Monday, May 28, 2012

Turkey Vulture

Today a turkey vulture has been hanging around our house.
That must mean there's something dead nearby.  Great.

I checked, all the guineas are accounted for this morning!
If you follow my blog you know about how I've been losing guineas left and right to foxes.

Since it's not a dead guinea, maybe the Jersey Devil fox keeled over dead.  I mean, it was on it's last leg when I saw it a few days ago.  At least it appeared it may fall over dead at any given second when I saw it, but I'm no fox expert, and that thing was part demon anyway, it may have had super powers to keep it alive.

I thought maybe this turkey vulture visitor was that cute little black vulture baby that was raised in our barn last summer.  If you forgot how cute he was last year, here's a quick pic:

Ok, so we all have different opinions of "cute"...

But while turkey vulture babies look like black vulture babies, the adults don't look alike.  Today's visiting bird was definitely a turkey vulture.  Note the naked red head.  And the vultures that raised their young in my barn last year did not have the naked red head, they were black vultures. 
So there's a new visitor to Razzberry Corner.

Hello there, buddy. 

I like vultures, they are good birds.  They help me with cleanup.
However, I do wonder what's dead outside.  Vultures normally don't visit unless they are getting free dinner.  I walked all around the area where my vulture friend was hanging out this morning, but didn't see or smell anything unusual.  Hmmm...

Maybe he's just coming to say Happy Memorial Day!  I hope.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day holiday, too!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fox Updates

Last Saturday night a fox attacked our guineas and mangled a female.  She survived, somehow, by the Grace of God.  I call her Broken Guinea.  She still is missing much of her feathers, but her wounds have healed and she is able to walk and fly now.  She had a rough few days in the beginning of this week.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out on my back porch and saw the most horrible creature eating cat food.  I have to assume it was a fox, but it certainly didn't look like any fox I've ever seen.  It was all bones and skin.  I have never seen an animal so thin, even on those infomercials on TV asking you to save the animals.  It looked more like something you'd see on a horror movie on TV.  It's jaws were tight, it's lips barely covered it's long fangs.  As it ate the cat food it closed it's bulbous black eyes, appearing to really enjoy the dry kibbles.  It's tail was just a thin stick.  It was missing much of it's fur, but what fur it did have was the color of a red fox.  It looked like I have always imagined the creature called the "Jersey Devil" to look.  It looked like a small demon.  It sent a chill down my spine, and sadly, my heart went out to this creature.  I cannot imagine how any animal could be that hungry, starving even.  Aren't there things for fox to eat out in the woods?  Mice, rabbits, grass, moles, whatever?  Things other than my guineas?  Are there that many fox in my woods that some of them are starving to death?  It was a horrible, sad, sight.  Is it wrong for me to take pity on the monsters killing my poor guineas?  I called Randy over, and he, too, saw the pitiful monster.  He said fox pull out their fur to make dens for babies.  She was gone into the woods before Randy got outside.  I wish I could have gotten a photo of her.


Last night I awoke at 12AM to hear a guinea screaming her death scream.  I'm getting to know that horrible scream well.  Randy and I flew outside and eventually found one of our female guineas flopping around in the backyard.  Her head was all mangled.  She died a few minutes later.  We picked up her body and put it on the front porch where the fox wouldn't get her. 

We looked all around the house for the fox.  We went up in the front yard where the guineas roost and attempted to count how many where in the roosting tree.  It appeared one female and one male were missing.  Something must have chased three of the guineas out of the tree, and onto the ground, where the fox hunt.  And then we heard more guinea screaming from the backyard!

We ran around back to find the fox with "Broken Guinea" in his mouth.  Broken Girl was putting up a huge fight, the brave bird.  This fox was not the Jersey Devil fox that I saw earlier, it was a normal fox.  Somehow, the amazing Broken Guinea Girl, managed to get out of the fox's mouth and flew straight to Randy, knowing that he would protect her.  Randy didn't have a good shot, as he had the guinea in his face, by the time he got around the bird the fox had escaped into the woods.  We collected Broken Guinea, who was terrified to be caught, and locked her up for the night in the infirmary coop.  She was hysterical, which is understandable.  She literally flew out of the jaws of death a second time.

