Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guinea Deaths

Warning - this post contains photos of a dead guinea hen.  Turn away if you don't want to see.

We are still recovering from losing 3 guineas this week.  It breaks my heart to see my birds dead.  They were such sweet and friendly birds.  They didn't deserve to be killed like this.

This is the remains of one of the gray female guineas.  Just a bunch of gray polka-dotted feathers.  Her body was never found.

The white female guinea girl was killed just feet from our front door.  I loved that guinea girl.

The white guinea girl's body was found in the woods.  Be believe a fox attacked her and she ran from her attacker and managed to hide under brush where the fox couldn't reach.  Smart bird.  She died from the terrible injuries already inflicted on her.
This is the white guinea girl.  It doesn't bother me to autopsy a bird after it's dead.  It's very sad to know that she suffered before dieing.

Anyway, this is her back.  The feathers were ripped out, and a big hole was ripped into her back.  Ribs were broken.  A bite, or multiple bites, with strong jaws did this damage.

This is her belly.  Feathers were ripped out.  Multiple small bite marks and sharp teeth marks.  A bite mark from a small jaw can be seen, leading us to believe it was a fox.  Lots of subdermal bleeding.

We've setup a radio playing a talk-radio station outside where the guineas sleep and hang out.  We are going to setup live traps.  It's tough because we live in the woods.  There are other animals here.  We can't get rid of all the wild animals.  If a fox doesn't kill the guineas, a great horned owl could, or the raccoons that visit us every night.  This happens every year here. 

On a good note, we still have all those eggs that we collected from our guinea girls...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Three less guineas than last week

Last Monday I blogged about a missing gray female guinea.  She was never found. We assume she was killed and her body taken away.

Monday night another of the gray female guineas was killed.  Feathers were found.  Her body was never found.

Today (Thursday) one of the two white guineas was killed right in our front yard during the day.  We came home from work and found a crime scene.  Sadly, we found the body.  We believe it was the slow white female guinea.  She fought and ran and hid herself under bushes and brush.  She died from the injuries she sustained before running and hiding.  She suffered a terrible and slow death.  Tomorrow we will see for sure which one of the white guineas is still alive and safe in the tree.

An autopsy was performed on the dead bird and we believe determined what is killing the guineas.

More to follow on this horrible breaking news front.  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Results of Missing Guinea Hen Search

The search for the missing guinea hen started yesterday and continued today. 
And look what was found - A guinea nest full of guinea eggs!

It was in a stick pile not too far from the house.

Sadly, the missing guinea hen was not sitting on her nest.  She probably is gone.  Surprisingly, whatever took her didn't disturb the eggs.  Maybe she's off sitting on another nest?  I'm hoping she'll turn up, although it's not likely. 

And now the big question - what to do with all the eggs?  Incubate them? 
Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Missing Guinea Hen

We are missing a guinea hen.  One of the light gray females.  She was a shy bird, she was best friends with the white"slow" female guinea.
White slow guinea female
As background- The "slow" female had a problem at birth, she was slow and didn't act right, started having leg problems, not walking well.  We had a baby guinea like that in our last batch a year before, and it died while still a keet.  After some research we learned it was a vitamin E deficiency!  It was as simple as that!  We fed the white female guinea keet one Vit E capsule a night - cut it open and squirted it into the bird's beak.  She immediately started acting chipper and perky and lived, even though just a few days before we didn't think she would live another day.  However, she didn't gain back her sense that she lost - she still acts slow and not quite there mentally.  None of the other guineas accept her, and she's not mated now that spring is here and all the other guineas have chosen mates.

The missing gray female and the slow white female guinea were inseparable friends, until the gray female chose a mate and the white female didn't choose a mate.  Right now the guineas are all paired up (I call it mated) and first thing every morning the mates go off by themselves in the woods and she lays an egg.  Then  they all meet back up in a group in our front yard and hang as a flock for the rest of the day.  When the female feels there's enough eggs in her nest in the woods, then she'll go sit on them for a month, never leaving, until they hatch.  And it's during that time that life is very dangerous for her.  A fox or raccoon or hawk can easily kill her when she's an easy target, alone, sitting quietly in the woods.  We have never let our guineas raise their own keets, instead we collect their eggs and let a broody chicken hen raise them.  It's dangerous enough for the guineas, I don't want to risk letting a female die like that.

And so this morning I decided to go looking for the missing female guinea hen.  I figured maybe she's alive, sitting, or maybe I'd find a sign that she had been killed, such as a clump of gray feathers or a destroyed nest with broken eggs, or something.  Come along and check out what I saw this morning.
The woods were all wet, it's been a wet couple of days. 

