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.
Last night when Galahad and the keets went to bed in the greenhouse, there was a lot of noise, and G was running laps around the greenhouse like he wanted out. He settled down, but I felt he was distressed, and maybe frustrated with sleeping on the ground.
Tonight after bedtime, I thought the greenhouse was remarkably quiet. I peeked…and just about died! In case it’s unclear what you’re seeing, that is one keet perched on Galahad’s back, yes, and all the keets lined up on the (swinging) perching rail, at 6′ in the greenhouse. They are all very content.This is how they got up there. I gave them a laundry rack last night (I’ve offered it before as perching media). I thought it would be a starter perch, and they could probably hop hop hop up and maybe get on their final destination, the rail (in a day or two). They wasted no time about it!
The guineas are at this age where they just get into trouble all day.
They’re falling in the drink, getting stuck in or under stuff, and practicing perching anywhere they can. I get called outside frequently by the panicked shrieks of the mortally assailed, and I find chicks…
How did it get in there? Last year I planted a highbush blueberry and set a cage over it so the chickens didn´t uproot it through their vigourous appreciation of mulch.
I routinely found wailing chicks “trapped” in the chickery until I set it up on its side. Now it´s a perch.They’ve got that guinea vase shape and they´re starting to turn speckled from striped, but they’re still brown.
Then I was brought outside at dusk by some particularly sustained alarm calling.
To find this:
The chicks were getting up on the greenhouse. And they were really nervous about it, making a lot of consternation noises.It started with the grownups. They started inching up onto the greenhouse from the sky coop while mama was sitting with her brood on the perches.
A couple of days ago, they started roosting on the peak.
Not to be outdone, the chicks just decided that’s the place to sleep now.
First they flap up to the arch from the coop Then they scoot up until they gain the peak
A few of them are content to stay on the coop, which I think is smart, but I’m sure they’ll be leveled up in no time.
I have a theory that this started with the weather vane. If that bird can get up there, then so can we.
Their additions are not very attractive. They’re adding a lot of nitrogen now to the water I’m catching off the greenhouse.
No, they don’t puncture the plastic. It’s tight at night in the cold. It makes loud rumbling as they all scurry back and forth across it.
What’s funny, is that there’s not much space at the top. It´s kind of a one way street. Yet they insist on going back and forth, and when they pass each other….
If anyone gets more than a few inches from the center, they start to slip, then run in place, flapping, and either they regain the summit or abort, and push off to fly to the ground and then begin the quest again.
Eventually they line up like beads for the night. It looks like an owl buffet to me, but I don’t have any ideas how to stop them.
I’m starting to worry about the guineas sleeping out “loose” in the greenhouse. The hens are all secured at night in their respective coops, but the guineas are not safe, should a weasel come in, and now the GH is breached with multiple tunnels, one easily could.
The guineas have a collective mind of their own though, choosing different places to sleep every night. They used to like snuggling between the hay bales and the plastic, or perching on the top of the open screen door, which is funny. They’ve just moved up one better though, and are roosting on the top of the door header.
It’s funny, approaching the GH and seeing their little shadowy silhouettes above the door in the dusk. There were only four the first night! I went in to shut the coops wondering if one was lost (a constant fear). She was fine. She was pacing along the roof’s edge of the layers’ coop, the nearest high point, trying and failing to muster up the bird courage to flap up and join the others.
I waited awhile, as it got darker, before I intervened. I walked right up to her, smoothly reached out and grabbed her by the legs. How well this went surprised both of us. She eep-ed once and wobbled a little to get her balance as I readjusted her to stand on my palm, and I lifted her up almost level with the others (I’m a bird elevator). She stood there for many seconds before she took the 6 inch hop. After that night she’s made it up on her own. We take the opportunity to pet them at night, which they do not love, shuffling nervously and squeezing together. But I think it’s good for them.
So I built them a house.
I put it on top of the straw bales for their examination (the layer hens are the most curious and adventurous of the bunch).
And then I put it on legs.
Knowing they want to be at the highest point in the room, it’s up in the air. In fact, I won’t be able to take it out of the GH without taking the legs off, so…it’s either going to stay in the GH forever, or dismantling it is, to move their coop outside.
My big idea is to get them to roost IN the coop every night, and then in the summer they will continue to sleep in the coop, instead of the trees, where I can shut the door and they will be safe.
That’s my big idea. Chances are good that the guineas have other ideas.
