Everyone out!

Everyone found the chicken doors yesterday. I finished tying down the mesh around the fence, so it should be guinea tight.It’s kind of dead and slim pickin’s, but it’s outdoors.   They also noticed right away that it’s quite cold outside, so most of them had a look around, and then went back in to warm up.  Spoiled bunch.They seem to much prefer being in the corn stalk strip. In the open they act nervous, exposed.  Heard some of the most pathetic, unsure, low-volume crowing out of the roosters, too.  Hilarious!  They were so un-confident in the new situation, they were crowing at mumble volume, for a rooster.  I’m a rooster….but don’t take that too seriously, I don’t want to disturb anyone.   Velvet and her friends, the Pufflings.

Hen yard

Another afternoon spent in service of chicken comfort.

I created the chicken yard, finally. The fence was already there, keeping chickens out of my garden all summer, but now they are to be kept in, and I strung up the bird netting to keep the pro-flying guineas in and raptors out.

I imagined that the chickens would come out and enjoy it this sunny afternoon, but instead it was a tedious, cold, frustrating task that I clued up right around the usual guinea grass hour before dusk, when most chickens are on their way to bed, so most of them have no idea about it yet. Inside I cut two upside down T slits in the wall of the greenhouse.  Chicken flaps, like a cat door.  I figure once they get used to them, they’ll have no problem using them.  Surprise, Velvet was the first to stick her beak out. More investigation.The guineas like moral support for investigating.No one went out!  The guineas were miffed at me for not letting them out the door (It’s that time!), and although long necking through the slit, wouldn’t use it.

Then I taped back the corners of the flaps, and that did the trick. Of course, the usual baby barred rock, Nosey, and two other chicks came out too. Tomorrow morning could be exciting, before the rains come again.

 

Garlic and grass

Planted the garlic today.  On paper that’s half a month late, but by the weather, it’s just the right time.  The beds covered with hay look exactly the same after planting as before.  So many worms under the mulch!

I started some wheatgrass for the guineas.  I couldn’t remember if wheatgrass required soil or not, and I’m still not sure, so I’ll start trying it soil free.  I will also find out soon how many days it takes to become edible, and cycle trays through the windowsills.  Now we can spend all winter with the windowsills filled with start trays too.

Tomorrow is scheduled to be yard day for the chickens, so that should be fun and exciting.  I have to drape the greenhouse adjunct garden with bird net to thwart the sky predators and the guineas from escaping, and cut doors, and then they will have an outside yard they can come and go from.  I expect enthusiasm.

I also have worms

Worms are among the lifeforms that depend on me to feed them around here, and to fluff up their bedding.

This bin is very full, and has just been fluffed with new absorbent paper shreddings.  I think it looks like a pasta salad.  Of course, that’s where vermicelli comes from (the word, not the pasta).

Lots of food, good moisture levels; these worms are happy.  HW:  “What exactly does an unhappy worm look like?”

Funny you should ask.  I know the answer to that now.

Things they don’t tell you when encouraging new vermiculture enthusiasts:  a hungry worm will try to escape.  They climb the walls of the tub, and they can find a way to get out.  And they do.  Greener pastures here I come. I’m going to make my way in the world.  Hear me roar.

So keep them fed.  If the worms are climbing the walls- they’re not happy worms.  Now I know.  Plenty of food – no climbing.  All you see are rapidly retracting tails when you lift the lid.

 

What do I do when I haven’t taken any pictures all day?

Take pictures in the fading light at guinea hour.There’s the guineas grazing in colour-coded groups.There’s the chicks that slipped out today, quite proud of themselves.  Nosey on the left.  They’re pretty good about following the guineas back in, when they call it a night. The little barred rock again.  I’m with you, right?  I’m the right colour! Oooh, can I come out?! The small chickens are so cute. They’re cute right up until they’re suddenly big burly roosters swaggering around.  They spend a great deal of their juvenile lives independent of their mothers.  Months.  They have so much growing yet to do when they strike off on their own, but their sibling bonds (the chicks they shared a nest with) seem to stay really important until full adulthood.

Today was a big sun bathing day, warm in the greenhouse, chicken legs stuck out everywhere.  It’s very quiet when it’s warm.  The birds are all flopped out, dozing.  Too sedate to squabble.   Tomorrow, rain.

