Monday, November 25, 2013

Yummm - Warm Water!

Thanksgiving week is upon us! 

Yesterday I went out to feed the birds their grains/feed.  The guineas are starving now, I have to feed them since there's no bugs around for them to find on their own.  As soon as I walk outside they come running to me.  I give them chicken food, plus they love scratch grain.  Their special treat is bread.  They love them some bread.  We buy cheap white bread for their bread treat.

As I was filling the chicken feeders I realized all the chicken waterers were frozen.  It was about 11 degrees F out yesterday with the wind chill.  It was bitter cold.  Odd - because last Friday it was 64 degrees F.  This weather...  Anyway, it was about 8am, the chickens had not been without water for long.  But they all told me they were going to DIE of thirst.  When I looked at the waterer and kicked it (lightly!) with my boot to attempt to determine how deep the ice was, the chickens all attempted to peck it, too.  They were telling me they might die of thirst since their waterer appeared to be not providing water when they demanded.  Chickens can be very demanding.  You don't know these things unless you have chickens.

I made sure the heat lamps were running inside the coops and lugged the 2 waterers inside the 2 coops and put them under the lamps.  I can't open the waterers, Randy really closes them tight.  If I could open them I would have lugged boiling water out in buckets and dumped it on top of the frozen water.  Because I was paying attention to the waterers, the chickens were, too.  They watch everything I do and have to be involved. Too involved.  They always are under my feat, reaching into my pockets to see what I have in there, wanting to be sitting on my lap if I'm squatting down.

Muffin remembered his fight with me from Saturday - he's a smart bird.  He immediately stood up to me and fluffed his neck. 
"Are you ready for this?" he asked. 
I ignored him, I was busy moving the frozen waterer.
"I'm gonna kick your @#!" Muffin hollered at me. 
He attacked my calf with his spurs when my back was turned.  Damn bird.  I ignored him, luckily I had rubber boots on that went up to the knees.  I swung the waterer around so it was between he and I.  He realized I wasn't in the mood to fight and stopped with his fight. Hmmm, if I show no fear, but ignore him, he stops before he gets too worked up.  I'll have to remember that.

Once I got the waterers inside the coop the chickens continually attempted to drink the frozen water.  So I had to setup 2 additional waterers for them, inside the coop under the heat lamps.  I lugged warm water out to the coop in buckets and dumped it into the new waterers in front of the chickens.  Luckily we have extra waterers.  You'd think the chickens had not had a drink in days - everyone gathered around the water gulping and holding their beaks in the air to swallow.  Over and over they gulped.  Muffin came and clucked his call for food to ensure all the hens knew to come and partake.  Ahhh, warm water for the chickens.  Steam was coming off the water since it was so cold out, although the water wasn't that hot.  I should have put some tea in their water and we all could have had a tea break.  I went inside and had some hot tea myself.

It's the simple things that we give thanks for here at Razzberry Corner. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fox Attack

Last night there was yet another fox attack on the guineas.  Normally it's a red fox which attacks the birds, but this time it was a grey fox.

The below pictures are of a grey fox and a red fox.  They are not the same animals that attacked our guineas.  Grey fox are larger than red fox - we were surprised to see one.  We have so very many red fox - our guinea flock rarely survives a year with the red fox and hawks around here.

Just so you know, the fox in those photos look so much prettier than the fox around our house.  Most of our fox appear to be sickly and have mange and look terrible.  These photos actually make fox look cute.

Last night a sickly-looking, stinky grey fox came right up on our back porch, right where I sit on my chair out there.  He nosed around, then went around the front of the house and started hunting the guineas which were in the front yard.  We saw the fox on the back porch and watched as the fox picked out an unsuspecting guinea for his dinner.  The guineas never even saw the fox - such stupid birds.

The fox didn't survive the hunt.  We are allowed to kill a fox that is killing our livestock.  All guineas lived to see another day.   

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chicken Update

Yikes  - time flies!  I have been busy with work, travel, family, etc.  I come back here to the blog and realize it's been over a month since my last post!  I'm sorry!

Things are crazy as usual here on the farm...

