December 4, 2010

Hawks, Chicken & Snakes—Oh, My!

There is never a dull moment in the Leone household, and even a death in the family does not seem to eliminate the rest of the drama that surrounds our little homestead.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we traveled back to Wisconsin on Friday night after Grandma's passing. Emotionally drained and physically exhausted, we crawled into bed without packing just as soon as we arrived home that evening.

The next morning, we hustled about, preparing to get Kathleen off to her Sonatina Festival, while simultaneously re-packing suitcases—this time for Grandma's wake and funeral.

As we zipped around the house in something of a frenzy, we heard a horrible sound outside. Seconds later, I hear Joe shouting that a hawk is killing one of his chickens. Sure enough, there is a bloody battle ensuing, and big, determined hawk is putting his finishing touches on one of our chickens. [Sigh. As if we haven't had enough sadness and drama in the last few days.]

Joe runs outside to try to save his chicken, but it's much too late. The sight of Joe carrying off his dead chicken to its resting place is a bit much after the he just said goodbye to his mother. Seconds later, I hear his frustrated shout from the coop,

"All the chickens are gone! Every last one of them." 

An empty coop. The hawks flew off with all our chickens while we were spending time with Grandma.

The kids seem less concerned than we do about the passing of the chickens, so they go out to play. Moments later, we hear William shouting. He's been playing in the prairie grass surrounding our property, and he just stepped on another chicken.

And it's alive!

Suddenly, he's finding more chickens!

And more chickens.

One by one, William uncovers terrified chickens, huddled in the tall grass, hiding from the hawks. Every one of our chickens, save the one the hawk killed before our eyes, is alive! It feels nothing short of a miracle on a very strange, very melancholy day.

Old summer photo of our chickens.
No sooner has everyone come inside to rejoice in the return of the chickens feared-dead, than we hear Anna Marie shouting from the basement,

"Who took my snakes?"

"What do you mean who took your snakes?"

"Who took my snakes? They are not in their case!"

You are kidding me! We have a hawk killing our chickens [well, chicken-singular, as it turns out], and now we have snakes loose for who-knows-how-long in the basement? You'll recall, I've never been a fan of the snakes-in-my-house idea.

Joe's words make my stomach turn when he opines that the snakes will seek a warm spot—most likely nestled in our insulation or perhaps in our furnace or in some small space in our walls. I think I'll be sick.

Joe and Anna Marie begin to search the basement, trying to find any small spaces where the snakes might be residing. I can't bring myself to go down there and help them. I'm just thinking about how I don't want to ever use the treadmill again, for fear that a snake will be living under it and find it's way up to me as I start running. [shudder] Besides, I need to get Kathleen ready to head out for her competition.

I am trying to shut out the frantic sounds of the snake-search (including paternal scolding for not securing the snake abode) on the floor below, when I hear excited screams.

"We found one!"

"You found one? No way!"

"Yep, we found it."

Unbelievable. Hidden between an old trunk and the wall. That's one less snake I have to worry about.

To improve matters further, Anna Marie realizes, upon re-playing the events of the last few days, that the snake she found among the potatoes in the basement the week before (and promptly threw outside at my direct order) was her other, younger pet snake. At the time, she hadn't realized her snakes were missing, and we assumed the outside had come inside with Joe's potato harvest.

While of course there is nothing that compares to Joe's mother's death, I must say that the events of Thursday-Friday-Saturday, including chicken death (followed by chicken resurrection) and snake escapes (followed by surprising snake recovery), felt like an surreal roller coaster. We rush to Chicago on Thursday, Joe's mom passes on Friday morning, we drive home in mourning on Friday night, we get up on Saturday and find hawks have eaten our chickens and Anna Marie's snakes are escaped into our basement, we then find that all but one of the chickens are alive, we find the escaped snake, we take Kathleen to her sonatina competition where she plays like the wind, and we receive a call that afternoon that Kathleen has beat out all the competition and won her event. It felt a bit like we were living in a made-for-TV movie with the ups and the downs and the extreme emotions of those days.

I tell you, there is NEVER a dull moment in this house. Never. The kids want a dog. I'm not sure we need to add more excitement to our existence.

Current photo of snake and its habitat. Note the well-placed blocks atop the terrarium. The arrangement doesn't make me perfectly satisfied, but it pleases Anna Marie immensely.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Oh my goodness! What a ride! A chicken friendly dog might be a good to have around to keep the hawks/coyotes/salespeople away. =)