caption - title

The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Friday, May 31, 2013

Two girls verses a rat snake

This is Lilly's garden as of today - the lily flowers are popping open like crazy!  (These are "sugar love carpet lilies"):


 On Monday our chicks moved into their new home:  a converted garden shed.  I was a bit sad about losing the pretty garden shed over to a bunch of chickens.  But we needed a place for the chickens to move to quickly, and Frank works 10 hour days so he didn't have time to build a completely new structure.  So with some work inside the shed and out (and more to come) - it is a good coop.



On Wednesday morning we decided to let the chickens out into a little fenced area.  The first chick came out, walked down the ramp, and promptly found a little area that wasn't closed up tight enough and escaped under the coop.  Phooey.  I set Solomon down in the grass (he was SUPPOSED to be napping but we'd had several interruptions ...) and I quickly blocked that little gap until Frank could fix it. Solomon began fussing - he had a huge mouthful of dirt and grass.  I picked him up, cleaned out his mouth, and then walked quickly around the coop.  I had to stop abruptly because right in front of my feet there was Mr. Rat Snake moving quickly towards the chicken under the coop!  (You know that feeling where it's hard to sleep unless you at least have a sheet over you to "feel safer"?  I felt that as I stood there in my flipflops wishing I had my tall rubber boots on.)

I yelled to Tabby and she let out a LOUD scream.  But it was not in terror.  Oh no!  She had turned into a mama tiger and wanted her chicken safe.  "Kill it!" she yelled.  I stood there with Solomon in one hand not sure what to do.  So she sprinted to the nearby woodshed to grab a hoe.  (While I yelled at her "Watch out for copperheads!" because the former owners told us he sometimes had seen them in there and to be sure we had a shotgun handy for those times.)  She was back in an instant and began chopping at that rat snake in a fury. But he didn't die!  While she held him pinned she screamed "Help me!"  I ran for another hoe (of course looking for copperheads!) and came back.  I was still holding Solomon in one arm and no way was I going to put him down in the grass.  So I began chopping at the snake, holding the hoe with one hand, but it was hard. 

Wack!  Wack! Wack!  I had assumed a hoe would cut through a snake like a knife through butter.  Maybe it would have if I had had two hands free to swing it?  And if that snake would have stopped squirming and held still!  Or maybe our hoes are in dire need of some sharpening!  Well Mr. Rat Snake (was it the same that ate our baby bluebirds?) got free and went right under the coop.  

Tabby really began to panic then.  "He will not kill my chicken!"  She ran to one side and began calling the chicken "Here chick-chick-chick-chick!"  I yelled at her not to put her face so close to the opening in case that snake struck at her.  I didn't care rat snakes aren't poisonous - I don't want anyone bit.  I ran to get her some food to try to use to coax that chicken out while Tabby fumed in anger and prayed for God to save her chicken.

God did protect that chicken though it took an hour to get him to come out!  Whew!  I cornered him and Tabby grabbed him and put him in the coop and slammed the door shut.

Snakes.  I hate them.  (Or as we tell our kids to say "I don't care for ...")  I imagine they've been unpopular ever since Satan's temptation of Eve in Garden of Eden.  

We had been debating about what to do about the snakes.  We know that rat snakes eat mice aggressively so that could keep the copperhead food down.  (Copperheads are not aggressive about getting the mice.)  And less food for copperheads might mean they stay away.  So we thought maybe we'd let the rat snakes be.  Maybe just use the "snake flicker" (see previous post) when necessary.  (But I could never use that while holding Solomon in one arm - that thing is heavy!  But now we're thinking that ANY snake that dares to come near us or our chickens - then we'll do our best to kill it.

What about you?  Do you have snakes in your yard?  What is your policy?  And what is your favorite way to kill them, if that is what you do?

