Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Amazing Snakes

It was the latest possible shade of dusk when I went out to gather eggs this evening. The light was off in the hens' shed...I figured the timer just hadn't come on yet. But the manual override didn't produce any light, either. I'll check out the extension cord, bulb, outlet, GFI breaker, etc., tomorrow by daylight.

I almost gathered eggs in the dark. I've done that many a time in the past. Once I actually brushed against a skunk who had beaten me to the nest...we were both too surprised to do more than bakc away from one another. But I thought about the times I've seen the black rat snake recently, and decided against it. Walked back to the house for the headlamp.

The headlamp is an indespensible farm tool. It's battery-powered, which isn't too sustainable because I go through a lot of batteries. But I'm using rechargeable ones now, so that helps. It lets both hands be free to open gates, carry buckets, catch sheep, deliver lambs, etc. It shines exactly where I'm looking, most of the time.

I looked in the top row of nests, and sure enough there was the black rat snake. I looked in the second row of nests--wait a minute, there's that snake again! Was he that fast? I backed up a bit to shed some light on the whole picture--all three rows of nests at once. How many snakes WERE there? They were looping among one another and sliding between the wall, the open back of the sheet metal nests, and under the nest dividers. With loops of snake everywhere, it was hard to count them. Eventually I saw 3 heads at the same time...one of them stretched around an egg. Stretched under the nest dividers, they are nearly as long as the 6' long nest structure.

No wonder I am not gathering very many eggs from that pen these days. I am supporting not one but THREE 5-foot snakes...quite possibly more. I am not sure quite what to do about the situation....

...But I AM learning to listen to that small, still voice that says, "go get the flashlight."

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