How far is far enough?

We treat non-venomous snakes fairly well on the farm. If it is an exceptionally fine specimen, we may catch them and tell them how pretty they are and to go catch a mouse, but that’s really it. And thankfully we’ve only seen one venomous snake.

This arrangement worked beautifully until we got chickens. Really, it started with guineas when we saw our first snake in the coop. On the day we brought them home. Benny the black snake was re-homed to the barn across the property, which is approximately 500 yards away through thick brush teeming with wildlife.

Benny didn’t make a reappearance in the coop until I had hens start laying eggs almost a full year later. All of last fall I couldn’t catch him, but this spring, he made his comeback tour.

Egg-eating Benny

At first I thought my hens were rebelling when I didn’t get any eggs for a few days. Then I caught the rascal in the act. He wasn’t actively eating eggs, but as soon as we apprehended him, he started spitting up yolks. The nerve. Seen here, he is clearly unrepentant.

This time, Benny went cross-ways across the property and we were certain he would stay put. Imagine my chagrin when what appeared to be the same Benny killed not one but two half grown peeps! I was able to catch him while he was attempting to eat the second one and we went for a six mile drive down the road.

For scale, these are roughly the size peeps that peep-killing Benny was proposing to eat! One peep was a cripple we were rehabbing, but the other was fully healthy.

Now, I had serious doubts that the peep killing Benny was the same as the egg eating Benny, because he looked a LOT thicker, but maybe that was egg belly, I’m not judging.

So snake killing Benny is out of the picture. Cue broody hen to hoard all my eggs. (FYI, no eggs for sale for a while…) In going in to check on the chickens earlier this week, egg eating Benny was back! SERIOUSLY!?! He had run my broody hen off of her hoard and was in the process of scarfing down her eggs. She had only been sitting a couple days, so it’s not as tragic as it sounds, but still. I think it was egg eating Benny and not peep killing Benny. If he traveled over 6 miles just for my eggs, I am going to start charging more for them because they must be delicious.

Before all of this, if anyone had asked me the best way to catch a snake, I would answer to put something right behind its head and pick up behind that. I’ve changed my mind. The best way is when he is trying to eat something. Benny had an egg halfway in his mouth when I came along, and it was the easiest catch I’ve ever done. He ate one brood egg but spit the other out.

I lost my temper with Benny this time. He and I went for a long drive in the country and while he is still a resident of the county, he is now voting in another district. My question is, how far is far enough? I’ve been told 5 miles is the minimum. But is that enough? Keep in mind, it seems all my snake catches are late at night when all I want to do is sleep, so while I wouldn’t mind driving them to Texas, I need to sort out what is far enough that they won’t come back but close enough that I can still get to bed on time.

I think I’ll start tagging them so I know if I’ve got repeat offenders. How many 6-8 foot black snakes can there possibly be in the area?

On the bright side, my broody hen came back to her nest before I even got back from helping Benny move. I think the egg she is clearly glaring at is the one that came from Benny’s mouth. It wasn’t cracked, so I figured it worth a try to hatch.

All the Berries!

When you live in rural any-where, there are not just four seasons to the year. In addition to the Big Four, there is also rain season, calving season, chick season (dates set by the local Tractor Supply store and when they have peeps in stock), and so forth. One of my favorites is berry season! Not only is it a great excuse to avoid more physically demanding tasks, but it also means that canning and wine-making season is also just around the corner!

There are not many foods that Toby doesn’t like, and blackberries are no exception. The blackberries we have are wild and it is a process to get enough to fill a bucket up. Not to mention that right now they are just starting to turn and every other day we are gathering maybe a quart or two of fruit. So when this adorable little monster insists that he share in the loot, it can really cut down on berries available for preservation.

Earlier this week, I decided to teach him how to pick his own. I have created a monster. Not only does he “help” when we are picking; but also tries to wander off on walks to the nearest blackberry patch. Good thing they are healthy!

A week of firsts

Not many, but the first berries of the season are always the most exciting.

Well, it has been a week of firsts. I registered our farm with the USDA (a lot of stress, but actually incredibly easy!); the first of the real blackberry harvest is in; and now my first blog post (also stressful, and NOT incredibly easy). So here goes. About me, and why I should probably be fitted for a straight jacket right now.  I wanted land; I wanted a farm to grow any and everything! I thought we had a pretty good grounding for starting an agriculture adventure. My father-in-law grows the best garden you have ever seen, so my husband got that gene.  As for me, growing up, I was always helping aunts, cousins, and friends with livestock; I owned a horse most of my life; and I’ve spent my fair share of time in the garden.  How hard could it be?

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