Tag Archives: dying

The guinea solution

I’m so pleased to have sorted out the guineas.

I’ve tried so much.  Building them a sky coop

well come to think of it that’s about it.  And giving them roosting apparatuses, like the laundry rack.

They’ve tried lots of things.  Roosting on the sky coop, roosting on top of the greenhouse, roosting in the trees, and roosting on my apparatuses, like the laundry rack.  They are choosy, and illogical, and stubborn.

But I’ve got it.  They are accustomed now to living in the greenhouse all winter, and they have their stick swings where they sleep.  So I’m letting them continue to use the GH in the summer.

In a reversal of form, at night when the chickens get locked up for their safety, the guineas get let into the greenhouse.  The GH which is off limits to all unrestrained chickens, because they would unleash devastation in minutes.  And have.

Not so the guineas.  They’re different.  They don’t do the so entertaining but v. destructive chicken scratch dance.   And they have different tastes.  I wasn’t 100% sure about the guineas around the baby tomato and cucumber plants, but I thought maybe I could just trust them, and cautiously tested my theory.

The guineas use a chicken door that I open at night just as I close the chickens.  The chickens all go to bed before the guineas do.  The guineas hop in, file down the aisle, and fly up to their roost.  They’re very content about it.  I leave the door open and they let themselves out in the morning before I come out for the hens.  It’s working!

The big test was the pepper plants.  I was out early the first morning, crouched watching them secretly through the opposite chicken door.  They flew down from their roost, milled around, gave the peppers a thorough visual inspection (Something new here!), and left, following the leader out their door.  Success!  Awesome.  Before long, the starts will be too big to harm anyway,

This should reduce their mortality rate this summer.  Guineas have a way of kicking the bucket in frequent, creative ways.  They make up for this tendency by producing vast clutches of keets when they reproduce.  It evens out.

I only have three birds now.  I gave half my guineas away some weeks ago, and then a few days ago, I came home late for the magic moment to let them inside.  Finding their door shut, they had resorted to flying up on top of the greenhouse.  It was cute when they did this last year, until the owls discovered the buffet.

I had to throw my hat at them until they flew down and scampered inside.  Oh, door’s open now!  But there were only three.   Was the third lost, bedded down in the field, in some brush?  The light was very dim, and I’m looking around the field, and I see it, like a grey rock as usual, but it’s still… stone dead.  And cold, dead in the afternoon.  No injury.  Another mystery death.  It was one of the cocks.  The remaining three seem perfectly content together.  Any day the hens will fail to show up at bedtime and there will be just the male coming home to roost for a few weeks.

I really threw them for a loop last night.  We got a frost, and anticipating same, I covered the four rows planted in sensitive stuff with row cover.

Wow, the guineas could hardly get down the aisle for staring, tiptoeing along, heads low and necks at full extension, suspicious of the strange white stuff.  And more, they needed herding out in the morning, they were so freaked out by it, not wanting to step on it and flying back and forth across the greenhouse, afraid to land.  Happily for their nerves, the long term forecast is saying a week til the next frost, if that forecast holds.

Sick chicken

There’s a sick chicken (or maybe not sick, just elderly).

A couple of days ago:Comb gone limp and discoloured, and that characteristic no-neck stillness, like a semi-sleep.Or a whole sleep.

This is an old chicken.  There are still older chickens around, because I still have a few with chopped beaks (- what an awful thing), but she’s an elderly lady, as far as hens go.

Today: Comb almost completely flopped and pale, her wings are slumping down instead of held up on her back, and she’s hunched up into herself, dozing in the coop.

Sometimes hens come out of a state like this, perk up and return to business as usual, but most likely she’s approaching her departure.

This is how the hens go around here, except a couple unlucky ones that seem to get got by predators every year.  They enjoy a long retirement, and then they withdraw, drift into this less and less conscious pre-death state, and take themselves to the dark coop for the final sleep. Watching them go, it seems like the transition from life to death is long and smooth, not at all a single moment.

I find them stiff in the coop in the morning, sometimes stretched out, sometimes with their head tucked under their wing.

I think this is the best possible chicken way to go.  It seems natural and restful, but it’s hard to be sure.  They don’t look to me like they’re in pain, but I wish I knew.

*She completed her transition overnight

Goodbye Granny

Little Granny died last night.  The last of my three original hens out here.

She’s been hopping around with surprising vigor this summer, but I guess it was her time.  Yesterday I found her face down in the grass against the greenhouse and I thought she was dead then.

I picked her up gently and her head popped up with the usual indignation Hey, what’s a chicken gotta do to get a nap around here? so I set her down again nearer the flock, but that was it.

She made a rapid transition.  Often hens linger for a few days, standing around in a kind of half-asleep state before they go.  I always wonder if they’re in pain when they go like that, but they seem to just slip away, from dozing to tucking their head under a wing for the last time.


Possible cure for birds hitting windows


We just started staying in this place that has big beautiful windows, and lots of bird life.  Unfortunately, there were a variety of bird bodies lying on the deck under the windows with two more casualties before the week was out.

In a hurry to try anything at all to end the carnage, I taped a few streamers of wrapping ribbon to the top of the windows.

So far, no more bird death!

This might be all it takes.  It’s not terribly esthetic.  The wind blows them all around and the curly nature of the ribbon can make them knot and tangle, but as long as it works -.  I think the moving, waving ribbon, even when it’s blowing clear off the glass, creates enough sense of dimension to get the point across.  This is not sky access!