Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “rattlesnakes”

Pecos Bill and Me

There are tall tales about Pecos Bill, a famous Texan, like my own trophy wife, Miss Sugar.  This here is a true tale about what I done, just like old Bill.  I done it at the urging of Miss Sugar.  I’d do anything for that gal.

The reason I am writing this now is that a good friend of mine called me to say he enjoyed reading Sharpshooter, which is a true story as well.  His only question was why I used any tool to kill that rattler I wrote about.  He asked that because, growing up with me and all, he is very aware of how quick I am.  So is Miss Sugar.  That got me thinking about what I done a few years back without no shovel, nor gun either.

If y’all have read some of my previous posts, you know that Miss Sugar and I live in a log cabin in Colorado.  Miss Sugar loves birds.  She feeds ’em and takes pictures of ’em.  Well, one time some birds built a nest on a light fixture above our front door.  It was pretty smart of them bird brains cuz that light is beneath our porch roof out of the rain.  Miss Sugar occasionally checked on the eggs in the nest and, after they hatched, she would hold a mirror above the nest so she could look at the baby birds per the photo above.

Well, one fine day as she checked on the bird nest, she saw something that bothered her a mite.  What she seen was a mean old snake climbing on the logs aiming toward them baby birds.  So, since I’m her hero and all, as reported in previous posts, she decided to casually mention to me that it appeared a snake was fixin to bother her favorite birds.

I caught her subtle drift.  As always, I come a runnin’.  What she had carefully described in colorful language was indeed true.  A damned snake was slithering up the house to the nest.  I did not have time to get a gun or tool.  My favorite gal was upset.  So I did what any fearless hero would do.  I grabbed that snake by the tail, swung it around and around with centrifugal force so it  could not bend back and bite me.  I knew what to do because I had read about Pecos Bill doing the same thing.

After a few swings around my head, Miss Sugar suggested that I quit showing off and let go.  Which I done.  I let go with an appropriate wrist motion, sending that snake off the porch a ways, where it landed on the ground.  I went down the porch steps to finish the job.  Miss Sugar confidently assured me that it was a bullsnake, not a rattlesnake.  They have similar patterns.  She called her brother Mike because he knows about stuff like that.  He agreed that it was surely a bullsnake.

Now there is a difference or two.  One is that bullsnakes do not have rattles.  Another is that they are not poisonous.

So I went over to the bullsnake.  Apparently, it held a grudge.  It coiled up, imitating a rattler.  It was so good at imitating that I imagined I could hear rattles.   It opened its mouth and flicked out its forked tongue in a threatening manner, revealing its fangs that Mike and Sugar knew were not poisonous.  Silly me.  I felt like a big old chicken.

If I was as brave as Pecos Bill, I’d of picked it up again, just for fun.  But since I already had saved the birds, I kilt it with that sharpshooter shovel I wrote about in my blog called Sharpshooter.

I cut the rattles off the bullsnake because everyone knows bullsnakes don’t have rattles.   This one had not gotten the memo.  At least it wasn’t poisonous.  That could have been dangerous.

What Pecos Bill did was very dangerous.  What I done was similar, but, like Mike told Sugar, was perfectly safe.   Those rattles almost fooled me.

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Sharpshooter

This is a re-blog of a story that fits the subject matter of Deadly Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch, yesterday’s post.

Shootin' the Breeze

My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s…

View original post 812 more words

The Serpent and Other Dangers

Company Name - 17685 U.S. HWY 287 Livermore, Colorado

Sugar only saw one rattlesnake this summer.  For her, that was one too many.

Now that I have your attention, allow me to share with you a true tale of adventures and misdeeds, punished and unpunished.

There are actual forks in the road and there are choices in life concerning which moral path to take.  Read on about the paths of both types which I have taken in a single day and the consequences thereof.

Today, I hauled some trash to the dump, I mean, to the sanitary landfill.  I had put some old tires and an old grill and other actual trash in a seldom-used stock trailer.  As a romantic husband, I invited Sugar to come with me to the dump, but she was not in the mood for a date such as that.  So I went by myself.

