Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Snakes! The Rest of the Story

Snakes, the rest of the story.  I have observed most people put snakes into two categories.  There is the venomous/non venomous category.  The poisonous/non poisonous category.  The good snake/bad snake category.  Grandmother Bessie and I also have two categories--dead snake/alive snake.  When it comes to snakes, Grandmother Bessie and I have a definite black and white boundary:  the snake is either alive or the snake is dead.

Grandmother Bessie grew up in the Smoky Mountains.  There are many snakes in the mountains.  There are many poisonous snakes in the mountains:  rattlers, copperheads, water moccasions, cottonmouths.  I'm sure these snakes have scientific names, but these common names were good enough for Grandmother Bessie.

Grandmother Bessie was fearless!  Except, she was afraid of snakes.  Superman had cryoptine, Achilles had his heel, Indiana Jones had snakes.  My father would often say:  Your Grandmother will take on Ole' Scratch, before she will take on a snake.  In case you are wondering who Ole' Scratch is, Ole' Scratch is the devil himself.  Yes, my Father was correct:  Grandmother would have done battle with the devil himself, before she would do battle with a snake.  Her fear of snakes knew no bounds.  She would leap tall buildings, swim a river, run a marathon, make a new exit from the building to get away from a snake.  And. . . she taught me well.

I grew up on a 500 acre dairy farm.  There were many critters on the farm:  horses, mules, chickens, dogs, cats and bovines (cows), lots and lots of bovines (cows).  A cow is a grown up bovine, a calf is a baby bovine.  There were always lots of baby calves on the farm.  An average dairy cow produces 54 pounds or six gallons of milk per day.  When a cow would give birth, she would produce more than 54 pounds of milk.  New born baby calves do not have the stomach capacity to consume this much milk.  Cows like most mothers are very protective of their new born.  My Father and Grandmother were very caring and sensitive to new born calves and Mothers and each would always receive special attention.

So. . .  There was a new baby calf and my Father was at the barn getting Mother and baby settled. Grandmother had arrived to help milk the cow.  And then it happened!  A copperhead appears bites the Mother on her milk gland and then bites the new born calf twice on the nose!  Bad, very bad.

My Father studied animal husbandry and had a head full of horse sense(common sense) about animals.  He knew if he did not act quickly both the cow and calf were in danger of loosing their life.  An urgent call was made to the vet to bring anti venom.  The vet responded quickly, administered the anti venom solution to both the cow and the calf.  It took both Mother and baby several days to recover, but both survived!

Now about Grandmother.  When Grandmother saw the snake, she threw the stainless  steel milk bucket and wrought iron milk stool straight up into the air.  She threw them so high, she hit the rafters in the barn and put dents in both the milk pail and and the milk stool.  Did I mention the milk pail was stainless steel and the milk stool were wrought iron?  Grandmother's house was about 1/8 of a mile from the barn and she set a new land speed record getting back to the house.

Now, most people would think the story ends here.  Nope.  Grandmother had another theory about snakes: they always travel in pairs.  Grandmother was very faithful about reading her Bible and she knew the Biblical story about Adam and Eve, she also knew the Biblical story about Noah and the Ark and the animals traveling two by two.  Grandmother Bessie would always say "they travel in pairs."  In spite of my Father constantly reassuring my Grandmother he had killed the snake which had bitten the cow and calf, my Grandmother would say "What about its mate?"  Once again, the wisdom of Grandmother Bessie prevailed.  While my Father was nursing the Mother and baby back to health, another copperhead snake reared its ugly head at the barn.  My Father killed the second snake and my Grandmother returned to the barn.


  1. I can just imagine that milk pail and stool flying up in the air and Grandmother breaking the speed of sound back to the house!! lol! Thanks for the story!

    1. Too funny, dead snake, alive snake, lol! I'm not a huge fan either, but all we get around these city parts is grass snakes. When I was a kid, we saw copperheads all the time, that was in a small town, but the thing was, they were out by the playground, as it backed up to a wooded area...and the boys were always lookin' for them, lol! It's a wonder we survived.
      Love your sampler ;-)

  2. What colorful stories - my grandmother is the same and cannot abide even thinking about snakes! Copperheads are also plentiful on the Western side of Virginia and I saw quite a few at the stables when the baby rabbits were coming out of the nest. The snakes always ended up as target practice - very tense time for horses and people! On the stitching front, love your sampler! The faces and the animals are so unique and endearing - even that evil snake.

  3. AAWFAA is beautiful!! I am thankful that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. That is one thing I do NOT miss about the USA!

  4. Oh how I could envision this as I was reding your story!! Not too much a fan of snakes either. I remember my mom going out of the straight line when mowing the fields just to run over a snake sunning itself!
    Your stitching is beautiful!

  5. AAWFAA is superb. Thankfully we don't get too many snakes in our garden only grass snakes which are harmless and adders which are not. I always worry about our dogs with those.

    The postman brought me a lovely surprise this morning. THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Totally unexpected and beautiful. Funnily another package arrived "Elizabethan Stitches" so I will use your gift to mark my pages of this gorgeous book.