Breakfast Interrupted

I was a bit sleepy-eyed yesterday as I walked towards the deer pen in the dim morning hours. There, I knew I would find Tukker on the other side of the gate, anxiously awaiting his bottle of warm formula. As I slipped through the gate, he began bopping my leg with his nose, hoping to get to his milk quickly. Amidst all this bumping and nudging, I was trying to balance the bottle and a paper plate of fruits and vegetables for him to nibble, all while setting up a lawn chair I keep at the barn. Somehow I managed to get myself settled in the chair and ended up sitting with Tukker for thirty minutes after he finished his bottle, watching the sun rise and the Mississippi Kites take their first flights of the day.

Tukker eventually finished off all the fruit and vegetable chunks I had prepared, and then sauntered off to graze on grasses and weeds that I let grow wild in the deer pen. He ate dead leaves from the branches of various trees I had cut and stacked in his pen. He nibbled on cat brier I had collected from the woodlands. And as usual, after he filled his belly, he scampered off tossing his head around and putting on quite a show of running and leaping. It was a delight to watch him. This was the reward for all of our hard work rebuilding and extending the deer pen. With the extra room, Tukker has a much better setup than any of the other fawns we have raised.

Tukker is a month and a half old now, and doing very well.

When Tukker finally tired and disappeared into his little brush pile to bed down for the morning, I moved onto the chicken barn to let the chickens out for the day. I could already hear quite a ruckus going on inside. With three age groups of poultry recently merged into one pen, there was still a lot of jostling around going on in efforts to establish a pecking order. Chickens can be quite entertaining, and I found myself getting sidetracked watching them every morning.

After observing their antics for a time, I suppose I spent another thirty minutes getting them all set up with water and food for the day. While doing so, my two favorite chicks, Irish and Lisa, followed me around chattering and peeping. They both let me hold them for a bit while petting their soft feathers. It was something special for me to experience this with Irish and Lisa, as every other chicken I have known, ran from me or pecked at me!

Recently we added some new chicks to our old flock. By October we should be getting some small poult eggs, which will be welcomed since the egg production of the old girls is dwindling.

As I left the chicken pen and rounded the corner between the two barns, I saw a beautiful garter snake sunbathing on the brick walkway. But as I moved closer, I realized it was busy eating something. All I could see was something covered in blood in the grip of the snake’s jaws. However, it was apparent the snake had not yet unlatched its jaw to accommodate swallowing its victim, so I figured it was in the early stage of the kill. With this, I walked back into the metal barn to fetch a broom. After irritating the snake enough to get it to move from its victim, I still could not determine what the bloody mess was, but it was moving and still alive, trying to retreat into a crack behind the brick. I kept after the snake, who continued to lunge at the broom, and swept it away until it finally slithered towards the driveway. I hoped it found breakfast elsewhere, perhaps feasting on some bugs or vermin I did not care about. I put my broom away and walked back down the path to see about the victim.

The garter snake was just starting breakfast when I approached.
Not wanting to give up a morning kill, the snake continually lunged at my broom until it realized I wasn’t giving up either!
After sending the snake in another direction, I went back to see if I could assist the victim. A small toad had emerged from the crevice it had backed into during the snake attack.

As I approached the area of the attack, I found the victim hopping away from the scene – a small toad with blood on its head and dirt all over it’s body. Quickly, I scooped it up and walked to a sprinkler I had running on a nearby tree. The water washed away the dirt and blood. Even after rinsing, his head was still a bit reddish colored, which I suppose could have been from the initial attempt by the snake to suffocate it head first but, other than that, it appeared to be just fine. After the bath, we took a long walk back towards the house where I released the little toad in the front flowerbeds.

After rinsing the blood and the mud off, I decided Mr. Toad was able to manage just fine for release in my flowerbeds.

Somehow it felt right to come to the young toad’s rescue this morning. And as I watched the toad hop into the depths of the flower bed, I thought about how many times in my own life someone had come to my rescue when I needed it most…

© 2019 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


24 thoughts on “Breakfast Interrupted

  1. How quickly we lose track of time when we are with our animal friends and observing nature in all its glory. Loved this post. Tukker melts one’s heart. Great set-up you have created for your young deer.
    Is the snake a poisonous one? A cold winter keeps them at bay here which suits me just fine!
    Must go, got to finish my short story assignment for university which is due tomorrow. I do get easily distracted!


