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 an unwelcome surprise

This past saturday we were away from the farm all day long, so when I got home about 8:30pm I had a bunch of chores to do.  I started with a trip down to the duck house to herd them inside and close the door for the night.  Next I headed up to the pool to get the cover pump going since it had stormed during the day and filled with water. By the time I made it to the chicken coop, most of the daylight was gone.  

The girls were all up their roost, and I noticed that for the first time, all four pullets had made it up there instead of sleeping on top of the nesting boxes.  I stepped into the coop to collect the eggs and peer into the nesting boxes. The first box is closest to the door and thus the most lit, but all I see is the golf ball we put in early on so the hens know where to lay.  Oh well, the girls dont seem to prefer laying in that box as much as the other two. Squinting into the darker middle box I find the same thing, no eggs just a golf ball. Seems a little odd, but hey, I’m not going to question the mind of a chicken.  The third box is farthest from the light, but there appears to be a lot of something in it.  As I reached into the dark box to collect my bounty of eggs, I thought for a split second about how all ten hens must have been lined up all afternoon for their chance to sit in the prized box.

My mind switched gears an instant later, and I realized that I had just grabbed ahold of something that felt nothing like the shell of an egg.  I knew now why we seemed to be short on eggs over the past few days.  It was time to take a picture to let my wife know what she was missing out on by staying behind to help clean up after a party at her parents houe.

  
Thankfully, Mr. Black Snake had been attempting to munch down another egg when I stuck my hand in and he hadn’t snapped at me, but now I needed to extract the visitor.  I quickly grabbed an empty feed bucket with lid that was sitting in the coop, stuck it near the box and put on a thick pair of gloves, but then decided to use the pitch fork in the corner instead of reaching back in there with my hand.  At this point the chickens on their shoulder-high roosts were getting restless, and they rustled and peeped disgruntedly, eyeing me as I moved around the coop.  

I slid the tines under the snake to gently lift him into the bucket, but he took off and high-tailed it out the door. I chased him down, pinned his head to the ground with the pitch fork handle, and quickly grabbed him at the back of his head.  He instinctively wrapped himself around my arm; looking back, that would have been the perfect moment totake the picture I sent to my wife.  Wearing my new snake bracelet, I had to re-enter the coop to grab the bucket, further distrurbing the chickens, especially Mr. Rooster, who has taken a great interest in my adventures.  They bob their heads and fidget nervously as I unceremoniously dumped the uninvited guest into the bucket.

With the snake contained and the wife notified, it was time to decide the fate of my captive.  I know this type of snake is good for keeping down the rodent population, but his appreciation for eggs means he can’t stay here.  We decide not to take the thief’s life, but definitely want to make sure he won’t easily find his way back.  

I threw the bucket in the back of the truck and drove the snake over the river to the next county.  For the sake of accuracy, the county line is only about a mile away, but to make it back to our coop, he will have to cross a set of railroad tracks and a hundred yard bridge or swim across the river.  For now, I feel the eggs are pretty safe.

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So big so fast

Well, the ducklings have been with us just over a week, and if their past week of growth is any indication, we may have received emus instead of ducks.


Our brooder will busting at the seams by the weekend, and we read that the ducks will need to be in it for about 2 months. Looks like I will be at Lowes this Saturday rethinking how best to raise 13 ducks on my dining room table until the weather warms.

So let me close this post with the best piece of advice I can currently give to anyone getting ducklings for the first tim: ducklings are cute little fluff balls for about 2 seconds and will be as big as a grey parrot in about a week. You have been warned.

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Welcome home ducklings

After 8 months our little piece of land has its namesakes. Our anniversary present to ourselves arrived by mail yesterday morning, and after a quick trip to the post office we have our ducks.

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We ordered twelve and they sent thirteen; as we understand it, there can be up to 20% mortality in the first few weeks, thus the hatchery hedges their bets.
Continue reading Welcome home ducklings

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Surprise, it’s Thursday!

frog on rock

I’ve always pretty much kept to a “live and let live” philosophy when it comes to nature’s creatures and critters with a few exceptions, mainly along the lines of: food sources (yay bacon!), outside things that come inside without an invitation, and surprise visits.  I simply cannot be held responsible for my actions when things just SHOW UP IN MY HAIR OR CRAWL ACROSS MY LEG OR FLY INTO THE BEDROOM LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  I still feel a smidgen of guilt about shop vacuuming the bats but seriously, it was like two in the morning, and my decision-making skills decline sometime after midnight.  And before two, evidently.

But when I’m outside things can pretty much creep and scamper along the perimeter of my personal space and it never really bothers me.

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Today I added one more exception to my list.  Copperhead snakes.  Beautiful and venomous, she slithered out from nearby where I was clearing some brush for a future garden site.  She didn’t go far, pretty much just out of range of my hand saw, and then just sorta sat there, terrorizing me.  I took a quick phone pic and then googled copperhead images just to be sure what I was dealing with… then I texted my daddy for advice.  He replied by telling me to be careful and and when prodded for a method of removal he suggested a golf club.

I stood there contemplating my options when the copper head turned my way and stuck her tongue out at me.  Then, I must confess, I completely freaked, said a quick prayer (OHMYGODDEARJESUS) and did the most ladylike thing that sprang to my mind… I ran it over with the tractor.  Twice.  And then turned on the mower just to be safe.

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Thursday kept on keeping on: I found our well (with the brush clearer attachment on the weedeater.  Need to replace blades tomorrow), the kitchen faucet line attempted to secede from the Union and spray water into the cabinet instead, and then the blender caught fire.  Seriously, smoke poured out the back for three minutes after I unplugged the wretched thing.

Luckily the man of the house showed up soon thereafter with a “calming” bubble bath, and which might have worked had I not spent the tub time looking up ways to deal with copperheads (internet advises not dealing with them directly) and reading other peoples’ tales of snake infestations in and around their homes.  Then I looked at bite pictures.  Save yourself the stress and don’t ever google those.  EVER.

Now it’s Friday so we’re safe.  Boots, gloves, and heavy jeans today, and I’ll probably be watching more closely where I put my hands and feet for awhile.

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big girls dont cry

A few months ago, after two years of searching for a home that would shelter us through the next chapters in our life, we found a spot on earth that was nothing like our sweet suburbian cottage or the sleek city condo where we have rested our heads.  It was also nothing like the old white romantic farmhouse on a hill overlooking manicures lawns and gardens that I had been dreaming about, and that never seemed to show up anywhere near our price range on my realtor.com app that I religiously checked every night before bed.  In fact, I’d never even considered a log cabin as a possible housing option.  And if there’s any decor style that I’ve abhorred has never resonated with me, it’s the rustic/lodge look.  And yet, ninety days ago we put our little yellow cottage on the market; two days later we accepted a full-price offer; six weeks later I tearfully pulled out of the driveway for the last time and began the hour-and-a-half long drive to the country.