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Archive for the ‘Guineas’ Category


{snort} NOT!

Have you ever been so busy that you look down and when you look up, a few months have gone by? That seems to be part and parcel of my life these days. While there’s non-stop activity, there are things that are actually getting done.

Coop #4 has been moved into, I’m glad to say. While we still have some modifications to make to get more ventilation, chickens and guineas have been moved over for a while now. In the event you ever move chickens and/or guineas, don’t get discouraged. It took 4 days for all of them to put themselves to bed, which was pretty good, considering. {Considering, as in, guineas do not like change, so that they actually did it at all is a major win in my book!}

This meant tearing down the original coop, which Hunny wasn’t happy with. His initial design was basically what we had before, just the grande-wrap-around-horseshoe version of it. Because of the size and time involved, it rained before it was complete. Ya, I know.  It seemed like the never-ending battle to get done, and thus its name, The Coop That Would Not Be Built, was dubbed. I was not sad to see the old one go, honestly.

One of these days, I’ll get around to posting old coop and new coop info. There’s so much to catch you up on, it’s almost overwhelming. I vow {energy willing} to start updating on a more regular basis. I just need to sit down and do it.

Much of my day revolves around collecting eggs. Because we free-range 100% of daytime hours, that always means I am out hunting for eggs. While most of the girls have figured out that the nesting boxes are the best place to lay, I do have a few rogues in the bunch.

Just last night, I crawled under the shed {and it’s LONG!} and finally found the pile of eggs the dogs had been eating. What was left were 26 eggs. *sigh*

When the house well froze during the polar vortex and Hunny had to thaw it and then insulate it, I found a stash of really nasty rotten eggs.  vomit I counted about 8 that hadn’t been eaten by wee little dog. I don’t think they were all bad, just the ones at the bottom.

Earlier today, I found a small stash of 4 eggs, which could have all been laid today. With reduced laying during the shorter winter days, I’m getting about 2 dozen eggs a day…………

Here are some of the more interesting stashes I’ve found:

Pile of fencing posts that I had to move around to even reach the eggs.

pile1

plie2

pile3

pile4

pile6

These are the small well-house eggs.

well2

well1

And, my personal favorite, the barn eggs.

barn1

barn2

These were laid by one of my girlies who likes to lay up high- she’s even dropped an egg from the rafters in the guinea section of the coop! There’s another one of that breed that likes to lay under a tarp in the hay shelter. 😆

Either way, while I don’t necessarily mind the egg hunt, it is a total time sucker. And, lest you think chickens are totally stupid, it never fails: just when I find the nest, they move it. They realize that something has found it, so it’s time to move so they don’t get eaten. Pretty smart!

In the next installment of the “Crazy Chickens Saga,” I’ll tell you about one of my chickens who’s broody. We found her sitting on a clutch of 20+ eggs way up top of the hay loft. We did manage to move her, eggs and all, down to the nesting boxes, without losing any arms or fingers. She’s definitely the meanest broody I’ve ever had! {She’s so mean, she’s still sitting on those eggs because I didn’t think it was safe for US to try to get them out, lol.}

So. That’s what I’ve been up to. While I’ve had to deal with wacko folks because of the polar vortex, painting all kinds of things outside, and trying to stay sane, I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth. 😀

What’s going on in your world?

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*sigh*

I know loss is part of farm life, and I accept that.

I also accept that the safety of the animals is my responsibility. And it irritates me to no end to have a loss that could have been prevented.

At this point, we’re up to 4 losses that could have- SHOULD HAVE- been prevented. 😥

Last month, I went to let them out in the morning and found one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} huddled by the door and near frozen solid. It had gotten cold overnight, and while I didn’t think she had gotten her foot stuck under the waterer, I really had no other explanation for her being by the door instead of up on the roost.

