Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Stay Away From the House!

My husband had to do it last evening. He had to kill a snake. I posted just a couple of weeks ago about not understanding why people go out of their way to kill wildlife, especially when it is being helpful.
Unfortunately, last night while grilling on the deck, our dog, Sade, started going wild in the driveway. She was barking, growling and jumping around. When we got up to see what she was carrying on about, she was cautiously circling a very large Rattle snake, that well, didn't seem too rattled over her alarm. Stretched out nearly 4-foot long, the snake froze. My husband got Sade on the deck with the rest of the Fearsome Four, who, by now, had all seen the snake. As they barked, my husband made the decision that the snake had to go. The snake had apparently slithered out from the woodpile next to the driveway and probably lived there. But unlike the Coachwhip Snake we had awed over and watched sunning himself on a tree trunk a few weeks ago, this snake could prove deadly to anyone of us or our dogs. My husband had just finished servicing our truck, lying on the ground not 6 feet from where the snake now stretched itself out. Last summer, I knew a woman who had accidentlly stepped on a Rattle Snake while walking in her driveway at night. She spent the next 3 days in the hospital and the rest of the summer suffering from the effects of the poison.
This snake was just a little too close for comfort and not being snake handlers or knowing a safe way to relocate him, we had to make the decision to shoot it.
At least it was quick.
My husband, as he does when he even kills a fish to eat (that's why we catch and release, as we got tired over arguing who would kill the poor creatures), felt very bad. We try to be conscious of the fact that the wildlife was here before us; and we try to live in harmony with all the critters here. They have a place in the ecosystem and we think it is the highest of human arrogance to think we are the supreme beings on earth.
We continue to hope the wildlife that can be dangerous stay away from the house, just so we don't have to take the us or them stance.
I felt bad for my husband, but the experience gave me a glimpse of the side of him he rarely shows. Like a lot of men, he grew up hunting, but as we grew older, he began to value life more. It made me proud of the fact that he could feel sorry for having to take a life, rather than rejoicing in his kill.
Sometimes people change for the worse through the years, but in this instance, I'm glad there's no trace of the hunter I met 29 years ago this summer.
That's evolution.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can't it Just Simply Rain Anymore?

I hate sounding like a broken record, I've posted a lot about the flooding rains we've received this spring and summer. However, when it dominates your life and everything you do, you can hardly ignore it.
We were awakened at 2 a.m. with crashing, banging severe thunderstorms, the ping of hail (which can signal a tornado) and rain pelting the windows. That would be bad enough, but we've got two of four dogs terrified of storms. Molly, our red Doxie, who came to us after being thrown into an outdoor 4x4 run when her puppy cute phase was over, tries to climb on our heads. Once we pry her off our skulls and rub her belly and talk to her and she remembers she is safe and dry and not outside, she will usually go back to sleep. But then there's Emma, our Rot/German Shepherd mix, who pants endlessly when she's nervous and storms do it to her (my doing laundry, for some strange reason does it to her too, but that's another post). Of course, then the electricity went out, which set off all the eletronics beeping and warning signals from the battery back up on the computer (we haven't gotten that propane generator yet).
I don't mind thunderstorms, if they're not violent, they're actually a little calming sometimes. But we hardly have those types of storms anymore.
And according to scientists, we will continue to see more of these violent storms:

Now, to try to get to work after a half night's sleep and dog claws on my head...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cocoa Mulch

I had never heard of it until this morning when a friend of mine forwarded an email warning of the danger this particular type of mulch poses to pets. Of course, my urban legend radar went up, but upon clicking on the link in the email, I found the email to be true.
If dogs, especially, ingests chocolate, it could be fatal. Snopes reports only one death from a dog eating cocoa mulch, but one dog dying is too many. The Snopes report has quotes from the Humane Society and suggests that people concerned about their pets should use some other form of mulch.
Here's the link you can copy and paste into your browser:

Thanks, Barbara Frohoff for passing that email along.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spiders and Snakes

