Sunday, September 30, 2012

Out of Space?

I've been attempting to post some photos lately, and Google now tells me I've used all my allotted space, and I must purchase more space on their servers to post more photos! 
What's up with that?
I figured I'd see if others had this issue, and what did you do about it? 
Previously I went back and deleted some photos from the blog to fix this problem...but this takes time.
To me, blogging is a way of sharing information with people that have the same interests or have had the same problems.  I've gotten so much guidance from others here, and I hope that I have provided guidance to others, too.
And then, of course, my problem is always time.  I don't post on the blog nearly as much as I'd like because I just don't have much time to spare. 
And now if I have to pay to blog, well, I just don't see that happening....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chloe's close call and Tommy update

In the last post I mentioned that Chloe the hen wasn't doing well.  Chloe was our lead hen.  She was #1 at the top of the pecking order before.  But now, not so much...

She had an almost white brittle comb that had flopped over, and her waddle was light-colored, too.  Her waddle and comb should be bright red.  She wasn't eating or drinking.  She stood off by herself all puffed up.  From the looks of her, I didn't think she was going to live much longer. 

I quickly brought her into the bathroom inside the house and lavished her with food and water and she had lots of rest time.  She chose to nest in a small space between a short trash can and the sink cabinet.  She spent much time in her improvised nest spot, and eventually laid a very weird egg shell mass.  I didn't get a photo of the mass; I wish I had photographed it now.  It was about 4 inches long and rubbery.  We cut it open - it was made of layers of rubbery egg shells.  My guess is that she was having laying problems and that mass got stuck inside her reproductive system and she couldn't pass it.  She's starting to go through the chicken change of life, and she isn't laying much if at all anymore.

Once she laid that egg shell mass, she immediately became perky and started doing better.  Her comb and waddle started turning red again.  She walked around much more and stopped being all puffy.  Two days after she was well enough to return to the flock. 

Many of our older hens have stopped laying now.  We have 15 hens and get 4 eggs a day.  These older hens will live out the rest of their lives here on the farm in peace.  They have become like pets, I cannot put them down just because they stopped laying. 

Chloe on the road to recovery
Tommy update ~
 This week I went to the local animal shelter to see if our missing stray cat, Tommy, may have been picked up.  I seriously doubted that he'd be there, Tommy never wandered far from the farm.  I asked to see all their cats to look for Tommy.  I was led to room after room of cats. All the cats were separated into different areas for different reasons.  The cats were all calling out to me, begging me to choose them.  I spoke to them all.  I saw cats that were in the sick room, with runny eyes and noses.  They didn't feel good and didn't care about being friendly to me.  I saw cats that were awaiting medical attention, who were in cages in the hallway outside the clinic.  I saw the cats who had just been picked up and brought to the shelter, they were scared and hiding.  I saw cats who had been there a while - they begged for attention and rolled upside down so I'd laugh and reached out their paws to grab me.  I visited the cats in the front room, a room where the lucky cats get to roam free and people can enter and play with them.  I saw the kittens, some kittens were so tiny they needed a mama cat, but they had none.  There were so many cats of all kinds and colors, it was amazing.  But - there was no Tommy. 

I left the shelter with a respect for the people that run it and work there.  There were so many cats.  And I just looked at cats.  I bet there were just as many dogs, but they were all totally separate from the cats.  Everything was clean and the place was so organized.  It broke my heart, I couldn't work there, but I have a renewed respect for the caring people who do work there.

I also checked the chicken section - no chickens at the shelter right now!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Update on travels and farm activities

I have been away on travel for my job recently, just returned last night.  Guess where I went?  I wont keep you guessing this time...  The following info is from a quick Wikipedia check, along with photos that I took.

Here's Zoltar the fortune teller, made famous in the Big movie.  But this one wasn't in NJ like in the movie, it was on the Venice Pier in Venice, Los Angeles, CA.

Venice is a beachfront neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles, California. It is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, fortune-tellers, artists, and vendors. Venice was home to some of Los Angeles' early beat poets and artists and has served as an important cultural center of the city.

Here's the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Vine Street.  The intersection in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, became famous in the 1920s for its concentration of radio and movie-related businesses. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is centered on the intersection.  Today, not many production facilities are located in the immediate area. One of the few remaining is the Capitol Records Tower to the north of the intersection.
The intersection is located in ZIP code 90028.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others.

Here's John Wayne's star:

And Michael Jackson's star.

