Tough Poultry Weekend

Beautiful Winona in better days.

It was a tough weekend. I ended up putting Winona into the dog crate as a temporary sick coop and placed her in the shed. I really didn’t think it would come to this nor did I think I would need an infirmary any time soon. All my birds are young, healthy, and I don’t hang around other chickens collecting germs. Plus, I had no problems with my first flock several years ago. But this has taught me I need a sick coop as soon as I have chickens. The rest of the flock is, as far as I can tell, healthy as horses. More on them in a moment.

When Winona was too sick to come downstairs to eat or drink, that’s when I moved her. If I brought her water, she’d drink it. I gave her chick food, but I’m not sure if she touched it. In the sick coop, she is not eating at all (I tempted her with soft carrots and strawberries) and I don’t know if she’s even drinking. I’m very sad for her. I’m also seeing the need to learn to butcher chickens so I can take sick girls out of their misery. All in all, it’s been a downer.

Then to top it off, I lost one of the keets. I was so thrilled when I brought them outside over the weekend. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, as much as their little high-strung selves can. When I went to bring them in, three of them flung (yes flung!) themselves against the fence, screaming to get away. Once I gently put them in the box to go back inside, I went to capture the 4th. This little bugger went to the far end of the run and squeezed out through the fence. (It’s a different fence that what is in the back of the run – same style, slightly wider – that the other three hurled themselves upon.) Wonderful.

He ran to the garden bed without the coop, and squeezed through again. I chased him around the chicken yard a few times (yes, it was comical!). I thought if I gave him a break, he’d calm down. So I brought the others back to their home and came out with the box, hoping to capture him. And he was no where to be found. And still hasn’t been found. I tried flushing him out of some brush, but he obviously wasn’t there. I’m trying to image the little thing hiding so well, and being able to eat, that he’ll liveIMG_0416 wild and free but the reality is he probably contributed to the circle of life.

So it’s been a sucky poultry weekend. And the keets are currently banned from going outside again for awhile. We’ll have to revise the fencing a bit. Which is a shame because the weather has become better and enjoyable. A great opportunity to acclimate.

And, while I definitely understand their benefit in pest control, I’m starting not to like them so much. Chickens are definitely much calmer and practically train themselves. Hopefully, the guineas will become calmer with age.

To top of the fun, the quints have learned to escape. They jump/fly/helicopter right over the fence. Brownie is generally left behind so she and Beulah are becoming friends. I’ve given up trying to lock them in. They wander the yard so we get the benefit of their bug eating and naturally-produced fertilizer. It’s another fencing issue I hope to address this weekend.

I think I’ll end there and mull over necessary improvements so I don’t run into these problems again. I hope you all had a better weekend than I did!

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Guineas

Ohhh-kay… a few weeks ago Mr. Henhouse mentioned getting guinea chicks (keets) to help with pest control in the backyard. (They are phenomenal bug eaters!). And I love the idea and have been wanting to do this for awhile. But I said, “Wait! Love it, but we need to talk first.” I had reservations:

1) I’m unemployed right now. This is my 3rd lay-off in a row. We’re okay now, but what happens if we run into money issues?

2) Neighbors — Guineas are noisy. They like to talk. We have neighbors. While the lots are relatively large (generally between 3/4 of an acre and an acre), we still have neighbors to consider.

3) Neighbors — Guineas sometimes roam. They are fliers and there is a good possibility they will visit neighbor’s yards looking for bugs.

My keets!

However, with this, that, and the other thing, I forgot to follow up and got the dreaded “I’m picking up the keets tonight!” I bought myself a day so I could get them food, and this past Monday we picked up six beautiful keets. I do love them. Keets are TINY!

We put them in the big crate, thinking it is so hot, that with a lamp, they will be fine. Well, we lost one the next day. So we moved them to a smaller crate, thinking that maybe the little critter just got too cold. And I’m losing one now. Makes me sad. I know there’s usually a 20% attrition rate with chicks, but I don’t like it. And none of my chicks from the Tractor Supply Store (Brownie and Quintuplets) died. I suspect those girls were at least a week old while the keets were about 24 to 48 hours old.

I also don’t know how many females or males I have. Keets aren’t sexed. I believe it’s just not possible for guineas to be sexed until they are several weeks old. Fortunately, the males are not aggressive like roosters, so they all get along. And, guineas in general tend to be territorial so I will try teaching them their “territory.” We’ll see how that works. They can be very tame if socialized properly and can live with chickens, so they will be slightly packed in the coop, although that will work nicely in the cold weather.

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Keets in the smaller crate.

Speaking of weather… the weather here lately with incredibly loud and close lightening strikes. The hens are okay, but I’m sure they’re getting as tired of the rain as I am. But, it does save me watering the garden.

Ahh, the garden. Corn and peas are now in. Finishing up tomatillos, peppers, and luffa this weekend — weather willing. And then done. Just weeding, watering, and growing.

I’m testing the luffa. I’m not sure how well it will grow up here, but I thought I’d give it a try. The seeds sprouted right up and grew very well. The sprouts look very healthy. So, we’ll see what happens. If I get a big enough crop, I may even clean and sell them. Natural luffa is so much nicer than those plastic scrub pads people use in the shower now.

And I’ll close with a reference to my last post on bees. Here’s a link to cartoon on Far Left Side. Enjoy!

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