One of the main reasons I enjoy living on the farm is for its simple serenity, but on one eerie evening last week Whisper Run Farm was anything but simple and serene. If you have ever played the murder-mystery game “Clue” then by the end of this story you may guess, “It was Mr. Billington on the patio with the hockey stick.”
I am not sure if I enjoy the early mornings or the early evenings the most. Dawn is breathtaking as the farm begins to awaken and the sun stretches up from the woods while I look out of my bedroom door toward the barn. And at dusk, I like to watch for deer crossing from the back of our woods across the pastures and disappear into the woods across the road.
Jason was watching television as usual and sometimes I will join him just to be with him, but many times I find myself wandering outside just to listen to the birds sing their various songs and to watch all of the farm life.
While different shapes and colors of clouds moved swiftly over the land, I walked out toward the end of our long driveway. I looked at the painted sky with awe and wonder as I thought of God’s greatness and how small I was underneath the scattering fluffy mist of water vapor.
I closed my eyes as I listened to the different birds singing and I tried to decipher how many songs came from each bird and how many birds were around me. The wind was like a strong breeze on the shore of a beach and distracted me from hearing them clearly.
When I focused my eyes on the ground, I noticed several worm holes and, since I was a born and bred Kentuckian, I was barefooted and I stayed off the grass to look for croaking frogs from the driveway. I didn’t see them, but I could hear them.
Oh how I love farm life! Everything about it soothes my soul!
Just then, I spotted a deer across the road at the edge of the woods wanting to cross over to my side. She spotted me too and, for the first time in my life, I heard a deer scream.
It was as if she were cautioning other members of her family that it wasn’t safe to come out. Her warning wasn’t shrill or sharp. It was more like a ‘whispered’ scream. I think I scream like that too. Not much scares me so I don’t have the loud Hollywood, blood-curdling scream. If I ever have a fright, I think my scream is more breathless and that is what this deer’s scream sounded like.
Another deer emerged from the wooded area from the far side and she screamed her breathless warning too. I knew the family of deer wanted to cross, so I thought if I got down on my belly that they might come out and I could quietly observe their passing. I was lying flat at the end of my driveway and I didn’t care if a car passed and wondered what I was doing. This was my moment of serenity … my happy place.
All of a sudden, my trance was disturbed with the grunting cries of my husband and echoing smashes!
I heard my husband’s voice sounding almost angry along with the sound of him beating something. It didn’t sound like he was beating one of the Grey’s rugs. No, it was more of a hard thwack and it sounded like it was taking all of his strength as he yelled several short grunts completing his task.
I had been outside for quite a while and I didn’t tell him where I was going. Maybe he was angry and had had enough of my wanderings about and now he was going ‘postal’. What in the world was he doing and, have I married a mad-man?
I yelled out, “Baby? What’s wrong?” The beating had stopped but he did not answer me. Maybe he didn’t hear me. I quickly walked closer to the house over by the garage door where I had heard his battle cries and he was not there.
When I got closer to the door I saw a pool of blood … and a very dead snake.
My relief was that my husband was not going postal and he was not angry, but the rapid thoughts busying my mind were, “Was it in the house? Was in in the garage? Are the greys hurt?” I knew Jason was probably looking for me now that the bloody massacre was over, so I went back around front and I also wanted to get my camera.
I met him in the kitchen and saw him getting his camera too. In his mind, he planned to take a picture and ask his friend who is knowledgeable about wildlife if this was a poisonous snake. Jason wasn’t sure if it was or not and he didn’t want to take the chance so he did what he thought he had to do. In my mind, I was thinking, “This is going to be a pretty cool story!”
We both headed back to the homicidal scene and took photos as Jason told me what had happened. He was heading out the door to walk the greys when he saw the dark, four-foot jumbo serpent with gem-like markings and he grabbed his hockey stick and began beating the snake’s head off. We are both animal lovers and don’t like to kill anything, but in a moment’s notice and not knowing what kind of snake it was, all that was on Jason’s mind was keeping his family safe.
I happen to like snakes and I think they are beautiful, but I sure don’t want one sleeping with me or hurting the animals. As we observed the lifeless beheaded body, the strange phenomenon occurred when the chopped off head opened its mouth!
Jason and I marveled at the sight and he took the end of his hockey stick to check for fangs. I thought all snakes had fangs, but apparently they don’t. This was a large, but common chicken -snake also known as a rat snake. It was non-venomous and I like the fact that they eat rodents – we would have kept him around had we known.
Even though we are both animal lovers, neither of us were overly sensitive about it and it was fascinating to watch the body slither as though it were still alive. We later had one or two comments on Facebook under the picture I posted from a few who seemed offended that it was killed. Maybe they were professional snake handlers and they knew the difference between a venomous and non-venomous snake, but we were not and, Jason was not willing to take that chance when he thought his family could be harmed.
Jason went to get a bag to dispose of our friendly visitor, but I wanted to hold it. I am curious when it comes to nature and I love to observe it, touch it and experience it. When I picked up the hefty slithering body, I felt the power of its muscles through its skin as it writhed.
The tail curled around my wrist and I felt sorry for it. I wished it wasn’t still moving and hoped that it couldn’t feel anything (if I was decapitated I know that I wouldn’t feel anything). It was quite a sight to behold and, though I wish it didn’t happen, it was still intriguing and I wasn’t going to boo-hoo over it or give my husband a hard time. He felt bad enough as it was and we were both grown up enough to know things happen for a reason and you learn from it and move on.
This little incident prompted us to research snakes and find out what kind it was and learn how to spot a venomous snake and to learn what snakes are not harmful. It was good to know.
Jason told me that he had seen snakes on the farm plenty of times when he walks the dogs. While we were just dating, he even bought a pair of extravagant “snake boots” - boots that were tall and thick where a snake could not bite through them. I wondered (since he was not a hunter) when he would actually wear them, but guessed maybe he would wear them when walking the dogs out on the farm during snake season.
When Jason first went in the house to find me, he had quickly put on his snake boots. At that time he wasn’t sure if it were poisonous and if it would be able to still sink its fangs into him when he went back out, so my husband finally got to wear his snake boots and I think he liked that.
I don’t have snake boots, but now that I have seen a snake, I think I will mostly walk the dogs in the short grass of our yard where I can see if there is a snake. I have no idea what I would do in a moment of panic to see a snake. I am sure I would not be level-headed enough to say, “Let’s see… is that snake poisonous? What shape are the eyes and head and tail?” No… I would want to run and if I had the greys with me, I would fear what they would do too. If it is not in an aquarium and it comes as a surprise, I don’t want to meet up with a snake even if it is non-venomous.
The beautiful clouds brought a furious storm later that night. As I tried to upload my picture and the video of the moving beheaded snake, I watched lightning flashing from every window in the house and thought I better shut down my computer and it could wait until morning.
After all the excitement, it was a little unnerving to hear the hard rain pelting at the doors of the house and listening to the rolling thunder and forceful wind. I could be wrong, but I would think out on a farm in the flat plain where we have so much strong wind, that the thunder would be louder than living in the city.
It was a great storm and if it weren’t late I would have wanted to watch it, but I went on to bed and for the first time since I moved to the farm, I couldn’t sleep.
My peaceful serene world was very different that night. Deer had screamed at me, a large snake was two feet from our house (and I had heard the sound of my husband killing it) and then an ominous storm was hovering over the farm in a continual all-night fury. I wasn’t fearful at all, but I was very aware of how big God is.
And, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A little excitement gives us a different perspective of something, which I think… makes life interesting.