Hilltop Homestead Rattlesnake Encounter

It’s been quite warm here lately, in the 80s. It definitely doesn’t feel like October. The wildlife are enjoying being out and about in the temperatures, and that includes the rattlesnake.

The Plauges

We’ve been battling plagues of all sorts at the Hilltop Homestead. These warm temperatures have turned wasps into magicians, who somehow keep finding ways into the house.

They’re either coming in through the smidgen gap around the patio door or through a crevice around a window in the dining room. Those are the places we keep finding them before we have to muster up the courage to escort them to their end, via our heavy-duty fly swatter.

If we’re not battling wasps, we’re killing an inordinate number of flies. Or trying to get rid of swarms of box elder bugs.

The other day, Little Miss opened the patio door, promptly screamed and slammed it shut again. I thought she saw a wasp.

Nope.

Waiting there at the door was a little blue racer snake. Thankfully, it did not react with speedy curiosity once the door opened and enter our home. It stayed outside and eventually moved on.

Last year, we did not experience anything like this. I remember there being a couple of wasps in the basement window I asked Hubs to kill. That’s it.

Every single day the last couple of weeks, we have killed several wasps in our living quarters. On top of that, I didn’t even know we had box elder bugs out here until they covered the west end of our house. That’s a fine way to find out they’re around.

Last year it certainly wasn’t this warm in October, but it wasn’t necessarily cold, either. Apparently it’s just warm enough to bring out the bugs in force.

A Bad Feeling

Yesterday I went outside to assess the infestation situation. (That’s fun to say out loud.) I was walking along the side of the house on our sidewalk to the back patio. Once back there, I wanted to walk around and check the south side of our house, which has nothing but prairie grass and gravel around it.

I took one step off the patio and stopped. I had an eerie… thought? feeling? sense? there was a rattlesnake nearby. I didn’t want to walk in the grass and come across one.

It was really windy yesterday, and with my hearing loss, it’s hard enough for me to hear a rattle without the wind blaring in my ears. Frankly, I can’t hear a rattlesnake rattle unless I’m right next to it with my head turned just the right way, which is a situation I don’t ever want to be in.

I stood there for a second, wrestling with this strong feeling in my gut, then turned around and kept to the sidewalk.

I thought I was being paranoid, most likely over reacting, but also – I didn’t need to go around the side of the house to know there were wasps and box elder bugs and flies everywhere. That was apparent based on the fact they were getting into the house.

The Rattlesnake

That same evening, I was driving home with the kids from their activity outing and in my headlights, I saw something slithering across our driveway.

Our driveway is long. It’s about 1/4 mile uphill, then 1/4 mile across the top of the hill. It was just as we were ascending the hill from the bottom that I saw the slithering.

I slammed on the brakes and gravel dust stirred up around us. “Mama, what is it?”

“A rattlesnake.”

I recognized it immediately. Small, diamond shaped head. Diamond pattern. And there at the end, the rattle.

Sitting there, somewhat stunned to see such a sight, I froze up. Then I threw the car in reverse, backed up a few feet, then gunned it forward.

“Are you running it over?!” asked Little Miss.

“Absolutely I am!” right as I felt a slight bump under the front driver’s side tire.

I drove up the hill, turned around, and headed back down. The headlights found it once again. I had definitely run over the rattlesnake, and it was trying to coil up. I’ll spare you the gory details as to why that wasn’t possible.

I called Hubs. “I need you to come down here and bury the head. Also to kill it, because I think it’s still alive. You know what? I’m going to run over it again.”

And so I did.

I drove down to the bottom of the hill and turned around to head back up. Third time’s a charm. This time, I absolutely felt it beneath the tires. So. Gross.

I drove up to the house, sent the kids inside to get ready for bed, and took Hubs (and his spade shovel) down to the scene.

The Bitter End

Hubs removed and buried the rattlesnake head. (Since they have poisonous venom that doesn’t stop being poisonous just because they die, burying the head so it doesn’t get stepped on is best practice.)

He also removed the rattle. It was big. And very rattle-y.

Using the shovel, he picked up what remained of the beheaded, de-rattled rattlesnake body and threw it into the prairie hills.

The rattlesnake was fairly large. I’d say it was about three feet long, and very robust around. It was paying no mind to us as it made its way across the gravel driveway. It was coming from the neighboring property onto ours.

This is the second rattlesnake we’ve seen in the year-plus we’ve been here. In my eyes, that’s two rattlesnakes too many.

Thankfully we were safe in the cabin of our vehicle, and could use it as an effective threat-eliminator. A modern day example of what the Bible says in the very beginning – Genesis 3:14-15

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

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