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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fear and loathing in Mississippi...

If there's one thing I hate about living in the South during warm weather, it's got to be venomous snakes. I do not like them, I do not want to be near them and I do not want to see them. However, I am married to a man who insists on bringing them to the house so I can take a photo every time he kills one, which he did day yesterday.

While sitting down at the pond after a walk with the dogs (a morning routine for Don) he noticed my little dog Aislainn had spotted something in the shallow end. Going to investigate, Don saw a huge water moccasin (also known as a cottonmouth down here in the South) slither out of the water and raise it's head up.

Water  moccasins are known to be aggressive and whenever we see a snake taking a stand, instead of fleeing, we immediately go on alert. Don approached this one cautiously and was able to pin it down by stepping on the snake's head and then killing it with a stick.

Don has killed cottonmouths with sticks before and even killed one at the barn with a screwdriver! This was the biggest one he's ever killed though and I have decided he must get a pistol for Father's Day. He's very lucky he didn't get bitten and so is little Aislainn. She's barely 15 pounds soaking wet and if that big nasty snake had gotten her, Aisliann would not have survived.

As you can see in this photo, the water moccasin's tail narrows suddenly. This is one way to identify a moccasin should you come upon one while out walking. They are usually short and stocky too. This one was very stocky and about three and a half feet long. I'm telling was humongous!

We don't condone killing wildlife on our property, in fact, we're a certified Wildlife Habitat (even have a sign on our gate). However, we do make an exception when it comes to venomous snakes. We've had two dogs bitten by water moccasins. One spent a week at the vet's and barely survived. We don't want that to happen again and the dogs are always with Don when he's out and about. Fortunately, the dogs are fairly cautious about snakes and the ones who have been bitten (by venomous or nonvenomous snakes) are extremely cautious with a snake.

We've been very luck to have never come across a copperhead or rattlesnake and last year we didn't see any water moccasins. Now we've got them in the front yard pond! I've already informed Don that I will not be going to the pond in the evenings until we have our first snow.

I suppose I could go down there and take his pistol with me, but if I saw a cottonmouth as big as this one I'd be shaking so bad I would probably shoot myself in the foot! Then the dogs would have to call 911 because I'd be snake bitten, shot in the foot and having a heart attack!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just call me the Goat Granny...

When my children were younger I used to tease them about getting three goats and naming them Obi, Juan and Kenobi. They thought I was corny (something I'm often accused of being) but I'm happy to report that my dream has finally come true! I am now happily sharing my life with three adorable goats!

Obi is a sweetheart and even kissed me on the nose yesterday when I was working on her new house (something quite difficult to do with so many four-legged helpers). Obi helped me out by jumping on top of the house and holding it down for me! If I am in the pen, Obi can be found right by my side watching everything I do. I find that quite charming as she is very good company. I love her black and white markings and think she's quite a cutie. When I talk to her, Obi looks me in the eye as if she understands me. (I have a confession to make. When Obi kissed me on the nose I responded by kissing her on the top of the head!)

Then there's sweet little Juan, isn't he a handsome fellow? I love the black "bow tie" on his face! Juan is a shy little fellow and I've only touched him once since bringing him home. He sticks close and watches everything, but stays just out of reach. I felt so bad for Juan yesterday when I brought a few of the dogs out with me. Having never seen goats the dogs immediately started barking. Obi and Kenobi stood their ground and the hair down their spine stood up (something I didn't know goats would do). Poor little Juan stood behind the girls and trembled like a leaf! Fortunately, the dogs quickly lost interest and Juan stopped shaking.

I've got my work cut out for me when it comes to Juan. I am determined to befriend him and plan to do it with bribery...the yummy type! I haven't been able to sweet talk him with baby carrots or apple slices, but I will find out what his weakness is and then Juan and I will be best buds!

Last, but definitely not least, is Kenobi. She is the largest of the goats and seems to be the leader. Obi and Juan defer to Kenobi in all matters. She was the first one to make herself at home in the new house (which I had to enlarge yesterday as the goats were bigger than I expected) and is the first to check out any treats offered. In fact, Kenobi ate ALL the baby carrots I offered today...Obi just sniffed hers and Juan wouldn't even look at his!

I think Kenobi and I are going to be great friends as she's quite friendly and very level headed.

My heart goes out to the generous lady who gave the goats to me. I know it was a difficult thing for her to do and I hope she will come by and visit them when she's in the area. I am just tickled pink that my long time dream of having goats has finally come to pass and I'll warn you now...there will probably be lots of blogging about goats in my future! I'm just totally smitten!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bye bye duckies...

It's been a rough time this Spring for my ducks. We lost Ducky to old age, the drakes drowned their brother Rowan (pictured in the pool above) and last week during my brief time home between trips we lost little Ping (the other duck in the photo). Don found Ping half eaten up in the big Sweet Gum tree in the chicken/duck pen. She was only two years old and we suspect a coon got her.

When the drakes drowned Rowan Don insisted we get rid of them, so I listed Puddles and Mr. Bean (AKA Mr. Mean) on Craigslist. A couple days ago I got a response and will be taking them to their new owner tomorrow. In exchange I will be bringing home a five month old rooster that looks a lot like our dearly departed Strayhorn. The owner assures me that, so far, the rooster is quite docile. Her five-year-old daughter plays with their chickens and the rooster eats out of her hand. Since she is in Olive Branch, MS I've decided to name him Oliver. I guess his last name will be Branch!

I do hope Aunt Bernice and Aunt Bertha, the hens, will warm up to Oliver quickly. For a few weeks he will be penned next to them so everyone can get acquainted. Then we'll see how they do together. I will most definitely miss the ducks and hope to get more in the future...just no drakes though! We really enjoy duck eggs...actually prefer them to chicken eggs, so I'm sure there will be more ducks in our future here on Hickahala Ranch.

Until then I have something else to keep me busy...three pygmy goats! I'm picking them up tomorrow afternoon so you know what tomorrow's blog will be about...Obi, Juan and Kenobi!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Time to settle into summer

What a whirlwind life has been here lately! I've been gone two weekends in a row with only a few hectic days in between at home. The end of May I traveled to north Alabama with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson (pictured on the left) and my daughter's younger brother to attend the high school graduation of my nephew. From the left (in white) are his sister, dad, Jonathan and his mom (my sister). I'm peeking over her shoulder in back. Next to my sister is my niece (with her fiance peeking over her shoulder), sister-in-law and my brother.

My niece and her fiance are the reason I was gone this past weekend. They are husband and wife now! Friday I drove to north Alabama to pick up my son, his wife and my little grand daughter. We then headed south to Mobile to attend my niece's wedding. It was a lovely wedding and everyone had a good time. Anna and Jeff, we wish you a happy life together!

While in Mobile we got to drive around and explore a bit. I drove out to the USS Alabama so my daughter-in-law could see it. Unfortunately, it was already closed for the day and we didn't make it back on Sunday as we ended up at my brother's house visiting family. Sunday afternoon found us on the road again, heading north to Huntsville once more. After dropping my son and his family off at home I ended west to my mom's house for the night, with plans to be home by early afternoon. Ah...the best laid plans! I ended up going back to Huntsville when it was discovered my son's suitcase was still in the back of the truck. Seems I thought HE got it out and he thought I got it out! Oh well, more driving that was worth every mile as I got to play with my sweet grand daughter some more! I finally made it home around 9:30 Monday night.

Those hectic few days in between my Alabama trips is a tale for another day...tomorrow perhaps! As for now, I'm still resting!