Sunday, August 21, 2005

Egg Raiding Ratsnakes and Escaped Emus


Saturday started out normal enough...until I went out to the geriatric chicken coop. In this coop I have an ancient barred rock hen and an old guinea hen...and a completely stuffed grey rat snake. This beautiful snake had eaten her fill of guinea eggs. You could easily count all 5 of them in her swollen belly.

My parents and my brother were coming over, so I caught her, photographed her, and put her in a covered bucket in the den. The last time I did that with a ratsnake, it climbed out and it was a day or two before it turned up in the kitchen, so I was careful to secure the lid.

After the neat snake encounter, I headed to the grocery store to get wings, wing sauce (Texas Pete's), celery, carrots, blue cheese dressing, Klondike bars, and peanut oil. On a whim, I decided to take the long way home.

As the jeep bounced along the dusty limerock road, I could see movement up ahead.

Deer?...nope.
Cattle?...nope.
EMUS?...yup.

A flock of emus, two adults and a bunch of nearly grown chicks were strolling down the middle of the lane. Emus on the loose and I had broken rule # 1, don't leave the house without the Nikon. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Wait! Hadn't Katie left her trendy little digital camera in the jeep yesterday? Yes! Lucky, lucky, lucky!

Armed with a camera, I crawled the jeep closer to get a few shots. One of the adults came over to inspect me and for a moment I was a little concerned he might decide my precious jeep was a threat. Although it would make a good tale, I did not want emu scratches all over my jeep.

As it turned out, he was just checking me out, and after a few photos, the flock and I continued on our separate ways. It wasn't eleven in the morning yet and already this day was turning out to be an exceptional one.

The family came, we chomped wings (chicken, not emu), visited, and all too soon, they left for St. Augustine.

All day, the chance encounter with the emus kept popping into my head. I hardly ever go that way...was it a bit of serendipity or are they strolling that road every day?

Now when I drive past the mouth of some stray dirt road, I will be wondering what weird encounter am I missing by driving by "the road not taken".

9 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I'm so glad that Katie left her camera in the car. Wonderful photographs. I do believe that was serendipity!
I'm going to be turning down that longer, dusty road whenever I get the chance.

roger said...

mmmmmm......emus. they are, uh, strange looking things. no. i have not ever eaten any emu.

i guess that snake is really a rat and egg snake.

Floridacracker said...

RD,
Katie is a lot more organized than I was at 17, but every once in a while demonstrates the "forgetful" gene I passed on to her:)
It paid off this time.

DPR,
I'm with you, haven't yet tried anyone in the ostrich/emu clan. I know a lot of get rich quick emu/ostrich farmers went broke a few years ago. It was going to be the healthy meat of the future, but the market said no.

pablo said...

I HAVE eaten emu meat, and I can tell you that it tastes like beef. Don't know why it hasn't caught on, but the emu farmer in Kansas I talked to whispered how dreadfully afraid the industry is about this potential avian flu virus. It might destroy their industry. I'll bet the owner of those emus was not at all pleased that they were out of the compound and loose in the world.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
I have been following the avian flu stories from overseas and it may be more than bird farms that are destroyed when it gets here.

thingfish23 said...

I'll take an ostrich carpaccio, thank you.

We have some weird livestock around here, too. I've been meaning to get some photos for the weblog. I'll have to do that one of these days...

So - finally we all get to see a closer picture of you. You got Florida written all over you, man. And that, friend, is high compliment.

Floridacracker said...

Thing,
You mean a 5 o'clock shadow and weather beaten skin? Lucky for you visitors, Katie cut off most of me. Snakes are scary enough...

Weary Hag said...

Wonderful post and photos! I haven't tried emu but had I the chance while the meats were still circulating, I would have. It was quite the rage at one local restaurant for a time.
They are powerful creatures. Now... what we need to see is that snake attempting to eat an emu egg. :)

Floridacracker said...

Weary,
THAT is a snake I would like to see!