I brought her inside right away, and got a water bottle full of hot water to help heat her up.

chicken1

She sat on my lap all day.

chicken2

chicken3

By evening, it was clear she was not doing well, despite out efforts to feed and hydrate her. Early the next morning, with my daughter sitting with her, she convulsed and died. 😥

I am not sure what it was, but it might have been something she ate that got stuck in her crop, even though I couldn’t feel anything there. It didn’t seem to be a contagion, and I was sure hoping it wasn’t. {It wasn’t.}

I accept that sometimes, these things happen. It is absolutely never easy, though.

We also lost 2 cuckoo marans over a month ago. We had moved them outside to the coop, but because the run wasn’t done, we weren’t letting them out. After finding 2 of my girls trampled and plucked inside the coop, we cut the pop door and let them out, finished run be darned.

Did I mention that this has become The Coop That Would Not Be Built? Yep. And it’s a source of irritation to me, to say the least.

That right there is the bulk of the issue, as I see it. Hunny doesn’t think we need a run (or the expense) and once we had to let them out, it was easier to just let them free-range the entire time.

Then the guineas got out about a week ago. 3 were out all night because we couldn’t catch them. 2 found their way back in the following morning, but the last one we found dead on the horse path between the two pastures. Here again, I am convinced that if we had the run, it would not be an issue because they would be contained while we let the chickens out.

It goes without saying that by far one of the worst predators is the family dog. Have I mentioned that we now have 5 dogs?

We moved here with 2 dogs that completely left the chickens alone. We gained another border collie, and then in both July and August we gained dogs that had probably been dumped. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another time. Having 2 unaltered male dogs- even though one is a weiner dog- was not on my agenda.

But I digress.

Up to this point, we’ve done pretty well keeping the dogs away from the chickens. {You know where this is going, don’t you….} Both Buddy (short-haired Jack Russell terrier) and Oreo (border collie) are about a year old. You may know that border collies are well-known as the smartest dog breed there is.

Case and point- Icee (our blond merle border collie} knows how to open the bedroom door in our RV; and Oreo not only knows but has taught Buddy how to open the outside door. We can’t do an eye-hook because then whoever is outside can’t get back in. Not to mention, she’s working on the dead bolt, too. We are trying to remember to take our keys outside with us every time……..

The bigger issue is not that they can open the door when they are both in and outside, but that I don’t want the cats to get out.

Did I mention we’re up to 6 cats now? Yep. One of these days, I’ll write up the story of the kittens, which were not planned but totally loved and adored.

Bottom line- I just don’t want them getting out. The older kitties are declawed because we don’t want them outside. The kittens were planned on being outdoor barn kitties, but after bottle feeding them and having them inside because they are too little to be left outside to fend for themselves, well, we’re smitten with them, too, and will get them declawed and fixed so they can be indoor kitties.

Anyhow.

Last week, Buddy got a hold of my favorite silver silkie, Silver. We got to her in time before he killed her, but he sliced her chest open and punctured her in a few places. I kept her inside overnight, and then the following day (when I had company, of course), I used some EMT gel {for animals} to glue her back together and sent her back out.

You need to understand- I’ve been crazy about keeping the dogs away from the chickens. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed. At some point, Oreo got scared of them, but I knew it wouldn’t last, particularly if she was out there with Buddy. I’ve seen them essentially hunt/play together/in a pack.

Now, Hunny and the kids think they are playing with them. Buddy with go after them when there’s squawking- like when the boys are sparring and when they are grabbing the girls. He thinks that she was chasing her and went to nip as border collies do, and got carried away.

I didn’t see this event, so I don’t know what happened. What I do know is that Oreo killed one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} and that I am really very upset.

This dog is smart, and she knows better.

I am loath to give up an animal- any animal- particularly when it’s a rescue and I’ve invested money in it. I cannot, however, abide by the “it’s just a chicken; there’s no reason to get upset” kind of thinking some of my kids are dishing out.

I. DO. NOT. CARE. IF. THEY. THINK. THAT.

IT. IS. NOT.” JUST”. A CHICKEN.

I love my chickens, even if they don’t.

I have a responsibility to keep the animals in my care alive.

And so, I’m annoyed. I’m upset. I’m not sure what should be done.

