Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crime Scene: Guinea Murder

I have sad news...

One of the guineas was killed Monday morning. 

Presumed homicide.
Right on my front lawn.
And the body has not been recovered.

I checked the guineas at 6am on Monday morning, they were sleeping in the huge pine tree where they always sleep.  It was still dark out.  
At 7am the sun was rising, and a crime scene was found on the front lawn. 

The guineas sleep in a tall pine tree overlooking the chicken coop.  Recently, since the time sprung forward, the guineas have been coming out of their pine tree bed early, before sunrise, and gathering in front of the chicken coop, honking loudly, until the sun rises.

The victim was one of the 5 coral blue guineas.

Clumps of feathers were around the lawn, and lead into the woods on both sides of the house.  A search party was arranged and the area was searched far and wide in both directions, but no body was ever discovered.  The crime scene was analyzed, but no evidence was found other than coral blue feathers.  No blood was found anywhere. And one of the coral blue guineas is now missing from the guinea gang.

The remaining guineas were all on the ground at 7am after sunrise, terrified after watching the murder of their brother.  They all stayed close to the chicken coop that day, under the protection of low bushes.  And the remaining guineas aren't talking about what happened.  Their normally loud mouths are shut. They hardly talk about anything anymore. They used to be so loud, but no longer does the sound of guineas echo on the hills.  Maybe they are in shock, traumatized from witnessing the murder.
We don't know if the suspect was a coon, we have plenty of coons, but I cannot imagine a coon killing and dragging away a large guinea. 

Or maybe it was a fox.  The guinea body could have been dragged into a unknown fox den to feed young fox kits.

Or possibly it was a great horned owl - one used to live beside the field down the dirt road.  But would an owl be able to kill and remove a full-size guinea?

It wasn't a skunk, no smell was noted. 

But maybe a mink?  We've never seen a mink near the house, but one was found about a mile away.

Unknown suspects - they are many unsubs out there, lurking in the woods, beyond detection.

This case remains open, pending further investigation.  It is believed to be a murder.  Since Monday the remaining guinea gang has started wandering the property again, but they are unusually quiet.  They have stopped sleeping in their former location, in the pine tree.  Now they sleep in dense overgrown trees which are covered in vines.  Possibly they believe the vines and overgrowth provide additional protection.  But a coon could easily scamper up the vines to get to the sleeping guineas if he wanted.  Makes me think they aren't thinking about coons, but brings an owl to my mind as the suspect.  An owl or a fox are the prime suspects.

Investigation continues... 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Guineas are Laying!

Now that spring is soon to come to the east coast of the US (I hope), the guineas hens have started laying eggs again.  
We have 9 guinea fowl: 
1 Pearl Gray (Boy Guinea)
1 White
1 Lavender
1 Royal Purple (Girl Guinea)
5 Coral Blue
The colors can be seen at the Guinea Fowl Color Chart.

Here comes the gang!
Look at those wattles! Look at those horns! They hold their heads high and walk with a purpose! 
These guineas mean business!

And there they go...guineas on a mission

The female guineas have started making their nest and laying eggs in an old brush pile.  
We see them sneak into the brush pile and the other guineas leave them alone and wander off without them.  We see the females off by themselves a lot these days.  We wondered if any females are getting broody, but so far no one has continued to sit on a nest overnight.  We did lose one guinea back in late February, possibly it was a broody female who thought she could sit on a nest all night and didn't survive, but we really aren't sure.

I'm just happy that we know where the guineas' nests are located, so we can monitor them.  We'd like them to have babies in the summer, but not this early, as it's too cold out now.

We cannot let the guineas see us near their nest or they will move to a different nest.  Nor can we take all eggs from their nest, or they will go elsewhere.

And so I got some plastic Easter eggs that open to put candy in for kids, but instead I filled them with dirt and snapped them closed.  Sorry, guineas, you don't get any Easter candy!!! 

Easter eggs filled with dirt to make them heavy
Guinea eggs in nest

Guinea nest with Easter egg

Taking out the new guinea eggs

When I remove a guinea egg from the nest, I replace it with an Easter egg.  So far the guineas haven't moved their nest, and they continue to lay in the same places every day.

Three new guinea eggs in the nest today

Easter eggs in nest
When the weather gets nicer and if a guinea gets broody, we will leave the eggs and maybe they will raise some keets this summer!

Has anyone had guineas that raised their own keets?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Update on the Roosters

I wanted to give you a quick update on the roosters one day after their spurs were removed...

But first, I just read Knatolee's World blog, and about died laughing when I saw her post of a wrinkly egg!!!
This is the craziest egg I've ever seen - you should check it out for a quick laugh!
I love to be entertained by our chickens!

Ok, back to the rooster saga here at Razzberry Corner...

