Friday, September 21, 2012

Snake Attack!

 A couple weeks ago we got these cute little puff balls.  20 red stars, 5 Americanas, and 1 specialty bird (that's probably a rooster we'll have to slaughter).  We got the red stars to replace our layers who just aren't doing too well anymore.  The Americanas were thrown in because 25 was the minimum order.  And McMurray's threw in the special little guy.  They arrived all healthy and doing great.  Not a single death or even one so much as go weak in the bunch.  Very impressive, McMurray!
 Meet the yellow rat snake.  I'd seen him around before.  Here he is in a tree branch over the rabbits early one morning.  It was shortly after a crop of babies were born and I knew that thing had been prowling around trying to get into the rabbit hutch.  Thankfully, it couldn't. 
Then one afternoon I followed the family outside and noticed a dead chick 3 days after they arrived.  Usually I see them go weak before they suddenly die so I was really surprised.  I was looking at that chick trying to figure out what happened when I saw ANOTHER dead chick.  Then I got concerned about mold in the feed or something toxic that would run through all of them.  It wasn't for another minute or so that I actually saw the culprit... that snake was sitting coiled up, half buried in paper shreddings, too fat to slither out the hole it came in.  Husbandman grabbed the snake with a pair of garden clompers and dealt with it savagely while I grabbed chicks for a head count.  It was determined and confirmed that this snake ate 3 chicks and killed 2 more.  And if those 2 had not been laying there dead I may have never looked carefully enough to even see the snake!  We did our best to patch the small hole in the hardware cloth that it came through, but the very next day when I saw a black snake lurking around, I got nervous.  Angel has been spending her days sleeping in the porch lately. I gave her the boot which made her sleep in the garage.  I'm not sure something as silent as a snake would actually rouse her enough to do anything about it, but it was something.  And that black snake has not been around.  It probably is also helpful that I mowed the garden closest to the house.  The one Dulci kept eating so absolutely nothing was growing... yep, had weeds knee high.  It's mowed and covered in clear plastic to kill nematodes and weed seeds so is much less inviting for slithery friends.

Of the birds that were lost, it was 4 red stars and 1 Americana.  Certainly not the ones I would have chosen to dispense with, but I don't supposed I would have made any deal with Mr. Rat Snake if he had asked for a bargain.  What it has done is made us aware of every little hole in that pen.  And the kids are on self-appointed snake duty, running out whenever they get the whim to check for snakes.  I can't blame them.  I'm jumpy too.


  1. Oh no! Sorry for hte loss. I was just talking to my Mother about stupid snakes. I mean great for rats...BAD for chicks. Grrr....

  2. Do post an update on how they are growing!