just because it was too hard to roll the 1-ton jack through the field.

He has some redneck qualities that aren’t going anywhere. And I kinda like ‘em. For instance, trading guns for vehicles. Seriously. We’ve done this twice. It makes me laugh, because it confirms the stereotypes Okies have earned. Like when we took our gun-permit class at a Baptist church.

Stereotypes: they come from reality.

Stereotypes are based upon reality.

Years ago, the hubs bought a 50 caliber Desert Eagle. Then he decided a hand-held cannon was no fun to shoot and traded it to another redneck down the street for a truck.

Recently, our boys complained that the back seat in my fun little sports car was too cramped. Apparently, not enough leg room is a good reason to sell my cute car. Their priorities are messed up.

But in sparkly dark green. Sniff... I'll miss taking corners at high speeds in you.

My Rexy (RX8) was sparkly dark green. Sniff… I’ll miss taking corners at high speeds in you. And your suicide doors.

The hubs texted a neighbor that we’d sell it for X amount. Said neighbor countered for less. Hubs’ reply: “Do you have any semi-automatic rifles to trade?” Yes, he did.

So, we traded my car for cash and an assault rifle. (It has a friggin’ bayonet!) And bought a sensible family car. (Sad face.)

Our new car has much more kid room, a big trunk, and gets very good gas mileage. But my inner punk fantasizes about this truck.

Drool. Fuel economy, Schmool economy!

Drool. Fuel economy, schmool economy!

Why do I need a large-caliber, fast-shooting rifle, you ask? Wild pigs. With thick hide and thicker skulls. If they’re charging and you don’t shoot them in the right spot with a large-caliber bullet, you better shoot them a whole lot and quickly.

Wild pigs are an invasive species, and they reproduce at an alarming rate. While mountain lions, coyotes, and even large birds will eat small pigs, that’s not enough to keep the population in check. That job falls to land owners.

I've heard rumors of helicopter pig hunts along the river.

I’ve heard rumors of helicopter pig hunts along the river.

According to A Pickup Load of Pigs: A Feral Swine Pandemic video series by Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, “wild hogs damage crops, farmland and pastures, spread diseases to livestock, pets and people. A male’s average weight is over 200 pounds and a female’s is 155. But they can get a lot bigger. ”

And they’re mean. But if you cook one under 70 pounds, I hear they’re tender and delicious.

Because of all the rain we’ve had this summer, the river is well beyond its banks. Wild pigs have been coming closer to our homes. Some friends a few miles north were horseback riding with their full-grown Rottweiler tagging along. They ran into two sows with twenty babies. The two women on horseback got away, but they never saw their dog again.

I’m not carrying that big gun around. It’s too heavy. Plus, I might stab myself in the foot with the bayonet. If I ever see any pigs, they will have to wait until I run into the house and unlock the gun.

Here, piggy, piggy. Mama wants a luau.

Wait here, piggy, while I get my gun. Mama wants a luau.

I’d probably have to go looking for pigs, though. They are active at dusk, dawn and at night. Maybe I’ll track down a sounder of pigs, sit in the deer stand at sunset, and score a luau pig or two. We have a deep freeze that would fit a few grown men.

My husband’s grandfather used to hunt wild boar with only dogs and a knife when he was stationed in Hawaii in the military. The Hawaiians taught him how to cook a pig luau style. After a hunt, he’d invite the whole neighborhood over to help eat the day’s game. So if we ever get one, I’ll be calling him. “Grandpa, bring your grass skirt and lets dig an imu (Hawaiian for pig-roasting pit). It’s luau time!”

Watch your inboxes for invitations.

My redneck, stud-of-a husband wants us to have every kind of gun for every kind of emergency he can think of. Zombies, burglars, dystopian regimes and looters, angry sows, snakes, etc… So what if he trades my sports car for an assault rifle. I guarantee that if times get tough, my boys and I will be in good hands.

Hide and Seek

It has been unseasonably cool, lately. I heard that we haven’t reached 100 degrees this month. That’s a very unusual August for Oklahoma. I like it! Unfortunately, so do the snakes. When the temperature is high, they come out at night when it’s cooler. In weather like this, they could be out any time.

The boys and I were leaving the house this morning after 10:00. My youngest yelled, “Snake!” just as he stepped off the porch. I ran to look. Sure enough, a black and brown snake raced from in front of him to side of the house. It slithered along the concrete foundation and behind a rose bush. Our Rottweiler, Katie, sniffed after it.

