Twist and Shout

I’ve been twisting and shouting too much if you ask me.

I’m quite conflicted about the whole affair. You know, should he stay or should he go? Da-da-daaaa-da-da. We talked about this a few posts ago, remember? My barn snake. Some of you said–keep him! Others said–get rid of him! I was full-on conflicted about this snake. Until Saturday evening. Well, let me back up for a minute.

You see, now that I’ve got the chickens safely nestled into a chicken house and run, it was time to turn our attention to the horse barn. The horse barn, as far as we know, is the oldest outbuilding on the farm. Throughout the years, it was used to house and milk dairy cattle, to hang tobacco for drying and for storing all matter of things, like equipment and every single feed sack that was ever brought onto this farm. Ever. We think it was built before 1920.

Here’s what it looked like when we moved here. This is the front.

This is the side.

Yep, that’s a corn crib to the left of this opening. Too cool.

One of the bays.

Last year, we cut the “natural” holes in the front metal siding bigger so the horses could move in and out of them. They weren’t our horses, but seeing such magnificent creatures living in such terrible conditions ON MY FARM bothered me. Cause, that’s just me.

Then we replaced some of the rusty, yucky metal siding. I nailed old wood on the inside just to keep the snow and winter breezes out of the barn.

But, alas. It didn’t look much better. So now we’ve decided to do a renovation of the horse part of the barn.

So we began the horse barn project.

AND. I knew when I bought this old farm that there were snakes around. Every old outbuilding had at least one snake skin hanging from the rafters. In fact, I told the house inspector to be on the lookout for evidence of snakes in my house. He found none.Which, of course, allowed me to live and sleep in the house, so we bought it.

Since we moved here, I’ve seen snakes down by the mountain creek, but never close to me. Until we began renovation of the old barn. I guess we have stirred up the snakes.

We had seen a black snake around every now and then and yes, quite frankly, it was freaking me out. I no longer felt comfortable sticking my hand into a “loaf” of hay, or under the saddle cover, or on a shelf in the barn that was higher than eye level. I had stopped going in the barn at night. Too scared. Every black cord, every black lead rope, every black metal band caused me to jump.

I want barn cats, but so far my husband will not agree. He, with good reason, believes the barn cats will wind up in our bed and become bed cats. So, so far I am stuck with the snake.

A friend told me the other day that he had seen our black barn snake and that it was not just a regular black snake. It is a black racer, he said. And then he told me something that gave me chills, “You’uns need to be careful because a black racer will stand up on its tail and chase you.” Oh really? Holy crap. And then he added these three words to the already horrifying tale: “Like a cobra.” That’s just what I need, a snake that lives out my nightmares: raises up and chases me all over the farm on its tail. “Like a cobra” “Like a cobra” “Like a cobra”: I kept hearing his words in my head.

“I know where it’s living, too,” he said. “In that pink cat house in the barn.” Really? My cat, Gracie, has a pink house with a fuzzy pink pad inside. She didn’t show any interest in it when we moved here. Instead, she sleeps on the top bunk of the doll bunk bed beside the window in my daughter’s room. So, the pretty pink cat bed, with the fuzzy pink pad inside was put in the barn. A black snake now lives there. OMG.

A worker on the barn told me he had also seen the snake. “It’s very friendly,” he said, “it might have been a pet at some point. Maybe there was a boy who lived here before you.” Oh great. Well, I guess that figures since it is enjoying the pink fuzzy pet bed.

I was talking about the black snake to some old timers. “They’re good to have around a barn,” one older man said, “They keep the pois-ness ones away.” “Yeah, well, they bite too,” I said.

“Nah, they don’t,” he corrected me, “They have velvet for teeth.”

“VELVET TEETH? Wow!” I couldn’t believe it, but kinda liked the image. For some reason it made me think of all that Elvis velvet artwork sold on the side of the road, so I mentioned that and laughed. “Oh. I meant to say Vel-cro,” he said.

Vel-cro was okay too. Better than the fangs in my imagination.

Here’s the only picture I’ve captured of the snake. That gate behind him is a 6 foot gate, so that shows you how long he is. And under that board, where he is headed, is the pink cat house. Now I know that is where he was going.

So any way. Saturday night I was gathering wood to burn on a bonfire. We are STILL trying to get rid of the pile of pine rubbish in our yard from cutting down those 12 large pine trees beside the barn. I leaned down and picked up a stick and it was the snake! I slung it away from me and started running and lo and behold I stepped on it and it came up and hit my ankle. I thought it had tried to bite me, and I screamed bloody murder.

