27 June 2007

Unwanted Guest

I was up in Chicago on business all morning today, and took advantage of the trip to deliver chicken and duck eggs to a chef in Lincoln Park who really appreciates them (on the menu, "farm egg" and "poached duck egg" are the references to our produce). Battling early morning traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway (it was more of a parking lot than an "expressway") made me all the more appreciative of where we now live --- not to mention the roughly 100 yard commute from the farmhouse to my office building.

My meetings concluded at about 1pm. As I headed to the car, looking forward to returning to the country, I listened to a voice message that Mrs. Yeoman Farmer (MYF) had left. Her tone was frantic but not panicked, and she spoke quickly as she relayed the information: One of the kids had come in to the back porch and started screaming. MYF dashed to the back porch, just in time to see this "huge, five to seven foot long, really big around" snake slithering down the steps to the basement. She secured the basement door, and Artistic Girl posted a sign reading "No one allowed in basement. There is a SNAKE."

Once in the car, I called home and MYF and I discussed a plan of action. First, off, we concluded that the snake probably wasn't poisonous...but we couldn't be sure. It was probably like the big Bull Snake that I'd run over with the riding mower a few years back --- enormous, but more beneficial (as a mouse and rat eater) than dangerous to people. Still, this thing had to be gotten out of the basement ASAP. Given the horrible traffic, it'd be at least 2-3 hours before I could get home. By then, the snake could be camped out under/behind Who Knows What down in that basement. But I assured MYF that as soon as I arrived, I'd find the square headed shovel (nice flat striking surface), track down the snake, and dispatch it. And I must say that for the typical male, there is nothing quite so exciting as the idea of being able to slay a serpent to save his frightened damsel.

But if by chance that thing thing was poisonous, I didn't want it in the house another minute. The idea of a big, fat, seven foot long monster in my basement for even 2-3 hours, as I was stuck in Chicago traffic, began to worry me. I gave a quick call to my friend Mike, who is an avid outdoorsman and hunter --- and who lives less than 2 miles from us. He assured me that it was almost certainly a bull snake, and that there aren't poisonous snakes around here. We discussed snakes for a few more minutes, and then he said: "Do you want me to go over there and take it out?"

I told him that I'd be perfectly happy to do it myself when I got home, but that if he didn't mind going over and taking a look, that'd be great. Because as much as I wanted to slay that serpent, it was more important for my family that the serpent get slain (or at least out of our basement) as quickly as possible.

The phone rang about 45 minutes later. "Mission Accomplished!" Mike's familiar voice laughed. He'd found it under a pile of junk, deep in the basement, after only a few minutes of searching. He hacked it with a hoe, and then tossed it in the ditch across the street from our house. I thanked him profusely, as had MYF.

Turns out, the thing was only about 4 feet long and about an inch in diameter. But that's still much bigger than anything I want in my basement, no matter how many mice it may consume.

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