Sunday, January 31, 2010

Albino Hawk

This past week I saw a pure white hawk!!  I saw it on the road, eating roadkill.  I pulled my car over real quick and pulled out my cell phone and snapped a few pictures before it took off.  They're not the best pictures, but Iwas lucky to catch what I could. 

Last December we saw this pure white bird in the distance on a tree branch - we couldn't make out if it was a white hawk or owl.  It seemed so white, like it was glowing.  But now I know what it is.

As I drove away I was able to see the bird at a closer range, and I saw it was a hawk.  Pure white, no color whatsoever. Black eyes. Now that I know it's out there I will be looking more. I assume it's an albino hawk, I never heard of any type of white hawk in this area, nor do my bird books. It looked like a red-tailed hawk, which is common here, only it was white.  I don't think albino hawks are too common here in Maryland, either.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Broken-Toe Chicken Update

Just a quick update on the chicken with a broken toe who has moved into my living room.  Yes, you read that right, she's living in my living room.  In the chicken infirmary, which is a large glass fish tank.  She broke her toe a week ago tomorrow. 

Based on intel from Danni at Critter Farm who knows a couple chicken gurus who deal with chicken issues on a much more regular basis, I started the hen on water with aspirin for pain, then a day later I taped her toe straight.  Previously she was holding the toe curled up in the wrong direction, which made walking near impossible.  The hen didn't mind the taping as much as I thought she would, and has been using the foot with the broken toe for balance, which is a step in the right direction.  But she still isn't walking well at all; she spends a lot of time lying down.  I tried to put her back with the other chickens, but they thought the tape on the toe was really odd and needed pecked, so she's back healing by herself in my living room.  She visits the other chickens now only with human supervision to keep the others from pecking her.  The goal is to get that toe healed up as straight as possible, get the tape off, and get her out of my house ASAP.  In the meantime, the hen has been enjoying XM Radio and Satellite TV.  She loves to snuggle with me on my lap on the couch; Jack the cat is jealous that she took his spot.  Shadow, the other cat, often thinks about chicken dinner.     

Thanks to everyone for the assitance and guidance with my chicken issues.  I sometimes feel like this is an online family - it's pretty cool to know you guys!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guinea Update

Just a quick update on the run-away Guinea fowl...

One of our Guineas flew away on Friday, 15 January.  We looked for him Saturday morning, then later in the evening, at twilight on Saturday, we saw him down the dirt road in the neighbor's yard!  We guided towards our house, and he almost made it half the distance towards the chicken coop where he sleeps.  He was running at a VERY FAST rate - I couldn't keep up with him on foot, but at least he was going in the right direction!

Then he startled a herd of deer, which ran across his path and directed him in the wrong direction.  He took off flying in the wrong direction, and then he was gone.  We haven't seen him since.  Maybe one day in the future he'll make another appearance...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Accidents

We've had some hurt chickens in the past couple days.  First of all, Li'l Puff, who has started more fights with the rest of the flock than anyone else, got a bloody wing.  Obviously, someone didn't put up with his attitude and showed Puff who was boss.  As we have learned, if there's blood on a chicken, the others will peck, so Puff spent a night healing inside the house, in the chick infirmary, got a bath, and recovered fully.  He's now back with the flock, but is a little more quiet than before.

His bloody wing wasn't bad - we caught it right after it happened.  You can hardly even notice it in this picture.

Then, one of the few hens we have got a broken toe.  We have no idea how it happened - there's nothing dangerous in the coop or in the outside chicken pen.  This appears to be much more serious an injury, as she appears to be in bad pain and makes a horrible moan all the time now.  One toe is all twisted sideways, the foot is swelled, and she can't walk on it.  She does eat, but other than that she just lays in the corner of the coop all the time.  She will not go outside, she doesn't move other than to eat.  It's been broken 2 days now.  That sad cry she makes breaks my heart.  What can be done for a chicken with a broken toe???


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Guinea Fowl Saga

We got 5 guinea keets last October, and have watched them grow from cute little peepers into strange looking, loud birds.

Oct 17, 2009

Jan 8, 2010

We got the guineas to keep down the ticks in our yard.  We were told guineas are great tick-removers, and we have a bad tick problem here in Maryland, especially those tiny deer ticks.  We were told if the guineas were raised with chickens they would protect the chickens and get along with them fine.

