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?

Rain day

The rain is coming DOWN.  The birds are lucky to all be in the big dry chicken dome.  The downpour is deafening in the greenhouse, and the guineas are up high next to the skin.  It must be awful in their little skulls.  Sometimes they yell back at the noise.  They put their heads under their wings though.

The pigs are sausaged in their house, full of pumpkin.  They have a good spot for the house right now – it’s dry – the water is draining away instead of filling up their sleeping divot, and they’ve got their hay “just right”.  They’re funny.  They sleep most of the day when it rains.

The word is out – the feeder is full.  Once you start feeding the birds for the winter, you can’t stop.    The grosbeaks are back.  Their population seems to have done well.  Boy do they make a racket yelling in the poplars.  There are two big brown birds that are new to me also at the feeder.  The chickadees sure don’t stop for rain.

Post-Halloween pigs

The pigs are enjoying jack-o-lantern guts, to put it mildly.  I’ve got a few days worth of meal-enhancements from a carving party.  I mix the pulp in with their pellets, and nothing budges them from their bowls when they’ve got pumpkin.  I moved their fence around two trees, taking an entire half of it down, and there was not a flicker of interest.  No investigating.  Whatchu doin’?  Nothing.  (Good to know).

They love rooting up all the old walnuts

If anyone local has carved pumpkins left over from Halloween that will just rot, text me!  Or give them to your local pig.   Pumpkins are incredibly healthy for pigs.  Dogs too, but they can’t eat quite as much pumpkin as a pig.

Let them eat grass!

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.

This hat sees a lot of action

I was quietly working, when there was a bird-window thump, on the north window.  No one ever flies into the only, small, north window, and it’s not shielded.  Not a terrible, dire, sickening thump, but I thought I should check, anyways.

There was a chickadee under the window, motionless, wings splayed awkwardly, beak and eyes open, feet clutching a chunk of the brown leaves that it fell on.

It went straight into the hat.  All birds in trouble around here get the hat treatment.

I know from watching them recover that they are quite helpless for several minutes, and they can get all their functions back, but they come back in stages.  The best thing to do with a stunned bird is put it somewhere warm, dark, and safe for 20-30 minutes, then give it the opportunity to fly away.

I couldn’t help peeking.  Feeling better?

It seemed to perk up, righted itself, moved around in the hat, but I was determined to give it a full 20 minutes and sat beside it, waiting.

It had other plans.  I saw the hat move, right next to me, but before I could even react, the bird came shooting out, apparently in flight even before leaving the hat.  It flew upstairs.

 

I opened all the doors.  It was collapsed in a windowsill, panting. Not quite as well as it thought it was.

It let me pick it up, and we went outside, and I set it on the railing.  Still having a hard time

After a little bit it fluttered around my head and lit on the clothesline.  Good spot.   It did a bunch of heavy blinking and lots of staring at me, ceased panting, and eventually, flew to perch in a tree.  Moments after that, it appeared to get its bop back.  Happy ending.

The killer has pointy ears

I came face to face with Inky’s killer today.  I saw the rounded brown form lope into the brush as I came by the greenhouse to check on the pigs.  I thought it was a raccoon because it was slow and lazy getting out of sight.

To be sure, I snuck up for a closer look.  It moved.  I moved.  It wasn’t in much of a hurry.  I found it, camouflaged in the underbrush.  A bobcat.   Sitting front feet together like a cultured cat, head forward, round face a little sad looking, like wild cats’ faces look. It boldly stared back at me, less than 20′ away.  We stared.

That’s who got Inky.  And Mayo in September, and two hours before closing the last of the birds into the greenhouse, Philippe Petit.

Losing PP was not the tragedy you might think.  It was a decision made for me.  He was good, but he wasn’t a five star rooster, and he saw Silkie hens as hens, and tried to mate them.  That is a terrible trait I don’t like to see in full sized roosters.  It’s awful to see that big blimp trying to climb on a little bitty fur hen.  A good big rooster sees the Silkie hens differently, not as sexual prey.

Usually the little hens are too fast, a Silkie rooster comes streaking in to set things to right,  or they are segregated, so it’s an occasional problem, but it’s not a problem that should exist.   On the other hand, Cheeks and Puffcheeks were in love with PP, so culling him was not a decision I was looking forward to making.  The bobcat made it for me.

I’m so glad to be able to have all my birds in the greenhouse, and to have got them in early this year.   If I’m doing the best I can to protect them, and there’s still losses,  then I have to accept that and be glad I can protect as many as I can.  I’m not over Inky though.

Zero loss is an unrealistic notion – risk is the other side of the coin from the reward of free range freedom, but I’m not going to do what Harvey Ussery calls “feeding the foxes”.   They can’t be free range all the time – that’s not realistic either for the place we live.  I’d have to replace my flock every year after they were polished off by predators that came for the buffet.  It takes a lot of work to raise up a little chicken to adulthood (ask their moms), work you don’t see when you can just buy them at the store.  So I make an effort to keep them adequately entertained and comfortable inside all winter.  It isn’t that hard.  Their physical needs are easy; keeping them entertained is a little harder.

 

 

 

 

Happy about living naturally