We hunted far and wide, the fox was gone for the night.  Why did he leave the first guinea still partially alive in the backyard?  Maybe just hearing us coming out the door scared him enough to drop her?  We don't know.  In the morning all the guineas were accounted for, minus the dead female.  We let Broken Girl out, as she was hysterical to be cooped up, and the male guineas outside were hysterical listening to her screams in the coop.  Now we have only 6 guineas:  2 females: Broken Girl and her sister, 3 light-gray colored males, and one white male.  Our flock keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Rest in Peace, girl guinea.  I'm sorry.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fox attack!

Guineas in the field
Saturday night we slept with the windows open, as we usually do since the weather is so nice right now.  At exactly 3am we heard a bird screaming bloody murder. 

I asked, "What in the world...?"
Randy replied hurriedly "A female guinea was sitting on the guinea nest!"

I knew what was going on.  There's a guinea nest out in the back yard where the female guineas have been laying their eggs.  Friday night one of them decided to sit overnight on the eggs.  Randy chased her off the nest and she roosted in the tree, unhappily, with the other guineas.  Saturday night he let her sit on her nest.  The nest only has a few eggs, every day we remove the newly laid eggs.  Normally a guinea hen will wait till there's about 40 eggs to start sitting.  But I guess one of the guinea girls wanted to be a mother, even if it's just to a couple babies.  Randy thought that since the nest and eggs had not been disturbed by wild animals in the past month, that maybe it was safe.  Maybe the night creatures didn't know about it, or for sure they would have eaten the eggs by now.

Well, a fox found the nest and the guinea hen.  Guineas are totally blind at night in the dark.  The guinea was easy dinner. 

Randy looked out of an upstairs window and saw the fox trotting off across the backyard, guinea in mouth.  The fox stopped and readjusted his bite on the poor bird, then went through the fence and into the woods, bird in mouth.

Randy quickly ran outside and fired off a couple shots in the night air.  More than a couple.  Luckily we don't have neighbors, as we are out in the woods by ourselves.  Well, we live with the animals, obviously, in their territory.  Anyway, the fox was already into the deep woods, gone from sight.

We quickly ran to the wooded area on the other side of the fence where the fox headed.  We attempted to look for feathers hoping to follow a trail.  We only found 3 feathers, no trail.  It was so very dark.  The woods are so very thick, brush is abundant.  The forest is not just dense trees, it's trees and bushes and grapevines and rosebushes and grass that's waist-high.  I can imagine the ticks.  Spiders had made webs throughout the woods and got on my face and all over me.  The grass and brush was damp with heavy dew.  I quickly was soaked. 

We searched and searched, up close where the bird was last sighted, way deep into the woods.  I attempted to go to every woodchuck hole I could remember in that section of the woods, thinking maybe the fox was now living down there.  No signs of the fox anywhere.  No guinea anywhere.  Way far away I heard dogs barking, yapping.  Maybe they were foxes?  Fox pups getting dinner?  We ran and hunted for an hour through the thick woods, scanning everything with bright spotlights.  The dogs I could hear were so very far away, at least another mile away.  It could have been a neighbor's house, his farm dogs were awoken by our noise miles away.  Dogs are keen, aware of their surroundings, even miles away.  I can't imagine a fox would travel that far for dinner.  But maybe, who knows? 

We woke a flock of wild turkeys.  They gobbled unhappily.  They, too, roost in trees.  A songbird started a solitary song in the thick darkness, awoken by our search.   I wish the bird would be still, so maybe I could hear if the guinea was quietly crying somewhere.  I heard crunching in the leaves in the woods, but discovered it was one of the stray cats, TommyCat, following us through the woods.  TommyCat followed us everywhere, watching from a distance.

The woods are so very thick with underbrush and leaves.  It was so easy to misjudge our location in the dark.  If I didn't know the woods so well it would have been easy to get lost, turned around.  It was SOOO dark.

Finally, at 4AM, we quit the search for the guinea, and Randy, TommyCat, and I turned back for the house.  TommyCat got an early breakfast for his work.  He's new here, but TommyCat fits in well already.

