Monday, June 22, 2009

Farmer H Kills Again

Here's an update on the local chicken-killer, Farmer H. He now has the blood of 7 fowls on his hands. Sure, sometimes he had 4-legged accomplices. But I still give Farmer H full credit.

Sunday was not a good day for our peckers. Farmer H and The Pony discovered one of the Barred Rock hens dead on floor of the chicken coop early Sunday morning. Farmer H could find no marks on the chicken. He said she was limp, and that her beak was wide open like she was gasping for breath, and there was a little something slimy on the side of her neck. At first, I thought maybe the weather was too hot for her. It's been in the high nineties with high humidity. And furthermore, the two Barred Rock hens had wanted to roost outside, but Farmer H put them in the coop Saturday night. Farmer H thinks he's smarter than the chickens. The pen is fenced with chain-link dog-pen fence. The coop is inside, with a little door near the ground for the chickens, and a big open picture window in the front, higher off the ground, so they can get some air in this hot weather.

Yes, Hillbilly Mom, Medical Examiner, figured that her poor feathered friend had succumbed to heat stroke. UNTIL... Farmer H and The Pony brought in only six eggs, and THIS:

I ain't talkin' about the quarter! That's another squishy gooshy REPTILE egg, by cracky! This one was only about half the size of the first one we found a couple weeks ago. At least Farmer H didn't try to harden this one up by running it under cold water so he could put it in the carton and feed it to me for breakfast. See that dark part there, like a continent on the reptile egg earth? It moves if you roll the egg over. Yeah. It's creepy. Farmer H found it in a nest with some chicken eggs on the bottom level of his nesting boxes.

THEN I got to reading on the innernets invented by Al Gore that snakes kill chickens! It's true. Especially a snake like a big ol' black snake like Farmer H found several years ago eating a nest of baby rabbits, and scooped him up with a big stick and hurled him down into the woods, like Mr. Snake wouldn't know how to find his way back. You should never kill a black snake, you know. They eat mice and rats. And eggs. Apparently, their slitted eyes are bigger than their streamlined stomachs, because they THINK they can eat a whole chicken if they start by swallowing the head, but usually they can't, and spit it out after it has already suffocated. Oh, the location of that former rabbit's nest? Right smack dab in the middle of what is now Farmer H's chicken pen. Remember this horror story?

That's the 5-foot snakeskin that Farmer H found on the outside wall of his cabin.

The MiniMansion is down by the creek, about 150 yards (as the snake slithers) from the chicken pen.

Do you think there might be a connection?

I told Farmer H to dispose of that reptile egg. He was suppose to cut it open and see what slithered out, but I don't know if he followed through. According to The Pony, my chief interrogator, Farmer H said the autopsy results were inconclusive. Only not in such big words. More like, "It was just a bunch of runny stuff and a blob."

Later that evening, The Pony went to check for eggs, and reported another chicken down. It was in the same place in the coop, one of the leghorns. However, it was the one with the gimpy leg that always hopped around on its good leg, so Farmer H wasn't too concerned, though he did say that its mouth was open as well, and there was a piece of straw down in its throat. Other than that, no forensic evidence.

We've made it through today without a casualty. I'm leery of letting The Pony go into the coop alone. Farmer H needs to find a better supplier of auction chickens than the 3-Mile Island farm that he's been raiding, or else he needs to shoot himself a black snake.

Just my luck I'm going to die of the Avian Flu instead of the Swine Flu. That's SO five minutes ago.


DeadpanAnn said...

The Black Rat Snake is a swimmer, so it probably hangs out in your creek. It probably came to the barn for dinner because it lives on rodents, but the constant supply of eggs it found when it got there made it the perfect place to raise a family. They're good to have around because they keep the rodent population under control. It won't hurt you unless you corner it, but it might keep offing your chickens.

Do the chickens have an elevated place to nest/roost? My mom used to nail milk cartons to the walls of our barn..about 4 feet up.. and put hay in them. The chickens can jump up there, but there's nothing for a snake to climb up to get to them. They will also roost on any type of bar that goes across the barn. A 2x4 that's up off the ground, for example. THey need something up off the ground that the snake can't climb up to. Like a perch.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Miss Ann,
Farmer H has his chickens nesting in bread boxes with hay. You know, the plastic thingies that the bread man delivers buns and bread in. They are like milk crates, but flatter. He has them sitting on 2x4s that jut out from the wall of his coop. Maybe he should just do away with the bottom row. He has three stories of crates.

He also has two bars for them to roost on, as well as a couple of bars outside in the pen. Those two black pants roosters choose to roost in a cedar tree right over the coop, or on the top of the fence.

I do not want The Pony to pick up a reptile egg. OR a reptile.

Redneck Diva said...

Are you sure that's not just a soft-shell chicken egg? My papa used to have chickens and every once in a blue moon we'd find a soft-shell egg. Kind of like how every once in a blue moon we'd find a cross-beak chicken (which was just sad really). Anyway, just pondering...

Hillbilly Mom said...

No. Just no. In the picture, it looked all chickeneggy, but in real life, the ends were blunt, and it was squishy, and you could see that thing rolling around in it. Farmer H thought it was a chicken egg the first time he found a great big one, and tried to harden it up in cold water. Didn't work. Perhaps your papa was actually finding reptile eggs.

Sorry the giant snake in your window didn't leave you any eggs. But I bet the yellow-jackets in your furnace room did.

Redneck Diva said...

EWWWW! That's just for the softiness of the egg in general.

And now I will have to go back and rethink my entire childhood because all those years I thought they were soft chicken eggs because the chickens kept forgetting to take their Viactiv chews.

Hillbilly Mom said...

There, there... don't get your do-rag in a wad. There are such things as soft chicken eggs, but the pictures I saw were of a more transparent, clear kind of shell, one that oozes out the snotty stuff, not the brown leathery one that looks like the snake eggs I googled. That's what I've been reduced to by Farmer H: a reptile-egg image googling fool.