Tag Archives: winter housing

Let the chips fly where they may

We brought in a quantity of wood shavings today (free for the pickup at a local sawmill).  The chips arrive:  What is it?  Oh, we’re watching.We’re watching intently.Here they come.  A cautious approach. Here comes everyone.First, the investigatory pecks – Is it edible?  They were underwhelmed that it was not. 

Then the whole crowd sort of circled around the mound.  Later, they were up on top of it.  Since I have more birds this winter than last, even if they do have a big yard, I have to make sure to get enough carbon in there to neutralize their nitrogen rich poop.  No poop smells, thank you!  Now it smells like a hamster cage.


One of the guineas escaped from my carefully constructed bird shield.  It flapped and scramble-ran up the plastic, therefore slipping under the edge of the mesh and out into the clear air.I actually saw it in progress, yet was unable to stop it from happening.It had just enough foot friction, I supposeI’m up here. Now what? Looked neat from inside.  I left her up there to figure it out.

Later… how’s that guinea doing?Well, it’s on the wrong side of the mesh, and now suspended, like it’s in a mesh bag. We’re helping!

Its friends (whites only), were trying to help by pecking.  Not helping.

I can get them down from here pretty easily though, by bounce, bounce, bouncing them on the mesh, until they slip under the overlap mesh- wish I could say I designed it like that – and flop unceremoniously into the yard they’re supposed to not be able to escape from.

Everyone out!

Everyone found the chicken doors yesterday. I finished tying down the mesh around the fence, so it should be guinea tight.It’s kind of dead and slim pickin’s, but it’s outdoors.   They also noticed right away that it’s quite cold outside, so most of them had a look around, and then went back in to warm up.  Spoiled bunch.They seem to much prefer being in the corn stalk strip. In the open they act nervous, exposed.  Heard some of the most pathetic, unsure, low-volume crowing out of the roosters, too.  Hilarious!  They were so un-confident in the new situation, they were crowing at mumble volume, for a rooster.  I’m a rooster….but don’t take that too seriously, I don’t want to disturb anyone.   Velvet and her friends, the Pufflings.

What do I do when I haven’t taken any pictures all day?

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.

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?

All in!

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.

Two coops in

2.5 coops.  Chris and Cream Puff are in too, in their personal size coop. It’s a big mess, the coops are just barely in the door, but I’m going to reorganize a bit, and there are a lot of strings to come down.  Oh, the birds are in heaven.  The scritching, the tomatoes, the dust baths!  They’ve been wanting into the greenhouse all summer.   It’s warm, and they were so happy all day bathing and lounging.No matter how big they are.  HW deadpans “Yeah, that’ll last until about lunchtime.  ‘Let us out of here!'”

There’s work to be done to keep them entertained – an outdoor courtyard, a swimming pool, and some structures.  A hay bale is a good standby.I have long neck!I put the seven infant Silkies into the Silkie coop with their moms.  I figured they would stay with their moms.  I did not figure that they would pour right through the grill and proceed to run all over the greenhouse by themselves, tiny little things, big chicken feet everywhere.  This is what we do!  Their mom was frantic at the fence.  Get back here!  She calmed down in time, they came and went when they wanted a warming, and the Colonel immediately took ownership of the little guys, who stayed out most of the day.  They seemed very confident and happy to play with all the other chickens.Here’s one getting involved with the teenagers dustbathing. Three of them getting up in the dust bathing business.I got a tomato!

There are lots of tomatoes still hanging, tumbling off frequently.  That keeps things interesting. Happy, safe little chickens.  In a week early.  One coop to go!

The walnut tree dropped all its leaves.

All in one day, the walnut trees dropped all their leaves.  There must have been the exact right frost.  You could stand there and watch them drip down.  Now there’s a big pile of leaves under the naked trees.  One coop in.  It sure looks crowded right now, but I think it’s going to work well.  Last year I had a corner cordoned off for the Silkie hens, so why not move in the whole run.

Of course, right away everyone who was already living in the greenhouse has to jump up on top of it.  Including all the guineas.Later in the day: The middle chicks know how to lounge.The guineas getting relaxed on the way to bed.  

Greenhouse freedom

I have to move all the coops in to the greenhouse, and I’m at a bit of loss what to do with all the chicks and mamas that have been at large in the GH for weeks now.  They’re very much enjoying themselves.Somebody’s got a windfall tomato.  Interest is aroused.Now I got the tomato! I got the tomato back! It seems most or all of the non-Silkie chicks don’t really need their moms any more, so they might be willing to go back in Silkieland.  The Silkie chicks are getting slightly more self-sufficient.  Perhaps they could even go in with the other Silkies.   Ursa had a rough day.  I found her with a foot tangled up in the melon trellis, it was wrapped tight around her foot.  Had to cut her loose.   At the other end of the GH the guineas are on their way to bed.  They’ve been keep inside a couple days, and aren’t too complainy about it.  They like the warm.

Predator pressure

The gang’s all here.You put these here for us, right?  We needed a grooming station.

The gang’s not really all there.  A few of them are trapped in the greenhouse with the Silkie moms and their chicks today, because I was worried.  Things are going to change.  I have to get the birds under cover for their own safety, asap, and it’s going to be hard.

Yesterday I got out of my car to a bald eagle hovering overhead.  We looked at each other, I told him to leave, and he tipped and banked towards the greenhouse.

I went over there.  All the birds were hunkered, still and  silent, under the nearest shelter they could find.  They watched me.  I watched the death raptor, circling low over us, beaky head taking everything in.  The eagle and I stared each other down, me standing in the middle of hen land, with a big stick that would be next to useless (a javelin?), daring him to try it.   He conceded and left, but I have  a feeling he’ll check back later.  I have to get everyone moved in, and they’re not going to be thrilled about it.