Snake!

Nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies more than coming across a snake…except for maybe Lima beans…and the unexpected splash of fresh, hot chicken poo on the back of the neck.

Being in South Texas we have the added bonus of being home to four different venomous snakes…snake sightings were somewhat common even when we lived in town . Granted you’re likely to find more snakes out in the boonies and even more so in the, ahem, swamp we call home.

In this area you can find rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads, and water moccasins along with lots of non-venomous varieties. Funny the things one can be thankful for, eh? Some are thankful that the only snake they’ve ever come across was at the zoo…pfft…I’m thankful that we’ve never seen any rattlesnakes on our place and have only run across copperheads, the occasional water moccasin, and one coral snake. You know, it’s really the little things that count.

Our land had been vacant for some time before we moved here and it was terribly overgrown…perfect snake habitat. Well, at least that’s what we figured since we killed over 40 copperheads that first summer.

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My snake wranglers our first spring on the land….oh my, were they ever really that little?

Over the years our numbers have gone down dramatically, thanks to many snake hunting expeditions after dark and Boy 1’s crazy snake killing dog. I swear he thought it was his purpose in life to eradicate the world of slithering beasts, venomous or not. He’d get bit in the process every now and then, but he’d come straight up to the house for some Benadryl and a couple hours rest and then he’d be right back at it.

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Oh my, then there was the time The Girl found one in the bathroom. It was just the two of us at home, of course, since anytime something major happens the Farmerman is on shift or otherwise not home!

Time for the “back-story”…should only take a minute then we shall get back to the point at hand…sorry it’s hereditary…

The Girl got the whole potty training thing down pat by the time she was 3, except for when she REALLY had to go…and since she always waited till the last possible second to go, she ALWAYS, REALLY had to go. She’d run to the bathroom, doing the pee-pee dance, and then scream “I can’t do it!!” When asked why, she’d scream even more frantically “Cause I have to go too bad!!” Seriously…we have really never figured that one out.

355She’s so little….WAAAAA!!

So, The Girl was 3 and came running to me saying she had to go potty. I sent her to the bathroom and we go thru her normal routine (see above) a couple times. But then she comes back out, doing the pee-pee dance, and says she saw a snake. Being the awesome momma I am, I told her that it was probably a worm(thinking she had not really seen anything at all), and I sent her back in. She comes back again, still dancing, and adamantly tells me that she saw the snake again. So, another proud momma moment here, I start asking the poor dancing baby to describe the snake to me. When I asked her how long is was and she stretched her sweet little arms out as far as she could, I knew she had probably actually seen a snake…and it was in the bathroom!!!

After running her outside to cop a squat, we snuck back in, armed with a broom. I peered around the corner of the door just as a slithering, slimy snake stuck his head out from behind the toilet. So we did what any reasonable person would do…we shut the door and shoved a towel between it and the floor and we called Farmerman and the boys to come home and rescue us. Thankfully they were just down the street and were able to properly dispose of it. It would’ve been a long night without a potty if they hadn’t been around…snake wrangler is NOT in my job description! It was decided that an uncovered gray water drain line from our bathtub probably wasn’t the best idea, so we fixed it and never had a snake in the house again.

We’ve had chickens now for about 3 years and amazingly had never had one in the coop…till this past fall. I had a hen decide she wanted to be a momma and she had six perfect dark brown eggs under her. We marked it on the calendar and started counting down the 21 days till they hatched. We even candled them to see if they were growing and at day 17 all six were full of little chicks. Then on day 18, she only had 5 eggs under her…not ideal, but it does happen every now and then. Day 20 she had 2 eggs left. Day 22 we heard peeping as we walked up to the coop. Opened the door and saw momma and two chickies on the floor instead of the nest box…and a big black snake in her place in the nest box. That dang jerk had eaten all my her babies!! Thankfully Boy 1 was home and came to my rescue cause, again, Farmerman was at work 😉20130726-144053.jpg

We’ve had two or three more big black snakes in the laying boxes since then. I don’t know for sure since we may have seen the same one twice. Farmerman didn’t have fast enough hands a couple months ago and the snake got away. We think he was back again last night and The Girl almost grabbed him while collecting eggs…we seriously need to stop gathering eggs after dark! Farmerman reached in the box, grabbed that snake by the tail and pulled him out of the coop…did you catch that it was with HIS HANDS?!? It flipped and flopped around trying to get him before he was able to, um, very dramatically (according to The Girl) dispose of the egg thief. Don’t get me wrong, I think snakes have a place in the world and on our farm, but my coop is not it. I’m pretty sure he’s been partaking of the egg feast for some time and am confident he would’ve found his way back eventually had we just relocated him.