There are those that tell you that once a dog kills once, they won’t stop. Normal dogs, I would agree. Border collies are so, so smart.

My other border collie blew out both cruciate ligaments in her knees- both of them, at the same time. If you know border collies, you know they have a HUGE work ethic; in that you often don’t know there is anything wrong with them until they just don’t get up the next day.

And that is what happened with her. She just couldn’t get up one morning and was in huge amounts of pain.

The normal fix for this injury is surgery, at $2,500 a knee. 😯 Our vet thought, given how smart she is, that we could try something else first.

He suggested we explain to her what happened and why we had to crate her. If she could stay immobile for about 6 months to give the ligaments time to heal, we could avoid surgery. It was a long shot, but we thought we’d give it a go.

It’s been over 5 years later, and we never had to have surgery. She wasn’t thrilled with being crated, but she accepted it. Her knees are a bit arthritic now, and we think she can’t see too well. She’s been kicked in the head by one of the horses, but the head injury didn’t kill her, either.

She was smart enough to listen {and yes, I’m sure she knew what we were talking about- ask anyone with a border collie and they’ll tell you}. Oreo is just as smart, but she’s only about a year old and very headstrong.

I don’t know if she will WANT to learn.

I don’t know that I can ever trust her again.

I don’t know that the kids will actually LISTEN to me and NOT let her out unsupervised. I am sick of hearing how much they hate the chickens (with the exception of daughter number 2). When they say that, they are basically saying they hate me, and that bothers me. I don’t ask them to love them the same as I do, but gollee, it sure would be nice if they could care about living things a little and have a little regard and respect. And a little thought about keeping them safe.

I need other options.

I just don’t know what they are yet. And, with life in flux right now, I’m not sure the answer is going to be forthcoming, either.

I’m so annoyed. I’m annoyed with the situation, and I’m annoyed because there are no easy answers.

Stay tuned.

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I just found this! {Don’t ask me why I didn’t read it before- I must have somehow thought it wasn’t complete!}

Anyhow. Since I wrote this a year ago, the ideas of bees have continued to buzz around in my head. I’ve updated this post, so bear in mind that most of it was written before we moved and were still living in town.

What I need to check into now, though, is if I can get a hive to survive guineas. The guineas are a must, since ticks are such a huge problem out here.

If you’ve got guineas and bees, please share your experience with me!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Call me strange, but on my list of creatures I’d love to have around are honey bees.

Yep. Bees.

No, not the Africanized bees that will swarm and kill you; little ‘ole honey bees- by the hive.

Obviously, I can’t get away with that here. (Please, neighbors, I haven’t totally lost my mind :lol:) But that doesn’t make them any less appealing to dream about.

Most of us go through life not thinking about where our food comes from or what it takes to grow that food.  I will say that getting sick snapped me completely out of slipping into this mindset.

When I got sick, everything became suspect. It’s amazing what rabbit trails you’re willing to follow when you think you could really be dying, and you are just looking for some kind of straw to grasp at.

It was during this time that I started hearing about the world-wide bee population being in decline. I know for many, if not most, this revelation brings a sigh of relief, but I, personally, find it terrifying.

Why?

“The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.  bees

Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature.

Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

If you are anything like me, you’ll no doubt find this information startling.  And then, you might get to thinking, which might will mean you’ll end up scared. And if you’re not- you should be.

Think about that for a minute. 70% of the worldwide crops that feed 90% of the planet’s human population are pollinated by bees- bees which are in steep decline worldwide.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Here’s an article to get you started: Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Is it a leap to think that GMO crops are killing off bees? My personal opinion is, no, it’s not. In fact, I think it’s likely. I don’t know about you, but it seems like common sense to think that insecticide-enhanced crops can kill bees. That just seems like a no-brainer to me, personally.

Think I’m joking? Start at the Center for Food Safety and get up-to-date information. Studies show that the majority of foods in the US have genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

We know right now, for example, that The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving- Since you’ve entered this site at least 200 people have died of starvation. Over 4 million will die this year.”

