Morning on the farm…

October 26, 2007

When I went out this morning to do chores, the little guineas were running around. These are the smallest and youngest of our many guineas.

They ran from the main pasture to the “back yard pasture”… mixing with the sheep and goats.

Everyone’s after the same corn I threw out!

Guineas Galore – The Continuing Population Explosion!

September 8, 2007

We had another surprise this morning. A couple of guinea hens showed up for the morning feeding with eight new little keets bobbing along behind them. They are obviously recently hatched, and easily lost in the tall grass – which is why I took a picture of them while they were on bare dirt!
This is the fourth batch of keets to hatch out this year. The first two only ended up with two survivors from each group. The third group has three adults watching the keets, instead of the usual pair. They’ve managed to keep all fourteen – so far at least!

They were out in the front yard dust bathing this afternoon.
They have a pretty good system, with two adults watching the little ones all the time, while the third stands guard.
They were enjoying themselves immensely until Spot the cat came too close, then the Guard Guinea screeched it was time to move on out!

At this moment, we have 14 adult guineas, and 26 keets, for a grand total of 40 fowl! Oh my! I don’t think we really need that many. If all these newcomers survive, we may need to sell off a few guineas. They’re great for eating bugs, especially ticks, but 40 guineas???

It might be just a little too much of a good thing.

A Final Fix And New Beginnings

August 15, 2007

Over the weekend The Farmer worked on the aviary some more. The joints on the back hoop keep popping out of place when we have high winds or little goats that sneak inside and jump against it.

The hoop holding the netting is made of PVC plastic pipe, so he put new glue on the joints.

To help secure the top hoop, there is a rope from the top of the hoop to a tree. It was anchored in a downward slant. The Farmer decided it would work better at an upward slant.

To accomplish that, he needed a tall ladder and a trip in the treetop. I caught up with him just as he was ready to get back down…

It’s all fixed up and looks good now.

When I went out to take a picture of the finished work, I discovered there was also something new…
A whole bunch of new guinea keets!

Fowl Update

July 23, 2007

It’s dark out, and almost 9pm, but I can hear the guineas outside making a racket about something. They’re not called the “barnyard watchdogs” for nothing! We have two sets of babies (keets) left. The first batch we so carefully penned up was a disaster. None of those survived. The others that hatched out close to the same time was a smaller group, and there are still two keets running around. I have hope they’ll survive, as they are already half grown.

Then last week we noticed a new group of 5 babies. They are still pretty small, and already down to 3 keets. One way or another, something seems to get to the little ones, and the survival rate is pretty low. I think we have too many hawks, owls and 4-legged predators.

Of course, it’s better than the peafowl, which have zip babies right now. I still haven’t had any luck with any eggs hatching in the incubators. My only hope now is one peahen who is sitting on an unknown number of eggs. This is the first year any have tried to nest. I hope she does better hatching eggs than the incubator.

The peahens will probably stop laying soon. The peacock is molting, losing feathers at a rapid rate. That usually signals the end of mating season. It looks like another not-so-successful year with the peafowl. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but the last couple of years have been a bust.

The 3 little chicks of assorted flavors are growing rapidly. In fact, I mistook one the other day for one of the little Golden Sebright hens. They wander further away from Mama Hen these days, and don’t always stick together either. I think they may all be hens, which would be a miracle, but they don’t have much of a comb even yet, and a rooster should be showing a pretty good sized comb by now.

Our last little outside fowl, Peepers, just got moved into a bigger cage on the front porch. After she was abandoned by her mother, and I couldn’t get the other hen to adopt her, I put her in a birdcage on the back porch. She’s about outgrown it, so we put her in a bigger cage. I’m not ready to turn her loose yet, since she’s only half grown. I’m not sure how’s she going to do on her own.

She doesn’t look like the other three, so we have 4 chicks that are all different. Nothing like fowl diversity!

Peepers on top of her bird cage.

Chicken Littles…

July 11, 2007
Right now we have some chicks. Only four, but what a varied assortment! We like diversity here. The mother is a Buff Orpington hen, and the father is a mix from a Polish Silver Laced rooster and Sicilian Buttercup hen. Almost sounds more like flowers than chickens, doesn’t it?
Polish Silver Laced + Sicilian Buttercup =

This Rooster + Buff Orpington Hen = Some interesting Little Chicks.
Here’s a more recent picture of the fast growing little chicks…
The fourth chick was abandoned in the nest by it’s mother. I tried to get the above hen to accept it, but it was a little younger than her chicks, so she figured out it wasn’t hers and kept pecking at it. For now it’s residing in a bird cage on our back porch.

We also had a bunch of Guinea keets. (Fowl lesson for the day: baby guineas are called “keets”, not chicks.) The guinea hens have been nesting in pairs this year, with double nests containing up to 50 eggs. One pair ended up with about 16 keets out of all those eggs, one set ended up with about 5 keets, and another set abandoned their eggs after a snake kept raiding the nest.
Guineas give new meaning to the phrase “bird brain.” They run up and down along a 4-foot high fence, trying to figure out how to get to the other side, when they can fly to the tops of very tall trees with ease. They’re also noisy, but they have one important virtue… they eat ticks. We had a real problem with ticks when we first moved here, and now see only one or two a summer.

Guinea hen and keets crossing our driveway.

The only fowl problem is we don’t have any peafowl chicks this year. I don’t seem to have much luck getting them to hatch out. I have a couple of incubators filled with eggs, but no chicks yet. I keep hoping!

Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy watching the fast growing chicks and keets scampering around after their mothers. It’s fun to see them hopping around, scratching and trying to do “big chicken” stuff.

Chicken Littles… gotta love ’em!

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