You Miserable Vomitous Mass

If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with my dog, Katie. She’s a sweet, cuddly, smart, and stubborn Rottweiler. I love this dog to pieces, but she has some annoying quirks.

Katie Up

Katie has an eating disorder. She eats everything–fabric, sticks, plastic bottles, rotten food and compost–and it makes her sick.

I threw a bag of trash out the back door into the sunroom for my husband to take out. Katie and I later discovered it had leaked ick all over the floor. She decided to help clean it up with her tongue.

My philosophy is not to clean anything major until something disastrous happens. And it always does. For example, if I mop the bathroom floor and then the toilet overflows, I’m mad. But if it overflows on a dirty floor, it’s not such a big deal. I needed to clean it anyway. (Our old house had plumbing issues. The bathroom floor got cleaned a lot this way.)

This method has worked well for me. Living with boys, a husband, and a dog ensures disaster on a regular basis.

As I said, Katie decided to help me clean by licking the icky, sticky stuff off of the floor. I figured She’s a dog. She knows what she can eat. Animals always do. It’s instinct. Apparently, she’s missing the genes that impart that particular insight.

I shooed her away and finished cleaning the sunroom. Soon I heard, “Mom! Katie spilled her peanut butter on the carpet!”

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of entertainment for your dog!

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of yummy entertainment!

ASIDE:

Some people buy their dogs a Kong. You know, the dog toy that you put peanut butter inside to keep them entertained while they try to lick it out. I invented the poor-man’s Kong, or the redneck Kong. It’s an empty jar of peanut butter. There’s always peanut-buttery residue left in the jar, and Katie’s tongue is almost long enough to reach the bottom of the large one. This keeps her occupied when we leave the house for a bit.

BACK TO THE STORY…

“Peanut butter doesn’t spill, honey,” I replied, walking around the corner.

First the smell hit me. Then I saw the pool of dog barf on the carpet.

Have you ever watched the Princess Bride? Where Wesley calls Prince Humperdink a miserable, vomitous mass?

Worst. Insult. Ever.

"You miserable, vomitous mass."

“You miserable, vomitous mass.”

(My favorite movie of all time! Long clip, and it doesn’t start for 12 seconds. Tried to start it at 1:50…”You miserable, vomitous mass.” But I’m technology challenged.)

Not until that very moment when I rounded the corner did I feel the full weight of that insult. My nostrils were in pain. I stood there staring, unsure what exactly to do about it.

My next thought was Thank God my husband’s not home. He has the most sensitive gag reflex in the history of mankind. My 8-year-old was doing a nice job of imitating him as both boys ran out the front door. (Note to self: stink up the house to get the boys to play outside.)

That doozy of a puddle almost made me imitate Mr. Rains, too. And I’m like Wonder Woman with the stinky stuff.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena's shield.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena’s shield.

My first step was to get the dog outside before she erupted again. Katie thought she was in trouble and hunkered down on the floor with her droopy-eared, sad-eyed, I’m sorry look. And she wouldn’t budge. So I carried her. A 50 pound puppy. I’m surprised I didn’t Heimlich more out of her.

Now, she’s playing outside with the kids in the fresh air like she didn’t just expel a demon through her throat. And I’m in here on my hands and knees over this toxic puddle.

I squeegeed it out of the carpet with a dust pan, sopped it up with an old towel (which promptly got thrown in the trash), and used a special enzyme cleaner for pet messes.

Still stinky. Putrid.

Next, I mixed alcohol, vinegar, and Febreze. I inhaled the fumes of the mixture to make sure it would be potent enough. It burned my nasal membranes. Perfect. Poured it on. Sucked it up with my carpet cleaner after soaking a while.

Still stinky.

Next, I shampooed the entire room for the fun of it. (This validates my cleaning philosophy. We moved in February and I hadn’t shampooed the carpet yet. Silver lining!)

Still stinky!

So, I took the spray head off of the Febreze, imitated Katie’s puking sound, and dumped it in the biohazard zone. After a short soak, I sucked it up with the carpet shampooer.

SUCCESS!!! Febreze is made of magic.

...and horrid dog-barf puddles!

…and horrid dog-barf puddles on carpet!

But that dog is not to be trusted.

She later hoarked down a 1/2-inch-thick disk of solidified milk that my youngest had left in the truck for a week. She got to it as I was trying to dump the cup’s nasty contents into a drainage whistle where she couldn’t reach it. But she was too fast. Motivated by putrescence.

"Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence!"

“Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence! Her name is Katie!”

Her crate and the porch had to be hosed down and bleached the next day.

She does this so often that she’s not allowed to sleep anywhere near carpet. But the porch and linoleum get disinfected regularly.

If I am to look on the bright side of this,  I could say, “Thank you, Katie the Queen of Putrescence, for motivating me to keep the house clean.”  But I wouldn’t mean it… At. All.

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.

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.

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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.