And then, at 7AM, who shows up but the guinea hen!  She is missing a patch of feathers and skin on her back, which is raw and bloodied, she's all wet still, and she's seriously hurting.  She can hardly walk.  But she is hanging in the front yard with the other guineas.  Every time we attempt to get close to her she painfully walks away.  She did eat some bread that we tossed to her, which is a good sign.  She's standing off by herself, but some of the other guineas are attempting to stay close to her.

I can't believe she lived!  Somehow the fox must have dropped her.  Maybe he was frightened by the gunshots and ran for his life, leaving his dinner behind.  I can't believe we didn't find the bird in our search.  I assume our loud and obnoxious presence in that section of woods for an hour kept the fox from coming back and finding the guinea hen, who must have been hidden somewhere in the dense brush. 

Injured guinea girl

Healthy guineas this morning - the one in the center is a female

Guinea boy sitting in driveway - possible mate to injured guinea

I don't know if the injured guinea hen is able to fly, if she'll be able to roost with the other guineas tonight.  If not, I'll go catch her after dark and lock her up in the infirmary coop.  I wish I could catch her before, but I know that's not possible, and I don't want to hurt her by making her run from me.  If I catch her I'll treat her wounds and assess her for broken bones and give her aspirin water for pain. Poor bird.  I hope she lives.  She's probably in shock now. 

Injured guinea girl on left - white guinea boy to the right

This last picture shows the injured guinea girl in the upper left.  She's a pearl gray color - darker with spots. To the right of her is the guinea waterer, then there's the white guinea boy to the right of the waterer.  The white boy has been near her all morning.  To the right more, in the middle of the driveway, is a lavender male guinea.  He's stayed nearby the injured female, too, but further away than the white boy.  I think the lavender male was her mate.  I think the white male may just want to take advantage of her.  Hopefully the lavender boy keeps the white boy from making any moves on his wife while she's in this condition.  And then there's some of the other guineas in the grass.

I bet that's the last time this guinea hen thinks about wanting babies.
I'll keep you informed if she survives.  She's lucky to be alive.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Candling guinea and chicken eggs again

We've been incubating guinea and chicken eggs for the past 3 weeks.
Finally, the wait is almost over!
On Monday, tomorrow, our chicken eggs are supposed to hatch!
And the guineas should hatch the week after.
However, we candled all the guinea and chicken eggs last night, and determined that most, if not all, of the eggs are just egg yolk. 
So sad.  Something must be wrong with out incubator.

And so, this morning we had an egg burial. We cracked open the eggs in a small dugout out in the woods.  As we expected, they were just yolk.  No babies even started to form.  They were buried.
The last batch of bad incubated eggs I buried less than a month ago was dug up by a wild animal, probably a fox or coon, but who knows. 

This property is abundant with wildlife, that's for sure.  I do have some disturbing news about wild animals around here, but that'll have to wait till tommorrow's post, I don't want to overwhelm you, since I don't post much these days!  Life does go on, and my posting doesn't always keep up.
We did save about 7 chicken eggs and 4 guinea eggs that looked different during the candling process; they are still in the incubator.  We figured we'd give them a few more days, but, honestly, from the candling results, I don't think they are fully formed chicks.  I'm getting good at candling and knowing when it's nothing.

We haven't had a broody chicken hen in quite a while.  No hen wants to sit on eggs, or we would have put some of the incubating eggs under her.  I guess that'll be the last time we try to use the incubator.  It just doesn't work for us.  If one of the hens should go broody this summer we'll let her raise babies.  Until then, no chicks for us! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Somebody Please STOP!

...Dropping off stray cats!
It isn't funny.

First I got Jack, but that was at another house, so I can't complain.  He was a stray, but he's a darling, and I am so very happy he chose me, because I certainly didn't choose him.  I didn't want another cat when he found me.

Then I moved to Razzberry Corner, and picked up two more strays through the years, Shadow and Bob.  They both suffered through freezing winters outside.

Shadow isn't very photogenic.  In real life she's a beautiful, shiny, well-muscled, black cat with big expressive golden eyes and a cute smiling mouth.  Her coat is black with dark brown tones.  She has a strong personality and fits well with Jack.  None of this comes across in her photos. 

