Sunday, February 27, 2011

RIP Brownie

Last August we gave away one of our roosters, Brownie, to some neighbors.  We had too many roosters.  We raised Brownie from a tiny chick.  Brownie was a great protector and always was very attentive to the hens in our flock. He liked to serenade them - sing little humble songs to a single hen when she was sitting out in the pen. He always was very gentle with the hens, but a brave a fearless rooster when he needed to be. He was the #2 rooster in our flock - second in the rooster pecking order. He was promoted to be the lead rooster for their flock.

It is with a sad heart that I tell you that Brownie lost his life last week.  He was defending his hen Shirley from a wild animal that dug enter the fence into his pen and entered their coop at nighttime.
Brownie died so that Shirley could live.
Shirley was the only chicken of theirs that survived the attack. They lost all their other hens.
Brownie was a good rooster, saving Shirley like he did, fighting till the bitter end.

Brownie at his new home with Shirley back in Aug 2010
Since then they fixed and reinforced their chicken pen.  We just have too many wild animals living in this neck of the woods.

And so last Friday Randy assisted our friends to get some new chickens.
And maybe we got some new feathered friends here at Razzberry Corner... Just maybe...
Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Less Guinea

Ahh, remember these happy days?
Last summer we got some day-old Guinea keets and gave them to a broody hen Bella.

Proud mama hen Bella with her new Guinea keet babies.  Bella thought they were her chicks
Bella looks out for her keets.  Leggy thought he was the Daddy ~ he was watching out for the keets, too

Keets integrated into the flock - they were so small!

Guinea in the pine tree

It is with a heavy heart today that I say we lost a Guinea this week. 
We had 8 light Guineas and 2 darker ones.  Now only 7 light colored Guineas and the 2 darker ones are left.  Every morning the Guineas start out in their huge pine tree overlooking the chicken coop.  They sleep in the tree, at daybreak they fly down and eat the Guinea food we provide for them beside the chicken coop.  In the wintertime we have been feeding them, as there's no grass or grain or bugs for them to find.  After eating, they wander about the property, and in the late afternoon they return home to the feeding area beside the coop again.  At dusk they all fly into their pine tree to sleep.

Yum!  There's some cracked corn in the bowl this morning!

This week one didn't come home.  Everyone else acted like nothing happened.
We have no idea what happened to the missing Guinea.  We searched and searched all around for feathers, for an injured Guinea, for a broody Guinea, for any sign of what happened.  Nothing.  Previously we tried to let our chickens free-range over the property, but they were picked off by foxes.  Where the fox grabbed a chicken and carried it away there was always a massive amount of feathers left behind.  And a feather trail into the woods.  But we found no Guinea feathers at all this time.

Guineas digging holes and taking dirt baths under the bushes
 Maybe a Great Horned Owl took it away??  We have seen Great Horned Owls hunting our fields and we often hear their calls.  I'd think a Barred Owl would be too small to carry away an entire Guinea.  We have Barred Owls close, too, we can hear their wonderful hoots.

But you know, back when Boy Guinea was young, he disappeared for 3 months in the deep of winter, and then reappeared one happy day.  He watched the chickens and Guineas from afar for about a week, and then he couldn't take it anymore and he joined back up with the flock again and quickly became the Guinea leader.  I mean, he had experience, he had traveled the world and come back home.  All the other Guineas thought he was awesome, he had such stories about his travels.  They worshipped him and made him the flock leader.  And he still is the leader.  We never knew what happened to Boy Guinea during that time, we thought he was dead.

Boy Guinea
We've noticed recently that what we assume are young male Guineas, the light colored ones, don't really appreciate Boy Guinea as much as the female Guineas do.  The females stay right beside Boy Guinea.  Some light-colored Guineas, we assume at least one is a male, often separate into another group.  Maybe they want to be the leader of their own Guinea flock, they are tired of following Boy Guinea? 

Maybe this missing Guinea is going away to do his sabbatical, maybe he's a male and that's what male Guineas do???
Maybe he'll return back in summer like nothing strange happened? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Take a Walk with Me ~ Early Feb 2011

I always love to take pictures after a snow.  Everything is fresh and bright. 
Yeah, it's cold, but I've come to understand that it's going to be cold here in MD, so I mind's well embrace it and make the most of it.  I'd prefer it to be warm every day of the year, but, alas, I don't live in the south.  And even down south they have been cold this year.

What's up with this weather???

Here are some pictures I took around the property in early February, 2011. This was right after a light snow. The first picture below shows our old tobacco barn. 

Here in MD, for almost 400 years, wood-frame tobacco barns sat along the rolling fields.  Tobacco used to be a mainstay crop of Maryland's agriculture since the 17th century, and every farm had a tobacco barn.  The tobacco barns had to be big enough to hang the tobacco, which was essential to the process of air-curing tobacco.  Now historic tobacco barns are being lost at an alarming rate as the region's agricultural land is consumed by the spread of the D.C. metropolitan area. Also, Maryland's 2001 "tobacco buy-out" state policy, which encouraged farmers to stop cultivating tobacco, unintentionally made the barns unused. Scores of tobacco barns now have no productive purpose and are deteriorating.  In 2004, southern Maryland tobacco barns were placed on the National Historic Trust's list of 11 most endangered historical sites.

