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Throwing my shoe at a snake

Mother hen

I'll start this post by jumping right to the punch line and telling you how I --- nature girl, friend of all things that creep, crawl, and slither --- threw my shoe at a perfectly harmless black rat snake.  It was a cute snake too, didn't startle me in the least, but my intent was to cause harm...or at least to get that reptile out of my barn.

Remember how I told you that our broody hen lost one of her chicks a few days after they hatched?  I heard a ruckus, ran into the barn, and found our eight-chick flock down to seven.

Well, I was hanging out with the broody hen and her chicks a few days later, when she started acting oddly.  Mama Hen called all her chicks to her side and backed away from the wall, her feathers puffing up.  Then in crawled a black rat snake, making a beeline for those tasty morsels.

Yelling chick

I knew at once that this snake had been the murderer of chick number eight, and I was bound and determined not to let it happen again on my watch.  I couldn't actually walk toward the snake because it was on the other side of the hen, and I was afraid that if I made any sudden moves, the hen would figure the snake was the least of her worries and lead her chicks into harm's way.  So off came my shoe.

The footware landed directly on the snake's head, but, unfortunately, it was really just a slipper and barely phased the chick-hunter.  He did try to strike the shoe, though, which pushed Mama Hen over the edge from defensive to offensive.  She flew at the snake, and the snake hit the road.

I'd like to say the episode talked me into moving our smallest flock to a more secure location, but it didn't.  The dangers of trying to gather up seven chicks in a cluttered barn without losing any seemed to outweigh the benefits of the move, so I left them alone, and Mama Hen does seem to have been fending off all future snake attacks.  I wonder if the predator that used to pick off our chicks before we secured their brooder was actually a snake, not a rat?

One of our premade waterers keeps our hen and her seven remaining chicks happy for several days with no effort on my part.


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