Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Screamin' like a girl turbine powered yellow airplanes

Busy, busy, busy, busy. Calving. Vet Service officer stuff. Writing for pay.

I stepped on a bullsnake Sunday.

As you might imagine, it gave me quite a start.

I’d just finished checking cows and tagging new baby calves and had returned to the home place. I drove through the gate and hopped out to close it behind me. I was busy thinking about feeding a hungry bottle calf and treating a cow with mastitis so I was a little bit distracted. As I strode toward the gate I stepped right on the snake.
After shouting "get off, get OFF!" the snake scurried for shelter.
If you’ve ever stepped on a snake you know the feeling. You know instantly what it is you’re standing on. Nothing else writhes like a snake. The immediate question is whether it’s a rattlesnake or not.

A rattlesnake will almost always rattle when trod upon. Not always, but almost always. And in general, a prairie rattlesnake will try to flee before striking in defense. In general, that is.

So in that instant that I realized I had stepped on a snake but hadn’t yet heard a rattle of felt a strike, my brain concluded that I was probably in no danger. The mind can work awfully fast in such situations.

But quickness of mind doesn't trump instinctive and learned reflexes. While my mind was saying “relax, you’re okay,” my body was saying (and doing) “jump away!”

As I leapt away (it’s amazing how far a fat old guy can jump). I also screamed like a girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. Or girls. Or screaming like a girl when you step on a snake.

Nona the wonder dog heard the commotion and came to investigate. As soon as she saw the snake her behavior changed. She focused on the snake and became very cautious. She moved in for a closer look, and danced back with every movement the snake made. Clearly she has some instinctive behaviors when it comes to snake encounters too.
Nona cautiously investigates the snake.
She didn’t scream like a girl, of course. She’s a dog.

I pulled out my phone and took some pictures. I also snapped a video. Let me apologize for my sing-songy, wheedling, baby-talk-rainbow-guy narration. I kinda-sorta talk that way around the cows, and they don't seem to mind, but, sheesh! Shoulda kept my cake 'ole shut. SMH.

While I was snapping away I admired the snake. It was a fairly young snake and had probably recently shed its skin as the coloration and patterns were vibrant and bright. A very attractive snake from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

Also a very useful snake. Completely non venomous, so not a danger to people and livestock. And evolved to eat small rodents, which we have more than enough of.

After admiring the snake Nona and I got on with our business. The snake got on with his business.

Part of my business was checking cows on the north unit. I came across this mule deer doe lurking in the tree line. She may have been looking to have a baby, hard to tell, and I didn't want to pester her, so I filmed and fled. And kept my trap shut.

I also slipped over to KIBM and filmed a bit of aerial application ground support action. The PT-6 powered aircraft is, I believe, an Air Tractor, the other may be a Thrush. I spoke briefly with the ground crew but they were all busy so not a lot of details. The Air tractor pilot is a former Vietnam Snake driver, the other guy is a former Digger pilot named, believe it or not, Bruce.


  1. Bruce as in "G'day Bruce and welcome to the University of Wollamaloo"?

    Love those crop-dusters!

  2. Cool name for an airplane. Written big on the wing, too.