Have you ever done something completely out of anything you ever thought you'd never do? Without thinking about it at the moment, I mean obvious you were aware of what you were doing at the time and all, but I mean, ugh well let me explain...
Growing up I was deathly afraid of guns more because I had no reason to know how to use them so therefore I didn't have any experience with them which in my not so logical head meant I needed to be afraid of them. I'm no longer afraid of them, I have a very healthy respect for them and have learned how to use them properly, I am by no means an expert, but love learning and practicing with them. When we moved here and I acquired livestock, (baby goats in particular, prime targets for an attack) and I heard a pack of coyotes in the area, it occurred to me that if something did happen to my livestock and I couldn't reach the vet I had no way to end the pain and suffering if such was the case. That didn't sit well with me. The thought of having an animal suffer and me not being able to do anything about it didn't sit well either. Sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done, a lesson I've learned well this month. This week I noticed another hen that wasn't quite right and despite my best efforts to make her well she wasn't responding, so I took her out behind the barn and did what needed to be done. No suffering.
All winter long we've had some house guests - unwanted house guests, squirrels, both red and gray. We would be sitting in the living room and hear it or them scratching in the walls or running across the ceiling while sleeping, unnerving and totally annoying! I'd also seen it running along the rafters in the garage and slipping into the crawlspace and disappearing from sight only to be heard later in the walls. In this situation I see no need for a hav-a-heart trap, I do not have a heart. They are the enemy; not only keeping me awake at night which is the same as waking a hibernating bear - taking your life into your own hands, but wreaking havoc in my home. NOT OK! As far as I'm concerned if you are not invited into my home, considered an intruder, you are fair game, future potential pests take note, you've been warned! Now I've come a long way to get to this point, when we first moved in the house had been empty for several months, it was winter and a few mice had taken up residence for some reason in the dishwasher. I'd have chosen the sunroom, it's got a better view, but I'm not a mouse. Anyway, I didn't want to unpack everything until I was rid of the mice. We set traps and catch some, the dogs were not helpful at all, they'd wake us up in the middle of the night barking - at a mouse! (Not amusing!)
Well one night I was up rather late trying to finish up a hat I was knitting and saw the mouse scurry across the kitchen floor so I set another trap and waited. I heard a snap shortly after, fyi, mice cannot scurry past peanut butter... I waited, mostly because I needed to suck it up and go deal with the now dead mouse, gross! So I summoned the courage walked towards it in the kitchen and the trap moved! I let out a squeal and tried not to wake the family. Somehow the trap only caught the mouses leg and the rest of it was trying for all it's might to get under the stove. The trap was wedge shaped and prevented it. Oh great! Now what do I do?! So I debated waking Ron up but know he values his sleep too I opted against it. I thought about leaving it there and thought it would eventually die out of fright or something. That was out too, I just knew I couldn't kill it and wanted it out of the house! Then the wind howled and I decided since it was February and about 100 below zero, (at least it felt that way!) that I could put it in a plastic shopping bag and put it in the snow outside and it would freeze to death, hypothermia would put it to sleep and then kill it. Hey, what do you expect this was my first experience like this?! So I scooped up the trap with mouse dangling and plopped into the bag ran like crazy to the front door and flung it out shuddering all the time and hoping it wouldn't suddenly grow a super-human strength and climb out or something! It was awful!
The next morning I went out to get the trap so in case I needed it I could reuse it, I picked up the bag, very light and carefully peeked inside so as not to grab the dead mouse. I took a second look and saw a hole had been chewed in the side of the bag and the mouse was gone! I reached in for the trap cursing the mouse and trying to figure out how the damn thing had gotten away only to see an itty bitty foot! The mouse had chewed it's own leg off to free it's self from the trap! Besides being totally grossed out, suddenly very queasy, I felt awful. I had never considered that would happen! Who knew?! So after that I had to come up with a better plan for the disposal of mice... Needless to say my mother ribs me about "stumpy the mouse" occasionally and I no longer knowingly put them in a situation to chew off a leg to escape death.
Which brings me back to today, I was in the garage boiling sap and enjoying the day when Harley, (our boxer) noticed a red squirrel walking into the garage until it realized we were in there. It scurried up the nearest pine tree. I called the dog off and ran inside to get the rifle, loaded it with .22 shot shells; which if you are unfamiliar are like a shot gun shell but WAY smaller! They are small little bb type things in a hard plastic shell which when fired spray out like a shot gun. I've been told it's what animal control officers use in situations like this. Cocked the rifle on the way out, hoping the entire time I'd get the shot to rid myself of this pest and it would not be brazen enough to make it into the house during this time. I looked up into the tree, saw it perched on a branch that was not protected like other branches would have been, looked around and behind the target making sure it was clear, took the safety off, lined up the sights, took a deep breath, let it out and squeezed the trigger. The gun fired and the red squirrel dropped and it was over all in the same second. I watched it for a minute to make sure that it was dead then went a few steps closer to it and fired again, just for good measure. I was thankful for all the practicing I had done, thankful I'd gotten it on the first shot and it wasn't suffering or trying to run away, Thankful that all the teaching that my dad has taught me came into play, the sight picture, the breathing, squeezing the trigger steadily not jerking it, the breathing, the breathing, the breathing. Thankful that I'd been calm enough to remember all that and the training at the class I took about knowing not only what the target is but what's in front of and behind it as well. Thankful for the clear shot and that it hadn't moved or gone back into my home.
For me the preventing suffering yesterday was entirely different from this. I mean essentially it the exact same thing, taking a life of another living creature, not something I take lightly or want to do, but when it comes to protecting my home from a potential fire caused by a squirrel chewing the wires or what have you I'd do it again, no doubt.
After it was done I thought about what I had just done and was a bit taken aback, I realized I'd just done one of those things that I never thought I'd ever do! It kind of shocked me a bit!
Faith And Andrew have been big fans of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Pocahontas, etc. lately and thought they would like to try to skin it and tan the pelt and dissect it because they love anatomy and figuring out how things are similar and different as well as how it all works together. I obliged them - supervising of course! Oddly enough it was Faith that really enjoyed it and Andrew who got a wee bit queasy, not that I can blame him, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea either, I prefer chai! They did not just 'hack it up, they were truly dissecting it and investigating it all and in a weird way I was proud of their curiosity. Faith excitedly said to Andrew, "Hey Andrew let's see if we can find the trachea!" Not a normal exclamation for a girl her age, but.... they found a peculiar red and white organ which if I remember correctly was part of his 'squirrelhood' and they could tell the difference between the pancreas, kidneys and lungs. You cannot imagine how long the 'small' intestines were, WOW! I'm not sure if the pelt will come out and actually be usable; or even what they'd use it for, but the fact that they tried is one of those things that I love about my kids!