Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mink in Maryland

Who knew there was mink in Maryland? 
This week a mink was killed by a car out on the main road in front of our house.  Randy happened to be driving by right after the mink's ill-fated accident.  He checked the mink to see what it actually was and if it was still alive.  It had died.  At first he wasn't sure what it was because we didn't think we had mink in this area, but after some quick research from the Maryland Department of Natural Resource (DNR) webpages we determined it was, in fact, a mink.

From the MD DNR webage:

Mink are small cylinder shaped animals ranging from approximately 19-30 in., and 1.5 - 4 lbs. Males tend to be 1.5 times larger than females. Their fur is short and glossy and can vary from light brown to almost black. They also possess white chin and/or chest patches that vary in size from individual to individual. Mink are semi-aquatic and utilize all types of quality wetlands within their range. They frequent suitable bodies of water ranging from fresh and brackish marshes to farm ponds and fast moving trout streams. Dependent on seasonal availability, mink prey upon birds, small mammals, fish, amphibians, and crustaceans. 

I certainly wouldn't call this area "quality wetlands", although there is a stream/small river which runs through the area.  I'm going to have to take the ATV out to see if there's any water left in the little river - maybe this weekend.  The mink in the area, if there are any more left, are probably hating the dry hot summer even worse than we are!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Old Western Saloon

Recently Randy built a single story saloon building for some friends down the street.  It's a one-room building which looks like an old western saloon - complete with the tin roof!  They plan on using it as a entertainment room - sort of an extension of their house with a wild wild west theme.

I loved how it looked and thought it deserved a post on the blog, even though it doesn't really have to do with our property!  I can just picture a cowboy coming out of this saloon with a drink in his hand after a long day of robbing banks and riding horses.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bring on the Chicks!

Starting on Saturday, June 24th, and ending on Monday June 26, eight chicks were born here at Razzberry Corner!  Two mama hens sat on the eggs the entire 3 weeks and are very proud mamas, Betty and Charlotte.  This batch of eggs we tried to write on the egg which hen laid it, so we know who is the real mama.  I love to study genetics and find it very interesting to see which character traits are carried forward in babies.  They're still young so I can't detect any traits now, but I will be looking as they grow and age.

Anyway, without further delay, here are the pictures.  Charlotte is the blonde mama and Betty is the black mama.

Charlotte has 1 golden baby and 3 striped chicks.

Betty has 1 white chick, 1 golden, and 2 striped.  Sadly, we didn't get any more black chicks because Betty was broody which means she was not laying when we collected and saved the eggs. 

Charlotte is still sitting one one guinea egg.  Guinea eggs take a week longer to hatch than chicken eggs.  We don't even know if the guinea egg is viable, but we figured we'd try and see if it hatched.  It came from our adult guinea hen, who spends all her time in the company of our adult male guinea.  But I don't think Charlotte will sit much longer on the egg now that the chicks are hatched.  We have enough guinea keets already, but I thought it would be nice to have another darker guinea keet (all our keets are blue/white or white, while our adults are pearl gray and royal purple - both dark colors).  Possibly if another hen becomes broody in the next few days we'll give her the 1 guinea egg, although it has less than a week to go if it hatches.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guinea and Chick Update ~ Teenagers

The chicks are now 39 days old today.  They are teenagers!  There are 2 gray chicks, one golden brown, one yellow and one black.  I'm sure the black one is a son/daughter of Betty, our black hen (pictured below).  He looks just like her, except he has a black comb.  His comb and wattles are larger than the other chicks, I think he may be a cockerel.  Time will tell!

The yellow chick used to be the largest, but now the others have caught up.  I think the golden brown chick is very pretty with her gray eyes.

I didn't get a picture of one of the gray chicks today, she was too fast for me.  The one gray one I photographed above has a large comb.  The other one doesn't have that large a comb yet.  All the chicks except the black one have gray eyes, which is unique because the pullets and roosters all have brown eyes.

The chicks have been totally integrated into the flock for several weeks now.  Their mama hen, Zoner, has already stopped caring for them.  Zoner is also trying to lay eggs again.