“Stay away from it!” I yelled to my youngest as I ran inside to get my gun.

My oldest followed me inside to grab his new weapon. He bought his first BB gun for his birthday.

An elderly man said as we were leaving the store, "You're going to shoot your eye out."

An elderly man said as we were leaving the store, “You’re going to shoot your eye out.” I laughed for a long time.

 

“Don’t let it in the house!” I yelled.

Gun in hand, I ran back out the wide-open front door. You’d think my boys would listen better to a mother who sometimes carries a gun and machete. But no. He left the front door open, inviting the snake to enter. It’s cool inside, creep. Come on in!

Katie was still sniffing around the same area, so I thought the snake was hiding in the iris leaves that Katie had flattened for a bed. It looked like a good place for a snake to crawl under and hide.

"Guard the snake, Katie!"

“Guard the snake, Katie!”

“Cover your ears, boys.”

BANG!

The shotgun shell peppered a 2 1/2 inch pattern in the underbrush. I dug through the leaves with a stick. Nothing. My oldest kept shooting the area with BBs, just in case.

The youngest had no idea where it was. I figured he would have been watching it for me. Nope. But I trusted Katie more than him. (She minds a lot better.) She had still been sniffing around the spot where I shot. Right above that spot is a vent. There’s an inch gap where the snake could have slithered through. Maybe it crawled under the house?

“Let’s go under the house looking for it,” my oldest said.

“Not a chance.” I’m not that brave, so I kept looking in the relative safely of the open air.

A few feet farther where the foundation met the porch, there is another hole. This one is a good 2-3 inches and barely covered up with rocks. Another way for it to get under the house. Near that is a ramp to the porch. Maybe it was hiding under there?

I jabbed a stick under the ramp to see if anything would bolt out at me. Nothing.

Maybe it IS in the house!

The boys and I searched the internet trying to identify the snake. We could tell immediately that it wasn’t a copperhead. It was black with brown spots. I didn’t stick around long enough to look at its head and eyes, so I can’t positively ID it. We’ve narrowed it down to a black ratsnake (nonvenomous) or a cottonmouth (venomous). Honestly, I think it looks like the scarier option.

Black Ratsnake

Black Ratsnake

Western Cottonmouth

Western Cottonmouth

So, where’s the snake? And is it poisonous? It’s still a mystery.

Years ago, my great grandmother stepped out her front door and was bitten by a copperhead hiding under the threshold. So, no one’s allowed outside without boots and jeans for the time being.

I just hope it doesn’t turn up in the house! The game warden will be getting a phone call. I don’t want to shoot a hole in my floor, and I’m not going to drag it out by the tail. Maybe I should get an animal trap. Hmmmm.

And I thought I was creeped out putting my toes under the couch before!

I’ll keep you posted. Prayers are appreciated.

Shadows and Shotguns

I ran into a friend in town today. She asked if I had seen any more snakes and said that she’d be terrified to run into one. I hear that a lot. And it always surprises me. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not too bright. I should have been more frightened to hunt through a straw-covered floor in a dark chicken house for a snake that could kill me. But I felt it was something I had to do. So I did it.

I told her I’ve been closing the coop before dark to avoid snakes, but if I’d had a bad day, I’d go looking for trouble. Well, today was a bad day.

After talking with my friend, I took my boys shopping. That always does it. But this time it was for school supplies and clothes. Naturally, my nostrils were flaring and smoke was rolling out of my ears halfway through.

See them smiling? Liars.

See them smiling? Liars.

Loud heavy metal on the drive home helped, but I forgot to close the chicken house when I got home. Subconsciously? Maybe.

I strapped my revolver on my hip, put in one earplug, grabbed the machete and a flashlight. Katie, my 6-month-old Rottweiler, tagged along.

During my last snake hunt, I held the flashlight between my teeth to put both hands on the gun. Slight problem. I pointed the gun where I wanted to see instead of the flashlight. Understandable habit. (Surprisingly, I’ve never before pointed a flashlight with my mouth.)

