Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caped crusaders

My birds are nekked. I had to sew them some clothes. I'm not kidding. I can honestly say that my hens are equipped with a cloaking device (aka.. chicken saddles/ aprons.)

Too many boys makes for so much trouble and the last straw was when one of the little Ava's (the smallest Barred Rock hen... that's kinda like saying "the slender hippo") had her side completely ripped open by Dave (aka Tank.) With a lot of care, Ava amazingly healed up completely. It was a bad gash and there was not much hope she would survive at first.

We tried finding the boys homes, but had no luck. So, 4 more roosters were sent to freezer camp. It is a horrible thing, but we are not vegetarians. The process from start to finish, went as I wished it would go for the animals that are raised for meat.

Right now, we only have 2 guineas. We had sent 2 guinea cocks to freezer camp last fall. Earl Gray passed a few weeks ago. Frankly not something I can relay at the moment. Keep in mind my Mom is in her mid 70's and it was an accident.

Josette (guinea hen)... she got broody. The first night she was gone it was raining and we tromped through the fields and the woods for hours looking. She showed up in the morning to our relief. Dine and dash, she would eat really fast and disappear. I marked it on the calendar. It took almost 3 weeks of trying to follow them to see where she was hidden.. along a barbedwire fence in the neighbor's field. We set up the brooder for her, ran out and bought a cat carrier, grabbed egg cartons (hot water bottle in a cooler for the move).. and raced to the nest. We found Grace on the nest. Josette was nowhere to be found. The area was untrampled save for the little path the birds had carved to the nest (with the grass being so tall.. it was more of a tunnel.) Grace rejected the new nest that night. 40 eggs lost. They were so close. (The neighbor had adopted several new barn cats. His old one stayed close to home but these new ones wander over.. right up to the house! It is possible one of them may have gotten Josette. It is hard to tell as there was no mess at all.)

Zippy, the Rhode Island Red hen, thought the nest was amazing. She wants to be broody.. but then promptly forgets the moment she hears one of the roosters announce he has found a treat. All gluttony and no glory. She moves the eggs constantly. The clutch migrates around the brooder like little nomads. We just removed most of the guinea eggs a few days ago. Most.. as some seem to have rolled off into the sunset.

With the brooder open the girls have ditched the nestboxes completely. 5 of them at a time will occupy the brooder and have a laying party. I suppose this could be a good thing should any of them want to give Mommy-hood a go. Collecting the eggs is a little more difficult, but they are really enjoying the brooder.

To some this endeavor may seem silly, but even my birds' worst day is better than a typical broiler's best day. (Except maybe for Roy.. who still keeps trying to shag Keet. Keet liberated Roy of his tail as a result.)

So as I make my way out to the coop on sunny mornings.. and slather bullfrog sunblock on my rooster's butt so it doesn't get sunburned.. I am in awe at just how ridiculous life got while trying to regain control of what we eat.
Do the guineas help with ticks? Well, so far I have had only 1 tick this year. While mine are constantly bickering with the chickens, another farm (mainly raising grass fed beef) closer to our house in town has dozens of them that live peacefully with chickens, ducks, and turkey. It is mostly just Roy causing instigating trouble. (Hoping he figures this out at some point. More hens would keep him busy enough to leave the guineas alone.)

There is always feed available to them, which they nibble on, but all of the birds prefer to forage. Plain yogurt is one of their favorite treats. It is the one treat at the moment that the guineas go nuts about. We get little bowls.. my husband holds 2 and my daughter holds 2. I dispense the yogurt as the birds start literally jump at the bowls and loudly make their demand that we hurry. Stop.. drop.. and run. Delay for just a second and you'll be covered in yogurt. Hold the bowls too long... Izzy will hop on to your arm to help herself while unabashedly using you as a napkin to wipe off her beak.

I like their quirks. I like that my daughter has goofy childhood memories because of it. (While running away from a wasp.. the birds thought she had to have hit the big bug score. I looked up from my weeding and smiled.. at my daughter running around like a lunatic waving her arms and yelling.. a dozen birds chasing her in curiosity.)

Rain has thwarted by plans of planting today. So I'm digging around for light colored fabric to sew summer frocks for my hens. I really will be happy when they molt and get their feathers back.


  1. If I could just by pass the chick stage I would have already made the poultry jump. Still I know with my current work schedule they would just begin disappearing one by one. Fun to read about your bird adventures :)

  2. The chick stage is fun! It is when the boys turn into shagzilla that the trouble begins. Guinea keets are particularly hilarious... so many funny memories.

    Everything needs to stop breaking so I can get an incubator!!!

  3. You crack me up! I love that you put lotion on your roosters butt!

    We had to butcher our rooster, I think he was too inbred. My poor girls had bare backs, I tried the saddle he just took the feathers off their wings.