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When nature comes calling

Spring showers have turned to torrential downpours in the past few weeks. While it leaves a muddy mess, it has been great for the garden.



A contractor for the power company came through to clear the power lines on one edge of our property.  We were planning to get someone to come bushhog the area, but we wanted to do it after a blackberry harvest.  But hey, at least this was free and very quick.  Now we have a lot more space to do stuff with.


A windy day brought down a couple of the dead trees that had been hanging over our driveway.  Unfortunately, the trees were covered by a giant batch of poison ivy.


After work yesterday I had to make a run to the hardware store for some supplies to fix a pump, and when we turned out of the drive a black bear was running up the road.


The bear looks to be a couple hundred pounds, but I am more concerned by who I found in the goat barn this morning.


I know black snakes aren’t a real danger to me, but there are plenty of things here on the homestead that it could eat, including ….

That’s right we finally have some more ducklings here at Snuggly Duckling Farm.  Of course it wasn’t our ducks that did the hatching though.  It was our good mother hen.


We gathered up some duck eggs from around the yard (because our ducks lay everywhere) and stuck them under our mother hen who had gone broody again.  She hatched all three we put under her.  One of our other hens went broody shortly after this one began to sit and is due to hatch her eggs any day now.  From what we’ve read the ducklings would be okay with the chickens if they were by themselves, but with chicks around the ducklings may have a rough go of it.  But for now the ducklings are just babys amongst the flock.


Have a great race day folks. It’s off to the couch to watch the Monti Carlo gran prix and get ready for the greatest spectacle in sports the Indy 500.

D.

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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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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.

image

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.