At the dump, they charge by weight and charge extra for tires.  The lady at the entrance counted six tires amidst the other stuff.  I had loaded the trailer so long ago that I did not know how many there were, for which the disposal fee is $4.00 per tire. So, the truck and trailer were weighed on a scale going in, I was given a tag, and then the truck and trailer were weighed again going out.  Maybe they are worried that I might be sneaking some trash out.  But, get a load of this — when I unloaded, I counted ten tires, so I told the lady at the exit gate and paid another $16.  What a good boy am I!  Well, not always.

On the way to and fro, I took back roads because the license plate on the trailer expired in 2007.  As a member of the Rural Land Use Board, it would be embarrassing for my political career for a man in my powerful position to be found violating the law.  So I was real sneaky.  (You are thinking — Is publishing a blog about criminal activity being sneaky?)  Well, Concerned Readers, there is no need or benefit for me to continue being sneaky because the cat is out of the bag already and my violation is a matter of public record.  Sin has been exposed to the light of day already, so why not be exposed on the internet too?

Temptation altered the outcome of what otherwise appeared to be the perfect crime.  On the way home, I did not stay on the back roads all the way but risked traveling on the highway for just a few miles because I wanted to stop at The Forks, a convenience store/bar which is less than two miles from home, appropriately located at a fork in the road.  I stopped to get a treat.  I deserved it.  I got an ice cream cone because I need to keep my weight up during football season in case the Broncos need me.  I am a free agent, you see, not having been selected for the 53 man roster, just like Tim Tebow and many other fine players who are still available.  It is just a matter of waiting for a phone call from the Broncos or perhaps desperate calls from other teams.

It turned out to be an expensive cone.  There was a State Patrol officer/tattletale who was parked behind a motor home in the parking lot of The Forks.  Now that is sneaky!  What a snake!

I hoped the officer was just focused on catching speeders.  He had his radar gun out.  I calmly ate my cone on the porch, exuding feigned innocence, and was pleased to see the patrolman eventually leave The Forks.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had finished the cone.  Now for my get-away.

My truck and trailer were pointed in a direction that made it easier for me to go out a different way than I came in.  It takes some room to turn the whole rig around and I was worried about hitting something if I tried to back all the way out of the parking lot.  So, I exited in violation of the sign that said “no left turn” because, duh, the ranch is left of The Forks when facing the direction of that exit.

The suspense is building.  You astute readers are guessing that the officer of the law saw my illegal exiting maneuver.  Wrong!  I got off scot-free.  Again.

I drove up the highway less than a mile.  That is all the further my road is from The Forks.  I dutifully turned on my right-hand turn signal, slowed and turned.  What to my wondering eyes did appear, but the State Patrol car parked to the side of my very own road, a mere mile from home.

He had set up another speed trap.  I still believed that I was going to make it okay.   He was looking for speeders.  Surely he would not crane his neck to check out the rear license plate on the trailer when I passed him.  We were, after all, facing opposite directions.  As I chuckled to myself, the officer turned his car around, away from the highway, and headed toward our ranch.  He followed me.  He turned on his lights.  I quit chuckling.  Four hundred yards from our lane, I pulled over.  I waited for the patrolman to approach the driver’s side window of my vehicle.

“It is hard to miss those expired plates on the trailer,” he explained.  (You see, the Department of Motor Vehicles cleverly issues different colors for different years.)  I did not try to pull the “Do you know who I am?” card, like Reese Witherspoon did recently.  Since the officer did not recognize my famous face or name, I just let him treat me as if I am a member of the general public.  I was polite and respectful.   I was fake.  I was phony.  I was ashamed to hear myself saying, “Thank you, Officer.”  Thanks for what?

He gave me a ticket for $95.00.  Expensive cone.

But the joke is on him.  He did not notice that the brakes and signal lights on the trailer don’t work.

When I got home and was unhitching the trailer from the truck, I spied a snake in the grass, literally and factually.  I was not in the mood to live and let live.  It was him or me.  Maybe it was her or me.  It was it or me.

Jesus crushed the head of the serpent with his heel, but I am not in his league, so I am not above using tools for safety reasons.

Having just been to The Forks, I had an idea.  I calmly went to the barn, got a pitchFORK, and skillfully stabbed the serpent right behind the head from which his/her/its forked tongue emerged.  Now I feel better.

And to you snake-lovers out there — get over it!  Save the whales instead.

The front of The Forks 287

FIRE department WORKS on the 4th

On the 4th of July, the fire truck came up our lane, siren blaring and lights flashing.

I told them to go away.  I had not called them.  I had the situation under control.  How ungrateful!  I know.

