Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rocky said, "Doc It's Only a Scratch"

There was this one time when I took a few weeks off from my blog, then I came back full of stories to tell and adventures to wow you guys with and wit and humor that had y'all rolling with laughter. Oh, wait. That didn't happen. BUT!! Nevertheless, I'm back.

I'm not sure if my little hiatus actually accomplished anything in the way of new-found inspiration, but my mornings sure became a lot more productive. Things are still rolling along up here; chickens are scratching, ducks are splashing, rabbits are nibbling. Although, FEWER chickens are scratching these days than previously. We had a problem with a marauding raccoon and lost three chickens (sadly, two of them you know: Angry Chicken and one of the Phyllis Diller twins) last week. But, that problem has been resolved...with bullets. And I can safely say we are raccoon free, until the next one shows up.

All mourning and loss aside, it was actually pretty funny. I was here, in my accustomed place in front of the computer, drinking coffee, early, early one morning, when I heard awful, awful noises from the chicken pen (thankfully all the windows were open, or I would've been ignorant until I went outside and saw the carnage). Still bleary-eyed and half-comatose with sleep, it took a few seconds for the noise to register. My ears spoke to my brain, my brain lagged in response. Brain then spoke to muscles and I was up, fumbling with bathrobe and flip-flops. I know. Flip-flops. Not exactly ideal footwear for a pre-dawn expedition, but again, I was half asleep. Also, I was not wearing pants. Also, my bathrobe lost it's tie/rope thingy and does not close. I'm sure the raccoon was laughing at me as I stumbled out in the dark, flip-flops flapping and bathrobe blowing in the wind. It's times like these that make me more thankful than ever that I have no neighbors within viewing distance.

I should also mention at this point that I neglected to pick up the gun. The gun that sits right beside t he front door. The gun that we decided to leave beside the front door in case of chicken emergency. It also happens that I grabbed the weakest flashlight ever created. So, when I finally made it out there, I could barely see anything. A few chickens were running around on the ground, which is very odd in the predawn darkness. Then I saw it. The raccoon. Dammit. So I run (flipping and flopping) back into the house to grab the gun, but I felt I needed to tell B. Who was in the shower.

"there's a raccoon in the chicken pen!!"

"Well, go shoot it!!"

Right. Good call. Although, had he jumped out of the shower, wet and soapy and grabbed the gun himself, it would've added a whole new dimension of humor to this story. Alas, he didn't.

Needless to say, by the time I returned, the thing was gone.

The next morning, early, we were roused by the barking of my dog. We both flew out of bed, donned shoes (and pants), grabbed gun and spotlight, and made our way out into the dark. Definitely more well equipped this time. When we got the area where we keep the Polish chickens, I did a quick headcount and noticed that two were missing. The Phyllis Diller twins. No more than five seconds later, in a spot that was empty before, one of them miraculously appeared, stuck between the fence and the netting. B swears he saw her fall from the tree. We assumed her dead due to the strange angle of her body and the fact that she just seemingly fell from a branch thirty feet in the air. But, it clued us in on where to point the spotlight. And the gun.

Afterwards, we went back inside to put away the rifle and the spotlight, as the sun was starting to come up. I made some coffee and got ready to go back out and clean up the mess. When I went back out, lo and behold, Phyllis Diller from the fence was walking around the chicken pen, looking no worse for wear. She has been redubbed Lazarus.

We fired a few more shots than were probably necessary. We woke every dog within earshot and probably their owners, but we shouldn't have anymore raccoon trouble...at least for a little while.

And, quickly, in other news, Fiona the duck has started laying eggs!!

Have any of you guys had predator trouble this year? Do you prefer traps or more...final solutions?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There Comes a Time...

I wanted to take a moment and let you guys know that I'll be taking a (hopefully) brief hiatus from the ol' blog. Nothing's wrong. I know that when people break from their blogs, we've all come to expect that it's because of some horrible disease or a death or a major life shake-up. I got nothing like that. It just seems like it's something that I need to do. Take a little breather, recharge the batteries, ya know, stuff like that. Let me repeat for those of you (mainly my family ;) ) who are going to read too much into this, nothing's wrong. Maybe it's writer's block, but like I said in my last post, I'm remarkably uninspired. The thing with Grit hasn't panned out like I expected it to either, so maybe I'm throwing myself a little pity party. Who knows? I'll be back in a couple weeks, hopefully with more tales with which to regale you with.