I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE. I screamed and squealed louder than I probably ever have in my life. SHOUT!!

I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I was totally freaked out. I could not accept what had just happened. I had picked up a long, black snake. I had slung a long, black snake. I then stepped on a long, black snake. And then a long, black snake hit my leg. People. Tell me it was just a horrible, horrible dream. I ran and I screamed. And then I fell. And I twisted my knee. TWIST!!

But I tell you. I felt no pain. I got up and I ran as fast as I could to the house to find my husband. I was about to have a heart attack.

He calmed me down and I went to take a bubble bath. To rid myself of the snake cooties. And to try to relazx. And then I made a cup of hot tea. But I could not sleep that night, just thinking about that snake and seeing that snake in my hands.

And the next day, Sunday, I went to church. And I thanked God that I didn’t have a heart attack when I picked up that snake by accident. But the weird thing. On the way out of the church, we all heard a loud clunk and come to find out an elderly woman had fallen on the floor at the back of the sanctuary. We think she had a heart attack on the way out of the church. Some things make no sense whatsoever. Don’t even try.

When I got back home, I was outside (not close to the barn, btw) and I stumbled and fell again and twisted my knee again. With no adrenaline shooting through my body, I felt the pain immediately. My knee blew up like a balloon. I’m now doing what the medical experts on the Internet tell me to: RICE: rest, ice, compress, and elevate. I wonder how the snake is faring. I wonder if I injured him when I stepped on him while I was running away like a crazy woman. I wonder if he is following the Internet doctors’ advice as well?

My question is still: Does the snake have to go? Or will I make peace with it now that I’ve handled it and lived to tell the tale? Will he spend the winter in my cat’s pink house in the barn? Will I relocate him? I don’t know, Y’all. I just don’t know. These are questions I don’t have the answer to. He eats the mice that ruin my stuff in the barn. I know, I know. But I also know that it has freaked me out every time I go into the barn. My reins are black. My lead rope is black. My saddle is black. Electric cords are black. Metal bands are black. I have freaked out so many times THINKING I saw the snake. I really am leaning towards the snake needing to be relocated. Don’t ask me exactly how that happens.

But I do know how the barn project is progressing. What do you think so far?

YAY! Getting there!

I can’t decide whether to paint it red or white. Any thoughts?

I’m thinking that I want to make a “barn quilt” to hang on the front in between the doors. I was thinking about hanging it sideways, in a diamond shape. Here’s a terrific website on barn quilts:

I thought I’d have a Christmas themed quilt since we have a Christmas tree farm. Or a Great White Horse, since my Horse rules this farm. But I don’t know. Any ideas? What should I put on there? (Don’t say black snake, please don’t say black snake….)

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah, Twister and Shouter

  1. Nancy says:

    I say red–I love a red barn. And you need to paint an Amish design above the door.

  2. donna FL says:

    Hey Lady…been shopping "red" for my barn…Behr Paint "DozenRoses" was my pick…check it out !!! LuvLuv the snake, He will keep the bad ones away and if it is a racer, they are harmless…But can really relate…I have overcome with my Indigo’s we have on our property…It Helps to name them…lol…hugs from FL

  3. Cathy R says:

    LOL! I’ve been reading your blog awhile and know how scared you are of snakes but I couldn’t keep from laughing ~ I grew up with all kinds of snakes and I felt like I was reading one of my stories. Sorry you hurt your knee. I Googled the black racer and coach-whip snakes and they say the black racer is less threatening but just for peace of mind ~ call the snake re-locaters ~ mouse bait and traps are a lot less frightful! C:
    I vote for a red barn and love the barn quilt idea! It’s looking great! Walk softly and carry a big stick! C:
    Blessings from the hills of Idaho, Cathy

  4. Sippie says:

    I couldn’t help but laugh at the image of the snake in your hand as you realized what it was … but omygoodness, if it had happened to me, I think I probably WOULD have had that heart attack. Even though I KNOW logically that not all snakes are poisonous and that some are even beneficial(!), but o yes, they are scary.
    I’m grateful for this blog – and for what you are doing to restore this property and care for the horses and share your journey. I say red barn with white doors. And the barnquilt of course.

