Category Archives: Family + Friends + Animals

Keet care share

The keets have been around more; they even got walked nearly to the house.  I hear their cheeping like tiny bells (they will grow into klaxons).  They already have dart-and freeze-in-the-grass skills, scratching, dozing, and following skills.  Little beings the size and weight of ping pong balls, walking, eating, pooping, thinking.   They’re so cute I can hardly stand it.  They are already surprisingly independent, with a noticeably larger radius of dispersion than two days ago, and the flock moves faster.  They aren’t obsessively dependent on mom at all, more that it’s important to them to stay with the group.I went out today and found a grey bird  sitting on the chicks in the cool morning.  The white (mother) hen came up nuzzling, like she was checking on her kids under the babysitter.  I thought awww, Galahad’s at it again, sitting on the keets.  Then I realized Galahad, who has been shadowing them the last couple days, was sleeping in the sun behind me.  So who the heck is this co-parenting?!

You guys have complicated relationships. 

Guineas are just SO lovely.  They have a different social system than chickens and it seems very evolved.   They accept the keets as tiny new additions that walk with the flock (reminds me of elephants).  The keets will run to any of them, it seems, and any of them might run and get a left-behind cheeping chick.  The males are super involved in keet care.

They’re so special and interesting that I just put up with the bloody noise.  Even that, though, often means something.  Not always, but often, there’s something they’re trying to say.  Like, visitors are on their way, put some clothes on!  They’ll come to the house together and yell at me, looking at me, then five minutes later someone walks up.  Don’t say we didn’t tell you.The white hen spent some adult time lounging away from the keets today, who were all with someone else.  Then all the birds were doing walkabout together with the keets flowing among their feet.  I felt very “approved of” that they let me stand so close to their pile of chicks.  When I walked right through the group was the first time I got a hint of mom flaring, reminding me of how crazy, insane cobra mom the last guinea mother I had was.  This one is zenned right out.

The other white hen was also around today!  Wolfing down food.  So maybe she’s nearing the end of her sit as well.

I’m looking forward to when she stops leaving to hunker down with them at night, and brings them to the greenhouse for bedtime.  I’ll need another laundry rack.

 

 

An extra puffy tail

The little (lone) Silkie chick has just had one extra puffy tail sprout out today, along with a tiny head crest and tiny feet feathers on those little black legs.  Looks especially good with evening back-lighting.  It’s funny what a transformative difference a day makes – chicks grow so fast.  Feathers just pop out here and there, and they go through some pretty funny stages.

This poor little chick is now only one third the size of its nestmates, which are bigger than some of the other chicks get before their Moms move on.  Mom is very patient.You know you’re too big to get sat on when…

This is the body attached to this head.  Hey, my neck is warm.  It’s stretched right out, and still trying to get some baby chick cuddles, meanwhile it’s almost as bulky as Mom.  Like a dog who thinks it’s still a puppy.  I can totally fit on your lap, I’ve done it 100x…hmmm.  Not working like it used to. 

This is the box princess and clan.  She now goes in the coop (well, I’ve moved the box inside the coop, and they still use it- and that’s its own story),  but they still settle down together pre-bedtime outside the coop.

I thought now that the little  keets had been introduced into society, they would belong and stick around, and that they would start sleeping with the others (in the greenhouse).  No.  Mom makes herself really scarce, staying on the weedy sidelines during the day and disappearing at night, so I get to worry.  Galahad comes whisking into the greenhouse late and in a hurry now.  I know he knows where they’re spending the night, but I can’t find them.

OMG KEETS!!!

I went out to feed everyone lunch and got stopped in my tracks by a tumble of new keets!  A whole new cast of characters.  I think there’s 13.  They’re hard to count.  Little white ones and brown ones!

We already have a candidate for the lag-behind

The white guinea hen is back with a hugely successful brood!  I’ve been seeing her at the food trays occasionally the last couple of weeks wolfing down food, at off hours, so I’ve wondered.   I’ve also seen her at the end of the driveway, where I’m pretty sure she nested – the others were making not very covert visitations down there.  That means these little keets have already had one heck of a long walk to get here.It begs the question, are the others ok?  Did they survive the rains and raccoon and other roving predators?  Are two other hens going to roll out of the woods (any day, since they all disappeared at the same time) with a baker’s dozen of keets?Galahad of course, is right at her side, rushing at anyone who thinks they might get close to the keets (which is usually the chicks, who don’t understand why he’s mean all of a sudden).  She gets to be all calm and serenity, with her bulldog security detail. 

OMG, they are so much tinier and more adorable than I even remembered- so small!  Having trouble climbing out of the pot lid:) They do  come out of an egg about the size of a Silkie egg. 

