Monday, May 15, 2017

The Animals

No, No, not The Animals as in "Eric Burdon and The Animals".  Although, I did get quite a bit of play of one of their hits while stationed at the Pentagon, also known as the "Five Sided Puzzle Palace" or to which I referred as "The Northern Virginia Penitentiary for Wayward Fighter Pilots".  Yes, very shortly after I arrived to serve my sentence tour of duty, this song came on the radio as I inched my way down I-95 to my home in Springfield.  A little over a minute at 600K, about an hour and a half in my Mazda RX-7.  

Where was I?

Oh, yeah!  Inching my way down I-95 listening to the radio.  This song came on and I immediately adopted it as my Pentagon Tour Anthem.



And on July 27th 1998, I did. The career that began 40 years ago this week with this.




Ended with this.


Not my picture, but I couldn't find mine.
And I was finally "Outta that place!"

But every time I hear that song, I think about it.

Nah, the post isn't about Eric Burdon.  

It's a short story about living in the country and how wonderful it is, provided you're ready for it.

So,  There I was.....*

I've gotten off work, been to the grocery store as well as Tractor Supply and picked up food for Mrs Juvat and I as well as horse feed, cat food, kitten food, dog food and Kidney Care Dog food for Canine 3.

My Truck was fairly well loaded, and I drove up to the Barn to drop off the Horse feed. (No, I'm not going to carry 200 Lbs of Horse Feed from our house to the barn, call me picky.)

The Paint's see me comin' and realize I'm bringing dinner.  They're off charging across the pasture like Always Dreaming at the Derby.  

Not wanting to run in to them, I slow down at which time, they pull in front and slow down to a slow walk.  I guess, they were being thoughtful to Grace, our 30 year old Palomino who ONLY moves at a slow walk.

So, we mosey our way across the property to the barn at which point, I dismount and start carrying the feed to the barn under the watchful eyes of the Paint's.

Once the feed is put away, (into sealed bins, we've got a field mouse problem lately), I prep the horse's evening meal.  On tonight's menu will be some feed, with a touch of vitamin and a dash of dewormer.  Delish!

Dinner ready to serve, I enter the stall area of the barn.  

None of the horses are in their stable which is HIGHLY unusual.  They know which side of the bread is buttered,  I mean, they know which stall they're fed in.  

I write it off to some form of Equine stubbornness and proceed to serve dinner.

I've poured the feed into the first horse's trough and turn to my left and see a smiling face staring down at me from the top of the bars separating the two stalls.


Now, from this view, it's hard to determine, what this is other than a really big Snake!

To be frank, the next couple of seconds is a blank, because my next thought occurred about 60' away.  I think I may actually have teleported myself there.  

So, I'm standing there with a heart rate in the high hundreds when I feel a nudge from behind me.  Cabernet, one of the Paints, is nudging me towards the barn with her nose.

Pretty sure, she's thinking, "You're the fighter pilot, go in there and do some of that fighter pilot stuff, juvat"

Now, I don't like snakes.  Not even a little bit.

But, if it is a Rattlesnake, I've got to do something. So, I walk around the barn to the Tack room and open the door you can see in the lower left.



As you can see, this is a very big snake.  but, as I can now see, it is NOT a rattlesnake, but a bull snake.

For more on Bull Snakes, also called Gopher Snakes, formally called Pituophis catenifer, visit our good friend Shaun at Prairie Adventure who wrote a post yesterday on this very subject.  Great minds think alike, I guess

As I said earlier in the posting, we had a problem with field mice in the barn.

Emphasis on the past tense.  Haven't seen a mouse since I saw my friend here.
Hey, juvat! Is it safe to go in the barn now?







48 comments:

  1. So I'm guessing you were 15 when you were commissioned? Sorry, I forgot what it was like to look young. I do like the photo.

    As to the snake, it looks huge.

    Eats mice, terrifies horses and humans. The Missus Herself would faint dead away if she saw that thing, she cannot abide snakes. (You can't even say the word "snake" around her.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well a youthful 22 anyways. What astonishes me is the hair. I had hair once! Wouldn't no it now, though.