After we removed the roosters' spurs yesterday afternoon, the boys went back into the chicken pen and appeared to not mind the procedure. They walked around and crowed like nothing happened. We fed then some veggie treats, they bragged to the hens and ate just like normal.

The only thing is, their spurs bled more than was mentioned online. It worried me. The blood ran down onto their feet. We put sugar and styptic powder on the wounds after the procedure. The sugar worked better than the styptic powder to control the bleeding. Several times we brought each of them back into the house, washed their legs, and reapplied sugar. Eventually, after a couple hours they stopped bleeding. I did not mean to cause pain or issues for my roosters, by any means. I am just trying to help my hens who are getting beat up by the roosters.

None of the other birds pecked the boys' bloody legs, and the boys really didn't seem to act any differently during this time. In fact, because I was constantly monitoring the chickens every half hour yesterday afternoon, at one time I saw a pullet named Genny (after my friend Genny at the Downeast blog) who had blood on each side of her back on her wings. I bought Genny inside and bathed her back and looked at her wings, and then realized, she wasn't bleeding, it came from one of the roosters. The roosters were still having sex with the hens, even after their spur-removal procedure! As the afternoon passed I noticed quite a few hens and pullets had the tell-tale blood on their backs, so alot of chickens got baths yesterday. We tried to lock up the roosters in the coop, but they started flying around and insisted they go back outside. Maybe we should have done the procedure at nighttime when everyone was calm and no sex was happening.

The roosters appear to be doing ok today. Their new short spurs are healing, although Muffin appears to be healing faster than Leggy.

Hopefully the hens' backs can start healing now.

Lucy with rooster damage

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Remove Roosters' Spurs

Since some of our hens' backs have been really getting torn up by our roosters, we decided it was time to do something about their spurs.  Previously we had too many roosters, but now we only have two boys, Leggy and Muffin, but the hens are still suffering.  Our roosters are mature, and their spurs are very large.

Leggy (left) and Muffin (right)

Muffin's spurs

Leggy's spurs
We researched several processes to remove spurs online, and we decided to use the plier method to remove the outer bony sheath of the spur.  It will grow back in a few months and will have to removed again.  It appeared to be very humane and almost painless to the roosters. 

Here's a video showing the spur removal:

And so today we performed this procedure on our roosters. 
Our birds are very calm and don't mind being held. 
Caution - there are bloody and graphic pictures in this blog post.  If you are squeamish at the sight of blood, turn away now!
First we cleaned the spur and the leg around it with warm water and soap, and dried it with a paper towel.  Then we put the rooster upside down and just twisted off the bony outer part of the spur with a pair of pliers.

Leggy getting ready

Muffin during the spur-removal procedure
Support the leg when twisting off the spur.  It really doesn't take much and the spur snaps off, leaving the inner core of the spur.

Muffin after the procedure is done on one leg

Both legs done on Muffin

Muffin's spurs bled after the procedure

Leggy after the procedure

Leggy bled more than Muffin

Leggy afterwards
Leggy's legs bled more than Muffin's did.
We put styptic powder on the legs, and also put white sugar on them.  The sugar forms a paste with the blood and helps it clot more quickly.

It only took like 5 or 10 minutes to complete the procedure on one of the roosters, everything was done on both boys and cleaned up in less than 30 minutes.

We planned on confining the roosters to the coop, but afterwards they both were very anxious to be outside with the hens, so we let them outside.  We will have to keep a very close on on them to ensure they don't bleed anymore.  We gave all the birds treats after the procedures, and both Leggy and Muffin ate without any concerns, just like normal.

Hopefully this will help our hens all summer long, and we won't have to repeat this procedure till autumn or later.  I'll keep you posted on the healing process.
If you have ever removed spurs before, please let me know what you did and how it went!!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack and Shadow

We are trying to get our black cat, Shadow, more friendly.
Shadow was a very wild and feral cat that chose us after surviving a very cold winter outside.  We opened the front door one day and she ran inside, and has not wanted to go back out again since that cold winter day!
We, of course, caught her and got her all her shots and tests, as needed, before she ever got too close to our Jackie.

At first, after she moved in, Shadow kept her distance from us, although she loved and worshipped Jack from way before she ever came inside.  She fell in love with Jack through the storm door.  She really loves all other animals, I've never known a cat who loves other animals like her.  She's not too picky, she loves squirrels, raccoons, Jerry the outside cat, even guineas.  And especially cats.  She cuddles with Jack and cleans him, and forces him to clean her, too.  He doesn't mind too much, he's pretty easy-going.

At first we could never touch her, she never entered the same room as us nor would stay after we entered.  She thought we might kill her and skin her at any moment.  And she was terrified of the television when she first moved inside, too.  But as the years have passed, she has become quite friendly.  She is truly the most loving cat, and she so wants to please us.  She still isn't too happy when we pick her up and trim her nails, which we try to do every couple weeks.