 

The rain in Spain is totally insane

It has rained hard and steady for ten hours straight and isn’t done.  There is more standing water than dry land right now.  The chickens were all wading over their ankles, and the chicks in water up to their feather pants.

The rain gauge was over 120mm when I last checked.  That is insane!   The chickens spent the day in their coops and rain house; I didn’t even open them for eggs and risk letting the rain in.  The littlest chicks and mom got a greenhouse pass and probably had the best day of all plundering, although by evening they were up on a strawbale like a raft.  Some hens were camped in the rain house at night because they didn’t want to make the run to the coop at bedtime.  It’s raining that hard.

The guineas, when I went to let them into the GH for the night (extra early) were waiting by the door, soaked to the skin.  I feel soooo bad for the three missing hens, whom I assume are all sitting on eggs in the woods somewhere – exposed in this, soaked, days or weeks into a fast, and making their bodies into heating pads.  Some must be sitting in puddles right now.

We also had an epic thunderstorm.  It hurt my ears inside the house, and it (the sound– no wind at all) shook the house and made my pots rattle.  I felt the fear of Thor’s hammer.  It passed directly over, moved to six seconds away, and then it returned a half/hour later and passed right back over like it was going back where it came from!

This quantity of rainfall is pretty out of the ordinary, especially for (the entire month of) June.

Privacy Stalls

I finally got around to a simple fix to make higher walls on the nest boxes – just cardboard.  Two of the nest boxes never got any use – too exposed.  They all squabble over the corner office box and it gets vociferous.  I hear them whining- complaining, indignant, offended, self-pitying, insulted, according to their chickenalities.  I’ve been holding in an egg here for ages, and she just barged in here!  Get off of me, I was already in here!  Take a number!  With all I have to put up with around here, all I want is to be able to come in here and peacefully lay an egg, but noooo!Or the other corner.  I’ve got a barred rock starting to go broody.

Turns out all they wanted was higher walls, smaller doors.  They love the other boxes now, and immediately started laying in them.  The volume is down.  In fact, the coop tourists (Cheeks and Cleo) are leaving eggs in here now instead of in their “own” coops.

box princess

There are three sets of chick/s running around at the moment, that I see have yet to be introduced, my bad…

The other White Chocolate hen, sister to the loaner, has three chicks; the shirt chick was adopted; and this little Silkie hen has three- two Cheeklings and a Silkie chick (got rescued into the greenhouse on rain day).

  This particular hen’s quirk (they all have at least one), is that she does not, ever, want to go to bed in the coop.  Instead, she hunkers down in the grass, in the exact same place, every night.

Normally I train them to go in a box, say, in their chickery days, and then I transfer the box after dark to a lock box.

Not this one.  I have to bring the box to her.  She hunkers down; I set the box near her.Well my word, a box!  Look at that, kids!  How ideal for our purposes!They move right in.  Then I pick up the box and shuttle it into the coop.

The evening box ritual.  Every night.  Well I never!  A box, how nice.Today, because it was raining and the new chips were probably exciting, she settled down under the pine tree – daring!

Floods

Today was a torrential downpour in the morning.  When it rains I run around like a mad person trying to catch or use it all.  I filled several barrels today.  I’m expecting a long stretch of rainlessness this summer, and that every rain we get may be the last for a long time, although it keeps coming and coming.

All the birds rushed under cover when

it came thundering down, except the little Silkie mama with three chicks.  She never goes under any more cover than the pine tree, and I know when it rains I have to go find her.

She has two cheeklings and a cuckoo chick of her own.  I set her on two of Cheeks’ eggs, once only one hatched from the first batch (they need little friends).  She added an egg of her own, and they all hatched.  So there’s one little black-legged Silkie chick, half the size of her siblings, always lagging behind, seeming tired, but getting along.

I find her out in the downpour just after it starts and she’s already soaked.  I pick her up, trying to scoop all the chicks at once but I fail to catch the littlest.  I plop the soggy captives inside the greenhouse and then I get a merry chase from the tiny Silkie chick, who alternately flees cheeping, and hides in the weeds.  I pop him in too.

When I come back to the greenhouse to shift water (from outside stock tank to inside), she’s sitting right where I left her, inside the door, in a drip, in a fast forming puddle.  But she’s keeping those chicks warm!  I had to move her again (this time I picked them all up at once, little legs dangling out), relocating her to high ground and a pile of straw.  She seemed appreciative, but she stayed there a LONG time.

It was thunderous in the GH.

The rain was coming down so hard and fast that it was filling the tank faster than I could bucket it out. 

The moment it subsided though, the hens were out and about.

It’s a wet feet day, so they’re up on the sawhorses under the deck.