Category Archives: Family + Friends + Animals

Nosy guineas

I was sitting on the sill of my open front door, a convenient place I’ve found for potting up starts, my dirt and trays arrayed in front of me, when the guineas wandered up.

They arrived quite suddenly, maintaining their constant twittering conversation about everything, and they came right up on the deck to see what I was doing.   Whatrya doing?

I was so glad I was in arms-reach of my camera.  I thought they were after the green stuff, but they didn’t make a move for it.  Then, they apparently reached a conclusion about what was happening here, and, inspection done, they turned and left just as quickly, still ceaselessly conversating.Carry on. You passed. I’ll be checking up on you later, Cheeks.

Notice Cheeks was with me at the side of the deck, and she was subject to inspection too.  She looked a little nervous- she froze and her eye got big.

Guineas are so funny.  Strange, and funny.  They’re different.  I’m so pleased with this bunch.   They roll around like friendly patrol cops on a beat, keeping tabs on everyone, including me.   Oh, gardening?  That’s acceptable.  Hi again, how’s the job coming? I haven’t seen them on the deck before, but it’s great that they come around the house so close, instead of insisting on being cagey distant wild animals.

The return of winter

Winter was back for a few days.  The wild birds descended in clouds for something to eat, including a few new birds.

There was a purple finch.  This is sad because it’s the first purple finch sighting of the year, when normally there would be many of them all winter.Here’s a sad robin. I don’t eat seeds.  

Now that the rain has come and washed away the snow, she’s eating well, if she survived her three day fast.

There was a red-breasted nuthatch, tiny and adorable in a little badger mask.  I’d never seen one before.

And then in swooped a small hawk, who perched on the pile of sticks, right in the middle of everything.Instant ghost town.

It’s a tough life being  a hawk.  You show up to hang out and everyone leaves.

She patiently sat around.  I took pictures, looked her up in the bird book. A juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, I think (feeds on song birds).  So small.  She stayed.  No one else moved.On the small bird feeder, one chickadee stayed motionless, locked on the raptor.  Many minutes passed.On her usual perch, the squirrel was also stock still, staring at the little hawk.

Finally, she swooped away, and the raucous bird shouting and activity resumed.  The chickadees recovered first.

I’ve been using the “roofs” of the beehives as bird tables, for the wild birds that would rather eat on the ground.  The chickens come moseying along and frustrate them, so they’re happy to use the tables. They’re learning to share.

Chicken play date

Cheeks has been having chaperoned outings.  I carry her out with me and set her down near where I’m working, in the field or the garden, and she moseys around, scratching and eating.

She loves it.  What I expected, was that after a couple of hours, she’d be tired, and willing and ready to be scooped up and carried home for a drink.  I’ve handled her daily for months.  She’s as tame as a chicken could possibly be.No.  Oh, no no no.  No!  Not yet!   Try to grab her and she hits the gas.  Can’t catch me! I’m a wild animal!  She can lead me on a proper merry chase, even with her lame foot.  When you do catch her though, she’s totally fine with being picked up.  The thrill is in the chase.I only look placid.

Today she got a supervised date. (A very brief date).  Speed date, even.  The rooster saw her from a distance, and barreled towards her, and saved his dancing for the afterglow.

She’s been looking forward to a date, based on how loud she shouts through the window when the roosters come to the yard.  And she didn’t make him chase.  Now all her gorgeous eggs won’t go to waste, and I’ll get some little Cheekslings.She also got some time with Perchick, which was adorable.  They spent nearly an hour together.  Perchick and Cheeks are the same age, possibly nestmates,and they behaved exactly like they recognized each other and fell in step like old times.   

I went to the library and came home with a chicken

I went to the library bus and while I was in the parking lot, the manager of the liquor store popped outside and waved me down, asking me to come in the store before I left.  What in the world, I wondered, could I be required in the liquor store for?  Who knows, though, really.  It’s a small town.

Well.  It turned out to be about a chicken.  There was a hen that had appeared some days ago and was living in the snow bank and brambles behind the liquor store.  They were feeding and watering her, and she was spending nights 10′ up in a tree.  (This was 3 weeks ago, when there was lots of snow and -15C nights).

Would I bring this chicken to a good home?  First, we had to catch her.  She was nervous and quick, and with the help of passersby herding, blocking, and diving in the snow after her, I caught her, and immediately stuffed her and her cold feet into my coat and zipped her in. (Chickens always love the coat treatment.  Dark and warm – they calm right down(.

Yay, the chicken was rescued, and I was bringing a new girl home.  I had one more stop to make.

I stopped in at the assisted living home, going inside with the chicken hidden in my coat, and just as I was turning to leave, the amusing novelty of being out in public with a concealed carry chicken got the best of me and I turned back, “Hey, you should see what I’ve got in my coat, haha!”  I unzipped enough for her head to pop out, and they squealed, and gasped, “Oh, would you mind showing some of the residents?!”

Thus began a room to room progress of coat chicken show and tell, most of the sick and elderly residents petting her and grinning with delight.  She was a gracious celebrity, quiet, mild, tolerant, poking her head out and “holding hands”.She’s drifting south in my jacket.  Notice  her little foot out gripping my hand.

