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.

20130726-143757.jpg

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.

099

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!!

20130726-143739.jpg

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

20130726-143749.jpg
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!

Free Range Bunnies??

Back in the fall, The Girl decided she just had to have some show bunnies.

Me: “Seriously?! But you already have TWO show pigs, we’ve got pasture piglets out the wazoo, and a brand new Ellie girl to milk! Do we really need bunnies, too?? And we know nothing about rabbits…and what are we going to do with them after the show?? I REFUSE to keep them. Besides, bunnies are only soft and fluffy until they start scratching the snot out of your wrists!”

The Girl: “But they’re SO cute, and SO fluffy, and SO soft and I promise I will go out there every day before and after school and take care of them all by myself!”

Boy 1: “I already told the ag teacher we would take 4.”

Sheesh…why the heck not?! We’ve always jumped into every farm adventure with both feet…whether we knew anything about said adventure before hand or not. Could bunnies really be so hard? Besides, The Girl said she’d take care of them all by herself, and promised that she would have no problem letting them go at the end of the show season.

And who can really say no to bunnies??

So, we became bunny owners
20130621-210913.jpg

And they were soft, and fluffy, and oh so stinkin’ sweet. The Girl handled them twice a day, every day as promised.  She even made a bunny log so she could track what they were eating and gaining, her idea and all by herself, with hand drawn pictures of each of the four bunnies :)…and they never once tried scratching her wrists off.

Show day came about two months after we got them. They took a respectable 37th place out of about 90-ish entries…and they made the sale! Yep, bunnies all of a sudden became the easiest FFA project ever…and did I mention we only went thru one bag of feed?!? Easy AND cheap…I think I’m in love!

Judge: "Can you tell me if this is a boy or a girl?"

Judge: “Can you tell me if this is a boy or a girl?”

The Girl:  "I have NO idea."

The Girl: “I have NO idea.”

But…now what? Show was over and The Girl was devastated that she had to sell them. So we did what we do best, we procrastinated, and we hemmed and hawed about it till one night while I was milking and The Girl was loving on one of her bunnies when she started giggling about how fat he was. I glanced over and saw that the little guy looked like he was growing a little…UDDER?! Do bunnies even have “udders”?? You see, we were told all 4 bunnies were boys, which gave us all the time in the world to grow them out to wabbit stew size figure out what we would be doing with them. Next day there was fur all over the cage, a definite sign of impending baby bunnies. We put the little fatso in a different cage and a couple days later she delivered. Unfortunately the one little bunny she had didn’t make it…and neither did the OTHER girl’s kits. Yep, that makes TWO girls out of the four, sheesh.

However, even with the disappointment from the loss of the bitty bunnies, a bunny business plan had begun to form in The Girl’s head. Poor thing, it’s a curse…we just can’t have or do anything “just because”…I blame my momma, and my grandma, and heck might as well throw my great-grandma in there too since I’m pretty sure it started with her ;).

Grandma Perkin's first beauty shop.

Grandma Perkins’ first beauty shop.

Since we already had the cages, she reasoned, couldn’t she please just keep them and sell the babies or, <gulp>, raise them for meat?? It seemed like a grand idea, till our cool spring turned into a downright hot summer and the wascaly wabbits started to get miserable…and then started getting out. After a week or two of rounding them up every night and after seeing how they looked so content running around the barnyard and paddock we decided they could just stay out for a while.  Besides, they couldn’t fit thru the smaller openings at the bottom of the fence, so they should be safe and sound, right? The Girl was warned that we may lose one, or all, this way but when a week passed and the bunnies were all still accounted for we started to think free range bunnies might not be so bad! Then one day we only counted three bunnies.  Then a couple days later another disappeared, then a third. The Girl was a wreck. Just when we thought all hope was lost, one showed back up, granted he was missing a small piece of ear and had a slightly wild look in his eye, but he was back nonetheless! We kept him out and spied on him hoping he would eventually lead us to the other missing bunnies. To our surprise he cooperated and finally led us right to them!

20130621-215932.jpg

And it’s no wonder we couldn’t find them…they were outside the fence…next to the road!!

20130621-220025.jpg

Since we figured they’d been there for a few days already, we decided they’d be ok to stay there…the fact that they were totally surrounded by, and most definitely covered in poison ivy may have had a little something to do with that decision.

However, the next day when the neighbors hound started hooting and hollering from the general direction of where the bunnies had been we knew that their free range time had come to an end. It took four of us over an hour to chase those darn things back to the barn, and I’m sure the neighbors driving home from work were wondering what the heck we were up to THIS time, but I’m happy to report that all four bunnies are accounted for and barricaded into their pens…how they were opening the door in the first place is still a mystery.

Our first attempt at free range rabbits has failed, and I’m pretty sure they picked up some fleas while they were out in the “wild”…seriously, how do you get rid of fleas on a rabbit? Knowing how happy they were out there means I’m sure we will try to figure something else out, but for now I’ve got poison ivy and scratched wrists to tend to ;).

20130621-215853.jpg

UPDATE!!

Before I could get this posted, The Girl went out and checked her bunnies and we found this!!  This harebrained…heehee, couldn’t help myself…bunny plan just might work out after all!