Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Sneaky snake

OK--so all isn't exactly as we expect on the farm.  This morning I set out on a mission to disassemble the chicken tractor and reassemble it into a chicken brooder.  Soooo, I'm working taking the tractor apart and thought I'd take a break and go in and say "hey" to the girls.  Wellllll, in one of the nest boxes was a great big loooooong snake all curled up---eeeew!  I took a stick and poked at it and it went behind the nest boxes.  Oh, yes, that's great...still in the house.  Sooo, I gathered the eggs that the girls had laid and went back to my destruction job.

A couple hours later I decided to check out the chicken house again and, oh yes, the snake was back.  I stepped outside, got a shovel, secured the snake behind its head and grabbed it with my hand.  It had an egg in it--I could see the outline of it in the snake's body---ewwwww!

I pulled the snake out of the nest and realized that I didn't have a bucket with a lid or a sack at the chicken house so I had to carry the snake all the way to the shop--seemed like a 1/2 mile but it's only about 80 steps.  While on the way to the shop, the snake regurgitated the egg into the yard (unbroken, I might add), and I realized that snakes are really strong!  It was all I could do to keep a hold of it behind the head AND it wrapped its body around my arm on the way to the shop---not cool I would say--ewwwww!

I found a sack inside a box that I had carefully closed the lid on--really hard to open a box with one hand and a snake in the other!  ewwwwww!  Got it in the sack and immediately it found a hole and poked its head out and started to escape--but I was able to keep it in the sack, get in the truck, drive about a mile up the road, and released the snake.  I sure hope they don't come back from that far away.

Sorry I didn't get a photo, but my hands were full!  Such is life on the farm.

I did get the chicken tractor disassembled and the baby chick "brooder" rebuilt.  It was a must do since I've ordered 56 chicks to be delivered August 14!


Birds of prey

While relaxing this afternoon after getting the day's chores completed (completed, huh?) Anyway, I saw a couple of hawks circling an area of the property.  That reminded me of one of the first times I ever came to the property before I bought the place.  I was with an excavation contractor, picking his brain about where to put the driveway, and we were driving into the property and a hawk with a squirrel in its claws grazed the hood/windshield of the truck!  That was pretty amazing.  Since I've moved onto the place there was a juvenile hawk down near the pond.  I didn't notice it was there but one of the dogs was acting like something was awry so when I investigated, there was this juvenile hawk that would not fly off.  I was able to walk all the way up to the hawk, take this picture, then throw a jacket over it and take it to a local vet who cares for injured raptors.

That very same week I was driving down the road about 4 miles from the house and I saw an owl on the side of the road.  I thought it was strange because it was the middle of the day, so I stopped.  I was able to get out of the truck, walk up to the owl, say "hi", go back and get my camera and walk back over and take this picture....

I phoned a friend who was behind me on the road and told him what I had seen.  An hour or so later he came to my house and the owl had died on the side of the road.  It had obviously been in a fight with something else and it lost. 

 Last night I heard the "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" call of the barred owl.  Although the farm is little more than a mile from I-40, there are still sounds and appearances of wild things.....


Something is pooping on the porch.......

The farmhouse has big wide wrap-around porches which are great for sleeping dogs, porch swings, and the occasional break from gardening. 

To hide the empty space between the ground and the bottom of the porch, last year I planted native coral honeysuckle and am training it to climb up a wire fence that has been nailed in place.  The honeysuckle is doing great, is climbing up the wire fence and the porch rails, and there is an almost constant showing of hummers and butterflies visiting the everblooming honeysuckle.

Yesterday I noticed little black specks on the porch underneath the railing--technically speaking, I think it's called "frass", but to me, it's just bug poop.  I got to looking around and sure enough, there were telltale signs of leafless twigs and bites out of leaves, and I found the culprit.......(actually about 4 of them)

Being the inquisitive person that I am, I came in and "Googled" what I saw.  It's the caterpillar for a really cool bug called a Hummingbird Moth or a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.  The first time I ever saw one I wondered if it was a bee, bird, or what.  They are really cool, and I'll let these guys munch on the honeysuckle until, well, they sprout wings and fly, of course!


Am I losing it?

Today was one of those days when you wake up, know that you've got at least a million things to do, and the weather is cooperating.  I started out by grabbing the weedeater and the mixed gas can, which had only about 1/2 cup in it, and I headed for the blackberry patch.  For some reason, the distance between the three rows of thornless blackberries I have ended up being less than 5 feet, which is how wide the mower is that I pull behind my tractor.  Trying to squeeze as many plants in as I could, I guess. 

Anyway, this is the first time the weedeater has been started this year and I did empty the tank last year and run all the fuel out of the carburetor like a good girl, but when I primed, flipped switches, and pulled the rope, nothing happened----over and over-----you know the sound.  Not even a hit. 

Well, being the non-mechanically-oriented person that I am, I immediately started looking for stuff I thought could be wrong.  I took one cover off and there was a filter, so I put that back on.  The other cover took a really weird looking screwdriver to open it, so I abandoned that option.  Then I saw a really obvious looking rubber plug thingee on the front of the cover and I started picking at that with my pocket knife and voila'---it came off and there was the spark plug.  Well, it looked like a spark plug but I didn't have the appropriate socket to remove it, so I blessed it, put the rubber thingee back on, pulled the rope, and it started!  I don't know why, but I did a happy dance.

While weedeating (before I had to stop and go to the local store to buy more gas) I saw a really big toad flop out on it's back right in front of me.  I felt so bad that I had injured the little guy (this is where I thought I might be losing it).  I stopped the weedeater, stooped down and flipped it over.  The toad was still breathing and I kind of nudged it and it kind of moved, so I felt better and thought maybe I had just addled it.  I noticed on the next pass nearby that it was gone so I felt better about the whole situation. 

Anyway, the thought crossed my mind to kiss it to see if I would get my handsome prince, but I wasn't sure if it was of the "princitonian" type so I didn't want to chance getting a wart on my lip for nothing :)


Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all?

That's the song I'm listening to as I relax after the first delivery of the season.  Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all? 

All went well; there were several cool weather crops ready for harvest; spinach, bibb lettuce, gourmet salad mix, radishes, beet greens, some swiss chard, and a little arugula. 

The critter singing the song is a Barred Owl.  I don't hear them often where I live, but this one was singing his way around the mountain behind me.  I love music, but I love hearing wildlife sing it best and its a perfect way to end a very busy day :)


Unknown "Wild Thing" in the greenhouse

Okay, so I went out to the greenhouse yesterday morning to check on all the "babies" and noticed a few nibbles on the Chinese cabbage plants with a telltale "slimy trail" in the flat, so here I went on slug patrol.

Every pot, bucket, board, bag of soil, flat, etc. was picked up and moved outside the greenhouse.  I did find the most slugs on the outside of a clay flower pot that was nested inside another clay flower pot, shoved up under the bench.  There were about 20 on that pot!

A stray board was a hidey-hole for a couple of slugs, and under a bucket was what a few more thought was a safe place. 

When I moved a bale of peat moss aside to check under there, I saw something I'd never seen before.......

Anybody know what it is (it's between 2-1/2 to 3 inches long)?  I gently tucked it back into the gravel just where I found it rather than serving it the same fate as the slugs----my killer chickens!  They LOVED the slugs.....

I did go back into the greenhouse with a shaker of diatomaceous earth and sprinkled it all over the plants and the ground---looks like a snowstorm in there now, but at least it will take care of the slugs.

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