July 8, 2013 10:17:53 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
Here I am." Kathy McCoy hollered and motioned for me to follow.
Cupped in her hand was a fuzzy-headed purple martin. Kathy explained the bird was born with an undeveloped wing. Marty chirped constantly but nestled comfortably next to Kathy. She was checking horsefly traps that Kathy's husband, Mike, had built.
"We made the horsefly traps to keep horseflies off the horses but they work well for feeding Marty."
Kathy reached into the trap and held the fly between two fingers; she pressed it near Marty's beak and the bird swallowed it whole. Kathy said, "It just took a few times of prising his beak open before Marty realized I was his food source."
Kathy's been hauling Marty with her all over town. She packs him a little lunch of crickets.
Then Kathy shared her snake tale. Seems Kathy was getting an egg a day from her chicken and feeling bad about removing the hen's only egg; she replaced it with a plastic egg. The plastic egg disappeared. Kathy suspected a chicken snake had taken the egg and, sure enough, while her brother-in-law, Harpo, was visiting they spied a snake with a big egg-like bulge in his belly.
Being the compassionate people they are, the crew decided to remove the egg. Otherwise, the snake would perish -- and that's when the story got real interesting.
By inching a garbage can near the snake Kathy managed to contain him. She made a quick call to the "Garden Mama," who confessed to having no idea what to do, so Kathy put the snake in the freezer. She thought this would send it into some state of hibernation while she gathered up some operating tools.
Removing the lethargic snake from the freezer, Kathy, Mike and Harpo dipped it in some alcohol and tried to administer a bit down his throat. Alcohol would serve as an anesthetic.
Husband Mike was the surgeon; with a razor sharp knife he made a small slit at the protrusion and removed the plastic egg. Using biodegradable cotton thread and a curved needle, Mike sewed the incision back together.
Harpo, the nurse, kept his fingers on the snake to make sure there was a pulse. I'm not sure where you take a snake's pulse. The operation was complete and triple-antibiotic ointment was applied to the incision.
Kathy then put the snake back into the garbage can and tried to feed it some smushed up bugs. But the snake just wanted to leave.
So Kathy, Mike, Harpo, and a helper who wishes to remain anonymous, took the garbage can over to the river bank where they let the snake go.
So far they have not seen the snake again but Kathy says, "You know that once the snake knows where the chicken lays her eggs he'll be back again."
Personally, I have my doubts about that.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.