Florida Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth Snake July 2017

The snake is dead. It’s creepy and it’s dead. Now you can look closely at it.

See the egg? The snake was in the Castle, our largest chicken coop, this morning. While I was busy with email and writing, Farmer Man took over my chicken chores as a surprise for me.

Our usual chore division is that I clean the poop bins and he cleans the water containers and refills water and food. The chickens free-range in our yard, and the dogs watch.

Evidently, the cottonmouth crawled into the Castle sometime yesterday or this morning and grabbed an egg for a nice snack. After swallowing the egg, however, it was too fat to crawl back out. It hid behind the poop bins to digest.  When he opened the clean-out door to scoop the poop, Farmer Man saw the cottonmouth snake.

He said, “Stay there. I’ll be right back.” or something like that. He got his shovel and gave the snake a sharp stab or two or seven with the shovel. The snake’s neck is askew, if you look closely or you can take my word for it, and is about 3/4 severed.  Farmer Man is my Hero.

Cottonmouths are venomous but are normally not very aggressive. And with digestion in process, the snake would have been moving even slower than usual. Interesting herpetology science facts, but the chickens and I don’t care. We’re still nervous about the snake.

 

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A Gift – Florida Cactus Blooms

FL Cactus blooms 2 April 2017

We have a vegetable garden, butterfly gardens, garden of herbs, fruit tree orchard, and a flower garden. We work hard in our gardens. We compost for the gardens to provide good soil. We plant, irrigate, pick weeds, squash bugs, and prune. We love our gardens.

We didn’t plant the cactus. We don’t tend the cactus. They aren’t in a garden. They are in the woods near our property line fence. A gift. We love the cactus and the beautiful blossoms.

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Where Baby Bunnies Hide

Where baby bunnies hide Mar 2017.jpg

Betsy, one of the Marans, flushed out a baby bunny that was hiding behind the rain barrel. The baby bunny ran to hide next to the West Coop run wire fence. I was standing at the back of the West Coop, cleaning out the poop bins. Betsy followed the baby bunny. I think she was going to tell him that wasn’t the best hiding place.

A couple of Australorps, Matilda and Ruby, began following Betsy to see if she had found a tasty treat. The baby bunny realized the large fluffy birds were tracking him down. He ran to the closest hiding place he saw. He ran between my feet and hunkered down. Farm work includes standing still, as needed.

The three chickens were very intrigued. Evidently Farmer Lady had a really good treat. “Did you see how fast he ran to her?” They hurried over to me and the baby bunny took off. He ran towards the neighbor’s cleared yard, but he decided that was not his best idea. He turned back and ran towards the chickens who were running towards him, and he froze in the brush between the trees.

The brush might not look like much, but the baby bunny immediately disappeared, even to the eagle-eyed chickens. The chickens wandered off. They had lost interest. The baby bunny didn’t move for a very long time.

He had a great story to tell about getting away from the giant chickens. I’m sure his story will start off, “You know chickens are descended from dinosaurs, right?”

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The Chicken Who Thinks She’s A Cat

Faith stuck on the roost again Feb 2017.jpg

This is Faith. You might remember Faith – she was the baby chick two years ago who peeped while still in the egg that had been pushed out of the nest.  Man was carrying that egg with a pip and a crack that had been pushed out of the nest twice to dispose of it. I told him, “Your hand is peeping.” We put the egg into our incubator, and Faith hatched at the end of the day with a little help. After she dried, we took her out to Mama Joanna who took her in and showed her how to drink and eat.

Every day Faith flies up to the highest roost in the run. Then she spends an hour or so walking back and forth on the roost, looking down at the other chickens. She reminds me of a cat that climbs a tree and then can’t figure out how to get down.

Or maybe she’s a hawk – high up in her perch, trying to decide which chicken she’s going to swoop down on. We know it won’t be Joanna. Nobody messes with Mama Joanna.

The first few times I saw her walking back and forth on the roost, I thought “Oh poor girl. She can’t get down.” Then I realized she flew up there. As hard as it is, I’ve learned to just look away. My life lesson for the day. If it bothers you, look away. Ignore it. You’re welcome.

 

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The Garden is Waiting

garden-feb-2017

The garden is ready and waiting for the Spring planting! We’re in Florida, so the spring planting starts in February. Tomorrow we’ll plant radishes, turnips, lettuce, brussels sprouts, broccoli, red La Soda potatoes, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Next month we’ll plant beans, cucumbers, collards, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and flowers for the bees.

We rotate our crops.Whatever is planted in one row is moved a row the next year. Last year, we planted beans in the fourth row; this year, the beans will be in the first row. Second row will be root vegetables – turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes later in the spring. Third row is for the leafy vegetables – lettuce and collards. The fourth row is cucumbers and peppers. We plant our tomatoes in buckets.

We got a pickup load of compost from a nearby farm to add to our own chicken-provided compost. You know you’re on a good farm when there all kinds of compost around and you don’t smell anything but wonderful, rich dirt.

Speaking of chicken-provided, our 61 hens are in full spring production! We’re averaging over 40 eggs a day. If you decide on a visit, be sure to bring a cooler so you can take eggs home. The eggs you buy in the grocery store are 30-60 days old. It doesn’t take us nearly that long to walk from the backyard coops to our kitchen, so you can have yesterday’s eggs or if you want to wait a second, today’s eggs!

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Sadie and the Space Helmet

sadie-and-the-space-helmet-jan-2017

Sadie is sporting her Space Helmet, as so appropriately named by the astute 4 year old Boy. The purpose of the Space Helmet is to keep her from getting to the still-healing wounds and stitches from surgery that she had almost two weeks ago.

She removed her Space Helmet the first day after it was put on her. The vet’s office thought it was sized to be too loose for her and that she had wiggled it off her head. But, no. Not our Sadie. First, she caught a corner of the cone on a table leg then broke off a section of the plastic. Then she hooked the broken part on a chair and pulled the velcro apart. We put the Space Helmet back on, making sure it was snug but not too tight. So she took it off again with a smile that said, “We can do this all day.”

Pink duct tape over the velcro to hold it made the difference! And every time she’d break another piece of plastic off, we’d add more pink so the sharp edges wouldn’t stab us when she came up behind us.

She decided to share her helmet with TJ. She ran up to him, nose to nose, and said “See! How do you like being in the Space Helmet?” TJ ran off. He’s actually been giving her a very wide berth.

Family came to visit, and Sadie decided Kind-Hearted Company would take her Space Helmet off. She pushed into a chair and told Kind-Hearted Company, “Cough, cough. I’m choking here. See what they’ve done to me? Cough. Help, help. Cough.” Farmer Lady moved the chair. Killjoy.

Maybe today, Sadie. Maybe today the Space Helmet can go into the Archive, and the entire household will stop the nervous twitching when walking down hallways or through doorways.

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O Christmas Tree

christmas-trees-nov-2016

We’re getting ready for Christmas on the farm. We went to a local tree farm and bought two Carolina Sapphire cypress trees. It’s our new Christmas tradition to have growing Christmas trees.

TJ and Sadie are on patrol. They are checking for signs of reindeer.

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