“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012

Allen caught this four foot black snake that was raiding the chicken nests for eggs. I think the snake has been here awhile as we have been finding very few eggs for the last month or so. Last week, I saw it in a nest with an egg in its throat, but before Allen got out to the barn, it had gone. I don’t like picking up snakes – one of those things, along with a good fear of heights. So if I see one I either get Kath or Allen to grab it. I will hold the bag as either of them lowers it in but that’s as best as I can do.

This time, Allen came out in enough time, and I pointed to the nest which was a hollow between some hay bales in the hay barn. The snake had an egg in its mouth but hadn’t yet started the swallowing process. Allen reached in and grabbed the snake midway, then grabbed it behind its head with his free hand. The guy dropped the egg, so we got that one back.

After a few pics we put him in a bag and Allen took him to a new home a few miles away, where we hope he will be ok and grow longer.

Snakes are a bit ying and yang here. I see them in the garden in the summer and leave them alone as they are mouse and insect hunters and keep these garden pests in check so that they don’t cause too much loss. In that way they are very helpful and I can appreciate them. On the other hand they have a penchant for eggs – not just chicken eggs, but any bird egg. Over the years I have observed them raiding bird nests, and once 20 foot high raiding the purple martin houses. I have since added snake guards to deter them from the bird nests.

There is not too much I can do to keep them from the chickens as there is no method to block them from the nests. All we can do is catch one in a nest and relocate it, knowing that sooner or later another snake will come along and takes its place. In a normal year, we relocate at least two or three. This time we were lucky that we caught this one. A four foot snake can down three or four eggs at a time.

Its hard enough this time of year to have eggs – most of our gals are older so they don’t lay often as it is, some are molting and that shuts down their production even further, and with shorter day length they lay even fewer eggs naturally. (Egg farmers harvest their chickens after a year, and keep them under artificial light to keep up egg production.) Add a snake to all this and it almost forces us to the grocery store to buy eggs. I think it’s been close to ten years since I have bought a store egg, and I hope to never buy one again. Hopefully, now that our egg thief has been caught, any thought of Acme eggs can be dropped .