The guinea keets are now 52 days old today.  They also are in that teenager phase.  There are 7 light blue/grey keets and 1 all white keet.

The keets are very active little guys, it's tough to get a picture of them.  They like to stick together and walk around in a guinea keet group.  The adult female guinea hen is in the photo below, so you can see the keets are still small compared to her.  And the adult male guinea is a little larger than the female.

Bella, the adopted mama hen, has already moved on and doesn't mother her keets anymore.  The keets still follow her around if given the opportunity.  Bella has already started laying eggs again.

If you looked closely at the small picture of Betty in this post, you may have noticed a little newborn chick in the picture.  Your eyes didn't fool you, there were new chicks born this weekend!  My next post will provide an update on the newbies to the flock!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Monday

What's better on a hot summer Monday than strawberry shortcake to start the week out right? 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Georgetown Cupcake

One of the great things about living real close to Washington DC is Georgetown Cupcake!
Georgetown Cupcake is DC's destination for gourmet cupcakes!

They were GREAT
They were worth the 15 minute wait in line to get in the building. 
The above cupcake is called Vanilla Birthday:  Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake topped with a traditional sweet vanilla buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

Here's the menu:

I want to try them all!

Here's a link to their webpage:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Actual Guinea Fowl Sounds

Are you ready to hear what Guinea fowl really sound like? 
This is them, in action, all pissed off at my camera!

The male is the spotted one, he's pearl gray in color. 
The female is royal purple, she's darker than her partner. 

They did not like me videotaping them!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bumblefoot in Chickens

This is Raspberry.  She is 9 months old, as are most of our chickens.  She is our largest pullet, lays the largest light brown, almost white eggs, and is very friendly.

Raspberry has developed bumblefoot in both her feet.  Bumblefoot is when the bottom of the foot becomes swelled and infected.  A scab (bumble) will appear on the bottom of the pad of the foot.  None of our other chickens have this issue, just Raspberry.  She shows no signs of pain in her feet at all, she still jumps and runs, absolutely no limping or slowing down. 

Her left foot was worse than her right, so we decided we'd better treat her, as we didn't want her going lame.  We figured we'd start with the left foot, and when that one got better we'd treat her right foot.

We started by soaking her feet in warm water to clean them, then put antibiotic ointment on her left foot and wrapped it as shown in this video.  Raspberry is very calm and it is relatively easy to wrap her foot.  We did this for 3 days, re-wrapping it every day with a fresh bandage.  During the day she ran outside with the other chickens with her bandaged foot. 


After 3 days of being wrapped with antibiotic ointment, her left foot was very soft and the black bumble scab came off the bottom of her foot.  Puss came out, and we cleaned it again, covered the wound in antibiotic ointment, bandaged it, and let her loose.  She ran around as if it didn't hurt at all.  A week later the foot has all healed and has no bumble (scab) on the bottom.  The bottom pad of her foot still looks swelled up, so we are still treating it and wrapping it every day.
After her daily treatments we reward Raspberry with a variety of treats, from corn (her favorite) to cut up cooked liver, broccoli, or anything else we happen to have available.  I think she looks forward to her treat time every evening.  And she still lays eggs for us every morning. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chicken Carrot Tonic

In the past few weeks, the heat (100 degree F temps every day) and humidity and long summer days and the roosters all have all been taking a toll on our poor hens.

Two hens are broody - Charlotte and Betty. There are usually 2 broody girls, it seems. Why is that that some chickens never get broody, others can't not be broody?

Two are not laying after recently raising babies - Bella and Zoner. Zoner is still in the process of raising her chicks.

That leaves 8 good laying pullets and 1 older hen (Freckles) who lays sporadically.  But we started to only get 3 or 4 eggs a day, when we used to get 8 eggs a day from our ladies.

Then one hen came up lame in one foot - Singer. We have no idea what happened and couldn't find any injury to her leg or foot. She just started limping very badly.  Here's a video of Singer. Brownie the rooster is doing a dance for her. He thinks he's sexy. Singer doesn't think he's sexy. Poor lame girl.

 Then Raspberry started getting bumblefoot. (We ended up treating her foot, and more will be posted in the future about Raspberry and her bumblefoot issues.)