      Once I figured out it wasn't a rattler, I got a little closer. (Emphasis on "little".) It looked to be about 6'. I told Mrs Juvat about it, and showed her the pictures, she's pretty tough but said it was a good thing I have "feed the horses" duty.

      Delete
  2. That is a great picture of your commissioning.

    And great pictures of your snake! Now I get the NSA reference. :) Even though I force myself to "like" snakes and the intellectual part of my brain finds them fascinating, I have exactly the same response when unexpectedly find one in close proximity.

    I guess it's true that everything is bigger in Texas. That's a big 'un. The one in my post is only about two feet long and was probably born last summer. As I understand it, the rattlesnakes down there are much bigger and somewhat more aggressive than our prairie rattlesnakes.

    Great post, really well told story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only rattlesnake I've seen on this tour in Texas was in a box brought by our place by a friend. He drove out to the house and said, "hey Juvat, I've got something to show you" as he brought a long flat box out of the bed of his truck. I thought he'd bought a new rifle or something like that. He opens it up and inside a screened enclosure there's a fairly large rattler. He started laughing as I jumped back quite a few feet. I didn't see the humor.

      Delete
  3. One of my official last call songs when I DJed. Always seemed to describe Pittsburgh..............

    ReplyDelete
  4. There is nothing humorous about a rattlesnake.
    That said, king snakes and gopher snakes Re kinda fun to have around.
    I have a healthy respect for reptiles.
    They're great for pest control and show and tell.
    Rattlers are on my avoid at all costs list... so far, so good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, there isn't, and I made sure to escort him all the way out to the highway to make sure he didn't release him in the vicinity.

      Delete
  5. OK, so I am very glad I had just finished my morning cuppa tea before I got past the part of the story where you went to Tractor Supply. Because I would have immediately spewed all over my 'puter!!

    My folks' house (out in the country, far from town) was very attractive to milk snakes for some reason. The stairs down to the garage had a wooden ledge that ran under the hot water pipe that went into the guest room bathroom. On more than one occasion, a long, fat, milk snake would be found. So, as you headed down the steps, all of a sudden you are eyeball to eyeball with a BIG snake! Mom, and I had about the same reaction as you did. Then would be looking for the hoe to get rid of the damn snake, which usually went back into the wall someplace. So Dad would get assigned the job to serve the eviction notice. He usually caught it after a few days, and took it way out back to find mice outside. When we cleaned out the house, found a LARGE snakeskin up in the attic...

    Good way to test both reaction time and better than a cardiac stress test for sure. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks.
      "Snakeskin in the attic", I guess that proves that what you don't know, can't hurt you theory.

      As for the Cardiac Stress, yeah, I decided not to check it that afternoon. Didn't want my Cardiologist to worry too much.

      Delete
  6. I would not see the humour in a rattlesnake either- screened enclosure or not. Don't the have barn cats in Texas? Mouse problem would soon be nonexistent. OTOH, that bull snake may eat cats, not sure about that. ;)

    I've never seen a snake that large in the wild, only in cages. My preference is to keep that record unbroken for however many years I have left in this life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, we've got a group of cats that service the area around the house and carport. For whatever reason, they didn't seem to range up to the barn and work there (Almost 155 yards! Poor Dears.) But the mice problem around the house isn't bad. And now that Schmedly and Moushka and Mushka are indoor cats, haven't seen any inside either.

      Delete
  7. I think it must take a lot to scare a fighter pilot...good things snakes don't fly. I think I would have someone remove the snake and get q cat for the mice.

    Probably everyone has been somewhere or had a job where that song became an ear-worm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well....There is an urban legend in the AF about a Tanker mission during Vietnam that took off got to altitude and was proceeding to their station when a Cobra appeared from behind the instrument panel by the cockpit. Much mayhem ensued. Eventually the plan was to depressurize the airplane with the crew on oxygen which, they hoped, would kill the cobra or at least make him unconscious so they could reenter the cockpit and RTB. Plan was executed and when the plane was back on the ground, the plane was searched and no snake was found.
      I wasn't there, so can't confirm the story. HOWEVER.....everytime I flew on a 135, I kept an eye out, just in case.

