We have snow, everywhere but in these pictures where the sun shone. A light crunchy layer of snow. It was very nippy today and I thought the guineas weren’t going to even come out for their graze.They’ve taken to climbing up the pile of sticks during their recess. No grass up there. Maybe they just want to look around. This little one is the most successful greenhouse escapee. She darts out right in the middle of the guinea pack so I cant’ turn her back. Cheeks’ old stunt. I can preempt most of the chickens, but never this one. It’s a pain when chickens get out with the guineas, because they’re not on the same schedule. Chickens will stay out until the bitter end of light, so after the guineas run back in after a graze, I get to herd chickens. This one’s not too bad at going back in, and makes the cutest little noises, but tonight she was so intent on digging a hole, she kept running around me and back to the spot, and was very displeased to finally have to go in. Peep peep PEEPpeeppeep!I’ll just have a bit of rest here.
One of the guineas escaped from my carefully constructed bird shield. It flapped and scramble-ran up the plastic, therefore slipping under the edge of the mesh and out into the clear air.I actually saw it in progress, yet was unable to stop it from happening.It had just enough foot friction, I supposeI’m up here. Now what? Looked neat from inside. I left her up there to figure it out.
Later… how’s that guinea doing?Well, it’s on the wrong side of the mesh, and now suspended, like it’s in a mesh bag. We’re helping!
Its friends (whites only), were trying to help by pecking. Not helping.
I can get them down from here pretty easily though, by bounce, bounce, bouncing them on the mesh, until they slip under the overlap mesh- wish I could say I designed it like that – and flop unceremoniously into the yard they’re supposed to not be able to escape from.
Apparently the coop roof is the place for the guineas to camp out.It’s nice to work in the greenhouse for some time, enough to see them relax into completely ignoring me and resume their chicken activities.Dozing on the roof. Grooming…Chilin’ This is the gang that hangs out on the other roof. Too bad the roofs don’t get washed by the rain when in the greenhouse.
Forecast: Snow changing to ice pellets then developing to rain later in the afternoon.
In other words, gross. This morning at dawn already there were a couple of inches of snow accumulated, and it was eerily dark in the greenhouse, but also very warm, with the blanket of snow.
To my horror, only one guinea was walking around. What the? I started closing up the drafty holes in the wall for the chickens to access their yard. I could see by the snow that there were no footprints using them. Last night I’d remembered that I hadn’t shut these hatches – it’s a new close-up task – but the guineas wouldn’t go outside so no biggie. Where were they, though? I looked for bodies, fearing a massacre. None.
I looked outside. There they were, huddled two feet from the open door, standing in two inches of snow. Outside in their bare feet! I waved my arms at them from the other side of the fence. They stared at me morosely, snow accumulating on their backs and tiny heads (emergencies aren’t time to get the camera).
I had to squeeze through the fence, approach them – almost touching them before they moved – and shoo them through the hole in the wall. Oh, there’s the door.
Oh no. Still one missing. I looked around the yard, saw nothing, and went inside to feed the chilly beaks. Still one missing. I feared it was a frozen lump frozen to the ground somewhere. I shut the doors. Then, flapping beating against the wall of the GH, on the outside. Alive!
Happily, I warmed both food and water this morning. It was warm in the GH, above freezing, but I felt cold with the snowy mess outside, so the birds got warm breakfast (I’m cold, put on a sweater). I hope the guineas all make it. They don’t do well with cold, and can drop dead after getting chilled, or almost any reason.Grosbeaks, doves, and blue jays are all here gobbling.
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.
I’ve made the observation that guineas “like” to eat grass the way addicts “like” heroin. They seem desperate for it. They’ll crowd up and rip grass so you can hear the grass getting mowed.
Just a hunch. Guineas need grass in their diet more than the average bird.So post-bobcat, I’ve been letting the guineas outside for a half hour before bed, to get their grass fix.Really? Then I stand over them, supervising, but they’re so into the grass they barely notice me. Happy little grass-eating satisfaction noises.