"So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this [deceived Eve],“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life." - Genesis 3:14

10 comments:

  1. I don't know if you meant it to be, but I thought this story was hilarious!! Tabby's would be my feelings, but I'm not sure I would have actually moved my feet like she did. We don't have snakes in our yard. Ellen does (in TX) and I think she used a hoe or a shovel. I think it was the two hands that you needed :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL - I did think it was funny after so yes this was meant to be funny. I'm glad someone else thought so. Tabby had me remove some of the details though, because she thought they were embarassing. :)

      Delete
  2. Yikes;/ No snakes here in the yard but we do see them occasionally on a hiking trail. I grew up with snakes in our yard in Tenn and I remember the little boys carrying them around so I got one as a science project in Jr high:) It was disgusting and messy and I don't think I would let my boys do it. I love your yard!

    You asked me what I do with my kids in the summer? Well my oldest 15 goes to work with his Dad almost every day. My husband is a plumber as well as a Pastor so he really believes in teaching the boys a trade no matter what they decided to do with their lives. My son wants to carry on the family business and LOVES being with his dad. We also travel alot in the summer to Tenn in July, a bible conference in June and a family trip in Aug. So we stay pretty busy just packing and unpacking LOL. I have been thinking of your daughter and wondering if she has a hard time wishing for another sister. Shayla was so sad this baby was not a sister and with all my complications this is most likely our last. I was thinking of all boy family's with one girl and your daughter came to mind. How hard it must have been/be to lose her baby sister. I love the pictures of your girls on the side bar:) I have also visited you daughters blog she is SO creative! I hope you have a blessed and rested summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Tesha for your comment! I think that is awesome that your son can help his dad at work. I agree that all boys need to learn a trade. You are right - Tabby does wish for a sister. She thought it was good I had Solomon though, or she may have tried to make that baby into a "Lilly clone." I do feel bad for our girls though. I am praying for the Lord's protection on you and your baby!

      Delete
  3. 1/4" Hardware cloth should help. Most animals small enough to get through the cloth will be too small to eat the chicks. With an open-top run, you are likely to have many predators from the air. Hawks are notorious but some others such as crows will also get your biddies if given half a chance. A run totally enclosed with hardware cloth while they are small will help

    Many people with chickens don't kill rat snakes, since rat snakes keep many other pests down. When a neighbor killed our neighborhood resident rat snake, we were soon overrun with rats and mice eating the feed, etc. Rats will also eat biddies. We had 2 production chicken houses when I was growing up, and our largest predator was rats.Our dogs generally kept raccoons, feral cats, and most snakes etc away, and we only had a hawk get inside the chicken house once that I remember. :-)

    Once they are bigger, some predators such as snakes will leave them alone. Until then, it sounds like they have an awesome, dedicated protector in Tabby! Those predators had better be on the lookout!

    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great info Kim - thank you! I never heard of hardware cloth - sounds like a great idea. Sounds like we ought to re-think our thoughts on whether or not to kill snakes.

      Delete
  4. I had mistakenly ran over a black/rat snake backing out of our uphill driveway. I did not like the fact that it was a black snake, since as good snakes go, they are the ones to have around. Although, I don't believe any snakes are good. However, just a few days later, coming home I intentionally ran over a big copperhead. I definitely meant to do that. Just tonight, right outside our garage, with kids all around, my 9 year old almost stepped on a copperhead! Another mom was here and saw it first, as I was walking up the driveway. She was paralyzed at the sight of it but had a shovel in hand. I took it from her and chopped it into pieces. I didn't think it would ever die. Finally it did, as far as the head stopped striking at us, even though it was detached from its body. I agree that the coop needs to be covered at top from air predators. Seeing a snake at first is alarming and especially near your house but the black snakes are good ones to have around. I did not like the fact that one got into the bird nest. Very sad!

    Ronna Pernell

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're a brave woman Ronna to chop up a snake like that! I'm glad you ran over a copperhead too. That is scary about that copperhead being near your son. Seems like I'm hearing a lot more about copperheads this year.

      Delete
  5. A shovel will work much better than a hoe, unless you do get your hoes really sharp. But again, it's probably take 2 hands, but less force than the hoe.
    I hate snakes. Dennis loves them. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh -then we had better keep our shovels handy! Dennis is crazy. ;)

      Delete