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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Happy 4th!

A quick post today and only one for this week. Trying to get ready for the holiday but the rain just won’t quit. It makes it hard to get out in the yard. However, the keets moved to a bigger box and the four survivors seem to be doing fine.

The big hens are also doing well, even in the rain. We put another door in the coop to help with cleaning and they love it. When it’s not raining it’s one more opening to air out the coop as well. I like a well aired, clean coop.

So I’ve been struggling with integrating the guineas when the time comes. I think I will put them in a wire dog crate for a couple of days, inside the pen, so the hens and guineas can eyeball each other. I really don’t want the guineas to get beat up too much as I need them to imprint on the coop. How all that goes will determine when I move them into the coop. I’d like to manually put them in at night, so everyone wakes up together. But, I need to ensure my little bug eaters won’t get hurt. I’ll keep working on a plan. I like to ease into things any way.

One thing I’ve noticed about this flock that is different from my first flock is their lack of interest in escaping. Now I’ll be the first to say that Winona had the most difficult time when not allowed to roam. She continually looked for a way out. But now that she has two big garden beds to walk around in, she just doesn’t seem interested in the yard anymore. If she got out, she would enjoy it, I’m sure, but she doesn’t try. Nor do the rest of the birds. Dirty Girl did pop out last week, but I think that was an accident. The quints like to stretch their wings. So, while they are penned, they are cage-free and I think that’s almost better than free-range as they are safer while still getting great nutrients from the plants, bugs, and worms.

On that note, here’s a pict of the keets for the weekend:

Then there were 4

The world outside is scary!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

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Rain

Chickens in the brush

Chickens in the brush

There’s really not much more to say than that. We get a nice day, then overcast, then rain for a few days, followed by maybe half day overcast, nice day, overcast, rain… been this way for a little while now. So, here’s some nice news from the nice day we had.

We fenced in one of the other raised garden beds and made a very unelegant but functional path from where the girls are living to this other unused garden bed. And they love it! LOTS of green stuff. So we’ll have one more garden cleared and fertilized by the chickens. And there’s no milkweed there so I think the girls will take care of all of it.

We also have this year’s garden almost finished. Got most of the planting completed, although I do need the rototiller for the corn. It’s been so rainy we haven’t had a chance to take care of that. But the tomatoes, peas, carrots, potatoes, beets, and cucumbers are in. I added more to the asparagus beds so I should be able to harvest next year. Last items, besides the corn, are tomatillos, and some late sprouting gourds and pumpkins.  With a little luck, we’ll finish this weekend. Otherwise, I’m concerned it will be too late in the season.

Airing out the coop

Airing out the coop

I’m also seriously attempting companion planting for the first time this year. (I’ve tentatively tried it in the past.) Tomatoes and carrots are supposed to do well together. So I put the carrots in some of the tomato beds. When the corn goes in, I’ll add climber beans and pumpkins. I’m curious to see if it will help reduce the pest problem.

There were interesting critters in the yard this  weekend. I almost stepped on two different garden snakes! Sadly, they move so fast I was unable to take pictures. I did post photos of the toad and the bright red bird on the new “Backyard Critters” page. I’ll be adding photos of critters I see on that page over time.

Enjoying the new yard

Enjoying the new yard

Queen of the Roost

New queen of the roost!

In keeping with the environmental theme I started with my GMO comments, below is a couple of links about the Keystone XL (XL stands for extra large!) tar sands pipeline they want to build in the U.S. In my ever so humble opinion, we should not do this. I realize the goal of energy independence is crucial to the nation, however, had we not abandoned renewable energy research after Jimmy Carter left the White House, I daresay all this fuss about oil, tar sands, and fracking would be moot (and say what you will about President Carter — you may be right — but he did recognize true energy independence began with renewables and all the wonderful initiatives he started were abandoned by Reagan).

First, a video featuring Van Jones clips. I completely agree with the statements. My thoughts?

1) Van Jones is right. If President Obama believes so much in this pipeline, then he should name it after himself, or at the very least, have a big ceremony when it’s online. I mean, if it’s that critical, surely it warrants the attention and hoopla.

2) Of course Canada doesn’t want this in their backyard and are more than happy to move it through the U.S.!

Beulah

Beulah doesn’t want icky tar spoiling the corn fields!

3) And this is what gets me every time, dating back to the “drill baby drill” days. The oil, gas, tar, whatever, that is pulled out the ground in North America does not belong to us, either the U.S. citizens, or in the case of Keystone, the Canadians. It belongs to the companies that pull it out of the ground who then sell it on the worldwide open market.

This next link is to an explanation of what is in “tar sand.” It’s not pretty and why would we ever want that crap going through our farmlands? (Special thrill: Adam Sarvana from “Big Bang Theory” is the lab assistant in the video that is part of the article in the above link.)

So that’s my soapbox for this week. Enjoy!

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