Archive for the ‘guineafowl’ Category

Uninvited guest

February 18, 2016

“Steady on! This is a well known MUSCOVY perch buster! Are you a Muscovy? No, didn’t think so, no self respecting Muscovy would sport a hat like yours!”

Muscovy & guinea

“Yeah, that’s it, DOWN is where you need to be heading – find your own perch!”

Muscovy & Guinea

More than we could chew

August 12, 2015

The View – a different perspective…

The View

I’m sad to have to report that once our quail endeavours were fully up and running, we soon realised that we had bitten off more than we could chew. It turned out to be a very high maintenance venture, with runs having to be moved/cleaned out every other day. And for insufficient financial return. Our days at this time of year are already full and we took a step too far with this project. So, the quail are no more. Of course the wee birds haven’t gone to waste, filling a space in the freezer, labelled (in my mind at least) ‘Romantic meals for Two’. We have an abundance of preserved eggs too. Hey ho.

So, let’s get all the bad news out-of-the-way in one go; one of the female guineas got knocked down. Some drivers in the glen can be heavy-footed and she didn’t manage to move fast enough. It was an outright death thank goodness, I don’t think she would have known much about it. Her mate called for her for a couple of days then promptly stole someone else’s wife!

Guinea fowl

The grey guinea, who out of season is on the periphery of the flock, now has TWO husbands – the widower and her ousted partner who still hangs around! Sometimes I’ve spotted the ousted one with the lone, bottom-of-the-ladder female instead but preen him as she might, he doesn’t stay.

Enough of the gloom and doom. Polly Blue-tail hatched five ducklings a couple of weeks ago and Mrs Under-by hatched nine yesterday but kept them well guarded.

Mrs Under-by

BB has produced her third family of the season; five ‘regular’ chicks…

BB

…meanwhile, the inseparable sisters, Thelma and Louise, are sitting on their third set of eggs this year. Maybe they like to chat through the wall?

Thelma and Louise

After the quail disappointment, we decided to put Kevin’s specially constructed brooder to good use by incubating some of our own hen eggs. You just can’t have enough home-grown chicken!

brooder

Annnnnd in the middle of all the summer chaos, I got two portrait commissions from some early season guests – Dottie…

Dottie

…and Poppy.

Poppy

Never a dull moment then!

Still here!

July 2, 2015

Dinner guests Good grief! It’s AGES since I posted on Garybuie’s blog but worry ye not (on the off chance that you were!), we’re still here, just busy, busy with guests, gardens, birds and dinners! Skye is heaving with visitors so we are full every night and many of our guests have been taking us up on the offer of dinner.
Besides spending more time in the kitchen, outdoor tasks are also at their peak. The weather is awful; damp and dreary, cold too until the last few days. We may have reached mid-summer but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Of course our daylight hours are abundant and Pusscat seemingly disapproves, trying his best to seek SOME darkness to facilitate his naps. At least I have an eye mask to help!

Pusscat

Anyway, as it’s been so long, I decided that a pictorial ‘catch-up’ would be easier, so here goes!

The quail are OUT!

Quail

quail

quail

Aunts Puff and Biggles took over ‘child-minding’ duties of Polly Blue-tail’s offspring…

Puff, Biggles, ducklings

…whereas Mrs Under-by’s three remaining ducklings have been learning all about adult conversation…

muscovies

…and are seemingly unimpressed by it!

muscovies

Broody Brenda decided to sit…

Brenda

…and the Plymouth Rock decided to join her!

Brenda

Brenda appeared with the first three chicks of the joint hatch…

Brenda

…followed a couple of days later by the Plymouth rock and seven more. They’re still all sharing the same coop.

Plymouth Rock

Feeding time is certainly more chaotic with such a motley crew.

Feeding time

And as for the Guinea Fowl, after having most of their eggs stolen by our local, dastardly crow, they have finally made a nest out of his sight – which they’re all sharing – and we’re now getting a great supply of eggs! They do enjoy our rare days of sunshine taking a bath…

Guinea Fowl

…or squawking up a tree!

Guinea Fowl

As a culinary conclusion, we’ve enjoyed our first quail and have sold our first eggs!

Roasted quail

Weird family planning!

May 11, 2015

There’s plenty of family planning going on around the place at the moment. Polly Blue-tail appears to have been the only mother who planned it right; in a nest box in the duck house. Unfortunately, being a single parent, without eyes in the back of her head, has meant that she’s lost two of her offspring, probably to the dreaded crows.
ducklings Yesterday, Mrs Under-by hatched her new family of eight, an extra two having been sneaked in there after MY family planning of a ‘Max 6’ strategy! You may remember that her spot of bad planning was the fact that she chose a nesting-box in the Guinea Gang’s house, a foot off the ground! In order to avoid concussion of the wee mites when leaving the nest, we decided that some nice, soft straw should break their fall. Kevin went out first thing this morning to let the Guineas out. Soon after, Mrs Under-by took herself off for some ‘me time’, instructing the wee ones to stay put! The ideal opportunity then for Kevin to transplant the ducklings from box to straw, under the stern gaze of herself! On her return, it didn’t take long before she encouraged them out into the big, wide world where they met their cousins!

ducklings

There was confusion for a while with the new kids not knowing who to follow and mother ducks scolding each other’s offspring! It’s interesting to see the difference in size, with Polly Blue-tail’s ducklings at three weeks old now.
Still with ducks, Puff has been settled on her nest for about a week, with Biggles still laying next door. Yesterday however, Puff decided to move into Biggles’ box, possibly because the ducklings had taken to sleeping with her and making a mess in there. So, the revised plan seems to be one of sharing!