  5. Marion Armstrong says:

    I say, GET RID of the snake! I share your fear of them, and you need to have peace in your barn! Yes, a quilt, definitely; and I lean to a red choice also. You have a nice start on your barn–don’t let the snake ruin it for you!

  6. Meredith says:

    I vote for the red barn. I don’t like snakes, and could feel your anxiety! You could consider getting Guinea fowl for your farm. They need a place to roost at night and a little feed now and then, but otherwise, are self-contained fowl. They are free ranging, good for eating insects and keep snakes away! They also are good alarms for "bad things" coming onto your property. Check them out. Always, love your blog.

  7. Sharon says:

    Personally, I come from the good snake = dead snake camp. I would much rather go into a barn and find barn cats than a snake. Lots of barn cats. And one for in the house.
    Red or white on the barn, your choice. I’m sure either will look great. As for the barn quilt, why not paint one on plywood and change it seasonally? I also agree with Donna from FL, you need a nice Hex sign too.
    You are living the life, woman!

  8. Beth says:

    Just remember, the snake you know is better than those that might show up later. Around here (Missouri), we have black snakes that are even larger and I hated them when I saw them stick their head in a bluebird box and eat eggs/babies. But they kill timber rattlers, copperheads and cotton mouths, so I let them be. With poison, always a chance something or someone else might get it. My soninlaw used to kill all snakes until the day a cottonmouth in their garage eating the dog food got between him and my granddaughter. As he says, he screams "like a girl" when he sees a snake, no one was bitten and that snake which he swears chased him, was in pieces, he now lets the good snakes alone. Don’t know if you have these to deal with, but it is a don’t bother them and they won’t bother you type of relationship. And dark red barns are great!

  9. OMG! I would’ve not only had a heart attack but probably would have peed myself…lol..I agree about good snakes bad snakes but I like the idea of barn cats better…And you know if you wanted to you could get a pet pig,,,I have heard pigs eat snakes or at least keep them away…I love the barn and I think Red would be great or white with a red steel roof…I love the idea of the quilt and the lady who said make them so you can change the out each idea..Hope your knee heals well, and I think you will not have any peace going into your barn if you don not relocate the snake…have one of the workers who is not afraid load him up in a feed sack and haul him off….wayyyyyyoff…lol Be Blessed and I pray you continue to enjoy your farm life. Neta from NC as well…

  10. Rose says:

    I just love your blog! I was a city girl gone country seven years ago. I vote red for the barn and paint the quilt, its a great idea. As for the snake, I don, t like to touch them but they eat mice so I tolerate them because mice and rats give me the hee-bee-gee-ees. Although, i did vow to never buy a black hose again. You definately need barn cats, they don’t always end up in the house, I held out for two years. Good Luck

  11. Debi Dalton says:

    You had me laughing so hard! I feel your pain! Last year we pulled two huge black snakes out of our hen house at the same time! Just yesterday we pulled another one out! I don’t like them being that close to me or my chickens but, we don’t kill them because it is true, they kill the poisinous snakes and keep the rats from taking over. I think your barn is looking beautiful! It would be so pretty red! PS: Our hen house is small. Last year I was inside getting the eggs and looked up over the door (only way out!) and there was a very large black snake hanging there waiting to drop on my head! I couldn’t move! I had to run out and pray that it didn’t drop on me! I lived to face them another day.

  12. bobbie calgaro says:

    Definitely red. Definitely feel your anxiety over snakes. Barn quilts are great. I made one for our shed. I vote for a traditional quilt pattern with lots of color.

  13. Mary Beth Schwarz says:

    Oh please spare the black racer snake! What a fine snake it will be to keep the poisonous snakes away from your gorgeous red/white barn (and a fine decorative Pennsylvania Dutch HEX sign would be fun on it!)and the horses. You could name it Racette and call to it when you enter the barn. If you had seen a large rattlesnake or other deadly one in your barn you would feel more appreciation for your "good" snake. Truly Racette was as startled and frightened as you when you picked him/her up! Using a good flashlight would help you be more comfortable until you become better friends. Farms have many animals for you to live with, and most of them will have a special purpose in the ecosystem that is your amazing land.
    Your barn is looking so much better and indeed you want it to be welcoming for you and the horses. Red is a classic barn color, but I have seen a picture of a lovely blue barn, and why not creamy white if you want to try it?
    Cannot wait to see what you decide to do! You will enjoy the process of restoring your special old barn.
    Mary Beth

  14. Carol Norwood says:

    I love your blog too! I had to laugh at your snake story – not because I’m laughing AT you but because I can relate. I grew up on a farm and one day a little garden snake slithered across my bare toes. I was only about 8 years old but I screamed bloody murder and still remember it like it was yesterday. I’m not sure I could live with that snake being in my barn. I vote for a RED barn; just imagine how beautiful it will be in the snow and it’s so traditional. I was going to say I liked the idea of the Christmas quilt for the barn until I saw another reader suggest you do seasonal quilts. I really like that idea. Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you decide about all of the above.