I told my husband this, and he said that he saw the perfect weapon for me. A triple-barrel shotgun with attached flashlight. “Pfff,” I said. “Why would I need something as ridiculous as that?” Then I saw it on the cover of Personal and Home Defense Magazine while shopping. With my boys. (Read already angry.)

http://www.personaldefenseworld.com/2013/04/triple-barrel-12-gauge/ I just pinned this on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/eyvie/farm-life/

I just pinned this on Pinterest.
http://pinterest.com/eyvie/farm-life/

I saw that ridiculous, over-the-top firearm and heard a choir of angels. aaa Aaa AAA! <—singing angels

That’s what I was fantasizing about while walking through the dark with a crappy flashlight. Those snakes might think twice before crossing my path with that baby shining in their beady little eyes.

My beam of light swept the foundation of the henhouse and its interior. The hens were nestled in for the night, and I closed the door without incident. A quick check around the brightest side of the coop showed no slithering, either. I didn’t venture any further.

Katie started barking at something in the shadows behind the coop. I shone my dim beam into the tree line with absolutely no effect on the darkness. So I started for the house thinking she’d follow. I turned around to see if she was behind me, but she was gone. (Cue spooky music.)

My first thought was mountain lion. The Department of Wildlife drops them off around here to keep deer and wild pig populations down. A neighbor’s grandchild came face to face with one in his back yard. About 2 miles down the road.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, giant ball of death.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, giant ball of death.

I would have investigated further had my flashlight been brighter. (That’ll be my new excuse…until I get a better flashlight.)

I whistled. Nothing. I called. Nothing. I waited, wondering if I should barge into the shadows and rescue my pup. Then I heard jingling tags and she appeared. Whew. No playing Rambo tonight.

My husband has since conceded that a regular Mossberg shotgun with a tactical rail for a light would be a more practical option. And cheaper. I can hit the lowlifes with one barrel well enough.

In conclusion, no snake shooting tonight, Lea Anne. Maybe tomorrow.

Copperheads and Showdowns

My husband found the first copperhead snake when he mowed our new property. It was huge. He freaked out a little, since it was right by his feet.  Our neighbors drove by at the right time and still laugh about him dancing around in the ditch.

He went after it with the push mower, but it got away. He now calls that mower The Snake Charmer.

Isn't it gorgeous! My hubs wants to make boots out of 'em.

Isn’t it gorgeous! My hubs wants to make boots out of ’em.

Since then, there have been more sightings. Mostly young ones.

Better be careful gathering eggs in the future!

Better be careful gathering eggs in the future!

The first one was hiding under a door removed during chicken house renovations. Mr. Rains picked it up, saw the snake, and slowly lowered it. Then he came to get me.

“Get the flat-bottom shovel,” I suggested.

He found it and gingerly moved the door. He struck with the shovel while the snake was still coiled. He hopped around and struck again. I guess he figured a moving target would be harder to hit. (Why don’t I record these things on video?)

DISCLAIMER: Normally, I don’t condone killing a wild animal that isn’t trying to kill me. But I’ve ruined my kids in the “beware of dangerous creatures” department. All wildlife is fascinating to me, and I’ve taught this to my boys. We have captured and released scorpions, spiders, snakes, lizards, turtles, and insects of every kind. I’ve accidentally eradicated a healthy fear of dangerous animals. Shame on me.

So anytime I find copperheads, black widows, or brown recluse spiders, they’re toast. (Once, we watched a tarantula hawk wasp drag an enormous spider to its burrow. We got too close several times and got chased away. It was awesome.)

They paralyze the spider with a sting and lay eggs in it. The babies hatch and eat the spider! What a way to go.

They paralyze the spider with a sting and lay eggs in it. The babies hatch and eat the spider alive! What a way to go.

We brought the boys out to show them what a copperhead looks like and said to STAY AWAY from them at all costs. They listen to us so well. (<—MAJOR sarcasm)

Mr. Rains laid the snake in the feed trough, and in the morning it was gone. Coyotes? Foxes? Wild pigs? Somebody had a dangerous meal!

Then my husband left town for work. For a long time. That’s when exciting things happen around here.

One evening around sunset, I went to put the hens away for the night. Standing two feet from the coop door, a copperhead slithered between the toes of my boots and the henhouse. I stood still, watching in fascination as it curled up behind a loose board. (We left it loose to later install an electric line.)

Crap, I thought. I have to kill it.

I sprinted to the house to arm up. I put on my holster with revolver and earplugs. (I’ll NEVER forget earplugs again after my post-snake-shooting day-and-a-half spell of near deafness.) Grabbed my impossibly-dull machete and impossibly-dim flashlight. And sprinted back.