    1. I don’t know how you’re managing studies with all else you have on your plate! I’d want to be distracted too, rather than do an assignment!

      The snake is not venomous, but a good and helpful snake. I don’t mind the snakes but I do not like being surprised by them. I love toads. I’m glad I came along when I did.

      Tukker is a handsome boy. He’s different than any of the other deer we’ve raised. I suppose this is an ongoing study of deer for us. Each one is different, and here to show us something we don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There is something about observing wildlife that brings a message I can connect with. I’d hate to think how many times help came for me at just the right moment! I’m glad I arrived for Mr. Toad when I did!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, you must be one awesome person! Loved reading through and was curious to know about the victim. Glad, you were there to help. You truly are an inspiring person 😎


    1. Aw, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I was just as curious to find out about the victim. I’m glad I happened along when I did. I’ve seen snakes swallow toads before – they unlock their jaws and their muscles move the prey on down a little at a time. It’s a bit horrifying to watch. I do not like seeing those kinds of things.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love to read about all the animals and the magic your farm holds. So happy you had a successful rescue. We all need to be rescued one time or another and I can imagine Mr. Toad thanks you. I am particularly fond of your chicken, Lisa. 😊


    1. Thank you, Lisa! Ha ha I named Lisa after my sister, Lisa. Lisa the chick has big brown eyes and she talks a lot. She follows me around everywhere and can always be found with her Rhode Island Red friend, Irish. Those two are the only ones that allow me to hold them and pet them. We have some good conversations too, I might add.

      I am outdoors a lot, so I am able to observe many oddities and happenings with the wild things. Just today I saw a hawk fly very low and then I heard the roosters calling out. Sure enough, the hawk was perched in a tree just across from the chicken yard. The roosters had all of the hens in a protected corner, and most of the hens had run in the barn when they heard the alert. All life forms are amazing. I’m always learning.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lynda! I need to get with you about my new chickens. I have a list of what we have – I’m curious about their characteristics. So far I’ve been lucky the only problem we have is two of the twelve teenagers I got (4 months old) are roosters. I’ll keep one, but the other I do not like. He’s one of those mean roosters. The farm store is supposed to trade me a hen for him so I have him separated from the others. The chicks (now two months old) are hilarious. We had to clip wings first day in the big chicken yard because they were flying everywhere 🙄. They’re holding their own with the oldsters and the teenagers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mean at 4 months? Never a good sign. Mean roosters are never necessary to your flock. In fact, unless he’s beautiful, and not aggressive, you don’t even need a rooster. I look forward to answering your questions and if I can’t. I know where to send you to get the answers you need. 😉

        ” We had to clip wings first day in the big chicken yard because they were flying everywhere”

        Ha-ha-ha! I can just see it: “Whoa, look at all this space! We can FLY and not hit anything. Let’s do it again! – Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”


        1. Yes, it was fun capturing all of those free birds! The mean rooster is a beautiful one, black with iridescent turquoise wing and tail feathers. He’s quite unusual, but I’ve had my fill of him attacking all of the hens – especially the old girls. He’s separated from the flock, but the chicken fella that is supposed to bring another hen for me is sure slow getting it to the farm store. Our old roosters are very old and won’t last long. I’ll miss them someday. They’ve been the best alertists when there has been a hawk or predator near the chicken yard.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading the comments on this post as much as your story! That garter snake is beautiful. I don’t recall the garter snakes in Ohio being so pretty, but then I’ve never seen one that large either. Glad you could save the toad, and I’m sure he is too! I have saved animals a couple of times which is probably only really a reprieve, but who’s to say? The laws of nature are pretty brutal, but I really liked your metaphor at the end. It is a special part of life to be helped by our fellow humans, and even more special to be conscious of it! xx


    1. Ardys, I’m very sure you have garter snakes in Ohio, as we had them in Nebraska.I believe they’re prevalent in all of North America – even in the cold climates of Washington, Montana and Alaska. Some have a yellow stripe down the back but most that I see here are orange. They can get fairly lengthy, and are excellent rodent and insect controllers!

