Take five, they’re small…

“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” – S. Parkes Cadman

The other night we came home just after dark, and drove up to the chicken coop to lock up the chickens.  I noticed that there were only 3 chickens in the coop, which was really unusual, since chickens always return to their roost at night. So, I went into the pen and they were all crammed into the corner closest to their little doorway into their coop.  The little door was closed, so they couldn’t get int0 their coop.  Chickens, not being the absolute brightest sometimes, will all huddle together in a big ball when they are scared or, as in our situation, they wanted to roost and had nowhere to go.  Unfortuately, in both situations, it is not uncommon for them to crush one another (think: people crushing one another in those soccer matches overseas.  I guess people aren’t too bright, either)  Well, after I dispersed the pile, I found Dot, my daughter’s absolute favorite Bantam hen lifeless on the ground.  I attempted a feeble try at chicken resuscitation, no mouth to mouth, mind you, but she was already gone.  I did not tell our daughter that the turkeys likely crushed little Dot for fear that she would hate the turkeys, so the next day she assumed (as she does with all the animals that are not seen again) that ‘the coyotes’ had nabbed Dot.  So, of course, Dot had to be replaced by another ‘banty’.

We went to Atwood’s and, lo and behold, all of the baby chicks are now on clearance.  My daughter immediately picked out the chick that I had my eye on, which was a tan and black spotted little number, with fully feathered legs.  But, the most eye-catching thing about his appearance was that his bottom beak was at a 45 degree angle to his top beak.  The chicks were already a couple of weeks old, so it was apparent to me after checking out “Stanley’s” body condition, that even though he was a disabled chicken, he was doing just fine.  Yes, a disabled chicken.  So, as we were looking at the other chicks, another family (and I use that term loosely here) came by with about 3 kids and another on the way, and the smallest girl, who looked about two, wanted to touch the tiniest Bantam, whereupon her mother’s boyfriend/new husband/whatever told her, “No, you don’t want the runt.”  First of all, it isn’t as though they were buying chicks, they were just looking.  Second of all, it isn’t like being a runt is contagious, and thirdly, they were Bantam chicks, anyway! (that means miniature chicken, essentially) 

Naturally, I picked up the “runt” and I bought it, too, to save it from being the target of some other redneck’s comments.   Then, I picked up a baby chick for the little girl, who I was pitying at that moment, having to deal with a mother that was running around with an angry-looking redneck boyfriend who took every chance he got to make snappy comments at her, and she pet the chick ever so gently. (That woman really needs to listen to Dr. Laura)  So, then I picked out 3 more chicks that I am almost certain are Frizzles, and we left. 

My husband came home singing a song (we are always singing dumb, made-up songs) with some lyrics about, “Well, we went to get two, and we came home with five…”.  Oh, well. 

In farm life, we worked on the brick path yesterday, despite being 90 degrees with 400% humidity.  The weather has been so wacky lately, I’m surprised we haven’t yet been slammed with a tornado yet.  Today is hot, tonight will be cooler, tomorrow will be hotter, but then the next day we’re having a major cold front.  Go figure.  Anyway, we have completed enough of the path that it is now coming around the front of the house and we have gotten rid of two pallets of bricks that have been sitting in my front yard for about a year.  Yippee!  When Jason moved the last pallet, he found a snake for me, so of course I had to go outside and pick it up!  It looked like a Rough Earth snake to me, but I am not 100% sure on that.  But what I am positive about is that it wasn’t poisonous.  I don’t ‘do’ poisonous snakes.

Snakes Alive!

Wow, it’s really been a loooong time!  Lots has been happening around the farm.  Since I last wrote, I’ve been harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries, and I have planted corn and okra.  I still have several empty beds, but I just don’t know what to put in them!  I’ll probably reserve them for my fall crops now.  Planting for fall will begin next month, starting with fall tomatoes.

About 2 weeks ago, Jason and I came home from a dinner date and found a small ratsnake in the driveway.  Naturally I had to jump out and investigate (I’m pretty sure I’m one of the elite few women in Texas who will do that….wearing flip flops, nonetheless)  Anyway, I picked up its tail and shooed it on it’s way.  So, about 2 nights later, I was walking in the chicken coop to close up the chickens for the night, and there was another scaly friend slipping into my henhouse!  Not in my henhouse, I told it, and I actually caught this one (barehanded, wearing boots), and carried into the house, where Jason was relaxing on the floor.  Poor Jason.  He married the only woman in East Texas that would handle a snake and bring it indoors. 

 Anyway, so then about 2 nights later, I walked out to water the garden.  We have a pair of Dwarf bunnies that reside in our chicken tractor and I heard them running frantically in their cage.  When I looked over there, I saw a large ratsnake trying to strike them through the wire….can you only imagine how terrifying that could be?  This snake was larger than the first two; about 4 or 4.5 feet long.  Armed with nothing other than a flowerpot, I used it to squoosh his head up against the wire so that I could grab his head.  So, I caught him, too, and put him in a little plastic cage so we could release him elsewhere.  I had forgotten about a snake’s sheer will and strength to escape, and while I was out doing something else, he managed to pop the top open.  Fortunately, he only made it to the corner of our shop and we caught him again, this time, we put a roll of heavy wire on the top of the cage. 

Sooooooo, then the NEXT night (lol)  we were in the shop, and I had the thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was yet another ratsnake in that same corner”, and I looked up and there was the biggest one yet, calmly snoozing in the upper corner.  Now, this snake was about 5 foot long, maybe a little more, with a girth of about 2 inches or so.  Pretty big for a native snake.  Jason got his head with a rake and I put on my gloves and caught him.  He was NOT happy, either!  You probably don’t know this, but ratsnakes, and many other snakes release a foul-smelling, musky liquid when they’re caught.  It resembles a dead skunk….it’s just really lovely.  Once you catch a snake, you kindof have to ‘clear house’ for a while so you don’t get nauseated from the smell!

So, I have really had my share of snakes for the past week!  They do not bother me as long as they aren’t trying to eat my livestock, and then it’s war.  I do catch and release, I don’t ever kill them, with the exception of maybe a water moccasin at our pond (haven’t seen one yet).  Even then, I’d have to use a gun to do it, as there’s no way I’m getting close enough to a moccasin to kill it with a shovel!  Same goes for rattlesnakes…I have not seen them, but I wouldn’t get anywhere near one, either.  Moccasins tend to be a more aggressive snake, and rattlesnake’s poison is just plain scary.  I am not really scared of either the copperhead (poisonous, but not aggressive) nor the coral snake (DEADLY poisonous, but rear-fanged and shy).  And, as you can tell, as far as the non-poisonous snakes go, they just don’t scare me.  Mind you, I am very, very careful with them, because I still do not care to get bitten, but I have been bitten before, and while it was scary, I got over it. (Obviously) 

I would urge you not to kill snakes if at all possible as they do an excellent job of eating mice and rats.  Of course, unfortunately, they will also eat birds, chickens, and rabbits, too!  But they’re actually basically good creatures with a bad rap.  I know I’m in the minority when it comes to liking snakes, especially being a woman who likes snakes. People always look at me in a really funny way when I tell them I do catch and release, and I’ve even had parts of the Bible thrown at me (Genesis 3:15 – 15You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.”)

I think that’s very sad to take it in the literal sense, after all, snakes provide us with a great service, which is keeping down the rodent population.  While trying not to question Satan’s choice of a serpent as his earthly form, I really wish he would have picked the cockroach.  Now that I can understand. 

Anyway, the next time you see a snake in the road, think of me and don’t swerve to hit it!