We had a tough time finding guinea keets, but managed to get just 5 from an Amish farmer, who threw in a Leghorn chick for free.  So our 5 guineas were raised right along side with our chickens.  We had gotten 25 chicks and a hen a few days prior to getting the guineas and leghorn. 

We haven't had much luck with guineas.  One of them was killed one frightful day in the chicken coop by the hen, Freckles.  Freckles hated the guineas from day 1.  The guineas hated her, too.  Enemies right from the beginning.  Eventually, as everyone got bigger and started going outside, out of the coop, they all became friends.  I think the problem was that Freckles was defending her chicks.  When the chicks got big, then Freckles stopped worrying about them and therefore stopped hating the guinea fowl.  Now they all get along fine.   

One of the guineas has deformed legs and has a problem walking.  She sort of limps around.  She's been like that ever since she was a baby.  But she does get around fine, even though she is smaller than the other guineas, so she's still with the flock.  The small guinea is on the right in this picture.

As the guineas grew, we realized that we have 3 males and 1 female.  The female is the small one who limps.  Great.  The males grew strange bumps on their heads and make a loud squawking noise.  They notify everyone when something strange is in the area (such as if a songbird flies near the chicken pen, or if I sneak up and startle them in the pen, or if I try to grab one to cuddle with him).

Up close pic of that head bump on the male guineas


All the guinea fowl have the most beautiful blue eyes.  And the most ugly heads.


Guinea standing on the flock block (seed block) inside the coop

Sadly, just yesterday one the guineas flew away.  He flew over the chicken fence, and kept going deep into the woods.  Randy tried to find him, but he was gone.  He didn't come back last night, and we didn't find him during our search today.  We haven't let our birds free-range yet, and didn't plan on it until the weather is a little warmer and the birds are older (they're only about 3 months old now).  In the mean-time, everyone got a wing trim today.

If anyone in MD finds a stray guinea fowl, let us know!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who's the most handsome rooster?

Li'l Puff thinks "he's all that".  He has requested I remove the "Li'l" from his name and call him "Puff", because he's a big, bad rooster.  He's approximately 3 months old now.  He crows all the time, more than the big Leghorn rooster, Leggy.  Puff's voice is still tiny and squeaky, but he thinks it's just fine.  Puff doesn't really notice much difference between his crows and Leg's crows, although behind his back all the hens laugh at his high-pitched voice.  He "peeps" still - all the time.  None of the other chickens make that peeping sound still, except for Puff.  Everyone else is developing their adult chicken voices, but Puff is still stuck with a high-pitched "peep".  He's constantly strutting his stuff in the chicken coop, although he's smaller than many of the other chickens.  Puff believes his "hair" is so sexy; he appears to have moussed it up.  None of the other chickens have a puffy head, and they don't really like his 80's puffy look, but he doesn't notice.  Puff has picked a fight with every other rooster and most of then hens.  He lost most of the fights.  But in his mind, he was just being nice and giving them a chance to win a fight.  Puff still likes to snuggle with me, and loves his puffy feathers to be puffed up even more.  He's the toughest, roughest, little baby rooster with a puffy head. 

Puff standing tall to crow

Rear view of that puffy head

Puff and Betty, the black hen

I believe Puff is a Polish mix, but I'm not really sure.  He is all white, most always has red eyes in photos, and has pinkish legs/feet.  He may be strange-looking, but I like having a unique chicken, and he certainly keeps me entertained! 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Look Who's Back

In the end of December, we were visited by Little Deer, who hung out in our backyard for several days.  Because he was all alone, I was worried that he lost his mother to a hunter.  He was so small, why are fawns born so late in the year?  All the other deer that I've seen have been bigger than Little Deer.

Anyway, Little Deer hung out in our backyard for about a week, then he was gone.  Saturday he came back, leading a herd of does and fawns to our backyard.  He went straight to his favorite grass spot and showed them where the good grass is.  It was nice to see him again.  The herd had seven deer, including Little Deer.  Only two were does, the rest babies.

Here's most of the herd, taken from my kitchen window.  Little Deer is closest to me, near the left, head down.

Here's Little Deer looking at me.  His friend is a little bigger and is a baby buck - he has little horn bumps.

