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One Stange Bird December 19, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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My husband has often asked me why we bothered to name our blog “The Farm Chronicles” when he claims more than half of my postings (and nearly all the photos taken on our digital camera) are of chickens and turkeys.  He feels something along the lines of “The Poultry Pages” would have been much more accurate.  I have TRIED to bring a little more balance to the subject matter of my postings, but you know, the only livestock we HAVE right now is poultry!

Remember that dear little lone turkey poult that was the only hatchling from a clutch of eggs a broody hen had been setting?  When she was big enough and feathered out, I moved her into the henhouse and she settled into a low, yet peaceful, place in the pecking order.  Having been tended by me twice daily for so long, she became my little shadow when the birds were released to forage.  She would fly across the yard when she saw me and land on my shoulder, singing “Tweed, tweed, tweed!”  It was so cute and endearing! I became very fond of her.

A week ago Sunday, I heard all the roosters at once call out a very specific warning cry that I have come to recognize as a “hawk alert.”  When I went outside to check, Turkey Baby was gone.  I looked for her everywhere, but she was nowhere to be found.  She didn’t turn up for the evening feeding either.  I was so upset.  Two days later, one of our dogs, Daisy, came trotting out of our woods with her carcass.  The tail feathers were intact, so I knew it was her.  Losing favored animals to predators has never gotten any easier in the two years we’ve lived here.  And somehow, the predators always pick the ones I’m fond of- the ones with names and distinct personalities.  Why is that?  Don’t they all taste the same?  Couldn’t they pick the boring black mutt ones that even I can’t tell apart?  Or better yet- hunt somewhere else altogether?

guinea-2006-12-18.JPG

This past Sunday morning, Joe went out to open the little chicken sized door in the henhouse (that we close at night to keep opportunistic opossums, raccoons, and snakes out).  The chickens went streaming out into their pen as usual, but there was a guest in the yard already.  This one lone guinea was walking around like he owned the place.  When Joe tossed scratch out for them, he didn’t hesitate to chase even the roosters from what he thought was his fair share of the free buffet.  Some nerve!

We’ve never had any guineas.  We’ve thought about hatching some eventually, but they are notorious for wandering, so we haven’t made them a priority.  They have a reputation for being noisy (sometimes considered a good thing since they sound the alert for the presence of anything out of the ordinary).  One of their reported good points is pest control, though- they are known to keep the tick population in check (which our chickens also do a marvelous job of) and even attack and eat small snakes.  They come in several interesting colors, including lavender, but I have to say that I think they are very odd-looking birds.  Huge rounded bodies and pin heads with strange protrusions on them.  This particular one has a common plumage pattern that is called Pearl.  No telling who it belongs to (if one can truly “own” a guinea 🙂 ).

Since guineas are known to roam, we weren’t surprised when it wasn’t in the henhouse with the chickens at “lights out.”  This morning, however, he was out in the yard again, bossing the others around.  We figured he must have slept in a tree nearby and returned for the free eats.  No telling how long he’ll be around, but he’s an interesting addition for the meantime anyway.

By the way, you have to ask Joe to tell you the story of The Great Guinea Massacre of ’78.

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Comments»

1. Linda - December 21, 2006

We grew to love guinnea hens after losing most of our banty hens and our beautiful colored banty rooster to an owl. Most of our chickens were kept in a large enclosure where they had limited roaming in the grass and weeds. The banties seem to escape at every oportunity and would venture further and further from the barn during the day. One afternoon they didn’t come home and we found just his tail feathers left. The guinneas were wonderful watch dogs and we really had no problems with them wandering. I love your family’s writings.

2. Grams - December 22, 2006

Poor Turkey Baby.
I hope he tasted bitter to the hawk as his revenge!

Love the pix of frolicing kitties.

Luv, Grams


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