Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where for art thou?

Saturday I jumped in the car at midnight and drove down to the Wisconsin Illinios border to pick up my first buckling! I arrived at the farm at just after 8 am, picked him up, and turned back around for the drive home. I got home at about 3:30 pm and was completely exhausted, but the trip was worth it. Little Romeo has great bloodlines and will be a great to breed with the girls. 

Aren't his moonspots wonderful!

Romeo will actually be jointly owned with Karen from Pelican Acres, she will keep him with her other bucks and allow me to bring Addison and Gidget up for breeding when the time is right.

When kidding season arrives don't forget to check out Karen's Goat Cam in her birthing stall to watch goats give birth!

Hopefully next year I can build a pen area for bucks and I will be able to house one here on my own little homestead, so long as it is down wind!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Guinea Drama

Yesterday daddy guinea got hit by a car, I was heart broken. I was in the yard when it happened, the car didn't even slow down - I think they hit him on purpose.

Momma guinea cried and cried for him, it was so sad.

Diablo was the male guinea who didn't have a mate, he got his name because he very mean to the chickens. Momma guinea cried for her mate for hours, after a while Diablo started to follow her around. If she accepts him I will keep him around, other wise he is toast.

The other birds were shocked at the turn of events, I can only imagine the gossip about the situation around the water cooler.

One of the guinea keets living with mama chicken in the sheep pen flew out of the barn and was lost in the woods, not good. I decided it was time to move them back to the coop.

I was worried that Leopold wouldn't accept them into the flock, but so far he has been great. He runs off any hens or guineas that bother the keets, it seems another reprobate has been reformed.

Mama chicken has been teaching the keets how to forage. She must be doing a good job because yesterday I saw one of the keets running around the coop with a worm in its mouth.

Last night mama chicken went into the coop for the evening but the keets couldn't figure out how to get up the plank and inside. The Commander and I had to go out with an aquarium fish net and scoop them up to put them inside. Mama chicken was inside screaming and even pecked my hand when I put the first of the keets inside. The round-up was a crazy scene. I sure hope they can put themselves away by themselves tonight.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sheep Getting More Friendly

Last year the sheep were so shy I couldn't get anywhere near them, now when I go out to see them they flock around me. Jeepers got up close and personal in the above picture.

Azalea is the most friendly of all the lambs, she is an escape artist as well. It is not at all unusual to see her on the wrong side of the fence and eating off on her own, but when she sees me she comes running!

Avalon is still quite shy, she gets it from her mother Kia. Ava only comes round as part of the rest of the flock, never by herself.

Kia will eat a bit of grain from my hand but she still doesn't fully trust me. I still think she has a little Icelandic Leader Sheep in her, she is very wary and intelligent.

It seems the sheep have been keeping a close eye on me lately, I really enjoy it when the run up to greet me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Not Grown Here

One of my neighbors gave me a few zucchini that were huge. They live right next door and I have to marvel at what a great garden they have compared to our pitiful plot. She also gave me a recipe to try.

Cut the zucchini in half and then scoop out the seeds. Season it with olive oil, garlic, and whatever else tickles your fancy, then cover it in foil and bake at 350F until it begins to get soft. Cook some hamburger and add your choice of seasoning (I added some cumin to give it a Mexican flair), then place it in the hollowed out part of the zucchini and continue to cook until the zucchini is easily cut with a butter knife. Add cheese and allow it to melt for a few minutes and then chow down.

It was delicious!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Years Ram Lambs

Alder's horns are very wide, he has the kind of horns that we are looking for.

Ironwood's horns are thick, but they are no where near as wide a Alder's.

Killarney is Albion's father (post below), his horns are thicker than Alder's and wider than Ironwood's. Ironwood seems to be telling Killarney that this Fall he gets to spend some time with the girls!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lamb Ram Horns

I'm trying to decide if Albion's horns are good enough for me to use him as breeding stock.

Albion was one of two lambs born to Jeepers this Spring, his sister Alma was the other.

He is a friendly fellow that likes to stick close to his mother. I like his light brown color, it is unique to my flock.

If I decide to keep him he will have to be introduced to the other rams, they may smash him around a bit so I want to make sure he's staying before submitting him to that rough treatment.

Of course if I don't keep him he will be heading off to freezer camp very soon. What do you think?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whats for Dinner?

