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.

Hold My Snake and Pullet

One of our projects on the road to self sufficiency was a chicken house. Fresh eggs and fresh chicken without all of the ick in commercially-raised eggs and poultry sounded awesome. We turned an old shed into a freakin’ sturdy chicken fortress. We could almost use it as a guesthouse for extra company. … Hmmm.

After pouring concrete, adding plywood and siding, we were ready to shop for chicks. Pullets, to be exact. Little girly chickens.

20130730-143800.jpg

Working concrete is HARD! It’s so uneven, the girls get dizzy running across the room.

A trip to the local farm store later, we had 20 feathery little crap factories. They stayed in a big wooden box under a heat lamp. In my sunroom. Off the kitchen. I never knew such cute little things could be so disgusting. They pooped in their food, water, and on each other.

Cute and smelly

Cute and smelly

And they were terrified of us. It makes sense. They were infants in their most formative time being chased around store cages by grabby little-kid hands. Big featherless monsters daily squeezed them half to death with love.

The temperature warmed up outside and the girls were old enough to forgo the heat lamp, so they moved to their castle. Okay, they could have stayed inside for a while longer, but they were stinking up my house!

My husband was out of town for work. (Attention creepy stalker types:  I’m well armed with a dog who strongly dislikes strangers. The vet cringes when we show up.) I carried the chicks in a plastic container to the coop.

“Here ya go, girls! Your new home. What do you think?”

“Cheep, cheep.”

“I know, right?! It’s awesome.” I was pretty excited for them.

A chick's home is her castle

Queen Buffy and the Rhode Island Reds. Sounds like a band.

As I left them to explore and fight over who gets what bedroom, I looked at the gap in the peak of the roof. I had told my husband we should cover it before he left. A snake could slither down from the shade tree overhead. He didn’t think snakes were that smart. I’ve seen enough nature shows to know better.

The next morning, I opened the coop door and walked in. “Good morning, my chicky babies! … NOOOOOOO!” One of my girls was lying on the floor, unmoving. I looked around and found five more. My heart was breaking; I nearly burst into tears.

I gathered them up for a proper burial and hung them in a Lowe’s bag in the shade tree. Then I searched for the culprit. Nothing. There was no trace of the perpetrator. There was no crack big enough for the fox family, or any other critter, to have entered through. (Oh, yes. We built a KFC near a fox den. But our neighbor’s chickens were feeding them well. I figured ours were safe.)

I called the game warden and she came out. After examining everything just like I did, she too was stumped. The odd thing was that there were no teeth marks on the bodies, and two chickens had slobbered-up heads. We figured mammalian. We figured wrong.

A couple of hours later, I came to check on the survivors. Everyone looked content. Then I saw movement in one of the high nesting boxes. That’s when I saw the jerk who killed my babies. A very big rat snake.

I sprinted to the house to get my gun. Praying. “Don’t let it get ‘em. Please, God, don’t let it get ‘em!”

Normally, I favor relocation of pests. I moved an entire scorpion colony, for goodness sake. But I knew I couldn’t wrestle that 6-foot son of a b1t@h by myself.

Gun pulled from the safe, I sprinted back, hopped up on adrenaline and the need to save my defenseless chicks. I stopped outside the door. Cocked the gun. Jerked open the door.

Amazingly, he was still a few inches from the floor. (I must be faster than I thought!) He was slithering down in stealth mode to sneak up on my girls. Bastard.

I stepped inside. The girls ran to the corner after I barged in.

BANG!

Direct hit, a few inches from his head. That didn’t stop him from moving. He swung his head from side to side, mouth open, silently screaming at me for ruining his meal. And his day.

He had snaked his was through the chicken wire part of the door to ease himself to the floor. (See what I did there? Snaked his way to….never mind.) The bullet hole swelled his wound enough that he was stuck.

STUCK!

STUCK!

My boys ran outside. “Mom! What did you shoot?!”

“Huh?”

TV programs show people shooting indoors, but they do a serious disservice by not showing the inhabitants of the room going deaf. I instantly lost half of my hearing. Except for the ringing. It was like wearing earplugs and plunging my ringing head underwater.

I pointed to the snake. “Stay here,” I probably yelled at them. “Don’t go in. I have to get my earplugs and finish the job.”

I’m not a long-distance runner, definitely more of a sprinter. If ever chased by zombies, I’d have to sprint from cover to cover to stay alive. A former-marathon-running walker would get me in a quarter mile. Or less.

Ears plugged, I ran back. “Cover your ears, boys!”

I stepped in the coop and delivered a head shot. My baby girls were saved! Now to remove the body.

It's still moving!

It’s still moving!

I grabbed the creep by the tail, its muscles still moving under my hand. I pulled. He really was stuck. I pulled harder, ripping scales. My dad later told me the old saying that you don’t handle a dead snake until the sun goes down. That’s because their reflexes remain for about 12 hours. They can still bite when they’re dead. Creeps.

I threw the snake into the yard for the buzzards and called the game warden. Here’s the theory: The snake entered through the ceiling and hid in the nesting shelf until I found it. He was probably inches from our heads when we investigated. *shudder*

But its behavior doesn’t make sense. We still can’t figure out why the snake would kill six without eating them. Snakes normally just catch one and eat it, right? Then get another if it’s still hungry? I’ve been told snakes this size can eat a full-grown chicken. Everyone I ask is baffled.