Bob is the new man.  He is still shy, although he likes pets.  He is finally starting to adjust to life inside.  He refused to look at me for the photo, although his ears showed that he was listening.  I always say Bob was raised by a woodchuck - he used to live in woodchuck holes outside and still prefers dark places to hide.

And of course there's Jerry, who is the best outside cat ever.  I still cannot pet him.  He is forever feral.  But that doesn't stop him from coming up for food.  He was here before I moved to Razzberry Corner.

And now there's Brindle and TommyCat.
TommyCat looks like he could be Bob's brother.  He's tall and thin and sleek and black.  He lets me pet him in exchange for food, although he prefers not to be touched.

Brindle is a large brindle-colored female cat who has a tiny sweet voice and after a few weeks of attention and work, she now loves to be pet.  Brindle travels with a pack of raccoons and eats out of the same bowl as coons.  It seems like she was raised by coons or something.  She gets angry when I pet TommyCat in front of her, as she wants all my pets.  I haven't photographed Brindle, as it's always dark when she arrives at the back porch with her coon family.

Anyway, I do not need anymore cats.  It's good that I have inside cats, as they do catch the mice that get inside.  I have not had any mouse problems since I got Shadow and Bob.
But Brindle, TommyCat and Jerry live outside and will not come in, no way, no more cats inside.  NO. MORE. CATS.
But I can't keep them from showing up outside.
Who is bringing them here?

Oh, I thought I'd throw in a shot of a opossum that came by the other day.  She had at least one baby in her pouch which fell out when she was eating.  I could see it's little feet underneath her.  It scampered back inside her pouch before she left the bowl.  Soon it will be on her back.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weathervane/Lightening Rod

Follow the's points us in the right direction...

Just thought I'd show one of the weather vanes/lightening rods on our roof....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Random Rambling from the Corner

This is just a short post, I don't have anything exciting to talk about, so I'll ramble about the going's on here at Razzberry Corner for just a minute.

The photos aren't the clearest shots, but I thought they are cute.  That's Shadow, Jack and Bob, from left to right.

The guinea hens have continued to use their new nest in my backyard, so I've been collecting guinea eggs every day.  We have 3 guinea hens. 

I candled all the eggs in the incubator yesterday.  They've been incubating a week now.  The guinea eggs don't look like there's anything in them.  They look just like the last batch of guinea eggs that didn't hatch, to be exact.  But all the chicken eggs looked like they had chicks in them.  I don't know what's going on with our guineas. 

Today I made some chocolate chip walnut cookies from the DoubleTree Hotel cookie recipe I found online.  They are to-die-for when they are warm.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guinea Nest

Do you remember a few days ago I posted about when I went to go check my wild asparagus patch, and I saw a lone guinea out in my back yard? 

A few of you guinea experts commented how that was odd, a lone guinea.  Guineas always travel in flocks.

How true you all are!!!

...Unless that guinea has a mate.
...With a nest full of eggs.
Then the guinea boy will stand nearby while his mate lays her egg or sits on the nest. 

And so I went to go check out what was going on beside the fence where the guinea was standing guard.  Let's see what's behind all this tall grass...

Yes, there it is!  The guinea nest!!!
I have 3 female guineas and 5 male guineas.  The females always lay their eggs in the same nest. 
After they feel they have enough eggs they will sit on them, and that's when it's dangerous, because the female guinea will sit out all night on the ground.  And foxes and raccoons and other night monsters may find her.  Guineas are blind in the dark. 

So far, my guinea girls don't think they have enough eggs in this nest, because they aren't sitting yet.
There were 32 eggs.


I collected 26 eggs.  Sorry girls, I don't want you to sit.

I left 6 eggs to encourage the guinea hens to continue to use this nest.  Maybe they will not notice they have 26 less eggs?
If they continue to use this nest maybe I can continue to collect their eggs.  But usually once I touch their eggs they move their nest.

You know what I'm doing with these guinea eggs, don't you? 
My last attempt at hatching guinea eggs was a major failure, so I've got to try again!

Isn't it pretty?
I filled in the extra spots in the egg incubator with chicken eggs, so I have a full incubator going.  The chicken eggs will hatch before the guinea eggs, but that's ok, I'll deal with that in 3 weeks!
Keep your fingers crossed for me this time!