This is what happens when you store noodles for the chickens in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barn Cats

Today I saw six chipmunks in the chicken coop eating the hens scratch. This morning I saw three bunnies hopping around in the yard. All these little varmints are going to start to attracting predators sooner or later, if not already. I think we need a barn cat.

How do you get your barn cats to not eat your chickens, guineas, or hatchlings? Can you have a lone barn cat or will it need a friend?

When I asked Mocha if she wanted to live outside she gave me the look pictured above, I took it as a no.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


The fox must have come back last night because all four of the keets are gone. Mama and daddy Guinea spent all day looking for their babies, it was very sad to watch. Several times during the day daddy Guinea would just stop what he was doing and lay flat in the grass, he seemed so depressed.

No matter how well the Guineas defended their young during the day they couldn't overcome their night blindness and lack of tree nesting. At least mother hen has her 9 keets in the sheep pen, but I hope mama and daddy Guinea don't die from broken hearts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good Parents, Hungry Fox, Crazed Woman, and the Sierra Club

In a previous post I wondered, "Why aren't Guineas extinct?" The past few weeks have taught me a lot about how Guineas raise their young, and I have to say I'm very impressed. The biggest problem the Guineas have to overcome is that they don't build a nest in the trees so they end up having to raise their young on the ground in the wet, cold, and dangerous forest.

Pictured above is daddy Guinea, I have never seen a more devoted father (for an animal of course). Every morning he leaves the coop and immediately flies over to where mama Guinea spends her nights. He calls to her and paces if she doesn't drag the keets from the woods immediately.

All day long mama and daddy Guinea shepherd their younglings around the yard, catching and sharing bugs and choice bits of grass with the keets. The keets stick close to them, and one of the parents will immediately confront anything considered a danger.

I supplement their diet with noodles, mama brings the keets running towards me at lunch time.

The teen Guineas are still housed in the gazebo, I toss them long grass and weeds to let them get their fill of greens. They haven't been moved to the coop yet because they need to get a bit larger to fend off the other Guineas that rejected them last time.

This morning I looked out the back window and saw that this little Guinea had punched a hole in the gazebo screen and was loose, that meant I had to go outside and round it up. After several minutes of chasing the mini-Guinea in circles I went back inside and grabbed a lacrosse stick that happened to be by the front door. (I have no idea why a lacrosse stick would be there as I have not ever seen anyone playing lacrosse in the yard since we moved here.) The stick had a web netting so it should help gather the mini-Guinea up safely.

After a few moments of chasing the mini-Guinea around with the stick mama and daddy Guinea began screaming and creating a racket like all heck had broken loose. I looked over to where the family had been foraging and I saw a fox chasing after the baby keets!

As I raced over to help I witnessed mama and daddy Guinea take turns swooping down to claw and body slam themselves into the hungry fox in desperate attempts to save their babies. Note the claws (talons?) momma Guinea is sporting in the picture above, she was going after the fox with gusto!

When I got to the scene of the crime I was able to give the confused fox at least two good whacks with the lacrosse stick while it rooted around trying to snatch up a keet or two, simultaneously trying to defend itself from now three angry parents (I include myself). At some point during the beatdown the fox gave up and began a retreat down the driveway with me in hot pursuit, swinging the stick all the way. As we emerged from the trees at the drives end the fox and I crossed the path of three power walkers who looked to initially be in shock at the spectacle. When the fox bolted into the woods on the other side of the road I gave up the chase and started to head for home.

It was at this point that the possible Sierra Club members decided to give me a piece of their mind. "Don't you know fox are an endangered and protected species around here?" Flabbergasted, I replied; "That fox was trying to eat my keets!" Somehow I noticed that the power walkers had nicely manicured nails, an odd observation for someone who was on the verge of losing their cool. I calmly explained to them that; "Mr. Fox WILL be endangered if he ever tries to eat any of my Guineas or Chickens again."

The enviro crazies didn't seem to understand my point and wanted to argue some more; "Nature has its own circle of life and you shouldn't interfere." At this point I wondered if they could possibly be crazy? Don't they know wolves prowl this area? I wanted to ask them that if a wolf grabbed one of them while they were out for a stroll would the other two not interfere with 'the circle of life', but I instead walked away. They really would have been shocked it this had happened yesterday because I would have been dressed in my pajamas instead of sweats.