After a much bigger day than most chickens have before noon, we got home.  I put her in a chickery for isolation and acclimation.Immediately all the old chickens crowded around to inspect.

I put her in the coop at night, then back in the chickery for the day, then a few part days loose.  She had a hard time at first so I’d put her back in her box for a break and a meal.  It’s hard to find one’s place in a big flock.  She’s small, a bantam something, the same size as a few teens, Very quick, high-stepping, nervy.

She’s integrated now!  She rolls with clique #1, the pufflings and the top rooster – a surprise.  She still hops into the open chickery, often in the morning, nostalgic-like.  I used to stay in here. 

 

 

Flyday

T.G.I. Flyday here today.  All my hives are alive, and many, many bees were out flying today in the warmth.

I got to feed them, and replace some straw in the top of their hives; I was happy to find that the wet mouldy straw was only around the top and outside edge – where it was nearest the roof and corners.  Nested around the bottle of syrup and the opening in the center the straw was dry and golden, bees dry.Bees were everywhere, all over the paths, in the chicken bucket, and all over.

The guineas were unperturbed, scritching around right in the middle of the hive while the bees were thick in the air.  They don’t care.  This is the first time we’ve had guineas that come and hang out at the house (thanks to Galahad raising them), which is great, because this is where they need to do their tick-eating thing.  That’s what I hired them for. 

Guinea was here

The snow is almost all gone now, but when it was still here, it didn’t stop the guineas.

They tramped up and down and all around, and made a fantastic constellation of footprints.  They were so pleased to be out, they put up with a little cold feet.

Who says we’re jungle birds?  We’re Canada birds now.I found them at the end of their footprints!

Out on the range.

The birds are all out free-ranging again.  They’re so excited!! Mostly out. They are free to come and go, for the last week or two since the snow has been going.

They are so happy!  All the young ones (1-2 yrs) and the guineas spend all day out, pouring out of the greenhouse when I open the doors, popping back in when they get cold or thirsty, then back out for another shift of foraging.

Inside, the older chickens are less adventurous and content to have the dust baths to themselves.  I can’t wait to move out the Silkies, but it will be cold for another week or so.

Friends

These two were out and about alone, one cold day, without a rooster escort, and were all jumpy and guilty, like they knew they were on the lam.

The birds outside are partly PARTY! Excitement and adventure!   And partly attacking their days like they have a job, and they’re showing up to it late.  Serious.  So much to do!There’s something really good over there! They’re vigorously scritching around in the woods everywhere.  Now that they have the space, I can see the little cliques that have formed around each rooster.  Three good ones.

miracle on banana box st.

Cheeks has been doing very well.  She still lives in the house, as she has for months, continuing to be low maintenance (except for a predilection for beak-sweeping her food); and self regulating, staying in her banana box or on her Rubbermaid (her proscribed territory) and moving between the two on her own.

She has been doing better than ever, although the swelling on the top of her foot continues to grow.  It’s a bubble that looks about to drain every day.  For weeks.

I soak her afflicted foot every day, and sometimes get a little drainage, but in spite of this impediment (literally), she’s in good spirits, relatively active, interested, and talkative.

Exceedingly talkative.  The last few days, she’s become a talking machine, standing up on her box, going on and on.  BrrBRbrbrBRbrBRR, sometimes in a complaining tone, but mostly just a gossipy/lecturing tone.  We’re like, What has gotten into you?  You’ve got things to say!

And then:

What have you got in there?

OMG, is that an egg?!  You laid an egg!

Yep, that’s an egg.

You’d have thought she’d levitated, I was so excited about this egg.

It’s a perfect, pale blue egg.  Unfortunately not fertile, because she hasn’t been on a date for a long time.  I’d love to hatch some of her offspring.

But what it really means is that she’s healthy!  She’s healthy and comfortable enough to resume egg laying, in spite of her foot she can barely use.

Healthy enough that she felt like contributing to the household:)

*She laid another the next day, and the talking decreases dramatically

Escape escapades

Little Nosey, being herself. I’m teasing her with a litter grabber. She’s like Why. Why are you pointing a robot arm at me?

The guineas had a big adventure, escaping in the morning. Good day for it. They came yelling down the trail, went grazing in the woods, but around lunchtime they were wanting back in. It’s cold. We would like to be back with the food.

They found this challenging.
I propped the fence open, away from the corner of the greenhouse. One of them got stuck unable to comprehend going around the end of the fence. The white one appears to be on the way in, but no!
She managed to be looking the wrong way when the other one figured it out, and so dithered around Where’d everybody go? Oh look, there’s a door!

Shortly after the guineas ran back in, a flock of chickens escaped somehow. I arrived later with lunch, and a visiting dog (because, all the chickens are put away, dogs are cool), and ten chickens and a rooster are sauntering around on the edge of the woods. What the!

I tried to get them back in. The dog didn’t help. They fled into the woods and reconvened around the rooster.

Thus they got to stay out until nearly bedtime, when they were all waiting by the door. On the bright side one rooster earned his keep. The leghorn rooster was out with them, and they were all glued to him; he was herding and leading them. It’s good to know who a quality rooster is.

He probably talked them all out the gap in the fence in the first place, but he was taking good care.