I’m not going to go into specifics of the whys on hunger statistics, but I will say this: The world is struggling to feed its population right now; today. We may think modern science and technology can compensate for the loss of bees world-wide, but the fact is, they can’t.

The planet loses substantial amounts of people every day to starvation, and an essential component in global food growth is in serious decline?

GMOs are not mandated to be listed on food packaging in the US, and as a result, studies show that 58% of people in the US don’t know about this issue; and yet, they are in 75% of our processed foods.

Do you see the connection? Let me spell it out: Bees are critically needed worldwide to grow food. GMO crops have pesticide/insecticide in them. They’ve been killing bees. The decline in bees is critically affecting the world-wide food growth which is resulting in greater incidences of starvation.

Think I’m blowing smoke and/or being an alarmist wacko? Read Death of the Bees. Genetically Modified Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America. If that doesn’t convince you, I’m pretty sure nothing will.  nogmobees

While this topic might be overwhelming and make your eyes glaze over, there are a few things we individuals can do, past signing petitions and taking it to Washington, that likely won’t listen anyhow. There’s too much power and money wrapped up in this issues, with power players in key positions in the current administration {which, I am inclined to add, is nothing new- this power players from specific industries have played key roles in most presidential administrations……..}.

What we CAN do, as individuals, is support the local bee industry. Go to your local farmer’s markets and buy local honey.

If you have the availability of land, learn what you can about bee keeping. I’m a few years away from it myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start learning now.

I could tout the benefits of locally “grown” honey, but I’m pretty sure most everyone has a good idea of the benefits, particularly if you have allergies. I’d always been a fan of real honey, but honestly, I never gave any of it a whole lot of thought. Unbeknownst to many, however, is that the stuff you buy in the store isn’t often real honey, even if it’s labeled as such.

“More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.”

More information here:

Fake Honey In Stores – Learn How To Identify The Real Thing

Honey Laundering

Study: Most Honey Is Just Fake, Pollenless Goo

Have honey in your cupboard? Take a minute and go get it. Turn it around and read the label. Then leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve found.  Please. 🙂 {The only honey I have in mine is local, organic honey, so I’m no help!}

Ok, I confess that I don’t have a label that has non-honey stuffs in it. The benefit of real honey is something I’ve known about since I was a kid, actually, and have always only bought honey from my local health food store or from local honey folks. I never really thought to look in the grocery store until recently, when I wondered why my honey was more expensive and wanted to compare cost.

This gets back to things like truth in advertising, and all that jazz. My point is- beware. Read your labels. When I went looking at my local grocery store, most of the honey products contained other stuff. 😯

You may even remember the fake honey from China scam a while back.

But back to the bees! 😀

We’ve probably all heard about large bee hives being found inside walls of houses or under the eaves, etc.  And, we’re probably all been relieved to hear about the extermination of those hives. Anymore, it just makes me cringe.

Happily, those with bee infestations can sometimes find bee removal professionals.  There’s even a bee removal network! I don’t know about you, but this makes my heart happy, knowing honey bees will be relocated instead of exterminated.

I think there are all kinds of benefits to bee keeping. While I’m all for doing what you can in your backyard, I am not entirely sure I could get away with bees…………. {now that I’ve moved, though, I’m back in the game of exploring my options!}

Here are some links for your perusal:

Blogs I read that now have bees in addition to chickens :D: :

*sigh*  I really need to get to the country so I can work on getting more chickens. And Nigerian Dwarf goats. And bees.

I’m beginning to think I’m a lost cause…………… 😆  But if anyone asks, I’m going to tell them I’m the bees knees, honey.  :mrgreen:

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I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a drug. A heavy- hitting, fly -to -the moon, squee-all-afternoon kind of drug that leaves you high and darn near breathless with euphoria.

Raise your hand if you are nodding along because you know what I’m talking about. {I’ll pretend I see you :lol:}

When we moved, as you may remember, one of the primary criteria for the new digs was the ability to have chickens. You may also recall that we ended up with horses instead.