I have more photos, but I wont bore you with all the Hollywood glitz.  It was a fun trip, but alas, now I'm back on the farm, where nothing slows down just for a second.
Latest news: FOUR, yes 4, of our dark colored baby guineas have been killed by what we believe is a a Northern Goshawk.  We now have 14 baby guineas and 5 adults.  Some of the babies are as big as adults now.  The Northern Goshawk is a type of hawk, and very sadly, is listed as endangered in the state of Maryland.  Randy finally saw the hawk this morning hunting the smaller guineas.  It only kills the smaller ones and takes away their bodies, it does not eat on site.  I don't know what to do about this situation.  
On yet another sad note, our stray cat named Tommy hasn't been sighted in 4 days.  He used to eat at our house twice a day every day.  Now we only have Benjamin and Brindle and occasionally Jerry visit, who are all stray cats.  Tommy was my favorite outside cat, he was so sweet and calm and loved to be pet and sit in laps.  I was planning on finding a home for him before winter, as he would have made a great housecat.  
Here are some photos I took last June of Brindle and Tommy drinking milk and Tommy in the yard.  I miss that TommyCat.  He is tall and slender, has an Egyptian cat face.  I thought he was beautiful. 

Chloe the hen isn't acting right, she's been standing off by herself.  Our hens are getting older and I don't expect a few of the older ones to make it through the winter this year.  I'll have to give Chloe some extra treats tonight.
And to attempt to end this post on a cheerful note...This afternoon I was out with the chickens and I had a Diet Pepsi can in my hand.  All the hens begged to peck the shiny can.  And then, although I knew I shouldn't, I poured some diet Pepsi on the ground and made a small puddle of Pepsi. All the hens had to taste it, and they all ran off shaking their heads in disgust.  Except for Penny, the former house hen.  She gobbled the Diet Pepsi, she couldn't get enough of it.  She wasn't able to drink much before it was absorbed into the ground, but she loved what little taste she got.  She's such a goofball.  Maybe her former owners fed her soda, as she was a house hen, after all.  Who knows with her, I bet she lived off McDonald's scraps and Pepsi.  She lived in the city in someone's house in her former life and even still she prefers to be inside the house with me than outside with the other chickens.  Silly bird.         

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Guinea Keets are Free!

On Labor Day Monday we released our 18 young guineas into the wilds.

Young Guinea Flock

Previously the young guinea keets were penned with the chickens, where they were raised.  The 5 adult guineas roamed free.  It was time for the baby guineas to roam free and eat bugs, too.  The adult guineas had been spending a lot of time at the chicken pen fences watching the babies.  The babies are teenagers now.  Some of them are pretty large, and some are pretty small in size still.  We noticed the adult guineas and the babies were talking back and forth through the fence; they all seemed to get along.

This sounded really simple.  We opened the chicken pen gate and let the young guineas walk out.  The adult guineas were there to greet them.  However, it wasn't a happy greeting.  The adults chased and attacked the babies and bit them.  Quickly they separated, babies on one side of the yard, adults on the other.  The adults males kept running to the baby guinea side and randomly attacking babies.  The adult guineas wouldn't let the young guineas anywhere near the guinea feeding/watering area. 

The young guineas were very excited to roam free and attempted to ignore the adults.  They mostly stayed in a flock of 18, all walking around as one, in a tight group.  Sometimes a few would wander from the flock as they ate bugs, and as soon as they realized they were separated they would scream and the other young guineas in the flock returned their screams and they found each other.  They will not leave even one guinea behind, away from the flock of 18.  I like how they look out for each other.

The baby guineas scream all the time.  A guinea scream is loud and annoying.  The babies scream at everything, as they are learning what is safe and what is not.  Our property is very loud now.  I have no idea if a fox is out attacking them, because it always sounds like a fox is out there, with all the screaming.  Maybe the noise has kept away predators, as we have not lost any guineas this week!

The first night the guinea babies were free we herded them into the chicken pen in the evening and all was quiet.  On the second night it was pure chaos at nighttime.  I rushed home from work a little late, and when I got here the adult guineas were chasing the babies all over the yard, running like crazy.  The sun was setting, I didn't have any time to waste, I had less than 30 minutes.  Once it got dark I'd never find the babies and they'd spend the night in the woods on the ground, very easy prey for night monsters.  I had assumed the babies would fly into a tree to roost, but I guess they didn't get that message.  They forgot they can fly.