And wouldn’t you know that my dang “wanna be a momma or die” broody hens weren’t even discouraged by that snake creeping around under ’em?? I guess if the 100+ degree days, the passage of time (3 months), and a snake hasn’t deterred them from trying to hatch eggs, then nothing but a bunch of eggs hatching under them will get them out of the nest boxes…dang determined girls, they’re starting to worry me! So, since I don’t have a rooster at the moment, I bought the girls some babies! I am still waiting for some more to come in. When they do I’ll put a few under the girls and the rest in the incubator. Then when they hatch I’ll stick them all under the mommas and let those stubborn girls raise em for me 😉 Hopefully we will have some Birchen Marans chickies running around here in about 3 weeks or so!!

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These Birchen Marans are from Greenfire Farms who have the most beautiful birds…not where mine are from, but I’m hoping they’ll be as pretty

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Blue Laced Red Wyandottes…have I told you I’ve always wanted Wyandottes…arent they purty!!

Our chickens are free range during the day, but they make their way to the safety of the coop at dusk.  Adding the new chickies to the 39 we already have calls for a chicken coop expansion…and that’s what we’re off to do now! Will update with chickie pictures when we get some!

Meet Penelope

You’d never guess that she’s a former show girl, would ya?

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Don’t worry, sweet girl, it happens to the best of us 😉

Boy 2 raised & showed Penelope last year. From the beginning we knew she was something special…mainly cause she told us so.

What…your pig has never talked to you? Yep, neither had any of ours, until Penelope…seriously. You’ve never seen such a happy, easy going pig. And when you bend down and pick her ear up so you can see her eye to eye, she tells you all about her day, I promise!  Sometimes I think I even hear her grumbling about being an ex-beauty queen, world on a silver platter, and what her first 12 babies did to her body 😉

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She didn’t even complain, and actually seemed to enjoy it when it was time to get washed up before the shows…if you’ve ever been in the show barn during hog washing you know how traumatic it can be for all involved…hmph, I imagine anyone within a mile radius can hear that kind of ruckus. Can you say earplugs?!

And you’ve never seen a pig enjoy just being a pig as much as Penelope. Much to the horror of our FFA advisor, she absolutely LOVED running around the show ring at her first show…I swear all the giggling from the crowd even egged her on. She ran circles in that ring, grunting and snorting about till she got hot. She then proceeded to root herself out a nice cool spot in the dirt, then plopped down in it with a huge sigh of contentment. You’d have never known that Boy 2 spent time every day before that teaching her how to walk like a proper show girl should.
ACK…note to self…get a camera with a better zoom!
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Does it look like the judge is stifling a laugh, or trying to rub out the headache he feels coming on?? I’m going with laugh, just cause that’s what I was doing!

We just loved that girl, so much so that we decided to add her to our little herd of pasture pigs. Besides, since Gloucestershire Old Spots were used in creating the commercial Spot pig of today, we figured it’d be nice for Penelope to get back to her roots 😉

This was Penelope a couple weeks ago…poor girl, a big pregger belly like that in South Texas, in late June just can’t be much fun!
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And this (click for the video) was Penelope just over a week later…

She easily delivered 10 piglets in the pasture without the need of a farrowing crate or much help from the peanut gallery…

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What…full out zebra and momma’s Bogs isn’t your standard farm uniform?!

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It was really something else to watch. She would deliver a piglet, and as soon as it was up & running she would get up and go to another spot to have the next one. Once she had them all delivered she went and laid down near them and made her momma grunts to call them to her and the feeding frenzy began. I swear she kept getting up and moving because she was scared she was going to squish them! Well, that’s what I swear now…at the time I was freaking out thinking she was abandoning her babies and being a horrible momma. But then to watch her big ol’ 400ish lb self plop down and then call the babies was a truly humbling experience…we humans think we are so smart don’t we?? I really need to learn how to let nature take its course!

I really don’t know if there has been anything, ever, curter than a bunch of spotted babies!
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And they really do get up and start running and wrestling (video here too) around with each other, too…can you believe they were only about 2 hours old in the video?!

Bug Out, Hoarders, & Thrift Shops

Betcha never thought those terms went together, did ya?? Hang with me for a sec and I’ll give you the back story & then a video 😉 

**WARNING–this post contains all sorts of ’70s & early ’80s fashions**

Bugging out

Some 30 odd years ago, my grandparents and parents were apparently WAY ahead of their time. They came up with a “bug out” plan…well, that’s what they’d call it these days. Hmm, I have no idea what they called it back then…maybe a “get outta Dodge” plan, or an “escape from the city in the desert to the desert mountains” plan? All I know is that it was the late ’70s in the midst of gas shortages and economic unrest and my family felt like they needed to have a place they could escape to if it came to civil unrest. So, they bought some land out in the country, like 2 ½ hours out in the country, and put a mobile home on it. It was so far out in the country that there was no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. But, it was surrounded by public land that was full of deer & elk, and it was near the teeny tiny town Grandpa grew up in, so I guess it was an easy choice.