So we decided it's time for the carrot tonic to give our chickens a much needed boost.
Danni at Critter Farm originally told me about carrot tonic:


6 carrots (leave the peel on)
1 clove garlic
Adult dose of Vitamin C
Adult dose of Echinacea
2 cups water
Blend this together with a couple cups of water, add to a gallon waterer and add enough water to fill the waterer. It boosts the immune system, helping them, in a natural way, over what ails them.

My modifications are:
used 3 cloves of garlic
used 3 tablets of Vitamin C 1000 mg
added 2 apples (my chickens love apples)
Here's a link to Danni's original blog post where I read about the carrot tonic:

Be aware that when putting it in a plastic waterer; the intense orange color of the fresh carrots may stain it. Because we were afraid of staining the waterer, the first time we made the tonic we didn't put it in the plastic waterer, but in separate bowls and made it thicker, more like a puree.  At first the chickens really didn't take to the puree, but we added some thawed frozen corn, which is their all-time favorite treat, and when they ate the corn, they learned they liked the carrot tonic, too.

The second time we made the tonic, a week later, we used our 7 gallon waterer and added extra water to fill it up. It is recommended that when feeding this, you should take away their other water sources so the only water they are drinking is this tonic. Don't forget to give them their water back when the tonic is gone!  You should only keep the carrot tonic out for a day.  If you want them to have it a second day, you should make up a fresh batch.  We gave them their water back on the second day. 

After that, for a week we blended up a couple garlic cloves and mixed it into their 7 gallon waterer.  We read that garlic is a natural antibiotic and is good for chickens.

The chickens enjoyed this carrot treat, and hopefully it made them healthier, too!  Singer is still limping a little, but it's getting much better.  Raspberry still has bumblefoot, but she, too, is on the road to recovery.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby Opossum

I love opossums!  Even though they are sometimes mean and are quite ugly.

From Wikipedia: The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), commonly known as the North American Opossum, is the only marsupial found in North America north of the Rio Grande. A solitary and nocturnal animal about the size of a domestic cat, it is a successful opportunist and is found throughout Central America and North America east of the Rockies from Costa Rica to southern Ontario (it was also introduced to California in 1910, and now occupies much of the Pacific coast); it seems to be still expanding its range northward. Its ancestors evolved in South America, but were enabled to invade North America in the Great American Interchange by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about 3 million years ago. It is often seen near towns, rummaging through garbage cans, or lying by the side of the road, a victim of traffic.

You know what I love about opossums?

They are marsupials - they have a pouch!  We don't have too many marsupials here in Maryland!  
Young are born in that pouch, and are carried in that pouch until they get large enough to be carried on the mama's back.  Many opossums visit us here on our back porch, and I always look for babies in the opossum's pouch or on the back.  I have never seen any babies, until TODAY!!!

This mama came to eat at our back porch today, in broad daylight, as they often do (even though Wikipedia calls them nocturnal).  I have been watching her belly grow in size the past few weeks, so wanting to catch a glimpse of the baby/babies I knew were in there.  She waddled, her belly was almost dragging on the ground.

She turned her rear end towards me.  Wait, wait, something fell out on the left! 
It has feet!!  And on the right there's a little tail. 
Two babies!!

Then suddenly this little guy climbed up onto mama's back!

He looks left...

...Then right...

...Then he looks straight up.  Hello big world!!

The baby got nervous when the mama opossum went into the high grass to drink some water that had pooled there from the recent rains.

Look at that grip!

The baby slipped off mama's back and disappeared underneath.  The mama was patient as he climbed into the pouch.  The second baby never made a real appearance.

Now we cannot say that we have never seen baby opossums in a mama opossum's pouch or on her back!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

End of the East Coast Heat Wave

This morning it finally rained. 

And boy, did we need it! 