  15. Lorrie MacKenzie says:

    I sympathize with you. Being that frightened feels really bad. But I’d like to put in a good word for the snake. He’s lived in your barn a long time and only been helpful. Is there another building on your farm he could live in? In his pink house with the fuzzy pink pad inside? Maybe something like that could work for both of you. Having read your blog lots of times, it seems like you work well with live and let live. But if that doesn’t work, you shouldn’t have to be scared. I have faith that you’ll find a safe place for him. In the meantime, I’d think twice about barn cats. The first time a cold cat sat outside my window asking to come in would be the last time. I would decide that the cat would look pretty good sleeping on my couch and I would sleep better at night not having to worry about him. But this is just me. Whatever you decide is good. In the meantime, congratulations on picking up a snake and living to tell the tale. Ain’t life grand?

  16. Keleen says:

    If you need inspiration for a barn quilt, you should take a road trip on Follow the Quilt Trail. If you’re in north Georgia, then Tennessee is not far away!

  17. Jo says:

    I have to say I agree with the vote on snakes-be-gone,,, but such a hard decision when they are such good mice/rat hunters. But what about your chickens? I prefer cats way more! Yep, they might sleep in your bed, but that’s a nice payment for the good job they do in the barn, right? I am not joining the group on red for the barn tho –eeek! Sorry, ya’ll! I love the idea of a white barn. You see so many red ones, and not many white and there is something so serene about a white barn. Red is very traditional and I am a HUGE fan of the color red, but white on a barn, especially the style of your barn,,, "ohhhh yeahhhh". 😉 Love it!! But I’m just one vote….. and I’m sure whatever you decide and whichever direction your heartstrings pull ya, is what you should go with. The barn will tell you. Changable barn quilt — now that’s the way to go for sure. Seasonal fun! Enjoy! I love reading about your farm adventures. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Marjil says:

    Wow, your adventure has been my nightmare for years. I grew up in Texas and now live in Alaska where there are no snakes. If that had been me, I would have taken the .22 and shot me a snake. I don’t care how good they are for the environment, they can’t live at my house. Now maybe you can find a science teacher at a local school that wants a pet project for the students and catch the bloody thing for you. That way, you can enjoy your new barn as much as I love reading your country adventures and nothing lost is life. And by the way, red barns are a must have. Oh, and keep that knee wrapped when your out and about. Looking forward to your next installment. :))

  19. katieB says:

    Keep the snake but introduce a young cat so it can adjust to the snake, be buds and keep the bad snakes out. Paint a giant red heart to remind them that "Love Lives Here!"….

  20. Tammie says:

    Sorry to hear about your twisted knee Rebekah. I hope it feels better soon!
    Love the post, I love reading your blog and posts here.
    On the barn, it looks great! Definitely an improvement. White or barn red, it will be lovely on your farm.
    Take care

  21. Denise Ross says:

    Wow, the snake would’ve had me jumping out of my skin too, ouch with your foot and knee. White barn to match your house and a red quilt background with your white horse in front would look lovely I think and tie in with your house. Love your blog, have a great week

  22. Amanda says:

    I love your blogs because I can totally relate! First, about the snake. I feel conflicted, too. We have tons of little garden snakes, black snakes, copperheads, and eastern diamondbacks. I’ve only ever seen garden snakes (so far!) and I know they’re useful, but I’m still afraid of getting bit. I keep my kids at a good distance and call my husband to shush them away where I can’t see them. Second, the barn. I like red barns and if you ever think about Hex signs (very popular here in PA Amish country), make sure you choose the design carefully because they all have a special meaning. And third, I hope your knee heals quickly! I moved my entire kneecap up by stepping down off of something and it was THE worst pain EVER!! Barn work got done very slowly for awhile! Your place looks great, snake or no snake!!

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