Tuesday, July 24, 2007

All In One Post: Food, Farm, Wildlife

Yesterday, I was sauteing this melange of hot Italian sausage, chicken thigh meat, and mushrooms for a batch of spaghetti when I happened to glance out the widow, where ...

...I saw this! My favorite banty hen was scratching around the live oak tree with 6 chicks.

She has spent the last couple of weeks brooding a nest she created behind the lawnmower in a pole barn style shed outback. Apparently, yesterday was the big day!

The last time she did this, I caged her and her babies up for their protection. Shortly after, she became aggressive towards the chicks, so I moved them to a cage without her only to have a raccoon slip in the cage and eat the chicks.

This time, I'm letting nature take it's course and giving her a chance to raise her chicks the way chickens have been doing it for thousands of years.

Having decided that, after supper I still had to go check on her.

I'm glad I did. She was huddled in the shed a few feet from her old nest where ...

... this enormous grey rat snake was stretched out in the spilled hay sniffing the empty egg shells in the nest.
I gently (so gently that this snake never musked me...) grabbed the snake and carried her to the house to show the family (and Katie's boyfriend). They were still sitting around the dinner table, basking in the warm glow emanating from the newly painted walls.
Later, Mrs. FC said she saw me coming through the French Doors and told the others, "Here comes your Dad with a big snake. It's like living on the set of Wild Kingdom around here."
Whatever ...
Sweet Emma took this photo of the snake so you could see how big it was. After the picture, I took it to an opposite corner of Pure Florida HQ, far from the hen and her babies.
In a grove of palms, I held it up to the rough bark of a cabbage palm and the huge snake slipped out of my hands and up into the fronds.
No harm done.


Sharon said...

Ok...you can tell me all day long how harmless that snake is...and my mind will technically hear you, but it wouldn't do any good. I can tell you right now, if MY husband was walking up to the house with a "big snake", all he would find is my chair still spinning from where I flew out of it! Drove my zoology teacher nuts, but I can't help it. :)

Rurality said...

So, what did the snake think of the new paint job?

I think you should have actually used glow-in-the-dark paint. How cool would that have been?!

Doug Taron said...

You haven't lived until you have been musked by a big rat snake- but I would not be at all surprised to hear that you have had that experience before. We used to keep 2 on display here at work. Their names were Betty and Veronica. We recently got a new one named M'chenga.

Anonymous said...

Doug - if you had a red rat snake, would you have named it Archie?

Fc - that's an amazing specimen of snakiness, and I envy you. We only seem to see black racers and ring-necked snakes around here. I guess that beats moccasins and rattlers, though.

ImagineMel said...

ewww ewww ewwwwww and ewwwwwwwwww AGAIN!

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

Nice snake.

Thought of you yesterday when I was driving over to Cocoa and spotted 4 Wild Hogs on the side of the road. Couldn't turn around a get a pic. 1st time I have seen them on the road much like deer who come out and eat on clover.

yours in the bond.

roger said...

good thing you put the food pic first. we might have thought the other pics were the ingredients.

do rat snakes have an actual musk gland? or is "musked" a euphemism for, uh, extreme defecation and urination. i have had snakes do that.

Anonymous said...

There isn't ever a dull moment at your house is there? Thunder and I are sure the two of you will have a great time on you little adventure coming up! I'm just hoping you two don't laugh yourselves to death!

robin andrea said...

What a lovely sight, looking out that window and seeing those six chicks and your favorite banty. Nice snake too.

Laura said...

Rick would have done the same thing. I should show this post to him, he's always admiring snakes like that one.

Still, I can't imagine how hard it is to be a momma hen. She has so little real protection against the racoons and snakes!

Yesterday, I saw a hawk hopping around, spreading his wings ans sort of jumping, the way they do...and it looked as if he was about to go after something.
I slowed the car down to watch, and it looked as if he was going after baby squirrels in a nearby tree.

Part of me wanted to interfere to save the squirrels, the other part realized he might be hungry for dinner also.

