People that follow my blog and Pinterest pages often ask me why I feel that I need to carry a gun every day or have one close by in the vehicle. I am sure for people that live in the city it must seem a strange life so I thought I would explain what it is like out here at WildWoods. First off it is not the Wild West by any means. I often go for a week or two without needing to shoot a firearm yet it is always there at the ready. We live twelve miles out of town in a large county of Central Texas. The two times I have called the Sheriff’s office the response time was well over an hour. With the high price of beef and lamb these days livestock theft or rustling is back in style. Consider that one cow could bring $2,000.00 or more at most any sale barn in the State. There have been numerous times that strangers have driven into the place when the gate was unlocked, even though we have up Posted No Trespassing signs, and we never know who these strangers may be or what they are up to. I hope I never need a gun because of another human but I will be prepared if the need arises. If something goes wrong out here we know we will need to handle the first hour ourselves before help can arrive unless someone is just in our immediate area by chance.
The other issue is predators and snakes. We lost thirty three of our precious lambs to predators the first year we were here, mostly coyotes and feral dogs. We have only lost eight this year due to help from the County trapper and due diligence. We also have found the carcass of a half dozen deer and fawns that had been killed by predators. We have lost chickens, guineas, ducks and entire nests of eggs to snakes, raccoons, skunks and other predators. These livestock animals have no defense and depend on us to protect them. Rabid animals are also a constant concern in this area of Texas.
We have lost three pregnant ewe sheep to snake bite, all were bitten in the face or neck while grazing and did not recover. We have sheep, cattle, llamas, dogs and cats that have no real defense against poisonous snakes. I have grandkids that come and visit and I don’t want to worry about them being outside. I have killed two rattlesnakes, a copperhead and two cottonmouth water moccasins this year so far. The rattlesnakes here did not rattle at all and were very aggressive towards us. One was just off the back porch merely inches from the trail we walk many times a day. It was just at dusk and if my wife had not seen it I believe she would have been bitten. I let one big rattlesnake get away because I was not wearing a firearm and the truck was too far away. It got into knee high grass and would have been too dangerous to try and find it. We let prairie racers, bull snakes, milk snakes, tree snakes, garter snakes, coach whips and other non- venomous snakes have a free pass except for Texas rat snakes that are raiding nest boxes or killing young poultry. If either my wife or I were to get bitten help is over forty five minutes away if they could help as soon as we got in the door which would be unlikely. It would be the same for our dogs or cats and much longer for any of our large livestock.
We also have a stock pond in which we raise catfish and tilapia that gets infested by turtles and water snakes that also enjoy a fish dinner on a regular basis. We have to trap or shoot turtles and the large water snakes on a regular basis to have any chance of success raising the fish. The smaller water snakes are given a pass until they get big enough to do damage. I sometimes think it rains turtles as they just keep showing up in the pond.
As you can see a lot of livestock depends on us to protect them. Our efforts also protect untold quail, turkey poults, song birds, deer and other wildlife. I love animals and wish the wildlife did not have to be managed but we passed the point long ago where the habitat can just be left to itself. I for one will do everything possible to keep my livestock and place safe for all that live and come to visit here. Maybe this will help some of you understand that when you come to see me I will be wearing a firearm or at the least have one close by. Wild Ed