      I know, I thought about that toad getting eaten by another snake. They’re all over the place here. But for the moment, I felt I did a good deed.


  5. So much beauty here. From Tukker obviously, to the chickens… I’m envious, ours are familiar… oh excuse me is that your foot too bad… but not friendly. The garter snake is amazing, for a snake… I’m still becoming accustomed to not being not terrified… and the toad… small creatures are marvellous, and you did a good deed. That snakes, like ours do, will find a meal elsewhere. Hopefully a mouse. I have nothing against mice, but… it’s useful that snakes like to eat them.


    1. My thoughts mimic yours about creatures. Some I’m fond of and others, not so much. We don’t kill snakes here unless they’re venomous or they’re in the chicken barn eating eggs. Once they find eggs, they’ll keep coming back!

      I’m just so happy Lisa and Irish let me pet and hold them. Irish follows me everywhere, chattering as if she’s telling me all what happened since I was in the barn last. She’s so funny – like the barnyard tattletale. We have two tiny white leghorns that are shrimps in size to the others. I call them Bitsy and Twinkie, and I’d love to make friends with them too but so far, no luck!


  6. Lori, I just love seeing the pics of all the wildlings plus the domestic animals of your farm. Tuckker sure is a beauty with his brilliant coat of white spots. I can just see him nudging your legs trying to hurry up the process of getting his morning breakfast. And, I am so glad that you rescued Mr. Toad. Hopefully s/he will not have any more encounters with a snake or any other predator. I do love the toads and those that I see in my yard as well. I see one or two toads in the late evening when I go out to water my little backyard garden. I know that they are quite beneficial so I am happy to have them around.


    1. I love the toads too. We had so many this year, especially with the spring rains, that it was horrifying for me to get on the mower. I saw the chickens nab and eat quite a few of them too. They were smashed in the streets as well. It was just impossible to think with such a mass of them, that many could survive. With late summer rains lately, I’m seeing another generation of them, which makes me happy.

      Tukker is a wonderful little buck. He’s been mindful about hiding and managing as a lone fawn. Only lately has he ventured out a bit more, investigating his pen. He’s a wonderful forager, and very alert. I think he’ll do very well when we release him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I know we had garter snakes around when I was growing up, but I remember them as much smaller, and green. It could be my failing memory, or that we had a different species, or that I never took the time to really look at them. This one’s a gem — so pretty, and color-coordinated with those bricks and boards. Things do have to eat, but I’m glad you rescued the toad. However frustrated, the snake won’t go hungry, and the toad may have been the happiest toad in the world.

    A woman whose blog I follow found a rat snake in the process of heading for her chickens, climbing right up the run. She discovered it thanks to a mockingbird who pitched a fit, jumping up and down on the roof of the run, and making an unbelievable racket. Cooperation, that’s the ticket!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh there are always predators about. Those rat snakes are sometimes huge and almost every year we find one eating our eggs in the chicken barn! Last week a hawk kept perching at the chicken yard. Fortunately I have two good but old roosters that are excellent alertists and good at rushing the hens to safety. Squirrels are often the best alertists around here! A few nights ago a coyote was running across the pasture. Fortunately it saw me and heard me yelling and did an about-face back to the woods. We have owls that keep watch for prey, and Ms. Foxy is seen most mornings. Predators, we will likely always have.

      I love toads. With all of the rain we had this year, there were thousands hopping about for a couple of months. Now we don’t see many.


    1. Thanks, Nick! Tukker is doing so well. He’s eating like a champ now, and he’s an excellent forager for grasses, elm branches and leaves, rose leaves, cat brier… and weeds that I’ve let grow in the deer pen. He runs in the deer pen which is quite expansive now – he’s got the best setup of any of the deer we’ve raised.


  8. Hi Lori, Tukker is growing into a fine young fellow. The garter snake is gorgeous. I am guessing with you poking at it with a broom that it is non venomous. I can’t see myself poking a red bellied black snake with a broom.


    1. You guessed correctly, Margaret. Garter snakes are non-venomous and I like to see them around. They keep our rodent population at a minimum. I don’t kill snakes unless they are in the chicken barn. Once an egg eater, always an egg eater!!


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