Randy loves chicks and chickens decided to hatch some eggs - yet again!  Yes, it's Nov.  I didn't want to have baies, but he really wanted to.  And so, the chicks are due in Dec.  We have the always-broody Charlotte sitting on the eggs.  He wanted to hatch some full-blooded Americauna chicks.  Muffin, the rooster, is Americauna.  After the autumn molt one of the hens, Virginia, who's also Americauna, started laying again.  It's been a while since she laid.  Or so Randy believes it's Virginia who's laying. I get confused now-a-days, unless I actually watch the hen lay.  All the new pullets which were hatched this year are now laying - we average a dozen eggs or more a day now!

Lucy was ill for a few weeks.  She's my favorite little bantam hen.  She's 4 years old now.  Most of the bantams from her clutch have all passed away - those little hens just don't live very long.  Lucy was getting a few drops of antibiotic water every day and was hand fed to ensure she ate every day for about a week.  Now she's doing great.  I'm happy she made a recovery - I wasn't ready for her to pass away.  She hasn't laid in over a year.  Only one of the hens from her clutch is still laying, Chloe.  Chloe lays every day.  It's just a tiny egg.  Chloe is a sweetie.

I just gave the chickens some spaghetti mixed with frozen peas.  I cook the spaghetti and throw in peas a min before I drain it.  I try to give the birds treats when I can.  I'm not home a lot - they haven't had a treat other than their regular chicken food since last weekend.  The birds all got so excited while I was feeding them - almost too excited...

While I was giving the birds the treats I took Charlotte off her nest/eggs to force her to move about for a minute.  She ran around screaming and flapping in the pen.  She immediately got in a fight with her sister, Cheryl.  Charlotte always loses the fights with Cheryl, who is very mean to Charlotte.  Charlotte ended up with a torn and bleeding wattle.  Poor girl.  She's back on the nest again.  I'll have to check on her to make sure the bleeding has stopped.  I'll put sugar on it if it hasn't stopped.

Then Muffin got in a fight with one of the other young roosters.  Muff wouldn't let the other roosters eat.  I was a fool and got between the fighting roosters.  The young cockerel ran away and took the opportunity to eat spaghetti.  Muffin raised all his neck feathers at me.  Stupidly, I raised my boot at him - which means I wanted to fight him.  The thing about Muff is that he will not stop fighting until the other bird/person loses the fight and runs away.  Then he crows announcing he's the winner.  Showing Muffin the bottom of my boot is a fighting gesture to him, I have no idea why.  To him I'm fluffing my neck feathers and standing up to fight.  He attached my boot many many times with his spurs.  He's strong and almost knocked me down, since I had to keep 1 foot up to fend him off me.  I grabbed onto a support post in the middle of the chicken pen.  I hopped on one foot, bumping into hens as they ran around eating, trying to shoo them out of my way so I could hop to the gate, all the while Muffin was attacking my raised foot.  Finally a few hens got in between Muff and I and I took the opportunity to run for the gate.  I heard him crowing as I got to the gate.  Yes, I ran, you won, Muffin.  Next time I will not get in the middle of a rooster fight.  Or I will carry my broom.

Here's a pic of Muffin raising his neck feathers - it was taken back in early Oct.  He's the black bird right in the center - it's not a clear photo.

As I mentioned, the pullets and cockerels that hatched this year are so big now.  Pickles is a rooster, sadly.  He's GORGEOUS and we're considering keeping him as the second rooster, with Muff being the first rooster.  We'll see with Pickles, he has to show us he's smart.  Big Bird is also a rooster, and is extremely smart.  But he's too BIG.  Having him as a rooster would be dangerous for the hens (during mating).  The 2 black cuckoo maran/Americauna mixed pullets are still totally black with no comb.  They are beautiful.  I've never seen a jet black chicken with no comb before I saw them.

Little Red is a Rhode Island Red pullet - I love her to death.  She's a talker and never stops chattering.  I especially love her because she was a reject chick.  Pickles was a reject chick, too.  The 3rd bird from the reject chick group hasn't been named yet - she's a beautiful brown and red Americauna pullet who's VERY shy.  I have to name her real soon.

Have a great weekend and a HAAPY THANKSGIVING!!!!