Hunny finally got tired of me whining decided that despite the chaos, it was ok for me to order some chickens. I had been looking online for a while and came to the realization that it was going to be a few months out before all the breeds I wanted were ready to ship.

I spent the entire morning shopping. While I generally despise shopping {as you know because you’ve been reading along all this time} the only kind of shopping I don’t completely hate is- {wait for it……} shopping for chickens. 😆  There is something about checking out your breeds and then finding the best dates and prices on them.

This time, we were going to do it right, without falling victim to chicken math. Every time I’ve gone to buy chickens, I’ve fallen prey to it. Literally every. Single. Time. {Like, the time I Almost Did Something Bad and then ended up with Babies anyhow…….}

This time was going to be different, though. “Why,” you might ask? Well, we’re in the country for one thing, and for another thing, I was planning on getting more than the 23 I ended up with last time.

So you see, there was no reason for chicken math to creep up on me this time because I was already going to get as many as I wanted. 😆

I spent all morning shopping online, and had my breeds and quantities picked out. The only real issue was that I couldn’t get them until the end of June, which is, well, meh.  😥  😆

I thought, “Gee, well, as long as I’m down at tractor Supply, I’ll ask them how their shipping works. After all, the hatchery I talked to this morning would mix large fowl with bantams with no problem.”

So I asked. And they told me no. No biggy; I can order my silkies in a smaller quantity.

In the meantime, my oldest daughter had found another cool looking breed that she though would be neat to have. And I thought, “No biggy; I’ll just order a few of those and tack them on to the order.”

Are you laughing yet? 😆

Come to find out, yes, there’s a minimum order of 25 chickens. BUT. You have to order the breeds in quantities of 5. I called Hunny and talked it over with him before I did anything. And bless his heart, he was fine with it!

Initially, I was going to have a total of 31 without the guineas; 8 silkies and 23 large fowl. Because I was not going to pay megabucks to have the 90% accurate DNA testing done, the silkies were going to be straight run.

When it’s straight run, you can figure on about a 50/50 mix of boys and girls. So, in reality, that means we would only end up keeping 4 silkies, unless I could con talk Hunny into breeding and selling down the road. {Keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath!}

So, in reality, that would put me around 27 chickens, which is a good amount of chickens.  😆

One other thing we decided on was getting guineas. Now, you may be scratching your head and wondering why, since we would have plenty of chickens.

Guineas are great at getting bugs. So are chickens, but the specialty of guineas is ticks. And, they will eat the bad bugs in the garden without eating the garden {I’ve heard- we’ll see- I’m a bit skeptical on that one, though}. While I’ve heard guineas are messy and loud, they are very good at alerting to predators and other unannounced “visitors.”

Another primary reasons guineas are such a good thing when you live in the country is that they will help control the snake population. I could do without snakes, so this seems like a win-win to me!

One of my bigger concerns is that because they roam, they might get chased by hunting dogs and then shot. In theory, this land is off-limits, but since we’re new and some haven’t figured that out, we’ve seen hunters from the hunting club out here. I don’t remember if I wrote it up, but there was one set of hunters in the front pasture with my HORSES that went and dragged a deer carcass right in front of them and my daughter who was out there. Ya, things are going to change next year!

We’ll have to see where we land with that.

I did a lot of looking online, and I finally ordered 15. Tractor Supply had a minimum of 25, and I just do not want that many.

Which ones did I settle on? I ordered 5 of each:

Lavender guinea: lavenderguinea

Royal Purple guinea:  royalpurpleguinea

and White guinea:   whiteguinea

Now. Onto the chickens! 😀

I actually did not order silkies today. Tractor Supply is getting bantams on Friday, so I’m going down there first thing in the morning to dig through them like we did last time. Hopefully, they will have a good variety, or else I may order the ones I want in a few weeks. That would put them here late June.