Our tobacco barn had already collapsed before we bought the property. You can see it through the trees in the below picture.  It seems a fox uses the barn now.  We often find carcasses of small dead animals underneath the fallen roof of the old barn.

The trees here grow like weeds.  Especially the sweet gum trees.  I like to have some rolling fields (with no trees), but it's almost impossible to keep down the trees.  Most of our 250 acres is wooded, but there used to be a few fields along our entry road without trees.  But now the trees are taking over those fields, too.  The wind must blow the tree seeds into the fields, and the young trees grow up fast and very close together.  We've been here 2 years and all the little trees in the right side of the above picture have grown since then!  There is a natural spring at the left side of that field, and the water flows down into the woods on the left into a little brook which joins a stream on the property.  I guess the trees have a good water supply.

The below picture shows more trees along the right side of the field pictured above.  We've found quite a few deer antlers along that treeline.  We planted corn and pumpkins in the field last summer, but the summer drought killed most of it before it grew very big.

The below picture shows Randy's firewood area.  He's constantly cutting, chopping and splitting wood for firewood.  We use it in our woodstove and he sells quite a bit of firewood, too.  He's been burning wood scraps (bark, limbs, old bad logs, etc) in a barrel in the firewood area which not only gets rid of the waste products, but creates some warmth while he works.  You can see the smoke from the barrel in the picture.

The below picture shows one of the front fields.  It, too, has been taken over by small trees.

Thanks for taking this short talk with me.  I hope it was interesting! 
We'll have to do this again when the weather is nicer and we can take a longer walk! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Sister's Visit

Back in January, my sister, Barb, and her family visited Razzberry Corner!
And I clearly wasn't thinking straight ~ I didn't take any pictures while they were here!
Luckily Barb took pictures, which I borrowed from her blog, Barb's This and That.
Normally I am the one taking pictures, hence, there are NO pictures of me in my blog.
Alas, Barb broke my no picture streak and posted a picture of me and my boy Leggy. 
I remember how very cold it was on that January day. 
If you look closely, you can see his spur on his left leg.  He's got some SERIOUS spurs. 

Leggy and Lynn
 While they were here Barb collected eggs and visited all the chickens.  Here are some of the chickens roosting and preparing to go to sleep.

Top row, left to right ~ Muffin's tail, Freckles, Zoner, Raspberry Leggy, Meg, Lilly, Blackie, Charlotte
Bottom row ~ Chloe, Bella, Cinnamon, Jade, Ethel
 Down by our well there's this huge old tree ~ to me it looks bigger in person than it does in the below photo.  I love it because it must be so very old.  If only trees could talk, I'd know all about the history of this property.  The tree makes me think of the Ents, the talking trees in The Lord of the Rings and The War of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien.  I've named this tree Treebeard, after one of the Ents.

Here's Barb and her son JJ in front of the tree.

Barb, JJ, and Treebeard

This was a root from the tree that ran across the ground.  It had a little hollowed-out-spot that a small animal could have used as a home.

Treebeard's root
Here's a picture of a Guinea ~ I think it's a female.  I'm still trying to figure out the gender of the guineas.

Lone guinea

And finally, here's a picture Barb took of my old home.  It's a work-in-progress.  The renovation progress never moves as fast as I wish it would, but that's life! 

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Little Deer

Another little deer has been coming up to our back door.  After every hunting season, it seems there is a motherless baby deer left behind.  Often the fawns are born late in the season, and are still very small come February.

This little guy has been hanging out in our back yard right outside our back door.  If we go out back he runs away, but seems to return to the area soon.

This morning at sunrise he was out there, but now at 10:30 AM he is off hiding somewhere.

Last year's Little Deer joined a herd of does and other young fawns.  I'm sure this little guy will join up with some others soon, too. 

I feel like the surrogate mom for lost deer children.  Wish they were more friendly!  I'm heading out back to put out some cut up apple pieces for him.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

She lays both green and brown eggs!

I know all you experienced chicken people will think I'm crazy with this blog post.
But I know what I saw!
I wouldn't believe it unless I saw it myself.

Previously, my pullet, Jade, laid light green eggs.


Jade's green egg
I watched Jade lay a light green egg with my own eyes in January.
She's been laying green eggs since she started laying, which was about the beginning of the year.  She's still a pullet, and doesn't give us eggs every day.  And there are a few other pullets in the flock who are laying green eggs, too. 
But I KNOW I saw Jade lay a light green egg.

And then early this morning, I watched Jade lay an egg.  In an empty nest box.  I watched it come from her rear and thump on the floor of the nestbox.   
As soon as it was laid, when Jade was still standing tall in the nestbox (they stand up when they lay), I grabbed the still-wet egg.
And to my amazement it was light brown!
I didn't think it was possible for both green and brown eggs to come from the same hen!
It's just amazing to me! 
Jade was hatched from a light brown egg, if that makes any difference.

Lucy and Ethel chat about the egg mystery

Danni, with her broken toe, isn't impressed about green eggs

Left to right: Betty, Leggy, Raspberry, Chloe's tail

Such drama in the coop these days!