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Adventures in Egg Gathering
McAdoo, Texas
1948

by Neal Crausbay
Panhandle family with barn and mules
The author and dog Tim with grandparents Eula & Wayne Van Leer. "The door beside my grandmother is the harness hallway where the incident occurred."
On our Panhandle farm outside of McAdoo, Texas we raised chickens for the eggs and for food. Often some of the hens would seek out places outside the chicken house to lay their eggs and finding them was always a chore. We had a "harness hall" in our barn that was a narrow hallway about 6 ft. wide that ran the width of the barn, perpendicular to it's length, in which the collars and bridles and other leather harness items were stored for our four mules.

One day in 1948 or '49, when I was eight or nine, my grandmother and I spotted a nest that contained several eggs on the ground in the very back corner. My grandmother squatted down at the nest and reached towards it to pick up the eggs and put them in her apron when she spotted a snake coiled up only a few inches away. She yelled and jumped back and retreated outside the barn. We always had "chicken snakes" around the farm that would eat eggs and after calming down some, she said that this snake was after the eggs and reentered the hallway. She squatted back down on her heals and slowly reached to the nest and captured a couple of eggs in her hand. The snake would move his head backwards from the approach of her hand which would only be about a foot from his head. After making 3 or 4 reaches getting two eggs at a time she had them all. We went back outside the barn and she told me to go up to the house and get the hoe so she could kill this egg robber.

The snake was so deep in the corner of the hallway that she could not get a good swing at it with the hoe, and missed it's head on the first swing. Instantly it started rattling. She yelled again and we once more retreated outside the door, but now knowing it was a rattler, she returned and finally killed it. This snake was at least 4 ft. long and a typical prairie rattler. It was just so dark in this hallway she never suspected it as a rattler.

She was pretty shaken by this experience as it was 3.5 miles to town. But there was no doctor in McAdoo (pop. maybe 100). Having no car and having to get to town to get someone to take her the 24 miles to Spur, Texas where the nearest doctor was, would have perhaps proved fatal for her.


Neal Crausbay
Sweetwater, Texas
January 22, 2005 Guest Column

See McAdoo, Texas

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