I did, however, order 5 Buff Orpington pullets. eggs and grass 010

The two big yellow chickens were our BOs, Butternut and Daisy. Butternut was the flock mistress, and would protect the chicks from the dogs. She would even peck Little Dog, who learned she didn’t like having her nose poked. Butternut was huge, and it was awesome to see her fluff her neck feathers out.

This was one of my absolute favorite breeds because of being a dual-purpose breed: good for meat and eggs. {We don’t eat our friends, though. 🙂 }

They are good all around- good in confinement and heat and cold tolerant. It’s also listed as a “Recovering Heritage Breed” with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Blue Andalusian.   BA3I got 5 Blue Andis, too.  After having our hearts broken saying Goodbye, Dear Jasmine, I vowed if I ever got the chance, we would get more Blue Andalusians, but all girls {pullets}. So we did. 😀

Andalusians are a “Threatened Heritage Breed,” and they are simply gorgeous! They are medium layers of nice white eggs and are heat tolerant.

If you’ve seen pictures of my eggs before we moved, you will no doubt know that none of my flocks are ever complete without Easter Eggers. EEs are commonly found at hatcheries listed as Ameraucanas, but because they come from hatcheries, they are actually Easter Egges. This is because hatchery birds don’t meet the breed standard all the time; some of them are rumpless; some are muffless and/or beardless, and of course, some of them lay brown eggs.

Out of our last flock, we had one that laid a brown egg; two laid olive eggs {yay for olive eggers!} and the rest laid the typical blue/green eggs.

They are SO cute as chicks because they look like chipmunks! chicks1

EEs are an all-around great chicken- they do well confined and are a cold and heat tolerant breed. I can’t say enough good about this breed. I settled on ordering 10 of these girls.

As I was choosing breeds, I was looking for a balance of egg color. I, personally, like to see a nice variety of egg colors in the carton. A very nice brown egg layer that is something special to look at is the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

silverlacedwyandotte

SLWs are another breed that are cold and heat tolerant and do ok being confined. While I was happy to see that this breed is listed as “Recovering,” it didn’t deter me from ordering 5. 😆

Before getting chickens, I had no idea the wide variety of colors chickens could come in. I admit to going a bit hog-wild this time. 😆

One of the egg-colors I have always drooled over was the really dark brown chocolatey eggs.  cuckoomaraneggs

YUMMY!!! Marans lay these eggs, so I got 5 Cuckoo Marans. I was particularly pleased, because Cuckoo Marans look a bit like Barred (Plymouth) Rocks, and since we weren’t getting any, I knew my middle daughter would be thrilled, because her favorites were the BRs.  cuckoomaran

As I was thinking about breeds, my daughter noticed the Silver Lakenvelder, and I remembered that it was also listed as a “Threatened” breed. I thought, “I’ll just add a few of those” and that’s how we ended up ordering 5. The Lakenvelder lays a nice white egg and does well in confinement and is heat tolerant.

silverlakenvelder

One of the more interesting and unique chicken breeds is the Silver Spangled Hamburg, also known as “the polka-dotted chicken,”

silverspangledhamburg

When I discovered these a few years ago, I swore I’d get some if I didn’t have to order a boatload. So, I ordered 5. The Silver Spangled Hamburg is on the “Watch” list. It lays a white egg; does best free-ranging and is heat tolerant.

So. Let’s recap:

Brown egg layers: Buff Orpingtons (5), Silver Laced Wyandottes (5)

Dark chocolate eggs: Cuckoo Maran (5)

White egg layers: Blue Andalusian (5), Silver Spangled Hamburg (5) and Silver Lakenvelder (5)

Colored eggs: Easter Eggers (10)

Regular math: 23 large fowl + 8 silkies= 31 + 8 guineas= 39. {I probably would have rounded to an even 40.}

Chicken math: 40 large fowl + 8 slkies + 15 guineas= running afowl of 63 birds! 😆

Ahhhh, my loves, I’ve been waiting! 😆

**pictures courtesy of Google, My Pet Chicken, Meyer Hatchery, Feathersite, Backyard Chickens, etc etc

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