I love this tree - it reminds me of a watercolor painting!  What kind of tree is it?

I continue to look for the guinea, although I notice lots of interesting things to photograph!

This is a field of tiger lilies. They will bloom in the summer.

I did find ONE guinea feather in the woods, but it was from a different colored guinea- one of the darker ones, not the light gray female.  And this was just one feather, not a big deal.

I did not find the missing guinea hen.  The search will have to continue another day...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bee Attack!

Today's Saturday, the day to clean and do chores and run errands and get everything done that doesn't get done during the week.  And Springtime is here, the bugs and the bees have arrived.  I suddenly have watery eyes, I assume it's an allergy to pollen or flowers or something, even though my allergist tells me I have NO ALLERGIES whatsoever.  Whatever, I've been taking Zytec and my eyes are not crying uncontrollably all the time. 


This morning while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, with my eyes closed, I heard a buzzing.  I assumed it was an annoying little stinkbug.  We've been plagued by stinkbugs for the past few years, I'm always vacuuming them up off the floors.  They're not scary, just annoying.  I really hate it when they fly into my face.  They Stink!  They make me grumble and curse the old house.  I have no idea how they get into the old house, but they are everywhere.  First this morning Randy saw Bob, the cat, eating a stinkbug.  Bob's not too smart. 

camel cricket

Anyway, back to the story...I was in the bathroom, leaning over the sink, toothbrush in mouth, I open my eyes, and inches away from my face is the largest bumblebee I've ever seen.  I semi-scream, choke on toothpaste, and run out of the bathroom.  Ok, ok, it was probably a carpenter bee, they don't sting, but it doesn't matter.  There was a monster, fat, black creature walking inches from my face.  It was as big as my fingers are long.  Bees are my weakness.  I don't mind snakes, lizards, crickets, even camel crickets.  I've gotten used to spiders and mice, but bees - no.  I hate them.  I hate that they fly.  I hate that they sting.  They scare me because I can't do either of those things.

Carpenter bees

I hightailed it out of the bee room, closing the door behind me, finished brushing my teeth in another bathroom, and then braved a return.  Sadly, I left my iPod playing an audiobook in the bee-room, and my mouthwash bottle was in there, too.  So, I armed myself with a towel, and opened the door.  The monster bee was flying all around the room.  Goodness, maybe there was more than one?  I quickly closed the door again.  I wasn't ready for flying monster bees, I expected them to be stationary.  I gathered my strength, readied the towel in front of me, and opened the door again.  Silence.  No bees.  I entered the room.  Nothing, no bees, no wings buzzing, only the iPod playing the audiobook.  It was like the scary part of a horror movie before the monster attacks the person.  I grabbed the iPod, turned it off, shoved it in my pocket, and looked around.  Nothing.  I couldn't find a bee anywhere.  Hmmm.  I know it's in there.  I grabbed the mouthwash bottle and left the room, closing the door and turning out the light behind me.

I planned on cleaning that bathroom this morning.  Maybe I'll save that chore till last today...  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Blogger Interface???

OMG, have any of you gone to the new blogger interface?  What do you think of it?  I tried it for a minute and hated every second!  I can't find anything!!!  I guess the page it displayed was the dashboard.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I just returned to blogging from a short hiatus, and I'm not ready for a major change right now.  I need to know how to navigate around my blog, I don't have time to figure this out.  Please tell me what you think, is it that bad?  Have you made the change?  Are we all going to be forced to jump to the dark side eventually? Should I just suck it up and take the plunge and deal?  Or can I stay old fashioned in my old blogger interface, where comfort abides and all is known and friendly?  Help me before I jump! 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Legend of the Little House in the Woods

I love this picture of our cat Shadow. Her name suits her.

Last year we adopted Bobby, another stray cat who appeared outside. He has a tipped her, meaning he came from a feral community. He was cold and hungry, covered in ticks; it was obvious no one was taking care of him. Shadow has the same story, except she had a twin brother, Smoky, with her, and they didn't have tipped ears.  And now, in the past couple weeks, another cat has arrived outside. We believe it's a large female, with a tipped ear. It might be a fixed male, not too sure. But it's a large cat, with big feet. I call her Brindle, to describe her color.  She has a sweet meow.  I'm working on getting her to accept pets from me; right now she's wild and won't come near unless there's food, and even then she stays a few feet away.

Where in the world are all these cats coming from????? Who is dumping them here??? We guess that maybe one of the other farms in the area pick up stray cats from a feral community and dump them in their barns, wanting the cats to be "barn cats" to control mice. Evidently, they don't feed them, and the cats wander away, starving, and find our little house in the middle of the woods, and I'm a kind soul who can't turn away a hungry mouth.