The boys and I had a nice little ceremony in our new pet cemetery.

Here lie the bodies of our six chicks. That evil snake has crossed the river Styx.

Here lie the bodies of our six chicks. That evil snake has crossed the river Styx.

And I fixed the roof.

Me on a hot tin roof

Me on a hot tin roof

But don’t get me started on the copperhead stories. Those will come later.

Zombies and Red Hill

Why did I move from the relative safety of a small town to the slithering-est patch of land we could find? Zombies. That’s right. Zombies.

We all know it’s going to happen sooner or later. Right? … Anybody?

Worrie? They'll be safe for sure.

Worrie? They’ll be safe for sure.

While I’m not one of those doomsday preppers, I would like to be ready for anything. Self-sufficiency is the goal.

When the end of normal, rational civilization ends, I plan to be ready. It could be a governmental smack-down for whatever reason (I’m not political, so whatever), a foreign invasion, or good ol’ flesh-eating, walking corpses.

Attention neighbors (yes, we have relatively close neighbors in the country): I will shoot you in the noggin if you try to eat us. I’m a darn good shot with a hand-gun and rifle. The compound bow is waiting in the garage for me to be Katniss. I’ve got a crossbow like Chewbacca or Daryl Dixon (with his overly-styled hair for a redneck). And my son has an awesome sling-shot. We WILL be creative with projectiles. WE are NOT on the menu!

ImageImageImage

As for feeding my family, I have a hen-house full of egg-laying sweetie pies. I would hate to have to eat any of my girls. But sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I can just imagine my conversation with a non-producing chicken. “Come on, Buffy. Try a little harder…PUSH! … Or I’ll be forced to cook you.” (She’s a Buff Worthington and very brave. So I named her after Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Image

My garden is full of very tall things. Some of them are even producing vegetables. (How did people eat every day before grocery stores?!)

We planted 5 fruit trees. One is still alive and another is alive-ish.

We live close to a creek and river full of catfish and gar. (If we catch another gar, I’m going to COOK IT! If it’s nasty, I’ll blog about it. I’m sure the story will be ridiculous, so it’ll be here anyhow.)

My first catch of the season. And it was delicious!

My first catch of the season. And it was delicious!

Once we get the pipe fence built, we’ll have a few head of cattle. (Wait a minute. If there are only four of us, what are we going to do with an entire cow and no freezer? Okay. Bad idea. We’ll just have the cattle for non-apocalyptical meals.)

And if all else fails, I’ll eat the friggin’ copperhead snakes that keep hiding in my chicken house!

My latest trespasser.

My latest trespasser.

I know I’m not the only one to fantasize about what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. For instance, I know Jamie McGuire does the same thing. She even wrote a book about it. Her zombie book, Red Hill, is scheduled to be released in October. The cover reveal is today! I totally recommend it. (Yeah, I scored an advanced copy! YEEHAW!)

Seriously, when this book comes out, y’all better go get it. During the Walking Dead’s vacation, I NEEDED my zombie fix! I was engrossed in Red Hill, stumbling around like the undead with my nose in the book. (“Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Uuuuurrrrhhhhhmmmmmm.” <— That’s my distracted, sounds-like-a-zombie reply.)

My Kindle got steamed while I cooked, toted in my purse wherever I went, and sunburned while I was outside. The story’s totally realistic…you know, besides the zombie part. The main character did a lot of things that I would do. Of course, I would be a total bad ass tough momma like Scarlet in Red Hill.

In conclusion, I may be a little paranoid, but who’s gonna survive longer? Hmm? Blame it on my overactive imagination. That’s why I’m a writer, after all. I recommend that you be ready for anything, too, and READ RED HILL!

Settings and Scorpions

I grew up on a 5-acre plot on the edge of town. Behind were wheat fields, in front was town. I had the best of both worlds. Vegetable garden, horses, rabbits, the occasional bottle-fed calf and soon-to-be-supper steer. (Stanley burgers were the best! Yes, I’m a carnivore!)

After getting married, we lived inside city limits in a nearby town. Blech. I wanted out. I wanted our kids out. We finally found the perfect place outside our very small hometown. Like 50 kids in my graduating class small…one stoplight small…one good place for dinner small–and it’s only open 3 days a week! And it’s barbecue. (Best BBQ anywhere!) Behind our property is the Corps of Engineers wildlife refuge. A hike through a forest of poison everything (ivy, oak, sumac) leads to a wide creek then the river.

 Boys Forest
Little did I know, we had moved into the wild kingdom. Our first discovery was a scorpion colony. My eight-year-old found it when moving some bricks.

Striped Bark Scorpion - Centruroides vittatus

Striped Bark Scorpion – Centruroides vittatus

Who did he yell for? Mom. That’s right. Mom to the rescue, work gloves and long tweezers in hand. While Dad and the boys watched, I picked up each brick, plucked a scorpion from it, and put it in the jar. There were 10! Right outside my back door!

We relocated them far from the house on corps land. In a nice, shady, rocky place. We dumped them and ran!

Live long and prosper, creeps.

Then I found a dead scorpion in the laundry room. I hoped and prayed that it came in on the bottom of my boot. For weeks, I opened that door like I was special ops surveying the room for hostiles. That must have scared any others away. Never saw one again.