Now I’m going to have to grow grass for them in the winter.Yes, a couple roosters also wander out, but it’s so close to chicken bedtime that they don’t get too far. This little chick always comes out.
What a load off my mind! Everyone is in. I thought it might all be too crowded for the numbers I have now, but it’s ok. It’s sloppy and slapdash right now, but it will work out. There’s plenty of room for the coops, and a pool, and more.
The guineas are being very tolerant about this mass invasion. They very much like to sit up on top of Silkieland.Perhaps we’ll poop on you. I think they’re so cute. They treat the chickens more like pets they’re fond of, than equals. They watch out for the chickens and will erupt in alarm calling if one is in distress. They’re always watching what’s happening, but stay a little bit aloof.
I just realized. How am I going to recognize Galahad, once all of the Pearls grow up?!
It’s hard to feed everyone, because I get mobbed, and there’s tiny little chicks in the mix. I walk slowly and carefully.
They’re all so happy! It was remarkably quiet all day yesterday, and when I look in, everyone is piled up, or investigating something, or lounging somewhere. Very peaceful. It’s getting cold, too, and I’m reminded how lucky they are, because it’s nice and warm in there.
All the coops are cozy and clean. I’m tidying in the greenhouse, but outside the greenhouse is a catastrophic mess, with all the doors, and canvas and chickeries and hen tents and sticks and buckets strewn around – huge mess, but I’ll get to it. Note the little face on the other side of the fence. Still golf ball sized, but getting very voluminous pants. The chicks all learned how to go to bed in the coop in two nights- impressive!Ketchup etc on the rim of Silkieland – popular real estate.The guineas are piled up underneath Alpha coop! I dug a hole. My irrigation tape is still in. I have to pull all that – lots to do yet.
Also yesterday I moved the pigs. They’re out of the woods entirely now, as they need maximum sunshine as it gets cold, in their final weeks (one is gone already). They were so funny! They were sprinting around, galloping the length of their new field OINKOINKOINKOINKOINK! And jumping on each other like dogs would play. Very funny. They’re very expressive. I was trying to move the fence one post at a time, while they were in it still, but they kept running back up to me, because they’re excited. I just found some delicious roots over there! Oh, what are you doing here? Looks like the fence is all floppy right here, oink oink… I’m like, no! Go away! But I managed, kept them in.
Now I must dig all the potatoes, because it’s about to get COLD.
The guineas decided to take a bath in the sand pile outside the window. Puffcheeks and Perchick are all up in there with them.Ok, those hens are leaving. Galahad is checking the sky.Here comes some more. Then Cheeks busted in and broke it up.
Now that there are chicks in the greenhouse, they like to come adventurously popping out when I open up for the guineas.Greetings, part-time residents.The keets are looking, and acting, quite grownup now. First they all run by, seeing if the door is really open. Then they muster up somewhere and … all surge in at once.
Cheeks has developed a new trick. She watches and waits, and then gets right in the middle of the flock of keets and runs in with them. For a chicken, that’s a full speed dash.
It’s very funny. And totally works, because she’s right in the middle of the crowd. I still see you, Cheeks! Twice I flushed her back out of the greenhouse, once I left her in there (door closed) until chicken bedtime, and she had a lot to say about that. I was jsut looking! You didn’t have to lock me in! Now Betty will have taken my spot on the perch!
Inky is gone. She wasn’t in her tree and I searched, and found a half dozen black and iridescent green feathers. I’m heartbroken, and I’ve already been having a hard few weeks. I want to get out of chickens, because it hurts too much. I can’t protect them 100% and let them range. It’s captivity, or risk. It’s not fair though, it’s like they know which are my favorites, and get the special ones first. Inky! In the evening now I’m opening up the greenhouse adjunct garden, where only some root veggies remain, so that they will go in there for the last hour before bedtime and maybe be a little more protected from snatching by the fence. The guineas were so excited about this access that they stayed out extra late. In fact, they all went up to roost twice and came back down and ran back out for some more rummaging. This one still in the greenhouse:Where’d everyone go? I thought we were going to bed.