Guineas Day Out

So last Thursday, I got home a little earlier than usual. As we were still in the midst of arctic temperatures, I decided to check on the flock and make sure the water had not frozen over.

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Warmer days!

Imagine my surprise when I went outside and saw Guapo standing in the middle of the path we had shoveled to the hoop house! With the flock around him and the guineas hanging out on the staging on the addition. And the hoop house door wide open. Yikes!

I immediately picked up the girls standing in the snow. I was concerned about frostbite and hyperthermia. I was able to get all the chickens back in, and made sure they had water. The guineas, however, were another problem. I can barely walk past them without their screaming that the breeze of my passing is a sign of the end times. Real drama queens, those three.

So when Mr. HenHouse got home, we tried to physically catch them. As they were completely avoiding the snow and flying from staging to roof to trees and back again, the plan was to try to knock them off the staging into the snow. I HATE that, but you get near them, if you can get near them, they fly away. So we wanted to destabilize the staging and hope they would fall.

We had semi-success. One did fall — the others flew on to the roof. Anyway, I quickly scooped her/him up and got her/him into the protection of the hoop house.

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Guapo and dinner, this past Fall.

Knowing these birds had not had food or water, I opened up the addition the next day and put food and water in there, hoping the other two would fly in. No dice. They continued to fly around the yard to stay in the sun.

The third day, I widened the opening a bit more. I figured after almost three days outside, they would be desperate for food, water, and shelter. I started putting food on the staging so they would at least get something to eat and keep their strength up. The freezing rain came, and they were drenched. I think that’s what finally pushed them into the addition. Once there, I was able to close them in, catch them, and put them back in the hoop house.

Lessons learned:

  • Guineas are hardy. They withstood that incredible cold, including the freezing rain, with no injury as far as I can see. But I don’t want to test their hardiness again.
  • Check the damn door. I thought I had, but apparently I did not close it properly and the wind caught it and blew it open. So now I’m properly paranoid about the hoop house door.

Now on to something different… when I was young, I remember driving through a monarch migration in Iowa. It was amazing. While I hated the fact of all those butterflies dying because of the cars, to be in the middle of this living cloud of orange and black was exhilarating. Because of this memory, I have been planting milkweed in my yard with the hope of attracting them. I have not had a lot of luck and I think I know why. Monarchs have been under severe environmental pressures — pressures created by people — for quite some time. It now looks as though they have reached the breaking point.  I hope not. They are beautiful creatures.

Stay warm!!

Blue Hen House

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Heat, humidity, and more heat

It has been incredibly hot and humid the previous three days. It was particularly hard on the chickens. While they stayed in the shade, there was a lot of “bowling” and panting going on. They had plenty of water, but it was just too hot to move most of the time.

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One of the quints cooling off.

I noticed in addition to sitting in the dirt to cool of, some of the girls lowered their wings, like the one in this photo. I can only assume she’s lowering body heat by allowing what air flow there was (not too many breezes during the worst of the heat) to get to her body, rather than trapping in body heat with her wings.

I also found out this weekend my girls don’t like milkweed! When we moved the coop into this particular garden bed, I was a little apprehensive because of the milkweed. I wanted what little food I had for Monarchs to be, well, available. I was concerned the girls would eat it up. And, because we really had no other place to put the coop for now, it was a compromise I felt I had no choice but to make. (We were originally going to keep half of this garden bed untouched so that we could keep the milkweed for the butterflies.)

But after watching the girls, it appears my concern was unnecessary. They simply eat around the milkweed. This isn’t to say if I happen to get any Monarch cocoons, they won’t eat the catapillar, but I guess it’s better than nothing at this point.

Milkweed is gross

They just walk around the milkweed.

And, I still get the good fertilizer the girls produce in this part of the garden bed, too, so when the permanent home is up, we’ll have a great mini-milkweek garden for butterflies.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of good photos of the girls in the dirt, simply because my phone camera doesn’t like shade. However, I’ll leave you with this picture so you can get an idea of what they were all doing most of the time during the heatwave:

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Brownie “bowling” in the dirt to keep cool.

Stay cool!

UPDATE: 7/10/13 Well I have egg on my face. The reason the girls aren’t eating the milkweed is because it’s poisonous to them. Thank the FSM that they’re smarter than I am. I recently read this on a list in a recent issue of Hobby Farming — potentially poisonous plants for chickens. Like a said, it’s a good thing the little dinos are smarter than me!

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