The babies were all separated, two here in front of the chicken coop, three there beside the chicken pen, a few way behind the chicken pen, a few in random bushes around the yard, and the rest running like cheetahs as an adult guinea chased them back and forth across the yard and down the street.  Everyone was screaming as loud as they could.  As it got darker and darker out the guinea babies got more and more hysterical.  They were scared, panic-stricken, out of control.  I caught a few guinea babies by hand, which is very hard to do, and threw them in the chicken pen.  One of them bit me.  Hard.  He was hysterical, thought I was killing him, I guess.  It was getting dark and they are blind in darkness.  Some of them who were near the chicken pen gate I herded into the chicken pen.  I climbed through heavy vines in my work clothes and shoes and gathered up the keets who were lost in the thick woods and herded them up to the chicken pen gate and got them in.  And then I had to ambush the ones that were being chased by adult guineas.  I had to wait until they were dashing by at a million miles an hour, dive out from behind a bush between the adult and the baby, separating them and distracting them from their concentrated chase.  And then I'd herd the hysterical baby guinea into the chicken pen.  The babies lost their minds, they thought they were going to die, they were running head-first into fences, not doing anything rationally.  If only they knew they could fly, but they forgot, it seemed.  Finally I got all the babies into the chicken pen shortly after it got super dark outside.  I was using a flashlight.  Chaos.  The adult guineas quickly flew up into their roosting tree all happy.  Damn birds!  I was not happy.  I was sweating like a pig underneath my business suit, which was covered in mud and spiders (spiders make their webs in the evenings in the woods) and my work shoes were covered in mud.

The next night and all subsequent nights the baby guineas were all waiting calmly nearby the chicken pen gate, and it was easy to herd them in.  One of us makes sure we are home before it gets too dark, before chaos begins.  Now the guinea babies spend nights in the chicken pen and days as free birds in a flock of 18.  Slowly it seems the adult guineas are accepting the babies more.  One of the male adult guineas stays with the baby flock much of the time, only chasing occasionally.  If only everyone can get along!    

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Update on shelter hen

Bonnie in the center, with guinea keet on left and Muffin on right

The new shelter chicken has officially been named - - - - - Bonnie! 

Let me back up in case you don't know who I'm talking about.  Bonnie is a hen we adopted from the local animal shelter a week ago.  She was in the shelter in a large cage for a week before we picked her up.  The cage was large enough for her to walk around in - a person could walk around in there.  But when we got her, Bonnie could hardly walk.

It seems Bonnie was confined and was not allowed to walk at her last home.  And then for some unknown reason she was released into the city streets of Washington DC to wander free.  And she was picked up by animal control.  Because of her confinement, Bonnie lost all her foot and leg strength.  Obviously her owners only wanted her for her eggs.  Also because she got zero exercise, Bonnie was terribly overweight.  She wore out quickly after little exertion.

Bonnie in center

After 2 weeks of being able to walk around, Bonnie is gaining some strength in her legs and feet and wears out less quickly.  She has great willpower.  For the last week she sat by a fenced door looking out into the chicken pen, watching the other chickens, talking to them.  All she wanted was to be with them.  I carried Bonnie out to the chicken pen a few times and let her attempt to walk around, and she did fine around the other birds.  Friday I carried her out and was letting her get some exercise, and she was doing so well and seems so happy that I decided to let her stay outside in the chicken pen with the other chickens and guinea keets.  I was going to wait until nighttime and let her roost with the other chickens and release her Saturday morning, but Bonnie really wanted to stay free. 

And - this is where it gets really sad.  I quickly realized that before Bonnie was confined to a caged prison where she couldn't move for a very long time (I'm thinking she was locked up many months or even a year to get in such bad shape!), she was with other chickens and was in a coop and walked free.  Bonnie totally got along with the other chickens.  She saw holes in the dirt and instantly knew to roll in the dirt without hesitation.  She walked up the little ramp into the chicken coop as soon as she saw it.  Other chickens had to be taught to walk up the ramp.  Bonnie knew what the ramp was.  She happily got up on a roost in the chicken coop before bedtime.  She knew to go into the coop at nighttime and knew what a roost was.

Bonnie in center, Freckles right

I'm comparing Bonnie's behavior to the other shelter hen, Penny.  Penny never was around other chickens and it was obvious.  She struggled learning the basics, like how to roost, how to walk up the ramp, how to just be around other birds.  She still prefers to be alone.  Bonnie is just the opposite of Penny.

This is sad.  This means this was a normal free chicken that someone took from a farm and caged and abused.  I'm wondering if she stopped laying and that's why she was released.  She hasn't laid an egg in over 2 weeks now.  Worse, was she replaced?  Is there another poor hen in a cage right now?  The shelter staff didn't know where Bonnie came from, just knew the neighborhood where she was found.   

I really like Bonnie hen now that I've gotten to know her, and it breaks my heart that anyone would abuse a living creature.  I guess, what did I expect getting animals from the local shelter?  Of course they may have been abused.  I was lucky that the first hen I got (Penny)  was someone's inside pet and was spoiled rotten.  Now Bonnie will live the rest of her life at our farm, never to be caged again.  Poor Bonnie has had a tough life for a chicken.