Over the last several weeks our egg production has gone down, from about 36 eggs to 24 eggs to 19 or fewer out of a flock of 45 chickens. At first we blamed the dog. That's where the phrase - "Egg Suckin' Dog" comes from. And we have found the dogs carting an egg or two around in their mouths from time to time.
Today, about 4:30 PM I went down the hill to do the evening chores, which includes collecting eggs. Patt was busy putting the sheep and goats back in the barn in preparation for the culmination of Operation Pig Tractor, while I went to the coop to collect, what I hoped would be, a large harvest of eggs to sell out our local market (Conway Locally Grown) or to friends at work or our friends here in Perryville.
I stepped up into the coop and found a surprise. A large black snake had just crawled in before me and slithered its way into a nesting box full of eggs. Just coiled up in the box and started swallowing eggs, one by one, like it belonged there. I called for Patt, she brought my gloves and I reached into the nesting box, bravely I might add, and grabbing the reptile just behind the head pulled it out of the box.
This snake, we believe, is the same Black Rat Snake Patt rescued from our well back in 2006 when it was no more than 3 feet long. We've seen it several times on the property over the years and don't want to kill it because it does beneficial things in addition to stealing eggs. It's kind of our pet snake...