I stood with my garden hose, controlling the burning pit.  So what if black smoke was billowing skyward?  That was just from the tires.

Apparently, some busybody saw the flames and black smoke from the highway a mile away and tattled.  Someone cared about us.  What do I care!

Getting a burn permit is really complicated.  It was way over my head, something I never covered in law school.  So, like the heroes in countless westerns, I took the law into my own hands.  I would have gotten away with it too, if only the smoke did not rise hundreds of feet.  If only no one noticed.  If only no one cared.

Sure, if it had been a fire threatening our home or barn, we would have welcomed the help,  but this fire was my own controlled burn, started intentionally in order to dispose of scrap lumber and old Christmas trees and branches and stuff we did not want.  The county charges to take things to the dump.  I was being economical.  Burn permits cost too.  Like I said, I was being economical, if illegal.  I was absent from law school on the day they taught about burn permits.  Ignorance of the law is my excuse.

Plus, I’m not that bright.  You can ask anybody.  My mother can tell you stories of my risk-taking that will curl your hair.  Miss Sugar, my wife, can too.  Anyone stupid enough to swing a rattlesnake over his head is stupid enough to play with fire.  For an explanation of the rattlesnake reference, see:  https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/me-and-pecos-bill-5/.

The firemen decided to put out the fire, despite my assurances.  They also gave the impression that this was not how they had intended to spend the 4th of July.

If they didn’t want to be there, then why did they empty the tanker truck on my little old fire?  Oh, well, at least we got the pond we always wanted.  For more on the pond, see:   https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/beau-aint-no-lassie/.

Afterward, to rub it in, they parked the truck on the bridge and re-filled the tank by pumping water from the river that runs through our ranch.  It took a long time for them to steal our water.

I felt embarrassed.  I felt foolish.  Miss Sugar assured me that I was just that — foolish.

I apologized to the firemen.  I knew them.  I used to be on the board for the volunteer fire department.  As their attorney, I got grants to purchase the first trucks.  (I had attended class on the day they taught about grant applications.)  Twenty years ago, I helped build the station, like an old fashioned-barn raising.  I lifted the trusses for the roof, using my brawn.  They wouldn’t trust me with power tools.  So, I have a long history with this local volunteer fire department.

That might be why they gave me a break.  I was not cited.  I was not billed.  I was lucky.  I was sorry.

I wrote a letter to the fire department, in which I thanked them and apologized profusely.  I was repentant.  Sort of.

This happened several years ago.  After all the wildfires last year, even I know better than to burn trash when the grass is dry.  Next time, I will wait until it snows and keep the tires away from the fire.   However, I won’t get a burn permit.  That is where I draw the line.

Miss Sugar and the Lawnmower

Miss Sugar doesn’t cotton to rattlesnakes.  She has killed a few, both with a shovel and her .410 shotgun, but she is, after all, a girl.  She doesn’t have the flair for it that I have shown over the years, such as described in my post called Me and Pecos Bill.

As a scared little girly girl, she wanted me to cut the grass (and weeds) that are closest to the house so the snakes would have no place to hide in our immediate vicinity.

So I said to Miss Sugar, with indisputable logic, “I would love to cut the grass (and weeds) Sugar, except I can’t start the lawnmower on account of the starting cord does not work right.”

I even showed her the mechanical problem.  “See, Sugar, the cord doesn’t re-wind so i can’t get a good pull and, not only that, since you are just a girl, you can’t do it either.”

That was a thoughtless comment.  One should not tell Miss Sugar that she can’t do something.  Of all people, I should have remembered that.  I sure do know it from countless other similar situations.

So, Miss Sugar worked on the mower.  Successfully.

“There’s your trouble,” she explained, pointing to something mechanical.  “Give it a pull now.”

The dang thing started.  Dang it!

So, I just finished mowing.  Now I will go have a big glass of Miss Sugar’s good lemonade.  I’d fix some myself if I knew how.

Double Tough Hombre

The two links below are related.  Each was written last summer.  Each describe my bravery and skills as a modern-day Pecos Bill-type cowboy action hero.

I am re-posting them for the convenience of those readers who have more recently started following my blog and foolishly believe that they have better things to do than go through the archives to read all of the 220 previous posts.  This double feature will help you catch up, as ya’ll have been longing to do.

