Winter Prep & Updates

Busy times. I’ve been so busy with my contract job that Mr. Hen House has been putting the the ladies to bed. With the cold weather, we’ve moved the ladies and guineas into the hoop house. They will be spending the winter there. The good part is it provides more shelter than the coop. It has electricity for lights and keeping the water warm (eventually!) We also play a radio at night to discourage predators. Yes, still doing that after the weasel incident this past summer.

Getting settled in.

Getting settled in.

So getting the birds into the hoop house was interesting. Most of the girls went in on their own, but Beulah was weird about it. So after some wrangling, we got her in. Then it was guinea time! It was brutally cold here, so they knew they wanted to go in somewhere, but really don’t like being in the coop but that was the only place they knew.

So after running around like crazy, we got two of them in the coop. I then went in and grabbed, them, one at a time, and moved into the hoop house. That last guinea was a terror to get, though! It took about an hour, but we finally got him into the coop, so I could then move into the hoop house. Chasing these birds around the yard was like something out of the Roadrunner! If it wasn’t so cold, it would have been funny. 🙂 And you’d think after all this time, the guineas would be at least used to us. But nooooo, they still act as though we will rend them limb from limb.

The odd man out.

The odd man out.

To digress a bit, it seems we have two boys and one girl. There’s a pair that always are together and then we have the odd man out. I think I’ll try to get a guinea hen in the spring for the lonely boy. I am concerned the more assertive guinea rooster will take her, too, leaving lonely boy even lonelier. But it’s worth a try. Worst case, guineas are meat birds. Maybe odd man out will become dinner. I don’t know yet. I do know that if I go that route, I will not be there to see it. My enthusiasm for the last bird was greatly diminished when I saw him butchered. Like I said, I’m the city cousin of the Iowa farm bunch.

Winona moved into Guapo’s space. She’s put on weight and is much more normal, including laying eggs. Her eyes aren’t completely normal yet, but I hope they will come back in time. I did make a huge mistake though. I thought she’d be fine in with the rest of the flock since  she was so much better. I was wrong. Beulah beat up on her horribly. So, Winona is back in her area and I’m disinfecting her wounds every day. I feel terrible. But I will never make that mistake again. Winona will remain segregated and safe until she passes. Which I don’t think will be for awhile. I will say it makes me sad that I may never receive the hairy eyeball from her again, though.

Winona giving me the hairy eyeball.

Winona giving me the hairy eyeball.

Guapo was moved into the airstream. We got complaints from the neighbors and had a discussion with the local code officer. So Guapo is in the airstream for the week, and comes out on the weekends. Not the best arrangement, but it will work until we get a better, more soundproof coop built. And since it’s so cold, he goes into his old area in the hoop house while I keep Winona in her crate. When she’s recovered from Beulah’s attack, I’ll have to reconfigure that area a bit as I don’t want her to suffer from Guapo’s love attacks.

 

 

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I have to say, Guapo is pretty relaxed for a rooster. I think the constant human interaction is making him a tamer rooster than the one I had with the first flock. He crows in the morning, and is then generally quiet the rest of the day. A few crows, but not much. He doesn’t try to attack me or Mr. Hen House. I’m hoping this behavior will continue. I don’t like aggressive roosters.

The biggest problem with the hoop house is it still gets colder than I would like. The water is freezing solid. Mr. Hen House has not completed the waterer with the chicken nipples and heater. I think we will be addressing that soon!

Now, show a Hen House some love! The girls gotta eat.

It will be warm again! My next post, I think I’ll critique the incubator I used for those eggs that never hatched.

Blue Hen House

Chicken Nipples & Winona

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See the water bottle? Girls just ignore it. Sigh!

In preparation for changing how I water my girls, I put a big ‘ole hamster water bottle outside the coop. Just could not get the girls interested it. So, seeing their love for the gatorade, I filled it with gatorade… still no interest. I’m working on a plan, well, sorta, because I’m at a loss. The whole reason for changing to the truly awesome, homemade watering system with chicken nipples is to make my life easier while keeping their water supply cleaner, for longer periods of time.

Before I go farther, let me explain the term “chicken nipples” — which I think is probably one of the worse names imaginable. (As my friend Randi says, it may be awful, but it’s a great name for a band!)

Chicken nipples  are the piece of equipment where the water leaves the watering system that the animal uses to drink. Very similar to the stainless steel piece in the hamster water bottle above. So it made sense to use that as a training mechanism. But until I figure out how to get the girls interested and realize their favorite liquid in the whole world is there, it’s basically useless. I am open to any ideas. However, removing their current water bottles is not an option. Chickens need hydration.

And now Winona… I think I need to revise my “diagnosis” of Winona. In addition to keeping her eye closed and not laying eggs, she began sleeping — a lot. And her eating is off. She is still eating and drinking, but not to the same level as before. So I did some research on the google. One woman described what her grandpa called “going light,” as in the chicken just stops eating and drinking, loses a bunch of weight, and dies. No one on any of the blogs really knew why and several had similar stories. Very depressing, especially after I picked Winona up and she had definitely lost weight.

So, I tried washing out her eye with some Clear Eye, on the chance that was bothering her — okay, it’s obviously bothering her as she keeps it closed. That didn’t seem to be successful so I may buy some more Clear Eye and try again. I then put in some serious thought about removing her from the flock and setting her up in the dog crate until she either passes or gets better.

I chose against doing that, for several reasons. One, this has been going on for awhile and she is the only one not doing well. The rest of the girls are incredibly active. I can barely keep them in their pen anymore. I see potential problems for the garden!

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Winona settling down for the night. She likes to be close to the back door.

But also, Winona is still eating. And Beulah is almost always by her side. If Winona goes to sleep in front of the coop, Beulah will either stand over her or nap with her. Winona decides she’s done with the day and goes upstairs to sleep, Beulah usually goes with her. I think Winona would be incredibly lonely if separated and that might be the thing that sends her over the edge. Plus, she HATES cages. Frankly, she can barely stand the pen of two large raised garden beds. Since Brownie and the quints are not harassing her, and everyone else is showing signs of incredible health, Winona stays for now.

And I think I saw signs that she just might be getting better. She was up with the rest of the girls this morning and walked around pen for a little while. Now I did catch her napping this afternoon, and she went up to bed early, but I am hopeful. I try to give her treats when I can, although Brownie and the quints tend to gobble everything up. So we’ll see. Even if she never lays another egg, I would hate to lose her. I never thought I’d miss her assertiveness, but I do. I know she’s not herself when she’s not giving me the hairy eyeball.

Before diving into my weekly rant, here are some photos of the girls helping us with the Japanese Beetle issue:

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And the rant: this week, it’s the U.S. Postal Service. This link is about what’s happening with the Post Office in Berkeley, CA. However, it contains information on the overall problem with the U.S. Postal Service. Most likely, it’s not what you think. Yes, digital communication and trade have made a dent in postal revenue, but the larger issue is the 2006 law Congress passed on retirement funding. It’s unreasonable and it’s problematic. It needs to be corrected and soon. In my ever so humble opinion, we lose the Post Office, we may never recover from the impact on the economy. UPS and FedX are great, and definitely have a place in the large scheme of things, but they do not offer the service or low rates we get from the USPS.

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