Something must have spooked him because he suddenly flew off, and I I was sort of glad I didn't have to witness it!

vicki said...

I like snakes and a large rat snake named Lili is one of the creatures we take along with Traveling Zoo to schools and nursing homes. In general, the zoo does less and less "animal handling" these days, for the sake of the animals, but we do have Lili and a couple other medium to large reptiles so I enjoy those opportunities.

I love the little chicks- they have no future in a FC spaghetti medley, right?

And now I'm wondering what Robin and Roger will do with their chickens? Off to visit them...

SophieMae said...

Crikey! That's a beauty! Are snakes finding-their-way-back impaired?

I haven't seen as many live snakes as usual this summer. Unfortunately, we've seen more than the norm as roadkill. There's a little kingsnake that lives under our deck and comes up topside occasionally, usually at night.

Super nice job on the kitchen, Polymath! A true renaissance cracker is hard to find these days. *imagine thumbs up smiley here* I agree with - was it Laura? - the comment about cobalt accessories. Yes, I too am an armchair decorator. 8-}

Joni said...

Looks like she has a really colorful brood! Good luck to her. In my experience banties make better mothers than any other chicken alive.

Now I have to close my eyes in effort to recover from the near blindness I suffered looking at the below post! WOW!

rcwbiologist said...

I've never seen a grey rat snake. The ones around this part of the country are green. Thanks for the picture.

threecollie said...

BIG snake...and you look so happy with him...

Meems said...

wild kingdom for sure. go ahead--call me wimpy... no snakes allowed in my house and none touching me... mrs. fc is a better woman than me!

it took me a long time to be brave enough to let black snakes live so they will eat the other critters i don't like either. i did spot a yellow rat snake a couple of times this spring that i walked away from.

the chicks are really cute and the food looks yummy. congrats on finishing your kitchen projects.

pissed off patricia said...

I was going to leave a comment, but I sneaked a peek at the kitchen color without my shades on. Now I am, for the most part, blinded. ;)

pablo said...

sorry, which one is the snake?


Floridacracker said...

I hear ya, I think Mrs.FC has just been desensitized by way too many critters.
She's a good sport.

Oh been there, done that. When I was a kid I painted the closet door in my room with glo-n-the dark paint and it glowed for decades.
Probably real radium ...

Musked repeatedly and that is why this snake was so neat. I held it for about 15 minutes and never once did it strike or musk me.
Very mellow snake.

It's been owl, deer, and snake city since you visited. Where were they on our walk?

Snakes are our friends.

I saw a big black one just last week.

it could be feces, but I've always thought of it as a greasy musk secretion. It stinks and it IS pervasive.

I'm looking forward to Cincinatti fried chicken and the solstice...

I just checked on them and all 6 chicks were scratching in the garden with the Hen.

I'm hoping she can pull this off. The fact that she protected the eggs for 3 weeks or so gives me hope.
Hopefully the hawk found something tastey later.

Robin and roger have chickens?
Nothing like a big friendly snake to brighten school kids faces.

I've seen so few snakes this summer. A black racer a few days ago and this magnificent ratsnake are it (plus the indigo).
Cobalt blue was Laura ... she's a die hard Gator fan.
Thanks for the thumbs up.

Sorry for the flashbang kitchen pics!
I love banties. So chickeny.

Green? I've never seen that.

He was and I was!

Thanks. Snakes are not everybody's cup of tea. I've liked them for a very long time.

I warned you!
Sunscreen is also recommended.

You rascal.
It is hard to tell isn't it?

Deb said...

When we were living in Pablo's country, for a short and forgettable time, a rat snake ate the baby robins we had been watching in our carport. The Hermit wasn't as nice to that rat snake as you were to that one.

Floridacracker said...

They are the most incredible climbers when you consider the no claws, hands, or feet aspect.
I imagine lots of bird and squirrel nests get emptied by these guys.

Paintsmh said...

OOHHHH. Baby chicks. So cutes. Can I have one? I'll give it back when it gets big and isn't so cute anymore.