You can tell they are whitetail deer.  In this pic you can really see the horn bumps on the other baby.

Here's one of the does looking right at me.

This small herd of deer stayed in our backyard for over an hour, then a much larger herd of does and babies joined them.  The fawns romped and played together, chasing each other all over the yard.  It's nice to see wildlife so close. 

This is the reason we have to fence in our garden in the summer!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Fence

We put up fence a few months ago around our chicken area, but I realized I never actually mentioned it on the blog.  It was quite a project, and therefore deserves a quick mention! 

We wanted a fenced in area adjacent to the chicken coop for when we didn't want the chickens to free range.  We wanted it for when the chickens needed some protection and we didn't want them loose on the property.  We also figured we'd probably have some baby chicks in the future which we would want to stay safe.

First we dug an 8 - 10 inch trench where the fence would be placed.  Wooden fence posts were buried in the trench using metal fence spikes.

Heavy duty 7 foot high fence was  secured to the posts.

Steel rebar was buried in the trench to keep animals from digging under the fence.

Wire was secured to the back of the chicken coop to keep animals from going under the coop to enter the fenced in area.  Rebar was also buried in this trench we dug behind the coop.

Then concrete was poured into the trench under the fence, covering the rebar.  The fence wire was buried in the concrete. 

No animals will be digging under this fence!

Next up we need to put the ceiling on the chicken run.  The weather has gotten so cold, which has put this project on hold for a few months.  In the meantime, we've been letting the chickens into the fenced area, but only when we are home.  We know we have hawks and owls everywhere (just yesterday a barred owl was in our backyard sitting on a fencepost), and we know they wont hesitate to steal one of our little chickens for their dinner.  Our little pullets and cockerels and guineas are only a little over 2 months old now, they still are not full-size, although we do have one adult hen.

We'll keep you posted as we complete this project...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sand in the feathers

What is the best thing ever to get rid of cold winter afternoon blues?
A sand bath, of course!!

Our hen Freckles just loves her sand baths.  None of the other chickens have taken to enjoying the dirt like Freckles. 

Golden Squash Pie

Golden Squash Pie

The other day, when my mother was visiting, we decided to make a pie.  A few weeks before we made apple and pumpkin pies, so we wanted something different.  I had gotten Mom a cookbook for Christmas - Taste of Home Winning Recipes.  I love Taste of Home cookbooks; I have the original cookbook and use it all the time.

So we leafed through the cookbooks and came up with Golden Squash Pie from the Winning Recipes book.  It was made from butternut squash, one of my favorites...  We whipped it up in no time - it was easy to make...

And the pie was absolutely delicious.  Even my sister, Cheryl, liked it.  I liked extra nutmeg on it. 

Mom took her cookbook home with her, and I had gotten attached to that cookbook.  It contained recipes my cookbook didn't have.  Better recipes.  Of course, the grass is always greener...  So I thought I'd have to call her and have her look up recipes for me every now and then.  But then today I looked online, and sure enough, I found Taste of Home recipes on their website.  Too cool!  Who needs a cookbook when we have the internet? 

Here's the Golden Squash Pie recipe found here:  I cut the recipe in half to make only one pie instead of two.

12-16 Servings
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour

4 eggs
4 cups mashed cooked butternut squash
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
Ground nutmeg, optional

In a bowl, combine the eggs, squash, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients; add to the squash mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into pastry shells. Cover edges loosely with foil.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 25 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with nutmeg if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2 pies (6-8 servings each).

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 295 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 349 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cold paws

Randy took Jack out for a walk early this morning in the fresh snow which we got last night.  Jack is always so excited to go outside, but he hates snow so much.  When Jack went outside & realized he'd actually have to walk in the cold snow, he changed his mind & requested to go back inside before he even stepped a paw off the porch.  But Randy "explained" to him that he had to take the time (about a minute, actually) to get him dressed up in his outdoor gear (his halter and leash), and so they were going out for a walk, snow or no snow.  So Randy drug the unhappy cat out for a VERY short walk in the snow.  Jack was ready to turn back after 20 steps - here he is pulling Randy back towards the house, with anger and hatred glowing in his eyes. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fortune Cookie fortune

Got this in my fortune cookie the other day:

It is better to have a hen tomorrow than an egg today