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.
Take pictures in the fading light at guinea hour.There’s the guineas grazing in colour-coded groups.There’s the chicks that slipped out today, quite proud of themselves. Nosey on the left. They’re pretty good about following the guineas back in, when they call it a night. The little barred rock again. I’m with you, right? I’m the right colour! Oooh, can I come out?! The small chickens are so cute. They’re cute right up until they’re suddenly big burly roosters swaggering around. They spend a great deal of their juvenile lives independent of their mothers. Months. They have so much growing yet to do when they strike off on their own, but their sibling bonds (the chicks they shared a nest with) seem to stay really important until full adulthood.
Today was a big sun bathing day, warm in the greenhouse, chicken legs stuck out everywhere. It’s very quiet when it’s warm. The birds are all flopped out, dozing. Too sedate to squabble. Tomorrow, rain.
I made fudge, which is awesome because it involves vats of melted chocolate:Also worked, as usual, and felled some more of the ugly buckthorn forest. Is the glass half full or empty? I can look around after two tanks of gas burned and see little difference, or I can go Yeah, two more tanks of gas … spent cutting down an invasive so regeneratively powerful I might start calling them Triffids. I have to do that in the morning in order to feel any accomplishment about it. When the snow comes, I think that’s when the amount of land I’ve cleared of the beastly GLB this fall, a fraction of the infection, will actually look like something. Here’s hoping.
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!
Now there are eight. The keet with the lower body injury died in its sleep in the morning, head tucked into a wing. Hopefully it was peaceful. After a quiet night it did a little scruffling in the early morning, but seemed to go back to sleep, and then, didn’t wake up. Guineas die so easily and quickly. The evening before bed is one of the peaceful times in bird land (one of several – they like to lounge), time for a last scratch and snack in the long light. The Brahmas and Barred RocksCleopatra high in the tree, wearing her jacket. She got used to the one with shoulder pads. Inside the greenhouse in the evening, it’s cooling off and the chicks remember they need mom after all, for a bit of a warming. Ursa. Her other three are still playing behind her. The black and white ones are SO cute. She’s got a pair of dominoes too.
I heard the musical little sounds of the guineas approaching the house (doesn’t happen especially often), so I peeped out.
They were going for the bath! There’s a spot right by the trail where I was weeding out buckthorn, and the birds have decided that that’s the optimum dust bathing locale. Now there’s all divots and feathers. The guineas came in for the bath as purposefully as if they had little towels over their shoulders. It was their specific destination.
I went out to get pictures (all the keets tossing up a storm of dirt), and I felt like the paparazzi sneaking through the bushes, wishing I had a longer lens.
Galahad is hard to fool.He let me get closer though.
The keets have passed their peak cute. They are entering the small turkey phase. Scraggly necks, heads balding, and the fleshy bits that grow on their faces are starting to develop.Their behavior and mannerisms are still super cute. And still bright orange feet, although dark patches are coming in.Galahad is rightfully proud. He has kept them all alive and well, and they are model guineas. He’s a truly outstanding avian parent.They are very musical, the sounds they make. Also very NOT musical, when they’re in a certain frame of mind, and their kind is famous for that. It only took three generations of coddled guineas living here in order to get a non-neurotic batch of comfortable, quiet ones.Vigorous dirt bathing. Oh, now here come the chickens horning in. It’s like, just when you’ve got the hot tub to yourself, ten college kids show up at the pool.Oh, bathing? What a great idea. Don’t mind if I do. I’ll just, excuse me, I’ll just… get in right here, if you don’t mind, just pushing over a bit? Back to looking like rocks. There’s Cheeks sporting her jacket. She’s breaking it in. It’s working though, the simple design is keeping the right places covered. And… there they go. We’re done here. ‘scuse me.If we could just get by ya here.And, there they go. Back to the greenhouse area. That happened so fast that little brown rooster hasn’t moved. What was that just happened!?The chickens don’t always congregate by the deck, they don’t even show up to the house daily, but when they do, I love it. They come in a drove, and sprawl out, more like they’re visiting and comfortable here than that they’re rabid for handouts. It’s nice and safe by the house for them, so I’m glad they do. They love those sawhorses. Those’ll go in the greenhouse this winter for them
Chocolate’s out of the chickery now too.This is great. All the small chicks with moms are at large, meaning I don’t have to constantly monitor do they have shade, do they have water? Their moms take care of that now (lots of water options). Soon enough there will be another round of chicks hatching.She’s diving right into the dirt bath. There’s two popular spots at the moment, an old pig wallow, and this one under the corner of the hen rain tent, which is a bit of a sauna in the sunshine. The dirt she’s spraying is sticking to the condensation on the roof.Guineas when they’re not aware they’re being watched.
Oh, last night! I went to open the door for guinea bedtime, and I didn’t see them so I hollered Galahad’s name. I saw him pop out of the woods by the pig fence, quite far away, periscoping. I’m like “Hello! Over here! Yoohoo, I’m here to open the door”, waving, like over a crowd at an airport.
In the moment, this sort of thing – waving at and calling a bird – feels rather silly.
Galahad launched into the air, as did all the keets behind him, and flew in to me. A little cloud of keets inbound. They fluttered down to land at the coop and I stood back for them to scamper through the door of the greenhouse for bedtime. Thanks, human. This bird is incredible. Cotton’s chicks exploring out of the box.Big pathway pileup.
Perchick became the most recent “wildlife” to hop in the open door of the house, casually jumping up on the doorstep and poking through the screen door to look at me. Hey. So, yeah. Got any snacks? I was peeling peaches and didn’t get up. She rummaged through a basket by the door, ignoring my remonstrations, and then casually left. No snacks. Chickens haven’t strolled into the house that I know of since the episode with the dried beans last year (maybe they do it all the time when I’m not here).The young teens (the Famous Five/Pufflings) and the tweens have formed an alliance to mount an assault on the bird feeder (there’s nothing in it). Recon complete, moving in.. . ckkk… ground support in place … ckkk… on final approach. .. ckk ….
The guinea family is admitted to the greenhouse as early as 6:30, and usually by seven. They go to bed much earlier than the chickens. Galahad watches for my appearance, and they scamper in as soon as I open the door.Bedtime begins with some last foraging for a snack and a familiarizing walk around the greenhouse.Then they hit the ladder. They really do use it as a ladder, hopping up a rung at a time, zigzagging, until they get to the top.Then they have to fly to the perch. Galahad is already up there.It’s tricky, the perches swing.Then they walk along the branch, like getting off the runway. Wings are good for balancing. Now the rest are all gathered on the top of the laundry rack, and the ones on the branch need to get themselves organized in the order they want to be, all on the same stick.All done. This is where we sleep.And I get to enjoy the hooting of owls:)Take a close look at Galahad’s left. Somebody still feels needy.