Sunday, August 14, 2011

NYC Visit

Last week Randy and I visited New York City.  I had a blast and thought I'd share some of the photos I took.  I totally was a tourist, snapping photos everywhere.  I may live in the country, but I love the city, any city, every city.  We parked in Times Square and took to the street on foot.

I thought the building below was very pretty.  Don't know what it was.

The billboards were amazing!  There are no billboards allowed in Washington DC, so I'm not used to them.

The people...there were so many people!

I call this man "Metal Man".  He was painted silver and looked like a statue.  He was great!  But he wasn't too happy when anyone snapped a photo and didn't put some money in his pail!

7th Ave.  M & M world

Here's a street band.  They were great!

Gotta love NYPD!

Hhere's a hot dog vendor.  I wanted a hot dog, even though I wasn't hungry, just to have a hot dog from the streets of NY!

I'm such a tourist!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guinea Keets Go Free

Today is the day!!!  Are we ready?
Today is the day that the 12 teenage guinea keets go free to be adult guineas. 
We have a rather large chicken pen, and the keets were raised by the chickens in the chicken pen and in the chicken coops.  The 3 adult guineas, the parents and aunt and uncles of the keets, live free and wild.  And now the keets will be free, too, to live as guineas.

Of course the keets don't understand.
They want to be chickens, living in the confines of the chicken pen and coops.  They have to be shown what it's like to be a free guinea, roaming free over the fields, eating bugs, sleeping in the pine tree.  They have so much to learn, so much a head of them.  And their future begins today.  With one small step out of the chicken pen.

Here we go...
First we had to round up all the guinea keets.  The easiest way to do that was to confine them in the coop.

They didn't like being captured in the coop.  They knew something was up.

We rounded up the adult guineas - we wanted them to see the keets going free, to guide them, to show them what it's like to be a guinea.
We had to find the adult guineas.  There they are, way out in the field.

We rounded them up to the chicken pen area.  Of course it rained this morning and the grass was all wet.  Today was supposed to be mowing day, so the grass is tall, too.

And then we let the small guineas out of the coop into the chicken pen that we used as a mama and baby chicken pen.  It's separate from the main chicken pen.  The keets were cautious about this new area.
The chickens watch the keets intently from their side of the fence.

The adult guineas on the outside (left) watch the keets inside the pen.

And then we let the keets loose to be with the adult guineas.  Of course the keets wanted only to return to the safety of the chicken pen.  The chickens gathered on the inside of the fence, worried about their comrades on the outside.

Hopefully everyone does well as the keets transition to being adult guineas.
In these videos the keets are only thinking of returning to the chicken pen.  It should be an interesting day today! 
Hopefully soon the guinea keets realize they are not chickens, and they start enjoying their freedom.
Today starts a whole new life for our keets!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Vulture Baby Update

The other week we went and visited the black vulture baby.  His parents and him live in a little old fallen apart house beside our big old fallen down tobacco barn.  We have several old structures on the property is disrepair.  The vultures love these old buildings.  I like having vultures around, as they assist us in cleaning up the property.  I find it absolutely amazing that vultures make no noise except a hiss and a grunt.  The opposite of the guinea fowl.  The guineas and the vultures all get along nicely, too.

Ok, just to recap - this is what the vulture baby looked like one month before ~ he was tiny (about the size of our hand) and off-white and puffy.  Very fragile-looking.

And here he is now!  He's a big boy.  He's almost the size of an adult vulture.  But he certainly looks weird.  He is getting some black feathers in, thank goodness.  He still has that off-white puff all over him.  He doesn't fly yet.  The parents still feed him.

Both parent vultures were with the baby when we visited.  They both flew away from the home, and they were not happy with our intrusion into their home.  One of the parents flew overhead, watching us closely while we visited their son, and the other took off.

In a couple minutes the second vulture was back.

And he brought re-inforcements.  Another pair of vultures came to assist.  I thought it was amazing the one parent took off and got help from another vulture family.  How sweet is that?  We think the other vulture family lives in another old house on our property.  They probably have their babies there. 

To me it is interesting how vultures live in family units, one male and female raises a family.  They seem to be smart, they run to neighbors when help is needed.  The neighbors immediately come to help.  They are quiet, aren't able to yell at would-be attackers.  All they can do is fly around above.  Silent, beautiful birds.

I hope we have many more vulture babies in the upcoming years.

Monday, August 1, 2011

No More Guinea Eggs

It is with a heavy heart that I say that all Guinea Girl's eggs were killed and eaten a few days ago.

Guinea Girl was sitting on a nest with 15 eggs.  She was quite proud of her soon-to-be babies.  She rarely left her nest.  She would have been a great mother, I believe.  In the beginning of her broodiness, we tried to remove her from her nest, but she fought and fought us to stay on her nest of eggs.  She was willing to risk her life by staying on the nest overnight, despite all the dangers of sitting on the ground overnight.  She didn't care, she was a mama, and that's what mamas do.  They take care of their babies.  Even if their babies are still eggs.  Our guineas know about dangers and monsters at nighttime.  These are the 3 last ones that survived a terrible month of attacks every night.  I believe all 3 of these last guineas were attacked during the month long war on the guineas, but they survived.  I believe this because their feathers were all torn up and they were terrified during the days.  But they are the survivors.

And Guinea Girl was willing to risk it all again for her babies.

Guinea Girl
 We had decided to take Guinea Girl's eggs away from her, even though she was a great mama guinea.  We were going to give them to our broody chicken hens.  We now have 2 broody hens, Charlotte and Bella ~ they are the same 2 hens that raised all our guinea keets from eggs earlier this year.  Those keets are now teenagers/young adults.  And here the same 2 hens are broody again.  It was a sign, and so we were going to take Guinea Girl's eggs away because we didn't think it was safe for her to sit on the ground all night.  Guineas are blind in the dark, and it is very dark in our woods at night.  We were going to take the eggs away last weekend and give them to the hens in the chicken coop.  The hens are safe in the coop - no monsters can get to the chickens. 

Guinea Girl following the white Guinea Boy, her mate

And then one evening last week, before the weekend came, the grey Guinea Boy didn't come home to sleep in the pine tree.  We were worried about him, thinking  he may have been attacked during the day.  We searched for him, didn't find him or any signs of an attack.  Girl Guinea was sitting on her nest that evening.

And then, the next morning, Guinea Girl was eating breakfast with the 2 Guinea Boys up at the house.  What???  Why wasn't she on her eggs?  Where did grey Guinea Boy come from?

We immediately ran outside, crossed the fields and went into the woods where the nest was.
And the eggs were all broken and scrattered about.  None was left alive.
We were happy Guinea Girl survived whatever attacked her overnight.  She easily could have been killed.
But Poor Guinea Girl lost her 15 babies. 

I don't know why the male guinea stayed out all night the night of the attack, or if that even has anything to do with Guinea Girl losing her eggs.  But it was just weird.  Our guineas are creatures of habit, and he broke his habit for some reason.

Now we know, eggs cannot make it in our woods.  We will never let this happen again.  I am very sad because I know those eggs were forming into keets, and I know how adorable keets are.  I expected at least 7 of those 15 eggs would have hatched ~ our success rate with eggs is about 50%.  Sadly, not anymore.

The grey Guinea Boy