I wrote this last October, then didn’t get it posted. While it is outdated, something reared its ugly head today and prompted me to post it.

Now that fall is here, the evenings are getting cool, the lawn is covered with yellow leaves and the occasional cornhusk. The calves in the back lot are bawling for their mamas. The sump pump is running several times an hour, now that the irrigation has stopped and the groundwater is rising again. And most alarming, little critters are looking for a warm place to winter.

In the past week we caught a mouse on the sticky trap, on the kitchen counter, behind the coffee pot. Yuck. I guess that was a good place to put the trap, I certainly noticed it right away. Then there was the mouse that died in our closet. I found him under the spare crib which needed to be drug out and installed anyway. You know, I sprayed some 409 in there, scrubbed it into the carpet then covered the whole episode with Febreeze, and that stuff is wonderful. Anything that will cover up “eau de souris au mort” is my friend. (I took Spanish if that doesn’t look grammatical to you French speakers) I would much rather have dead mice where you can find them than under the kitchen counters where they are unreachable, and where they just stink until they decompose completely.

Then this weekend, the ladies came out of the toy room/guest bedroom and announced that there was a real snake by the drum. As a stalling tactic, I asked what color it was, and I learned it was red and black and yellow. A garter snake? Eeew. I am not a snake person. I told my dad to get rid of it, but Nanny stepped up and went in after it, alone, without any weapons like a garbage can or gloves or anything! She came out with it curled up in her hands to show the ladies and tell them all about snakes. Good for her, they won’t be learning that from me.

A week before Mae was born, in December 2002, I was up late, and saw a garter snake heading down the hall to the toy room. My husband didn’t get out of bed in time to capture it, and I cleaned the room out thoroughly and never found it. Several months later, I spied it in our coat room, all the way across the house from the toy room. That time I made my husband get rid of it. It was too close to our room for him to ignore my yelling. We thought that he got in through the trap door to our crawl space, but it was closed this time. Must have been the garage door.

Fast forward to March 2. This afternoon, Mae rushed out with a news bulletin about a snake under Leo’s jammies on the floor in his room (don’t ask why we store jammies on the floor). What color is it? Black and white (a garter snake again). I girded my loins by putting on GD’s cowboy boots, and grabbing the horse’s grain bucket. I entered the room and closed the door behind myself. I took the height chart off the wall (a cute four foot 1X6 board with foam decals on it) for a weapon, and went on the prowl. I poked the jammies, then moved to the closet. I emptied it piece by piece and came up empty handed. I moved Paul’s crib, and the culprit lay up against the baseboard, looking at me (rearing its ugly head). I put the bucket down against the wall and poked at the snake, who ssslid right by the bucket. I then had Mae bring me the phone so I could call our neighbor to see if they had anyone brave at their house. They both came over and he smooshed it with the cute measuring board, put it in the bucket and dumped it in the corral. We spoke and I determined that while he is not fond of snakes and will jump when he sees one, he doesn’t scream. Oddly enough, the snake didn’t leave any trace on the cute measuring board, which is back on the wall. I am pragmatic if nothing else.

I can deal with a snake if I have to, but I grew up in rattlesnake country, so I take snake reports seriously, even though it has been 20 years since I have seen a rattlesnake in the wild. Mom had a special “snake scream” we would hear from time to time. Because we had bullsnakes too,(which don’t look much like rattlesnakes, [although more than garter snakes do,] unless you have your back turned and are traveling at high speeds) we always had to ask, “what kind and where is it?”

Summer snake, photo by Mae

Where was GD? you ask. That is another story, tune in tomorrow!