Shadow is very smart.  She watches Jack all the time.  She learned how to shake hands from Jack, too.  I taught Jackie to shake hands years ago - it only took a couple days and a few cat treats.  Shad learned the trick from watching Jack and Randy shake hands and it only took a couple days before she was shaking.  I'll have to get a video of them both shaking hands with Randy. 

In order to make Shadow more friendly, Randy has been encouraging Shadow to jump in his lap when he sits on the floor.  She has developed an addiction to lunch meat, which he started using as a treat.  She really loves any kind of people food, and has gotten sort of rotund.  She used to be so lean when she first moved in. 

It appears from these photos that Jack is the only one getting a treat, but I can assure you, Shadow wouldn't let that happen.  I guess I only took pictures when Jack was getting a treat. 
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Come Run With Me

I've been getting into jogging recently.  I started jogging inside on the treadmill, as it was still cold outside.  But now that Spring has officially arrived and the weather is suddenly warmer, I've moved my running outside.  And now that I'm outside, I've left my iPod behind.  Who needs an iPod when they have the sounds of nature all around?

Running outside on the hills is much more challenging than running on a treadmill.  The first few times I ran outside I swore that my chosen path was all uphill, and I wondered how that could be.  My legs were much more sore after the first time running outside than they were when I would run inside. 

Most of the time I startle up some sleeping deer on my path.  They then run, too, but I haven't talked them into running with me yet.  Wouldn't that be nice, to run with the deer?  Maybe one day...

Besides the deer, I notice the birds, the bugs, the nature around.  It's quite relaxing.  The first few times I ran outside I brought a camera, but then I continually stopped to take pictures, which defeated the purpose of running.  These photos were taken on my second run.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the run.

I start on what I used to call the dirt road.  Randy's been putting down millings, so now it looks more like a paved road.  This is a easy path to start the daily run.

Let's go!

We pass the cemetery on the left.  I love the cemetery!

We run beside my favorite field, all dressed up in it's winter grass.

By now the road has turned into a dirt road.  We're coming up to the firewood work area on the left.
Here we are going to turn left off the road and move on past the firewood.  Look out for Randy or one of his friends, they may be there splitting and stacking firewood.

Stay to the left around all the logs!

Now we're moving along a grass path beside young trees on the right.  Deer often sleep in those young trees and may bound up into our path.  The path is going downhill at a steep grade and we are moving fast now!

Spring is here, the bushes are all budding.  Soon everything will be green.  The air is still crisp and cool, enjoy it before it's blistering hot this summer.

Now there's young trees on the left, and more mature trees on the right.  The path is starting to climb uphill and your legs may be feeling it.

We've made a left turn around the young trees.  We just passed the old barn on the right.  There's remnants of a very old paved road underneath the grass.  The grade is very steep uphill and your legs notice it, although it's not noticeable in the pictures!

Listen, I just heard a hawk cry.  And a bluejay is chasing the hawk!  There's always so much to see and hear in the woods.

We're almost done.  We're making good progress.  My green wine bottle collection is on the right. No one has shown any interest in my online bottle sales, and so the bottles still sit beside the woods.

Behind the bottles is the trash dump from where I pulled the bottles.  I still need to finish picking up all that trash.  Add that to my mental to-do list this summer.  The work truly never ends on this farm.
Keep going, no stopping now!

We're almost back to where we began the run.  Turn and look back behind you, and you will see the photo below.  We just ran up the green grassy area, beside the field and around the young trees.

One more really steep hill and we completed a mile run!
Good job!
Don't you feel better now?
You up for another mile?

Let's go!!!

I'll race you to the woodpiles!

Thanks for keeping me company!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guinea Fowl in Blooms

Just as I was taking the photos for yesterdays daffodil blog post, my dear guinea fowl decided to join me on the daffodil hillside.  They love when I am outside in their area.  They really are friendly animals and like to be around people. 
I love how they are so unique.  I think they are beautiful!
I love the horn on their heads, their white faces, and their red weird wattles.
They were singing their happy song all the while they were with me in the daffofil patch. 

Well, hello there!

Making their way thru the flowers

We have 5 different varieties of colors of guineas

Who doesn't just love that face?!

They have gotten very big now that spring has arrived.  The yummy bugs must have arrived, too!

Boy Guinea on the log

Looking for bugs and other food

She got a little carried away when she was putting on her blush that morning
Have a good week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Daffodils are Here

Daffodils are my favorite flower.
Lucky for me, we have a hillside beside our house covered in wild daffodils.
They were planted long ago, and it seems they have taken over the entire hillside.
They are gorgeous, even though they have just begun to bloom.
They signify a new beginning.  Spring is coming!