I pulled the board away to reveal the 4-inch gap. The snake was coiled beneath a 2×4 that held the wall and the cement foundation. A couple of chickens were sleeping on top of that 2×4. They huddle up for security in the corner against the door. They’re still too young to roost.

Crime scene diagram

Crime scene diagram

I stood there for a while pondering how to kill it. Jabbing with the machete would just annoy it. Buckshot could hit a bird. And it would probably finish off their hearing after the last snake shooting. I was roused from my thoughts when I noticed the snake’s head poking out a few inches from the gap, staring. The little creep had been watching me with its beady little black eyes for some time. Crap.

I quickly aimed my gun where the buckshot would stay below the 2×4.

BANG!

When I opened my eyes, the chickens were gone. The snake’s head had been nearly severed. I drug it from its hiding place with the machete.

Creep minus head

Creep stew

My girls!

All of my birds were fine, huddled in the far corner. Well, I can’t say fine about their ears. Occasionally, I give them hearing tests. Standing very still, I make quiet chirping noises to see if they react. They always pass. Chicken ears must be very resilient.

Funeral services were held the following day.

A few days later, it happened again.

At dusk, I walked into the coop and almost stepped on a copperhead. I sprinted to the house, grabbed my weapons, and sprinted back.

Flashlight in mouth, revolver in my right hand, machete in my left. I crept slowly into the henhouse. Sweeping the dim beam of light across the hay-covered floor.

Remembering the rat snake had slithered from the ceiling, I snapped my beam of light overhead. Phew. No snake. Of course it wouldn’t be in the rafters, but I was jumpy! I flipped around backwards, realizing it could be against the wall behind me. Phew. Nothing.

I need tactical training for this crap! 

The protective gear would be a nice touch.

Freeze, creeps!

I peered under the brooder box. Nothing. In the corner, something looked long, but I decided it was just a dark piece of straw. Kept searching. I looked back to the corner. That was not straw! It had backed itself into the corner, watching me. Ready to strike.

I walked backwards, watching it, and shooed my chickens out the door to save their poor ears. (My earplugs were already in. All I could hear was my heartbeat and breathing.) One hen wouldn’t budge and stayed on my boot. I shook her off and faced the snake. Maybe 5 feet between us, we stared each other down. (Insert wild west showdown music.)

Showdown Girls

That’s totally what I was wearing.

BANG!

Hay exploded and I ran for the door. I had no idea if I had hit it or had sent it after me in retaliation. I crept back in, sweeping the flashlight beam across the hay.

DIRECT HIT!

Isn't it beautiful!

Isn’t it beautiful!

Now for removal.

Like I’ve said, these tubes of evil refuse to die after you kill them. I picked it up with my machete, trying to balance it on the blade as it continued to inch forward. *shudder*

He got deposited in a painting tray and covered with a large plastic container. In the morning, we had a funeral.

I’ve been accused of being brave, but it’s just a tough-gal act to psych out the snakes. Now I get creeped out when my toes are under the couch while closing the curtains. And the boys’ wooden snake has me doing double takes.

It gets me every time! Especially in the house.

It gets me every time!

The hubby misses all the fun.

Catfish and Dull Knives

Beautiful...and so is the sunset

Beautiful…and so is the sunset

Since we live so close to the river, we decided to go fishing. A hundred bucks later, we were licensed, equipped, and ready to go.

My pretty pink Ugly Stick

My pretty pink Ugly Stick..I mean the fishing pole!

We tried worms. No luck. We tried Shad-in-a-bag. No luck. We tried chicken livers. LUCK! Underneath the river bridge, we caught 3 catfish. Two channel and one blue. Not very big. But enough for a meal!

Record breakers!

Record breakers!

My husband and oldest son put the fish in an old bathtub in the pasture and filled it with water. My husband said keeping them in clean water for a day cleans the mud from their systems. We left them overnight, hoping that no critters found themselves a treat we spent hours catching.

There are lots of coyotes around here. At sunset, they start yipping and howling from almost every direction. Once when I was watering my watermelons at dusk, I heard one very, very close. I tried to locate it with no luck. I NEED night-vision goggles!

The fish were still there in the morning, and the water was full of dirt. Hmmm. Maybe the hubs was right.

In the afternoon, we decided it was time to prepare for a catfish fry. Eric brought a 6-foot, vinyl table to the field and placed it next to the bathtub. We had an official fish-cleaning station! Right by the road for passersby to see the show.

Every kill zone should have flowers.

