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Chicken Scratch Poultry

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farm Happenings - Training Up The Next Generation

Spring of this year my youngest daughter Heather came on board here at the chicken farm as a part time employee.  She is great with the birds, hard working and eager to learn the ins and outs of breeding poultry.  I feel It's important to pass down my knowledge with the younger generation or what I've worked so hard to accomplish will be lost with me.  I would give anything right now to be able to speak with my great grandmother about her poultry business.  She raised hundreds of chickens and turkeys to offer to her community as meat birds.  Although I don't raise meat birds I'm sure she would have had some chicken knowledge to offer me that would help in some aspect of breeding poultry.  That's what I hope to do for my daughter, although she might decide chicken farming is not for her and that's ok but if she does continue on and run this farm some day, I want to share with her every little bit of information that will help her produce the best poultry possible and keep the farm running like a well oiled machine.  It's taken my husband and I about five years to get this farm operating as smooth as it does.  We still have room for growth and change and with another helping hand on board I'm looking forward to what the future holds for this little farm.

Larry and I are planning a vacation but with that comes much worry about getting away and turning it over to Heather.  Although we can always be reached by phone, it just makes us a little nervous. So this week the perfect opportunity came up for me to test Heather on the ins and outs of the water system.
I noticed that the stock tank was half empty early in the day which is a very good indication that there is a clog and water running over in the barn somewhere.  So I sent Heather on a mission to investigate and find the problem. The problem is normally feathers, straw or an egg caught in the PVC pipe, so we get a sewer snake, run it up in the pipe and clean it out.  The stock tank is emptied and cleaned out daily, we also run high pressure water through the pipes to clean those out but even with those precautions in place we still have an occasional clog.
Well Heather heads off to locate the problem and in a little while I hear her yelling for help that she had found the problem.  I yelled back, "get the sewer snake and take care of it" just like any good mom would do.  She yelled back, "the problem is a snake."  So I head to the barn to see what I can do.  Heather along with the Black Copper Marans hens are crammed in a corner, she's pointing at the snake and the hens are screaming as if to say, "get it mom!"  It was a very large black snake stuck in the water pipe.  I must tell you at this point that I'm not afraid or grossed out by snakes, they don't bother me at all.  I know your going to think I'm crazy but I reached right down and grabbed the end of that snake and pulled it right out of that pipe with Heather and the hens screaming behind me. The water issue was solved, I'm not sure if Heather learned anything from this situation, I asked what she would have done if this happened while we were gone, she said "I'd left the snake in the pipe."

If you have a lot of chickens it's just normal your going to have mice and if you have mice you have snakes.  I've never so far had a problem with them eating the chicks, I'm sure they are hunting the mice.  We gather the eggs so often that I don't think they have an opportunity to eat them.

I know everyone is saying why didn't you kill it.  I don't like to kill snakes, they eat the mice and I don't have a problem with them.  It's not poisonous and it's a beautiful creature.  I know that's how Eve probably felt also when she ate the fruit from the forbidden tree in the garden. She was memorized by the beauty of the serpent.  I set that pretty snake free and I know I'll see it again because this is not the first time I've removed it from my barn.
I'm not sure if Heather learned a lot from this situation other than her mother is crazy but I know she'll never forget the day mom wrangled the big black snake.
Have a great day and don't kill snakes!


  1. I also let the snakes be and have no issues with mice etc. However the other day I went into my bantam Cochin pen and a rather large Black Snake did have on of my hens rolled up like a constrictor - kinda of changed my mind about the bigger serpents - I now catch and release on the other side of the river if they are larger then 3 feet.

  2. So many folks think snakes have to be killed, what a shame and what a waste. So very few are poisonous and do a lot of good to keep the rats/mice at bay. I know they love eggs (who doesn't) but as long as your nesting boxes/girls are secure I say let the snakes be :)