1:30am: I was just about to step up into the chicken house to gather eggs for the last time today and say good night to the chickens....when I saw the tail end of a SNAKE slithering onto the shelves that are in the feed storage side of the chicken house. And it was a BIG SNAKE! I dropped the (empty) egg basket and ran to the house to get Alan.
"Alan, I need your help in the chicken house, PLEASE!"
We grabbed extra flashlights (but not the camera, grrrr!) and headed out to the chicken house. We found the snake coiled up on the bottom shelf, right next to a hammer, the garden trowel, and various other items. It was a very large adult rat snake, quite capable of swallowing a whole egg.
Alan tried to encourage it to go into an empty feed sack, but it wasn't interested in his efforts and made its way to the back corner of the chicken house, behind all the garden shovels and rakes, bags of feed, bags of wood chips, partial rolls of chicken wire, and then some. Bit by bit, we moved everything out of the chicken house, until finally Alan could see the snake in the corner.
After a bit more effort and a few escape attempts, the snake went into the empty feed sack. Alan rolled the top of the bag closed. We were going to relocate the snake to the middle of our pasture where there's an old dead tree, but I decided that wasn't far enough away. So, we took it to the far end of the pasture and Alan set it free.
Rat snakes are good snakes to have around, but myyyy oh myyyy, I don't want them (especially that large of one) in the chicken house! As it was making its way to the back of the chicken house to get away from us, we could tell that it was easily 6 feet long.
Just yesterday afternoon I saw a smaller rat snake leaving the garden. It was only about 2 feet long, and not nearly as intimidating as the one we dealt with tonight. You can bet I'll have my eyes peeled from now on, on the lookout for SNAKES!