Coming around the back of the barn, all stalls were clear and I had only one more to check and, as luck would have it, that one turned out to be a problem. As I opened the stall gate and looked inside, the squeak of the gate or the vibration of my feet approaching got the attention of a three foot plus cottonmouth who raised his head, started to come in my direction with fangs exposed and I whacked him with the flat headed shovel in my hands and it didn't even stun him. He started coming my way and as I backed away I stepped in a large hole that one of my Great Pyrenees had dug just outside the gate and I fell flat on my back with a thud. I landed on the back potion of my rib cage adjacent to the kidney and it hurt terribly, but I forced myself up and, thankfully, realized the snake had stopped at the doorway and with me retreating he turned back into the barn. I called the dogs to come with me as I hurried as best I could to the house to retrieve my lightweight single shot 410 shotgun which I had just for this occasion. It's much easier to use than a large weapon and at short range like this it can be aimed and fired with just one arm and it's efficient. Quickly, or as fast as my aching back would allow I returned to the barn, looked in the doorway and the snake was lying in the shavings yet looking directly at me and immediately raised his head but remained motionless thereafter, likely sizing me up. There was no hesitation this time as I aimed and fired one blast and within a second or two his motions became nothing more than his nervous system taking over with his body and tail wiggling and his head raised as if it could will him forward. Then I used the shovel again and except for the twitching of his tale his motion stopped. I moved him with the shovel and his whole body was limp and from the look beneath him it appeared he had bled out, so I put the snake in the shovel and was going to hang him on the fence for my wife to see at the end of her day but he slipped into the brambles where the picture above shows him.
He was the snake that didn't get away and the day ended well in that nobody was serious hurt, yet the bruising of the ribs was painful and last night was somewhat dreadful. But today is better and in a few days I'll be as good as new. God is good and He blessed me and He reminded me to never take my barn duties lightly and always be prepared for anything. It also reminded me of why snakes like moccasins can't be allowed to peacefully coexist around places where people and their animals routinely congregate, but out in the midst of broad nature the wild things need to be left alone. So, if you ponder the thoughts of moving to rural Florida or any other Southern state, ponder this situation and you will be fine if you heed its warning. I hope you will find this helpful if some of you ultimately become a Southern country boy. Despite the small aggravations, it is truly a blessed life. God bless my Southern rural home.