I like to believe in the legend of the little house in the woods.  I think that all the wild animals in the forest tell the cat to find the little old house in the clearing in the woods, that's where the nice people live. They will be fed and if they're lucky, taken in, once they find the little house in the woods. The birds and the woodchucks and the deer and the fox and the coons all know about the little house in the woods and pass on the legend to the lost, alone, and wandering cat.

And so the lost cat wanders in the forest for days, sometimes in the freezing cold.  He eats mice and bugs during his search, some days he eats nothing at all.  The vultures watch him from above, telling him to hurry up and die.  The coons encourage him, telling him to follow the coon paths through the thickest and darkest part of the woods to the house.  All coon paths eventually lead to the little house. 

The cat searches for days and finally comes upon the back barn, haggard and starving, with a matted coat and ticks drinking his blood, too exhausted to bother with cleaning himself. Then he has to make it past Jerry, the guard cat, who according to the legend, lives outside the house but travels sometimes.  Jerry is rumored to love to fight and will defend his property. But sometimes he's not there at the house, he's out fighting in other areas of the woods, and the lost cat is lucky enough to make it to the yard of the little house. 

The fnal test of courage are the guineas who patrol the yard surounding the house.  According to legend, they are a strange dinosaur bird that walks the earth even now, with bony horns on their heads.  They chase everything that moves, they move in a large flock, making them hard to avoid, and they have a horrible cry that may make the lost cat deaf.  The legend says that many animals, even the largest horned deer and the quietest woodchuck, have been chased away by the screaming, charging guineas. 

When the lost cat makes it past all the obsticles and finally arrives at the back porch of the little house in the woods, he is fed and gets milk and praise and love and never wants to leave. And he finds out Jerry isn't that bad after all, he's a little grumpy but actually he just wants a friend to play with, not to fight with. 

I wish I knew the real story behind all the strays, but for now, I'm sticking with the legend of the little house in the woods.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm baaack!

Sorry everyone, I needed a break from the blogging world!  But now I'm back!  And it's gonna be great!  Spring is here, the weather is great so much is going on, my only problem will be finding the time to write it all all!  So get ready and hold onto your seats, it's gonna be an awesome year!

Our winter egg production was down to 7 or 8 eggs a day, from 16 hens.  Still more than I'll ever eat!  Thanks ladies!!!!  Egg production is already starting to rise since the weather's been so nice.

Muffin the rooster has been feeling his oats and has started chasing me and attacking me when I enter the chicken pen.  Silly boy.  I remember from my lessons learned in the past to carry a broom, and he remembers getting swatted with the broom a few times, so he leaves me alone as long as I carry my broom friend.  It's funny that he looks to see if I have the broom or now.  He's too smart...

A baby deer spent a few months in our back yard this winter.  I assume her mother was killed by hunters.  This seems to happen every year.  I guess the mothers bring their babies to our backyard before hunting season a lot.  We have good grass and brush for deers to eat and provide a salt block.  When the mother's are killed, the babies seem to come back here, where they remember.  Luckily, a large number of deer travel through, and the babies join another herd.  If they're lucky, there's another baby deer in that herd so they have a playmate.

This little deer spent a few months with us, she was wasn't afraid to come up to the house, as long as we were inside.  Herds passed through, some even spending a few days out back with her, but she refused to go with them and leave the backyard.  Guess she was waiting for her mother.  Too sad!  Eventually she left with a herd, and we haven't seen her since.
The guineas have been feeling their oats, too.  They've been chasing each other and are pairing up and going off alone in pairs to make nests and lay eggs.  The only prob is that we don't have enough females to go around, so quite a few males don't have mates, and they aren't happy about that.  It seems that each female picks a mate for that season (maybe longer) and they stay together as a couple.  When the weather gets cold again then they all stay together as one flock to deal with winter.  We have a group of guineas that we raised from eggs from the last parent guinea flock.  The parent guineas, all except for 2 males, were killed off by a monster that lived in the woods.  I don't know about these guineas mating, because they all may be related, father and daughter, brother and sister, and these ones aren't that bright, so I can only imagine their children will really not be too bright.  Or maybe it doesn't matter if birds inbreed???  Let me know! 

The guineas are very friendly to us, and greet us every time we are outside.  They hate and attack chickens.  If a chicken gets outside the chicken pen they will eventually kill it by pecking it to death.  Even if I'm out there with it, beside it, they still attack it.  They don't attack cats or people. They love people, people sometimes have treats.  They do attack deer and woodchuck and especially love to chase cars.  Strange birds, these guineas are.  But I love them still.

I could go on and on, but theis is getting long, so I'll save the rest for later!