      Delete
    2. Easy to believe. I think almost every time I was out on the parking pads at Utapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield I came across a cobra sunning on the tarmac or moving along the grass line. The Thai Marines loved to have the US Marines drink cobra blood during the Cobra Gold cross training. The junior S.F. guys with the monkeys in Lop Buri, now, that usually turned into a different story......

      /
      L.J.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, while at CINCPAC, I served on the 3 MEF staff as a Joint augmentee for a couple of Cobra Gold exercises. Suffice it to say, there were some interesting things to see.

      Delete
  8. Great picture of the beginning of your career. Who did you give the "first salute" silver dollar to? It wasn't oldafsarge, was it. I can still see the guy I gave mine to. He was the MSGT in charge of EVERYTHING at AFROTC Summer Camp at Hamilton AFB in Northern CA. I got commissioned there cuz I went to camp after graduation from college (barely graduation from college).
    In the olden days I had an RX-7 too. I loved that car! I put 150,000 miles on it without much service at all. Great engine that Wankel. Too bad they didn't continue with it. At least I don't know that they did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Officially, it was one of the Sergeants in the AFROTC Detachment. However, 11 months later when I came on active duty and feeling generous as I was about to be paid One THOUSAND dollars a month, it was the gate guard at Laughlin.
      Mrs J sold the RX-7 a few months ago. It had been sitting in the carport for a few years. It had developed an electrical problem that I couldn't find, but which kept it from starting. The one drawback to the engine design was if you didn't run it regularly, the oil would settle and dissolve the seal wrecking the compression and expensive to fix. But, you're right, I loved that car.

      Delete
    2. It is funny that you would mention electrical problem because that was the one problem I did have with my car. I replaced the electrical harness twice! Other than that, nothing.

      Delete
    3. I also replaced the harness multiple times. The last time, that didn't fix it, so I thought it was something else. I wonder if I didn't just get a bad harness.

      Delete
  9. Ah yes, our first anthem was by Alice Cooper and meant a lot to us at that age. The second was like yours above and the last one we paid much mind to was Baba O"Riley.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Schools Out" or "No more Mister Nice Guy" for the first? I do like the melody in "Baba O'Riley" a lot also.

      Delete
  10. So what became of Mr. Bull Snake? Or are you saving that for next week? I assume the horses weren't sans accommodations for too long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I fed the Paints outside and Grace in her stall which was one stall away from him. She didn't seem fazed by his presence. Because she's older and has old folks issues, she has a special diet so gets a much sweeter grain and more of it than the Paints. However, they'd love to steal it from her, so I shut Grace in her stall for a half hour then come back when she's done and let her out. When I got back, the snake was nowhere to be seen. Haven't seen him since, and still no mice.

      Delete
    2. I'm older Mr. Juvat sir, I need that 18 year old single malt. Really I do.

      She batted her eyes at you didn't she? :)

      Delete
    3. She's my favorite. And yes, she did bat her eyes at me when we first met and put her head on my shoulder. Oh wait....Are we talking about the horse?
      As for 18 YO single malts, medicine of the Gods, I say!

      Delete
  11. We had pet boas and king snakes when i was growing up, and i let my #2 Son have pet snakes. He once brought home a copperhead. When i looked in the bucket and looked at him he said, "Here, I wrapped him in my jacket to bring him home and now my jacket stinks, can you wash it?" The temps were below freezing that night so the snake got to stay in the house.

    Then there was the time i was babysitting and i had to take the kids to the pet shop to get a mouse for the pet snake to eat. The mouse tried to fight back and the poor snake had gravel in its mouth and its tongue was bleeding. As i performed first aid on a small ball python, i thanked my lucky stars that snakes don't bother me.

    Cats are easier to deal with for rodent control, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He had a copperhead inside his jacket, and it didn't strike. I think that puts a lot of old fables to rest. Yeah, I've just got to figure out how to get some cats up there though.