These are true stories about life on Cross Creek Ranch, in northern Colorado.  To borrow a phrase used by Walter Brennan in The Guns of Will Sonnett, “No brag.  Just fact.”  You can look it up.

https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/sharpshooter-8/

https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/me-and-pecos-bill-5/

Let’s be careful out there!

Sharpshooter

My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s desire that I bring a gun was not unrealistic.  I possess several firearms, including a pair of Colt .45s in a quickdraw holster, various rifles, and a couple shotguns.  They are part of the decor of our mountain cabin and readily available.  The NRA sends emails to me daily concerning unconstitutional threats to gun ownership.  I also am a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which sponsors cowboy shooting competitions.  My SASS alias is Big Bronc.  Her’s is Miss Sugar.  Clearly, it was not unreasonable for her to ask me to get a gun.

So I emerged from the front door unarmed.  Sometimes I opt for hand-to-hand combat.  I wanted to assess the enemy’s strength before selecting a weapon.  I try to make it a fair fight.  No sense wasting ammo.

“Who needs killin’?  It don’t make me no nevermind.”   I stated the obvious.  “Womenfolk got nothin’ to fear when Big Bronc is around.  I will fight to the death anyone that threatens you and them yeller dogs.”   This little gal surely knew she could count on me.

“Oh, Big Bronc, there is an evil rattlesnake down there.  Please protect me and our precious pets.  You are so brave and strong and handsome.”  Those were not her exact words, but I knew that was what she desired to tell me.

“Get the shotgun with the snakeshot shells!,” Miss Sugar daintily suggested.  “Shoot it from up here on the porch so you don’t git yerself kilt.  I ain’t in the mood to call no hearst.”  She doesn’t talk like that either, but it would sound more like an authenic western story if she would have.

So I went to the toolshed and got a shovel.  I know she wanted me to use a gun, but this particular shovel is a narrow type of spade known in these here parts as a “sharpshooter.”   It is a weapon with which I have beheaded unfortunate snakes in the past.  Yes, this was fixin’ to be a fight to the death.

Miss Texas noticed what I had selected.  “You dang fool!  That rattler is going to bite you.  They can strike further than that little shovel.”  I wish she didn’t talk like that.

So I walked over to the snake, carrying only the sharpshooter shovel.

It was coiled and shaking its rattles.  It was a mean one, poised to strike.

Women are no help at a time like this.  I didn’t need some girly girl weeping about me.  I can take care of myself.  Still, through it all, I could hear Sugar’s sweet voice.  “Watch out, you idiot.  He is going to strike.”  I supposed that she was addressing the snake, giving him one last chance to retreat.  That is certainly how I took it.

Members of the general public are not usually quick enough or coordinated enough or brave enough to attempt what I was about to do.  That mean old snake probably did not recognize who he was facing.  He probably thought I was a member of the general public.

Instead, he was dealin’ with Big Bronc, the toughest hombre north of the Pecos, or at least the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.

I met his steely glare.  He didn’t show any fear as he hissed and rattled, but I had a feelin’ that, deep inside his cold heart and reptile brain, he knew this showdown would be his last.

My calloused hand was ready for action.

“Say when.”  I confidently offered him that advantage as I smirked.  (I have found that smirking intimidates.)

The tension grew.  Then Old Snake Eye made his move.  It was the moment of truth.   Or consequences.  One of us would soon be dead as a doornail.  He had my vote.

A blood-curdling scream broke the tense silence.  (Sometimes smirking alone is not intimidating enough.  One has to be adaptable when engaged in a fight to the death.)  I should not have called it a scream.  It was more like a war-cry.  A manly war-cry.

Well, I’m here to tell you that with one lightning fast blow, I pinned that coiled snake to the ground.  The blade of the sharpshooter got it right behind its open-mouthed head.  I did not let up until I cut its head clean off. Sugar warned that the venom is still dangerous, even after it was beheaded.  Like I don’t know that.

I scooped the detached head into the shovel and proudly showed her the proof of my victory, waiting for her to praise my skill and courage.  She did not express her admiration in words, but I could see it in her eyes.

“Shucks, M’aam.  It weren’t nothing any old hero wouldn’t do.”

I could tell she longed to reward me with a kiss.  There was things I had to take care of first.  After disposing of my vanquished foe, I put my trusty sharpshooter back in the shed and quietly rode off into the sunset.

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