Every kill zone should have flowers.

I’ve never killed a catfish before. Apparently, neither had my husband. He brought a hunting knife to do the deed. He was worried about sharp parts of the fins cutting him, so he stabbed one through the skull in the water. He plopped it on the table. It was violently flopping its tail from side to side, eyes blinking, gills gasping. I wasn’t about to start cutting into a live animal.

“IT’S NOT DEAD!” I protested.

“Yes it is. There’s a knife through its brain.”

“Push the knife back farther in case you missed.”

He humored me, then held it firmly in place with the hunting knife. Once he had convinced me it couldn’t feel anything, I began my first incision.  It kicked. And I jumped.

“It’s dead!” He laughed. “Just filet it already.”

I didn’t have a proper filet knife. I had one of those “cuts through an aluminum can” knives. It was the sharpest I had. My knives suck. Needless to say, I wasn’t making a beautiful filet.

As I held the meat in my left hand and cut with my right, I felt the muscles twitch between my fingers. I just knew the fish felt every little sinew being sawed through. I felt terrible and silently prayed, Oh God, please forgive me for torturing this fish to death!  Then I remembered the respect given to a kill by the blue natives in Avatar. And I thought, Thank you, fish, for your sacrifice to feed my family.

Amen.

Amen.

I hacked away and looked at my other half with sad eyes.

“They twitch a long time after they’re dead.” He laughed again. This whole experience was giving him the giggles.

Onto to victim #2. I looked up how to humanely kill a catfish on my phone. A website suggested making an incision in the head, inserting a wire, and scrambling its brain. They made it seem so easy. I decided that’s what I would do.

Mr. Rains grabbed a fish and slammed it on the table. I incised it, inserted the wire, and attempted to scramble. Nothing. So hubby stabbed it in the head. Oh boy, here we go again.

We finished playing serial killer and took the meat inside. The boys had no idea we were doing this and my oldest was very displeased he had missed it. But I was pretty sure if he saw that debacle, he wouldn’t eat it.

I soaked the fish in buttermilk, dredged it in a cornmeal-and-Italian-breadcrumb mixture and fried it. Then I made some tarter sauce. Boiled and buttered, home-grown new potatoes from the in-laws’ garden were the side. My family was in heaven. It was pretty friggin good.

The hubs was scheduled to leave for a work trip in the morning. He decided to squeeze in every bit of fun he could and take us fishing after dinner.

Eyvie Fishing

Always have good posture when luring animals to their death.

Unfortunately, he caught another catfish. He put it in the tub and flew away to Canada. Great. I couldn’t leave the fish in the tank. I had to do that sucker alone.

The next day, the boys and I went to Walmart for a filet knife. In the sporting goods section, I ran into a friend from church. I asked her how she kills her fish. “I just slice its head off with my filet knife. It’s really sharp.” (She’s a pretty little school teacher.) I asked a family of strangers the same question. The teenage son said, “I hit it in the head with a rock.” Neither of these sounded like solutions for me, so I bought a machete and a fancy filet knife.

Does anyone have a sharpener?

Does anyone have a sharpener?

This will be much better, I thought.

The boys were inside watching a movie. I put on a full-coverage apron, grabbed my knives, pliers, and cutting board and snuck out the back door.

My first challenge was to grab the fish. The hubs had told me to watch out for the fins. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, made a couple false starts, then snatched that fish out of the water.

I placed it on a tree stump and apologized for what I was about to do. I raised the machete, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath to steel my nerves.

WHACK!

Hmmm. Nothing.

Whack, whack, whack, whack!

Blood splattered my forearms. The head was mostly off. Just hanging on by some skin. I removed it and left it on the stump. My dog knocked it off and rolled in it.

She's not so cute when she stinks.

Katie’s not so cute when she stinks.

Ahhh. It wasn’t moving! Thank God. I couldn’t have filleted it alone if it was still trying to escape.

The filet knife was better. Not much, but some. If I had tried to cut off the poor thing’s head with it, he would have haunted me forever. Apparently, Walmart has qualms about selling sharp knives. It’s probably a lawsuit-prevention tactic.

"My family will avenge meeeeee....."

“My family will avenge meeeeee…..”

I hung the carcass in a tree to keep Katie from rolling in that, too. After putting the filets in the freezer, I gave the dog a bath.

And there sits the fish, awaiting the day that we murder more of its kind and fry them to crispy, golden deliciousness. I can’t wait.