My husband and I never get it when we see people killing animals - any animals - needlessly. Here in the Ozarks we have a lot of snakes, some even poisonous. However, with the exception of the Water Mocassin, Copperhead and Rattle Snake, most do no more than slither their way around the ecosystem. Still, some people find it irresistable killing especially big black snakes, which are harmless to everything but rodents.
Last fall, our neighbor up the road came to our door and said, "If you heard a shot, I just wanted to let you know I killed a great big black snake right in front of your driveway."
Did he expect me to be impressed? I told him I would appreciate him leaving the "big black snakes" around this part of the road alone. "You probably killed the only snake protecting the wires in our vehicles from being chewed by wood rats." Sure enough, for the first time after 4 years of having a house here, most of the time when we didn't even live here full-time, we soon found a rats nest under the hood of our truck.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband rushed in telling me about a huge snake laid out along the trunk of one of our downed trees we've yet to clean up. I went out and looked. "Quick, grab the gun," I teased. Instead, he grabbed his binoculars. The snake was black on about 2/3 of his upper body and brown in the latter half. He was magnificant. It kept me entertained for awhile, and my husband for even longer.
We later learned it was probably a Coach Whip Snake. Again, harmelss to everything but the rats and mice we want to stay away. Some non-poisonous snakes will even eat the harmful ones.
Don't get me wrong. I kill spiders if they're in my house. If a Rattler or Copper Head is near the house and a threat to the dogs or us, we'll have to kill it. But we've actually seen people miss a Black Snake in the road and back up to make sure they hit it the second time.
But like my assistant, who is 18 years old says, "I just can't see going out of your way to kill a creature whose home you're intruding upon and who actually helps keep you safe."
Very well said, and very wise.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils

Pesticide is a serious risk to the environment and I consider the pesticides used on domestic animals skins just as serious. When we first moved here last year and we took our new dog, Sade to the vet to be checked out, she tried to convince me to use Frontline or one of the flea and tick controllers. I told her I controlled their fleas and ticks through natural remedies such as garlic tablets and essential oils. She pointed out the fact Sade had some ticks and told me the risk of the ticks were less than the risk of the dog's health using the skin pesticides. I dismissed her, vowing not to use the stuff on my dogs. I learned, this year, though, at the beginning of tick season, that it cannot be avoided. The natural remedies don't work and my dogs became covered in ticks, and not just the big ones. We have "seed ticks" here, which are little bitty ticks that you cannot see or pick off until they fall on your floor. Once stepped on, the floor looks like a crime scene (thank goodness we were smart enough not to install carpet here and have laminate throughout the house). We quickly realized this situation is not good for the dogs, or us. So, 4 months ago now, we started trying BioSpot and when that didn't kill the ticks, I ordered over $60 worth of Advantix. That didn't work either. We finally moved to Frontline Plus yesterday and hopfeully, that will help the problem of the ticks.
I don't like applying a pesticide directly to my beloved pets, but I don't like the idea of anyone of us developing Lyme Disease or tick fever either.
We chose what we felt is the lesser of two evils. I just hope this one works.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In the Heat of the Night

Is it global warming or just the south? Me and my husband just knew we would go from the cool rainy weather to hot and humid. I told my neighbors over Memorial Day weekend that it felt more like what we were used to over the 4th of July. My mother, would still tell stories of August vacations in Arkansas with no electricity and air to visit my dad's parents some 60 years ago. She never forgot how hot it was and I got a taste of that last August. In Arkansas, I don't think we can blame global warming.

Monday, June 02, 2008

It was a cold, dark night....

Well, not really. It was a little windy. There was a rain shower, but certain nothing really dramatic. But we lost our power yesterday anyway - at least the 6th time since we moved here last summer. And while I understand losing power in major snow, wind and even rain storms, yesterday was not that major.
We're back to checking out propane generators and believe me, we can't have one quick enough.
If I had the money for reliable solar systems, that's what we would go with. But seeing how my deck lamps do not function when the sun doesn't shine, I would be afraid of losing power even more than I do now.