        

Hoard much??

There were many weekends and vacations spent when I was a baby setting up the mobile home and making sure it was pest and {amazingly} dust proof…my Grandpa was a meticulous sealer 😉 While Dad & Grandpa sealed, chopped firewood, shooed away pesky woodpeckers determined to break in, and killed rattlesnakes; Mom & Grandma spent their time at The Trailer stocking it with canned and dehydrated food, water, and toiletries. Oh, and it was also their job to make The Trailer feel like our home away from home. You’d think it’d be a big, expensive task to furnish and decorate a whole other house, right? Especially when our nation was in said economic unrest? Hah, you silly gooses you…you see, Grandma & Mom don’t throw or give anything away…EVER.

They were hoarders, when hoarding wasn’t coo-ool.

I am convinced Mom & Grandma agreed to the whole “Trailer” plan just so all their old things had a place to retire. The curtains in the living room used to reside in Mom & Dad’s bedroom in the city. The drawers were filled with outgrown baby clothes and “almost” worn out clothes. Outdated winter coats, Mom’s wedding shoes, and Grandma’s extra pink polyester robe complete with old tissues in the pocket {come on, you know your Grandma’s pockets were the same}, joined the hiking and snow boots in the closet.

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Over the years whenever either of them would redecorate, all the old decorations would inevitably end up at The Trailer. Tired of TV Guides & Mother Earth News piling up? Well, just take ’em to The Trailer. Found an extra deck of Old Maid playing cards at a yard sale?? Take ’em to the trailer! Got a good deal on a gazillion packets of Kool-Aid?? Take it to the trailer!! As a teenager I even hopped on the bandwagon and took my old Sassy & YM magazines out there…hoarding genetics apparently can’t be denied, folks.

Family Retreat

Since the unsure ’70s gave way to the more abundant ’80s and ’90s, The Trailer became more of a gathering place for the entire family than a post-apocalyptic shelter. It was a great place to just get away from it all, and an even better place to visit with family without any distractions. We hiked and slid down mountains, learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, and how NOT to shoot a BB gun…well, more like how NOT to pump up the BB gun 20ish times in a menacing way, point and shoot it at your cousin {thinking it was unloaded} who is prancing around down range like a bunny, then laugh hysterically when said cousin screams in what you think is mock pain when a BB from the NOT unloaded BB gun hits him in the butt thigh…po, Ty, po, po, Ty.

Sheesh, if it weren’t for the acid washed jacket I’d think this was Boy 2, not my brother!

For Mom it was a place to finally get some rest…she’d plop down in her favorite chair right by the Ashley stove and be knocked out till it was time to load up and go home…raising a family, going to school, and running a couple business can wear on a girl!

Mom, sticking her tongue out at Dad, and almost down for the count, I think we’d been there all of 30 seconds 😉

Visiting The Trailer was always like walking into a time capsule, or maybe even a literal home away from home. Heck, they even drilled a well and put a windmill up…now if we could just do something about the outhouse situation!!





Grandpa still meticulously kept The Trailer sealed so it would always be clean and well maintained for anyone who wanted to enjoy it, up until he just couldn’t do it anymore. It was only appropriate a few years back that it was there that the family met, almost all together, one last time in remembrance of him.

Passing the Torch

The Trailer has sat practically unused since then, and even though it had been years since Grandpa had worked on it, it remained clean and pest free…until two summers ago when the door was popped open. Since then it has been a constant worry of Grandma’s, to the point that she wanted to sell her half of it. Even though they were all too young to remember the one sad time they went to The Trailer, and even though we now live about 12 hours away, Boy 1, Boy 2, and The Girl decided they wanted to buy Grandma out.

We just got back home to the farm from a “working” visit to The Trailer to clean up the mess left from the door being open for who knows how long. Mom, Grandma, & my brother and nephews met us out there and the place is looking like new, well, actually more like old 😉 I went back to the big city with Mom and left the Boys & Farmerman to scout for their big elk hunt this fall. Like I said, there are NO distractions out there…we barely have cell service…so, with an obnoxious song stuck in their heads and a little time on their hands…they had just enough time left on the video camera to pay homage to some of what The Trailer encompasses 😉 Click HERE to be transported to the video on Vimeo {especially if viewing on a mobile device} or here to go to YouTube {won’t show on mobile devices 😦 }.

I spy, with my little eye, a bright pink polyester robe 😉