August 16, 2009
The last few nights I've been letting the chickens out to completely free-range in the evenings a couple of hours before dark. So tonight I got out my lawn chair and my book and sat down to watch them. (We have a golden labrador who at first wanted desperately to chase them in the chicken tractor! Either he's gotten really used to them or just bored... but I still really watch closely or keep him in when they're out.) After I had let them out I moved the chicken tractor to it's new spot (it get's moved every two days so new grass, bugs, etc). I also turned the chicken coop slightly so I could move it to it's new spot once all the chickend were in for the night. (OK.... so just this very second I realized that I must have stepped over it when I moved the coop with my bare feet and legs... aaaaaahhhh!!) So I noticed at least three different chickens at three different times go up to a 6" high cinquefoil plant in the yard and cluck loudly at it. Finally, I got up to see what the fuss was all about and this was what I found.
Yes, it is a rattlesnake ~ not too big fortunately. The orange plug was just for size comparison (it was the only thing I could find in my panic). I went and got a stick to pick it up and put it into this basket/bucket. Massasauga Rattlers are endangered in Ontario (Canada) and bites are generally not life threatening ~ all the local hospitals do carry antivenom though!! However, my dad was just telling me earlier this week that there have been 8 reported cases in Ontario this summer (compared to normally 2 or 3). So it must have been a good year for them. Anyways.... I jumped in the truck and drove it up the road a couple of km to an unbuilt up bushy area and let it go. My husband was reading that their territory is only about 700 square ft/m.... (OK, I know it's not the same measurement, but it gives you an idea of how small an area they frequent... surprising that we have't seen it before now). Anyways... it won't be back.
And here are some pics of the free ranging chickens.
And I had to show you this.... Our cat (Royal... he's actually my son's cat) is very fascinated. He thought he was observing... but I think he was really being "the observed". Follow the sequence.....
And he's not the only "watcher"....
Aug 17, 2009
Another rattlesnake tonight... this time on the other side of the yard ~ and yes, I'm sure it's not the same one!!! This time it was the cat that spotted it. (I didn't take a pic. Basically it looked just the same as the first one only a little bigger.) It has now been moved up the road to live near the other one!!