A Villian is loose on the J&A Chicken Ranch tonight.

Mothers, hold your babies.

Men, gather up a posse.  

There’s trouble.  And I don’t think I’ll be sleeping until The Villian is captured.

Let me start at the beginning.

I let a cantaloupe go bad, so I decided to cut it up and take it to the chickens.  So there we all were, me and the chickens, them enjoying their moldy treat, and me bawking at them, trying to carry on a conversation.  Bawk, bawk, bawk. 

  When all of a sudden, I caught the movement out of my excellent peripheral vision.  It didn’t take long for me to be up and alert, on my feet, like a jungle cat, well aware that very close to me and my chickens, a snake was slithering.  A snake.  My heart raced.  My breath quickened.  My fight or flight response kicked in. 

What does a brave, strong, fearless country girl like me do in a situation like this? 

Panic, that’s what.

I screamed.  I ran to the house for the phone.  I called my husband, only to get his dadgum voice mail. 

Thoughts raced.  The snake was little, a mere baby, with a head no bigger than my thumb.  It was grayish, with black diamonds covering its back.  I didn’t see a rattle, but baby rattlesnakes don’t always have rattles.  It could be a Bull Snake.   It was skinny, and I feared not for myself but for my chickens.  He could easily squeeze his moldable body through the chicken wire, unhook its massive jaws and swallow a chicken in one gulp.  I was sure of it. 

Seconds ticked past.  As The Villian surprisingly slowly crawled underneath a whole bunch of junk laying up near the saddle house, I searched frantically for a weapon and found a shovel.   He was unattainable at this point.  I could see his head, and his tail, but could reach neither.

  So began the stand-off.  I would wait him out.  He’d have to come out eventually.  And when he did, WHACK!!

He stared at me. 

I stared at him.

He darted his forked tongue at me.

I darted mine back.

Then my cell phone rang.  It was J-Dub.  I informed him I was having a snake stand off.  He advised me to leave him alone.  But I insisted that The Villian must die. The chickens.  I must protect my chickens.  He was still lying underneath several branding irons, amidst stacks of bricks.  My beloved tells me to get something long and poke it at him.  And of course, he offers to come home and take care of The Villian.  But I hate to bother a working man, so I tell him I’ll take care of it myself and hang up the phone. 

Alone.  Scared.  Just The Villian and I.

We stare each other down some more.  I decide against poking him.   I’ve watched the Discovery Channel.  I’ve seen snakes lash themselves out 70 feet with mouth spread wide and venom dripping off their fangs.   I didn’t want to make him mad.  I’m nonconfrontational after all.  I prefer the surprise sneak attack: stand like a soldier until he crawled out, and surprise him with a shovel chop to the head. 

Thirty minutes pass.  The snake has fallen asleep, dreaming of chicken dinners.  I, however, remain vigilant.  I am ever alert.

Finally growing tired of standing in one place, I gather all the courage I can muster, and using my shovel I move around some branding irons.  The Villian stirs.    I’ve got him running scared now.  I use my shovel again and manuever some more junk around.  He moves some more.  If only he would come out of his hiding place.  If only he would stick his head out, I’d chop it off.  I see myself raising my weapon, whacking his head clean off, I see his tail twitch, I see my prize kill lying before me.  But instead he turns around and slithers off somewhere  deep and dark.  A hidey-hole of which I can not find.  I lose The Villian.  He roams free tonight. 

Fathers, protect your daughters.

Chickens, sleep with one eye open.