The first night, HW moved them from the header to the coop. They were unimpressed and jumped up to perch on the top edge. That’s ok with me. Sleeping on their coop is a good start. Maybe when it gets colder they’ll have more interest in huddling.
It has a protruding stick so that they can fly to it and then shuffle inside. The roof is partial because I don’t have a piece of plywood the right size handy, so I set some scrap on it. No door yet either. That can come after they sleep in it.
Apparently, they are sleeping on the top of the screen door.
They started getting down quite promptly when I came around opening the outer door.
Thinking about it…
Now I know where the crows roost in our nearest town.
I’ve never seen a crow roost before, but I’ve read about it. Crows converge at night to sleep together in a huge social group, although they spend most of their days alone or in small family groups. They have a designated place they gather.
They spend the evening before settling down socializing, sharing information, fighting, flirting.
Unexpectedly, while I waited in the parking lot for HW to come out of the grocery store, I discovered where the city crows sleep. Right in the heart of town.
Just before dark, they were swirling around the treetops of these few tall trees, settling down and then skirling up again, putting on swooping chases and synchronized flight maneuvers, diving and landing and taking off again, shouting raucously all the while. The trees were dotted with them and the sky full of action.
They were loud! A big crow social hour; a party before bed.
While the white hen is all crunched up defending her eggs from her mostly grown chicks at night, the brown hen is still fitting six growing chicks under her at night.
She’s sitting kind of tall and spread out, and the chicks come and burrow in under her.
Well, the new hens have been here two weeks. They are not treated very well by the old hens, who seem hugely irritated with them, and outcompete them for food. So, we scatter food all over, and give the young hens more food in the afternoon after the big ones have sailed off to forage outdoors.
I was hoping for the rooster to adopt them and take care of them a bit better, but after great initial attraction, he has decided his old girlfriends hold his interest better.
They sit forlornly under the coop, like they don’t know what else to do. I don’t know if they’ve never been outside before. They have cute, skinny profiles, with perky upright tails. Sadly, their beaks are clipped, so they look damaged, injured.
These new chickens are like little waifs, with no life skills. They are bad at scratching and foraging. They are bad at leaving the greenhouse.
They very quickly mastered trailing around after me and whining. They are great at flying, perhaps because they aren’t big Zeppelins yet.
They are especially bad at sleeping.On the first night, as we expected to have to do, we collected them from all over the greenhouse, and put them in the coop. One of them left a little muddy egg behind.
I divided the coop with some hardware cloth so they could have a safe section, but begin to learn that they live in the coop, and the old birds could suck it up and deal.
In the morning, I went and released them, and then prodded them out and down the ramp.
The third night, I took the barrier out of the coop, and wow! One of the new hens went to bed by herself!
The other new hens got a bit more creative. They were still piled up on the Tupperware lid, usually four of them there, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find MJ. Finally I went looking on the Silkie side, and found this:
she was jammed between the feed sack and the plastic.
Tired of getting scooped up from the ground, or else having the concept of roosting take hold a tiny bit, they started to take to the air.
I don’t know how she managed it, but she was perched up on the divider fabric, sound asleep. It must have swung wildly when she first landed on it.
A few more started to get into the coop at night, but there were two persistent Tupperware sleepers who insisted on roosting on the lid, for days. It was a big night when there was only one holdout sleeping on the lid.
Meanwhile, other birds got closer to the coop.
Are we doing it right?
No, in the coop, in… two or three on the coop, night after night.
Finally! OMG, all in the coop! (the old hens are still disgusted).
My Silkies have perked up a great deal since either the spring, some multi-vitamins, or the program of anti-mite foot washing.
Now they are hopping around outside and lounging in the sun, or the shade. The red hen loves the little pine tree. I saw the first time she got into it: lots of dipping and hopping while she was looking up into the branches. I was like, what is she doing?
Then she leapt up, and maybe she surprised herself, because she squawked and hollered about it even as she looked quite comfortable settling on a branch next to the trunk.
Then I forgot to check the coop for complete contents when I closed them at night. I woke later with a start, remembering, went out, and sure enough, she was still in the tree. Nearly invisible but for her bright black eye when I parted the branches with my flashlight.
I’ve gone out a couple times since and the other Silkies are in evidence, but no red hen. Where the heck is she? Sprinkle some food, and boop, she hops out of the tree and comes running.