Until then, I bid you all a very fond adieu!

(And to the few of you who just found this blog, like, yesterday? Sorry! I suck like that.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ugh. Just Ugh.

I'm remarkably uninspired. And grumpy. And, to beat the dead horse, hot. Summer has really beaten me down this year. I did have a bit of a hiccup in the day to day, though. Yesterday...man. Yesterday was messed up. Yesterday I had to do something I'd never done before and, if you'll excuse my sailor-mouth, it was a total mindf**k.

I was out chilling with my chickens yesterday, walking around the pen, making sure everything was both hunky and dory, when I saw my cat paying way too much attention to something just on the other side of the fence. My first thought? One of the bantam's escaped and met it's maker via cat. I quickly waded through chickens to go check it out only to find...a huge freakin' snake. I mean...huge. It was much bigger than the one I wrangled off the porch. And, it was caught in the wildlife netting we have surrounding the chicken yard. Which really sucked. I have no idea how long the poor thing was stuck there. At this point, I weighed my options. There was no way I was going to get close enough to it's head to release it from it's netting bondage. It was just a rat snake, but still...No thanks. I could shoot it...but we all know how that turned out last time, and with the cat and fifty very curious and brave chickens nosing about, I decided taking aim with my trusty ol' .22 was not a very good idea. Which left me with one option.

Without going into detail, I will say that I eventually succeeded in dispatching that snake to snake heaven. It was much more difficult than I expected...both physically and, later, emotionally.

As many of you know, for many years, I was a veterinary nurse. I have assisted with and performed countless euthanasias. I have witnessed the death of animals on many, many occasions and under many circumstances. I was wholly unprepared for killing that snake though. In euthanasia, it basically boils down to an overdose of a barbiturate. And nine times out of ten, it's very smooth and very fast. That's what I'm accustomed to. I am not, however, accustomed to what I did to that poor snake. And I know. I know. I had to do it. I couldn't let him get into the chicken pen. He was definitely big enough to eat my bantams, not to mention the eggs. I couldn't leave him stuck in the netting till B got home to dispatch him with alacrity and skill. He would've cooked to death in yesterday's heat. I couldn't risk the cat or the dogs getting to him while he was stuck in the netting and unable to get away. So. I had to do it. Logic. Cold, hard logic.

But, man. It sucked. Next time, I've got to think of something more efficient (and sharper) than a hoe.

Alas, this is what we've signed up for, here on the farm. These animals are my responsibility and if there is a threat to them in anyway, it's up to me (and B, if that threat shows up after work or on weekends) to protect them. So, I'll keep doing what I have to do. And, it not only messes with me on a very visceral level, but also on a "what right do i have to move into that snake's territory etc etc" moral/ethical level. I know many of you probably think I'm way overthinking this.

I'm still sick to my stomach.

I'm sorry, snake. I am so, so sorry.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taking up the slack with photos

I can't think of anything even remotely interesting to talk about. My days are all remarkably similar lately, and I've already complained about the unending heat, so to avoid be repetitive, I thought I'd throw up some photos, the sights of the little farm, and leave it at that for today.

Not a great photo, but if you squint your left eye, hop on one foot, speak Swahili, and count to 42, you can see a rainbow. I promise. Or, click on it to embiggen.

The tree in the photo above is one more piece of evidence that supports my theory that lackluster yardwork is good yardwork. For months after I first got here, I meant to pull this little tree up, thinking it was some random hardwood volunteer that sprung up uninvited. Little did I know, it's a ...something that flowers tree. I see them all over the place now, but I have no idea what it is. Any clues?

Close up of the above something-that-flowers-tree.

Scandalous photo of bathing chicken. It would've been doubly scandalous, but the hen who left that hole to the left, ran off before I could snap the photo. She was mortified. As an aside, those are my gardenias. Apparently, chickens love bathing in gardenia roots. Conversely, gardenias do not love being chicken bathtubs.

And lastly, this is NOT what my sunflowers look like anymore. My sunflowers are drought deadened, brittle things, that just barely whisper of this former glory.

Now, I'm off to find something interesting to do today so that I actually might have something of substance to say to you all tomorrow.

I bid you adieu ;)