      Delete
  12. Here at the Lazy B, I don't stop to discover what kind of snake it is. If it is near me or my house, it is a dead snake. I've been known to sing the Spider and Snake song to my hubby when he gives me some ranch hand job that is sure to bring me near creepy crawly critters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, my first thought when I evacuated was "where's the nearest shovel?" Then I thought that as big as it is, if it's a rattler, he's going to be able to strike me before I get close enough. So I opened the door to evaluate options and the view in the second picture showed the tail which put him as a bull snake. Since I knew they liked Mouse Sushi and I had plenty of that available and the horses didn't seem too agitated, I went with the live and let live school.

      Not that I disagree with your thought process at all, though.

      Delete
  13. "Pretty sure, she's thinking, "You're the fighter pilot, go in there and do some of that fighter pilot stuff, juvat" "

    Dumb horse, doesn't she know that you can't do fighter pilot stuff without a fighter aircraft. Anyway, a great tale. Thanks for the post.

    There must be an easier way to get your cardiovascular exercise though. I'm with you on a love of snakes.

    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, I got the heart rate into the target range (and above) in a matter of seconds. Not sure I'd want to make a habit of it though.

      Delete
  14. Don't care for snakes one bit, NoSirree! Kind of tough though when the platoon of manly men's call sign is "Cobra." Took me a couple of months to screw up the courage to move the stuffed Cobra v Mongoose left by the previous occupants of my hootch. Fortunately by the time someone suggested buying a live cobra to cage as a mascot I was senior enough to "nix" that really (bad) idea. Glad to "Get Outta the Place" after 11 months and 20 days. Good tale, glad Jake the Snake didn't put you over the edge as he would have done me. regards, Alemaster

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Dad was assigned to Webb, a lot of his IPs were on a Post-Vietnam tour there. Dad and Mom would have BBQs and invite the guys from his flight and wives over. (Yes, adult recreational beverages were served. I was the bartender). I know it's hard to believe, but when a bunch of pilots get together, war stories start to flow. One recent returnee told the story of a CAS sortie he'd flown in a flight of 4 F-4s loaded with MK-82s. They'd been vectored in on a patrol that was in difficulty and dropped their 48 Mk-82s on the target. As they're checking out with the FAC, he tells them all bombs on target and when Lead asked what the target was, the FAC replied "Apparently a Cobra was on the trail ahead of the patrol." The Lead is reputed to have said "Sounds like a good use of Airpower to me." It wasn't clear from the telling of the story if he was being sarcastic or honest. Given my feelings for Snakes and other stories of Airpower use during that conflict, I'm going to go with the latter.

      Delete
  15. I was just glad to read that you "picked up food for I". You Jamaican fighter pilots need to keep your strength up--you're looking mighty pale, mon!
    --Tennessee Budd

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you have a look at the picture of Sarge and his Daughter next to the Guppy? There's somebody (well, his legs at least) that desperately needs a visit to a tropical isle and some sunlight! :-)

      Delete
    2. Hey, I'm white! I don't tan, I burn, I avoid the sun unless I have 7 or 8 layers of SPF 1000 smeared all over me.

      Unlike a vampire though, I can handle some sun. Just not a lot.

      Delete
    3. Small doses, Sarge, small doses. Build up a good base tan first.

      All that having been said, it was hot enough last weekend to warrant shorts. My legs were only a shade or two darker than yours.

      Delete
    4. Been there, tried that. I burn and I burn bad. No matter what.

      Delete
    5. I think I've got a video of that.

      Delete
    6. Hahaha! Now that's old school.

      Delete
  16. Least it wasn't a black snake, them'll chase you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that wouldn't have been good for the heart rate. As there was no one else around, I'd have had to be able to outrun the horses and that's unlikely.

      Delete
  17. This just proves, once again, that you can always tell a fighter pilot, you just can't tell'em much. But I'm glad to hear that you still remember how to initiate a Martin-Baker E and E procedure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I'm pretty sure it was teleportation. Bright lights, a short ethereal feeling, Bright lights, and poof, I'm 20 yards away.

      It's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)