Apologies to those who read this on my first blog in 2009. It just seems to be that time of year to remember the scary stuff.
Many, many years ago, too many to confess to, I was driving down the mountain road from the family ranch, into the little town of Tehachapi. As I came around a corner, to my horror, there on the ground in front of me, blocking my lane, was a TARANTULA!!
I may as well clue the reader, here, that nothing with more than 4 legs belongs on my planet. (Butterflies don't count, they hide their legs) I don't even care if it has NO legs, but not more than 4...but... I digress...
I had our 4 WD truck, so I took careful aim, and lined up my driver's side tires to dispatch him....to my dismay, as I looked in the rearview mirror, he was still making his way up the road toward my house at the ranch!!!!! It took a very long time, and countless attempts to achieve my objective. Thankfully, no one came around the blind corner while I was doing so.
You can imagine my horror, when we moved to our new house closer to town and found that we were in a MIGRATIONAL PATH!!! What are these things doing in the mountains, anyway?? I thought they were exiled to the desert along with scorpions and sidewinders...
We discovered this bit of news after returning from an overnight ski trip, to find one crawling up the side of the house towards my bedroom window. THe babysitter made an extra $10 to kill it and dismember it, insuring that it would not revive and continue its trek.
I always said, if one made it inside the house, there would be a FOR SALE sign up that day and the family could find me in a motel. That said, I had to lock down my house for 2 weeks every year in the fall, and avoid working in the yard.
One fine day, I was working colts and had just finished up with a little mare I had in training. I rode down to the barn, turned around in the alleyway, and was about to step down and unsaddle her...when, as luck would have it, I looked up and saw that a rather large tarantula had stepped into the doorway, and had us pinned in the barn!! My first instinct was to gallop back out, but as everyone knows, these suckers can jump, and I just knew it was gonna land on my leg. So there we sat, waiting, waiting, I was unable to dismount, as I wanted to present as large and intimidating a presence as possible. Spurs at the ready, I was prepared to make a run for it as a last resort, should it become aggressive and make a move in my direction. Instead, it looked me over, then slowly, and impudently, sashayed up to my arena. Yes, sashayed.
I took that opportunity to slam the mare in a stall, saddle and all, and race for my tractor. I had formulated a plan in my head, to run over it with the massive tires, but thankfully, I realized the flaw in said plan before suffering the likely consequences. I looked at the very large, deep tread of the tractor tires, and realized that the odds were very high of picking her up between the grooves (I am relatively certain it was a female, as she was hissing at me... I couldn't actually HEAR her hiss...but i sensed it) and flinging her into my face. I had to resort to plan B.
My only hope now, was to smash her with the loader. I slowly rolled my way up into the arena, positioned the hydraulic bucket over her, while she insolently stopped and looked at me, and I grabbed the lever and SLAM!!!! I let the bucket hit the ground full force! ( I reasoned that if a hydraulic bucket is driven into the ground at full speed, and a husband isn't there to see it, no harm done)
To my horror, she was still standing there, looking at me!!! I had MISSED!!!
It took 45 minutes for the tractor to run out of diesel, and for me to accept that I have NO depth perception. I took the risk and leapt from my seat and raced to the phone to tell Randyman of the danger, knowing he would see the urgency and come to my rescue, but instead, he told me to pick up one of the guys working for him at the time. The guy had no car, so I had to go get him. As I turned the corner on our dirt road, I looked down into the arena and could see the abandoned tractor, and that spider (yes, it was HUGE and I could see it from the road) galloping in my direction with a hideous leer on its face-ish, looking part.
When I got back, she was in hiding (probably delivering a bunch of evil babies). It cost Randyman over $40 in employee compensation looking for her. He should have come himself and allowed me to keep an eye on her. She was never apprehended.
This was not an isolated incident. One time, while video taping a riding lesson, my student nearly ripped a horse's face off, as she stopped short of a tarantula that had made its way into the arena. I (barefooted...can't help it, if I don't need spurs, I don't need shoes...) began pedaling backwards to get out of its reach (the camera was on ZOOM) only to trip over a pole and discover yet ANOTHER ONE!
I don't know who unsaddled the horse that day, or who helped the kid out...it became irrelevant to me, as I was hyperventilating in the house. BTW... I still can't watch that video, the thing looks like King Kong on film.
Another time, one popped up thru a hole in the floor of my feedroom, sending me screaming off into the morning. Hours later, aforementioned employee earned an additional $40 for finding the WRONG spider, in one of my feedsacks. I picked up additional feed and kept it at the house until I was satisfied that the feedroom was once again unoccupied.
The most intriguing incident, was the time Randyman was framing for a roof over some of my large paddocks. The front gate was a wood covered pipe panel, 8' high, that would eventually support the front of the eave. As I was feeding (again, barefoot) another tarantula leaped out from behind the wall to attack me. I don't know how I got up on top of that panel, but it took a tractor bucket to get me down again. And Randyman got to fix his own dinner, because it was no laughing matter.
Randyman's Famous Doghouse Supper
Take one large stainless steel pot.
Cover bottom with a thin layer of oil.
(of the pot, stupid...what would be the point otherwise?)
Place 3 popcorn kernels inside, and place on medium high heat.
When kernels explode out onto floor and counter, quickly dump in another 1/4 cup of kernels and slam on the lid.
Shake a couple of times until popping noises diminish.
Pour into bowl, season to taste and enjoy your own company.