As I walked back up my drive I heard one of them say; "She must be one of those Tea Party people." This made me chuckle so I smugly turned as stated; "I'm a coffee person thank you." They couldn't have possibly been from around here, I mean going a single day without hearing multiple rifle shots would be a miracle. This area is about 70% woodland and 30% farms, who were these people?

When I got back to the yard I was so relieved to see that the keets had all survived and mama and daddy Guinea were only missing a few feathers.

Everyone got a big helping of noodles at lunch, those Guineas aren't such bad parents after all!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Artist Rendition

A drawing by my daughter who visited for a few days. From the looks of the drawing she figured out what things are like around here. Click on the picture to get it on its own page and then click again to enlarge.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Smell Like What?

You know you're a (want-to-be) farmer when....This morning when I came in from chores the Commander told me not to sit on the furniture because I smelled like sheep poo! I looked at him and we both laughed and laughed.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not Houdini

We were worming the sheep the other day and things didn't go exactly as planned. I left the top part of the dutch door open to provide light, this proved to be a mistake. The girl sheep are quite skittish, and once they saw we were trying to corner them into a stall they panicked. Kia hit the Commander in the mouth with her horns on her way out the back door before he could get it closed, the rest chose a different route. As I watched three of the lambs decided to leap out the top half of the door, the drop on the other side is significant. Fortunately no one broke their leg but a lesson was learned on our part, close all doors before trying to run the sheep into a stall.

The boys were next so all doors were closed and the plan was to pull them out one by one. Killarney was taken out first, no problems. Alder (wild man) was next, he struggled but no one was rammed and he was quickly finished. That left Ironwood all alone inside the ram shed, turns out that wasn't a good idea. Ironwood is last in the pecking order, so leaving him by himself inside the shed brought on a panic attack. See that little window pictured above, it used to have a screen on it.

When the Commander went inside the shed to bring Ironwood out, the ram panicked and tried to jump through the window. He couldn't possibly fit through such a small opening but he destroyed the screen and splintered the wood frame, another lesson learned.

The sheep aren't as tricky as Houdini, but it isn't from a lack of trying.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How are Guineas Not Extinct?

When the eggs under our broody hen went bad I had a problem, OhioFarmGirl told me that it would be best if the hen finished her cycle but how could she without any eggs?  I read over at Razzberry Corner how Lynn took her Guinea hen eggs from the nests and replaced them with plastic eggs full of sand - wha-la!  One fooled hen!

Back when the teen Guineas were growing up I would put them out in the grass enclosed by a chicken wire and netting fence.  One of the larger Guineas would come watch them and I thought it was because he wanted to help the younglings - boy was I wrong.

Here is a picture of mama Guinea the morning after the heavy rains, eggs seemed to be hatching every 10 minutes or so.

They were so cute and she was so protective, this is why I wanted to move the whole lot to the sheep pen, for their own safety.

Unfortunately it was not to be, mama Guinea was very protective and destroyed my entire plan.

The little ones scattered, they could sure move fast for newborns.

Here are the little ones I caught and placed into the coop with the broody hen.

Note the mesh that I placed across the nest box to keep the keets in with the broody hen - once I caught her and fought off the rooster of course.

The hen was much happier having live keets to snuggle with instead of those fake Easter eggs.

Here is the sheep pen space that I had prepared to house Guinea girl and her brood.

Mama hen was more than happy to take over the renovated quarters.

The poor teen Guineas didn't last long in the coop area once Guinea girl returned with four miraculously lucky keets.  Guinea girl and her mate decided the teens had to go, dead or alive - I chose alive.

So I packed them up and they are now living in the gazebo in a dog crate.  Sorry, that picture will have to wait for later.

The four lucky keets try to stay as close to mom and dad as possible, often causing them to get trampled.

Last night Guinea girl spent the night in the coop, leaving the keets who couldn't climb the ramp outside!  Amazingly Guinea boy called them to him underneath the coop and he cuddled them all night long.

Tonight Guinea girl took the keets out of the safety of the coop and into a nearby woodpile, thereby defeating the rationale behind my move of the broody hen and the move of the teens!  Guinea boy is currently sleeping soundly in the coop, what are the Guineas thinking?  I can't believe they aren't extinct in the wild.