There's been a major East Coast heat wave this past week, and a lack of rain and high humidy really made it hard for us all.  Meteorologists began calling the hot stretch a heat wave, a phenomenon defined in the Northeast as three consecutive days of temperatures of 90 or above. Oppressive conditions forced two East Coast tracks to call off horse racing cards, made life difficult for golfers practicing for the women's U.S. Open in Pennsylvania and sent ballplayers searching for any way to stay cool.  The East Coast broiled last Tuesday as record-setting temperatures soared past 100 from Virginia to Massachusetts, utility companies cranked up power to the limit to cool the sweating masses and railroad tracks were so hot commuter trains had to slow down. The temperature broke records for the day in New York, where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102.

The National Weather Service says this was one of the hottest stretches in about a decade for many locations in the Northeast. "You'd go back to 2001 or maybe 1999 to find a similar heat wave."

Here at our farm, the heat wave and absolute lack of rain was causing many concerns.  Our well water got cloudy and sandy, which made us think possibly it was running dry.  Our well is very old, over a hundred years old.  No one really knows how old it is.  The water has been tested and is very good and clean, no iron or sulphur.  But we're concerned the water supply may not last through heat waves such as this; we were told it would not last as long as it has.  So, we stopped doing laundry and running the dishwasher in the house, started using disposable paper plates, and showers became really fast.  Luckily, the well didn't run dry, and the water became clear after a couple days of not using much water.  

With the self-imposed water restrictions, we decided we couldn't afford to water the garden. 
And so the garden died.
I stopped going out to look at it because it was too depressing. After all the time we spent preparing, planting and weeding, we had to let it die.  

During the heatwave I picked one yellow squash. 
I only got 2 squash this year, both yellow, quite a few green beans and cucumbers, and a couple small tomatoes before the heatwave. 

Maybe the garden will make a comeback. 

The chickens didn't like the heatwave in the least bit.  Eggs were down from between 9 to 11 eggs a day down to 3 or 4 a day. 

According to The Weather Channel, more rain and cooler temperatures are predicted for this upcoming week.
Thank goodness!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mama no more

Bella the hen no longer is a Mama hen.  She has left her Guinea keet babies. 

The keets are 32 days old now.  

They still run to their adopted Mama, Bella, for food, but she no longer makes that clucking noise telling them food is ready for them.  Bella now eats the food herself, instead of feeding her babies.  The keets now forage and search for bugs by themselves during the days, in addition to eating chicken food by themselves.  

In the evenings they used to like to sleep beside Bella in several nest boxes.  Bella now wants to sleep on the roosts with the other chickens, not in a nest box with her babies.  I guess it is time for the keets to be totally on their own with no mama hen.  


The keets have been totally integrated into the flock since they were not much older than 2 weeks old, so the flock is used to them.  The birds in the flock don't think twice about all these miniature birds among them.

The keets must now fend for themselves in the big world.  

I still go into the coop every evening in the dim and darkness and inventory everyone, to make sure no one is missing.  I also take Bella off the roost and put her in one of the nest boxes with the babies so they can get some "Mama Bella" time.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day from Brownie

The rooster Brownie says
Happy 4th of July!!!

Chloe is there, too, finishing off the celebratory carrot tonic puree.
The Guinea keet just ignores Brownie.... 

Carrot tonic is for ailing birds, not for celebrations, but the chickens and guineas didn't know that.
More to follow on the ailing birds...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Baby Coons

We have a relationship with the raccoons around our house.  Some may disagree with this relationship. 

The deal is - we take care of them, they don't destroy our trash or kill the chickens. 

When we first moved into this house, which is nestled in the midst of over 250 acres, we thought we could just ignore the coons and they would go away.  Well, I guess with this much property, there will be raccoons and all sorts of other wild animals around, no matter what.  So we ignored the coons, and they continually ate our trash out of our trash cans every night.  The trash cans have to be outside, there's just no other place for them.  We don't have a lot of storage with this old historic house.  They didn't think of storage back in the 1800s. 

I don't believe in killing animals for no reason, just because they are there.  We moved here, are we supposed to kill all the animals around us just to make our stay here more comfortable to us?  There will be animals that we don't like in the woods, there's lots of woods around here.  I just couldn't do it.  My husband, who's from the country, who loves hunting (for food), would have had no problem, but he knows how I feel about this issue.  

