From Bad To Worse…

August 2, 2007

… Or the continuing saga of goats and peafowl.

All right, so on Tuesday the goats tore down the door to the aviary and all of the peafowl escaped. We rounded up all but two peahens and got them back in their smaller pen. At the last minute we discovered one of the last two peahens on the electric wires, but never saw the other.

Come Wednesday, and it’s status quo: one peahen missing, one on the electric wires. Later in the day I looked out the window and didn’t see her doing her high wire act. I thought, “All right! She’s down.” Wrong! I went outside and discovered all she did was move into the tree between the wires and the house.

The temps were up in the mid-90’s yesterday, so I needed to effect some kind of repair on the aviary gate so I could let the peafowl back in. They needed more space and access to their little wading pool to splash around in and stay cool.

The door was still intact, just knocked off the supports, so I used bungee cords to fasten it back in place. I knew that would suffice to keep the peafowl in their pen. The problem was keeping the goats OUT of the pen.

Taking a page out of The Farmer’s “Jury Rigging Manual”, I went looking for a wooden pallet. I found one wider than the door opening and tied it in place. To make sure the goats couldn’t climb up the slats, I turned it so they were vertically oriented.

It wasn’t long until the goats came to investigate my repairs.

Now here it is, 2 days since the Great Escape, and as it stands,
a) the goats haven’t found a way to get through the wooden pallet (good!),
b) one peahen is still missing (bad!), and
c) one peahen is still up in a tree (rats!).

The Farmer decided this evening it was time to matters into his own hands and find a way to get this peahen down out of the tree. She was too high up for any ladders we have, so he got the bright idea to use my BB gun, just pumped up enough so the BB would reach the peahen and maybe sting and annoy her, but not do any real damage.

The bright idea rather backfired. He did indeed get her out of the tree… you know, the one close to the house? Yep, she flew out of that tree…. and way back to the woods and roosted in a tree there. Bad to worse indeed.

He tried the same BB tactics to get her out of that tree, but she wasn’t falling for it again.

Failing with that tactic, he then threw a rope up in the tree to snag the branches she was on and shake them. She hung on and rode it out. Finally he had to admit defeat. But stay tuned! It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, or the peafowl comes down out of the tree.

The score is peahens 1, Farmer 0.

A Fowl Predicament

July 31, 2007

I walked by the picture window in our dining area this morning and thought I saw a couple of peahens sitting on the fence. Classic double take, look again… yep, sure enough, there were peahens on the fence. OUTside of the aviary.

I hollered for help from the Cave Geek downstairs, and we went out our respective closest doors to investigate. There was a totally empty aviary, and several peahens walking around in the back yard.

From past experience, I’ve discovered you can herd them if you walk behind them, gently, gently, and slowly head them n the direction you want them to go. We got four peahens back in place as we walked toward the aviary to check out the problem.

The problem was the door was wide open, having been taken off the hinges on one side, and slammed back against the inside of the aviary by bungee cord whiplash on the other.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce how this happened. I didn’t see it with my own two eyes, but I feel 100% positive a certain couple of goat bucklings wanted back in the aviary, and being forestalled by the three bungee cords, tried a new tactic. They obviously pushed or bounced hard enough against the door to dismantle it.

I am NOT amused.

The door is going to need some extensive repair, so we scooted the peahens we’d captured back into their original pen, and closed off the passage to the aviary. Then we went looking for the rest.

In the meantime, the nosy goats came to investigate what we were doing. I wasn’t in the mood to work around goats running in and out of the aviary, so shut them up in their night pen.

We discovered the peacock and another peahen behind the aviary area, and slowly guided them around the aviary and through the door, opened the passage and let them in with the others in the little pen. Once we shut the passage back up, we went scouting for the last two peahens.

We looked high (up in the trees), and we looked low (down in the bottom pasture), but we couldn’t see hide nor feather of any peahens. Granted the trees are in full leaf, so if they’re in the woods, we’d have trouble spotting them, even though they’re a large bird.

After much searching, I decided it was time to call a halt. Even if we did find them, there’s no way we can get them down if they’re up in a tree. We headed back to the house when I happened to glance up to some power lines and saw this:

Yes, there was one of the missing peahens. I would guess Toby spooked her and she flew up out of his reach. I moved him into a pen where she couldn’t see him, but hours later she is still right there in the same place.

I even tried spraying her with water to get her down, but in this 90+ degree heat, I think she just decided it felt good, and stayed where she was, dripping wet. There’s no telling when she’ll come down, and if she’ll head towards the aviary when she does.

As for the last lost peahen, we still have no idea where she went. I can only hope at dusk she decides to come home to roost.

Those blasted goats have sure created a fowl predicament.

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.

What Egg-xactly is it?

July 5, 2007

Some of our chickens like to lay eggs in a feed trough in the sheep shed. When I went out to gather eggs, here is what I saw:

Okay, true confession time. The top egg I placed in there for comparison. It’s a peafowl egg. Our peafowl are in a large aviary, so lay their eggs in there. Once in a while we find a chicken egg in the aviary, as our Golden Sebright’s can slip through the openings in the wire at the bottom, but generally speaking, the chicken eggs and peafowl eggs aren’t together.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what peafowl are – I know some people get confused at the term peafowl! Think peacocks. Only peafowl is the real name for those type of birds, peahens are the girls, peachicks are the young birds, and peacocks are the boys, and the boys only.

Anyway, back to the nest of eggs! In the middle are two chicken eggs. The white one on the left comes from a Sicilian Buttercup hen. The one on the right comes from a Buff Orpington hen.

Now the bottom egg, I’m not sure egg-xactly what it is. With that odd shape, I believe it may have been a Polish Crescent Sliver Moon chicken.

Well, okay, maybe not. I do believe it came from our Polish Crested Silver Laced chicken however. I really don’t know what happened that she laid this egg with such a strange shape. They usually look just like the other chicken eggs.

I guess she just wanted this one to be egg-stra special!

1 5 6 7