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Family Farm

AT HOME, DOWN ON THE FARM - "The Snake"

Brush Creek Ran twisting and turning through our farm, flowing from the Southwest to the Northeast. It started several miles Southwest of Divernon and I could tell it would be rising when I saw storms down near Virden. I have seen the crick bone dry with a two-foot wall of water coming down the crick right at me even though there was no rain falling. Then in the heavy rains of spring it would flood the whole bottoms a half-mile wide. Luckily, the bottoms were all pasture and that is where this story starts.

Early every morning, except on Sundays, Pop would call the horses while they were down in the bottoms with a shrill whistle that kinda sounded like the first part of a Cardinals call. If the grass was good and green and they had a suspicion that there was work involved, they just might ignore all of the calling in the world. On this particular morning they did just that. That's where I come into the picture. My job was to go and get them rounded up and headed for the barn.

This job I could handle, for I loved any reason to go down to the crick. So I grabbed my single-shot "four-ten" shotgun with one shell. Times were hard and I was lucky to have that one shell. I had bought that gun from Sid Taylor for four dollars. Sonny Tyler was my best buddy and Mr. Taylor was his uncle. It was a good shooting gun, especially when I could get three-inch shells. Well this morning, with my four-ten and one shell, I headed in a run for the crick. The crick wasn't too high, so I had no problem getting across and the horses back across the crick headed for the barn. Now I could walk down the crick looking for critters of any kind.

When I got back to one of my favorite swimming holes, I saw something that surprised and excited me. There was one huge snake swimming away from me down the crick. Now I didn't particularly like snakes and I had a healthy respect for those critters. I liked them dead better than alive.

I aimed my four-ten, not too carefully, and fired. I could see where the pellets landed in the water and at the best I only stung him with one pellet. Well that made this big, old snake mad, so mad that he looked around and saw me up on the bank. I couldn't believe that he was coming for me, but coming he was. Well I thought about hitting him with my four-ten (remember, I only had one shell), but decided not to because I might hurt my gun.

He was coming fast, right at me, and he was mad as a hornet. That old snake was standing about twenty-four inches high with his mouth wide open, eyes blazing and hissing and coming full ahead at me! I have to admit I could not believe that this snake was that mad, but time was running out! He was about on me and I still didn't have a club to protect myself. I looked down at my feet and grabbed a willow stick about four feet long and drew it back to take a whack at him.

As I drew the stick back, it broke off and I had a foot of it left. Mr. Snake and I tangled right there. I would like to tell you how brave I was, but to tell the truth I was about as scared as I ever was.

After I killed him I pulled my hunting knife out and gutted him. I then tied a string around his neck and started off towards the house. I wondered all the way why I didn't just outrun him, but at the time the thought never entered my head.

When I got back to the barn, Pop told me that I had just tangled with a Water Moccasin. I was about twelve when this incident happened.

Well there are a lot of tales to tell about life, AT HOME, DOWN ON THE FARM.

Robert Dickey