Quick background - several years ago and far, far away, we had tame raccoons.  We tamed a wild mother coon, and she brought her babies to us, and we could hold them and cuddle them, and they were the most adorable things.  They lived outside, but visited us every eve.  We befriended generations of coons during our stay in that home.  We de-flead and de-ticked them all with the stuff you put on the back of their necks.  They were friendly to the 2 outside cats we had there - and we learned alot about coons back then.  Many people automatically say "coons carry rabies", but so do wild cats, foxes, any animal that's outside can get rabies.  And we never had any problem with rabies.  The worst problem with our coons was the fleas, which we took care of!

Back to the present day - we were trying to ignore the coon problem, trying to trap and relocate the coons, but others kept coming.  After all, we moved into their area, they were here first.  After a few weeks of annoying morning trash cleanup, we gave in and started providing 2 cups of dog food to the coons in the evenings.  And immediately they left our trash alone.  Our only coon problem is that they eat the outside cat food which annoys Jerry, the outside cat.  Jerry then must sit on the front porch chairs and wait for us to bring him more food while he watches the coons 2 feet away from him eat his food.  But they don't physically hurt Jerry or chase him.  We have not befriended these coons, they keep their distance from us, and run when we are around. 

So that has been the deal.  Since then we've gotten chickens, and we've decided the coons now really must go, although they never have bothered the chickens or guineas.  Except that one female guinea disappeared, but we can't blame that on the coons, we have seen many foxes and owls and hawks around.  So we considering what to do with the coons, thinking of a major trapping and relocation project.  It will be a daily thing -trapping and moving coons- and we will have to dedicate time to this project if we really want to remove the coons and keep them away.  But we know we cannot trap and relocate a mama coon who has babies back in the woods, that wouldn't be fair to the babies.  And we can tell by looking at the coons' tummies that some of them are mamas. 

And so, the coons are trying to persuade us to let them stay.  They are tugging at our heartstrings, pulling out all the tactics.  It seems they know we have a soft spot in our hearts for baby coons... 

This week a new mama coon brought her 3 new babies up to our back door for the first time.  The mama coon is very small herself - we believe she is a first time mama.

Note - the pictures aren't really all that clear because I was shooting through 200-year old windows.  These windows are on the back door, and are original to our house.  The glass is sort-of foggy from age, and it actually has some historic etching in parts of it.  But this is a story for another post.  So I was shooting through this glass which made my pictures not nearly as sharp as they could have been and I apologize for the non-clarity of these pictures.

Back to the story...

"Come on up, little ones!  This is where the food is!" 
We scatter the food around on the back porch to keep the coons from fighting each other.  We used to put it in a bowl, but that led to coon fights over the bowl.

2 little ones make their way onto the porch with wobbly legs.  Look at that, is that food on the ground?  Everyone takes a sniff first.

Whoops, here comes #3!  "Wait for me!"

The babies had a hard time chewing the dog food.  It kept falling out of their mouths as they chewed on it.  They ate one piece at a time, and took a very long time to chew it with their baby teeth.

This baby had a hard time standing for a long time.  He kept falling back and sitting on his butt while he ate.

They were all feet.  They were learning how to manipulate their long fingers to hold the dog food.

Look at the one baby walking - both his left legs are in motion as he wobbles along.

The mama didn't keep her babies on the back porch long.  She quickly hurried away across the back yard to the protection of the woods, expecting the babies to follow.  But only 1 followed, 2 were left behind.  The 2 were terrified to be away from their mama.  They hid behind the AC unit which is to the left of the back porch.  I couldn't get any good pics of them because they were hidden.  They cried little baby coon noises.  Then mama's head appear in the woods.  She started making mama coon noises VERY LOUDLY.  The 2 babies starting running across the backyard towards her, but became afraid and stopped in the middle of the yard, fell all over each other, then finally turned and ran back to the AC unit to hide.  Mama again came out of the woods, called them very loudly, and then they ran as fast as their wobbly, uncoordinated legs would allow.  This time they made it to the woods and disappeared.  I wish I had gotten pics of this, but I was too fascinated to move and get the camera.  I didn't want to miss anything!

I will post in the future about the coon relocation project.