I made fudge, which is awesome because it involves vats of melted chocolate:Also worked, as usual, and felled some more of the ugly buckthorn forest.  Is the glass half full or empty?  I can look around after two tanks of gas burned and see little difference, or I can go  Yeah, two more tanks of gas … spent cutting down an invasive so regeneratively powerful I might start calling them Triffids.  I have to do that in the morning in order to feel any accomplishment about it.  When the snow comes, I think that’s when the amount of land I’ve cleared of the beastly GLB this fall, a fraction of the infection,  will actually look like something.  Here’s hoping.

The guinea graze

The guineas haven’t had their evening graze for a couple of days due to rain, and I let them out a touch early.  (Time change!  What time is it?  Old time or new time?)Perchick shot out along with the guineas.  That’s a Cheeks move, to get in the middle of the guinea crowd and run where they’re going.  Can’t see me!  Guinea speed is a dead run for a chicken.I wouldn’t mind some grass too.Then a few other chickens squeezed out.What’s going on out here? 

That little Whitey is an escape artist.  It came out for a graze once and ended up spending the night outside, luckily alive.  Sure enough, I looked at closing time, couldn’t find him, figured he was already in, then he reappeared 10 mins later in the corn stalks.Then there’s this one. I’m FREEEEE!Perchick stuck real close to the guinea flock.  Even with me looming over them on bobcat watch, they seem nervous outside. It’s such a weird thing that the guineas are colour segregationists, but the grey (pearls) don’t get along with the white/buffs.  They are aggressive and unkind to the non-grey ones.  The whites sleep on a separate perch now, and get attacked.  The greys are all cliqued up.  So strange!   Even though the guineas move like a school of fish and are all attached by invisible elastic bands that  stretch but then sproing back, the whites are distinct outsiders, constantly being forced away from the core of the flock.  They’ll have to go to their own white-only home.Back inside, the guineas are ready to go to bed but the chicks are hogging their stairs.  The laundry rack is exceedingly popular, all day.

I’m worried about this buff guinea.  It tends to lie around, in corners by itself.  Knowing how they can act like that at noon and be dead by two, it’s worrisome, but perhaps it’s just avoiding the prejudice.  It’s been a couple days and is still fine. 

#LocktheClock, please!

I HATE time changes!!  I don’t really care for regular time or savings time, for God’s sake let’s pick one and stick to it!  More people agree time changes are garbage than any other issue, so let’s dispense with “War Time”.

Each time change means a week of having half the clocks on the “old time”, to remember when the animals get fed, and doing math, like it or not, all times of day.  Now I feel like going to sleep at 6pm, when there should be three solid hours of work left in the day, and of course I feel like waking up at 3 in the morning, so I can lie there and think about all I have to do, once it gets light!  Hates it!    The sunrise and sunset matter, not the numbers.  Until you have to interact with the world.

Rant over.  Adjustment, not yet.

A porcupine has been at work on this tree.  Like an aerial beaver.It’s very sculptural.

No more pigs

The pigs have ceased to be.  As always, they had a good, lazy, romping life, with mud up to their eyes most days and loads of naps.  I’m not going to miss this pair, though.  They were extra sneaky and cunning, and developed a taste for illicit exploring.Now I’ll be able to leave home again.

Just standin’ around

The old girls have decisively claimed the roof of Chris & Cream Puff’s coop.  They pile up there all day.   An alliance is forming.Sidewinder, the molter in a jacket (again!  She molted last year), and Apples’ chick.  She was raised with the six other Silkies, but she doesn’t hang out with them anymore.  They’re babies.  The full Silkies are a third of her size.  This one could be a full leghorn.  Cute.  There seems to be a bond.

They might be standin’ around, but the chickens still suggest you vote, vote, vote today!

Sun day

The sun came out and dried up all the rain.  Not all – there was a lot of rain.  And more wind.  This morning, the pig house was upside down.  No pigs.  That’s never happened before (the pig house flipped, certainly not absent pigs).  I can picture them bolting out of there as their house lifted off of them.

Pigs are easygoing, pleasant, optimistic creatures though, so they had no worries about settling back in after breakfast.I had a good time in the greenhouse, cleaning up, untying strings.  It seems like such a short time ago we were tying up the strings for all the vining plants to climb- cukes, melons, tomatoes.  It’s nice to spend time with my birds when they’re at ease, not just in the food frenzy I get to see twice daily. They spend their down time lounging, and investigating, and investigating new places to lounge. They flop down anywhere.  Chickens cashed out everywhere.The guineas really like it under that coop.

What chickens really enjoy is industry – somebody else’s.  I was tearing down the cucumber vines in this corner.  Moved a few things, paused to sort out my ipod, turned around, and…the whole crowd is in there “going over” my work. Hmm, we’ll just have a look, shall we?

Happy about living naturally