Puff and Biggles

Planning with the Silkies involves ‘Musical Boxes’. Louise started to sit (on regular hen eggs once more) about a week ago. Then Thelma joined in.

Thelma and Louise

If they both leave the nest at the same time, the music begins and whoever returns first just plonks herself down on the first eggs that she sees!

Thelma and Louise

But the award for the worst planning of all goes to the Plymouth Rock hen, a first-timer. You’d think that all was well with this cosy looking nest…

Plymouth Rock

…but don’t be fooled! Two of the other hens are still laying in the same nest (which I remove) so a couple of eggs have got broken. The nest is also somewhat nomadic, moving to different positions in the coop. Sometimes she sits on the eggs, others she sits on the straw with no eggs. Somehow I don’t think she’s cut out for this motherhood malarkey!

And finally, a technique which seemingly involves no planning at all! The Guinea Fowl Technique. We’ve had about half-a-dozen eggs from them so far and not a nest in sight; just a single egg placed randomly on the grass or by a bush! I understand that they like to lay in a shallow depression in tall plants, well, everything’s so slow at coming on with such unseasonably, cold weather, that any formal nest-building has been put on hold!

Eggs

Moving forwards…

March 19, 2015

…to spring, hopefully. It was another beautiful day on Skye yesterday, albeit a wee bit hazy.

the view

Everybody’s just been happy doing what they do. Sitting on the shed roof checking up on what I’m doing in the kitchen…

Puff and Biggles

…taking a dip…

Chance

…or a snooze…

Lucky

…or just watching the world go by.

Patches

The guinea Fowl are enjoying widespread foraging in this dry weather. (They are also starting to arrange themselves into pairs ready for the spring season)

guinea fowl

It’s foraging nearer to home however for our young Silkie family. I love seeing them all together!

Silkies

BB however has other things on her mind – or under breast to be more accurate! Here she is in a dark corner, happily sitting on 6 eggs. (Not her own of course but don’t tell her!)

BB

As of yesterday, someone else decided to sit too – Polly Bluetail. Here she is giving me that warning look through the a wee gap in her nest box!

Polly bluetail

Today I closed the hens’ Winter Spa’, a decision which didn’t go down well I can tell you! I told them that I didn’t give two hoots, as I need to get the place ready for planting. The displaced soon had plenty to do though, ‘helping’ Kevin as he cleared some of the rough ground outside the old church in preparation for quail summer housing.

Hens

Good and bad things on our return

March 3, 2015

We managed to avoid any snow on our return journey north but for the last couple of days, we’ve awoken to varying amounts of the stuff. This morning big, fat flakes fell to earth and it looked as though they meant business but by the time I took a shot of The View this afternoon, the snow line had retreated to higher levels.

The View

It’s good to be back at Garybuie and even though it’s been a pretty action packed week with our grandchildren, Granddad Skye seemingly involved in most of the action…

twins

twins

… we feel as though our batteries are suitably re-charged for the start of our new season, just one month away.

There have been good and bad things to return to. Dad was most upset to find one of the hens dead whilst we were away. It was Nest Thief. At least Broody Brenda’s nest should be safe this year; I’d like to think that Brenda is much too nice a girl to have been involved in a murder! And just today, Kevin has had to dispatch one of the Guinea Gang who we noticed wasn’t well when we got home; slightly laboured breathing, loss of (dishevelled) plumage, sitting alone. I looked online for any hints as to what it could be but I’m none the wiser. Better to be safe than sorry, plus the fact that we don’t like to see any creature in obvious distress.

The good news however, is that Thelma and Louise have still got their two chicks. They finally ventured outside last week, although with the weather being so cold, they’ve returned indoors for most of the time. They are VERY careful mothers!

Silkies

And look at this, here’s aunt BB in the foreground, sharing a mealworm treat!

Silkies

In our years of raising chickens, never has a mother hen allowed any other hen near her chicks. The Silkies have a different attitude however; all just one, big happy family – including Wee Man!

Don’t get excited but….

February 9, 2015

…there are a couple of encouraging signs around Garybuie which make me feel as though we’re at the right end of winter – the back-end! Signs which raise the spirits at least.

snowdrops

Thelma the Silkie doesn’t care what season it is and presented us with a solitary chick at the weekend, two didn’t hatch, thrilled that she’s become a mum for the first time.

Thelma with chick

Louise is also sitting on three eggs but doesn’t seem quite so focussed but who knows? All three Silkies have been determined to sit throughout the winter months and we kept removing their eggs. This made not the slightest difference to their intentions, so on the latest occasion, we’ve let the two sisters fulfil their wishes, albeit exchanging their own eggs for regular hen eggs. I feel so sorry for them when they sit for weeks with no family at the end of it! The comical thing has been that if both Silkies left their respective nests at a similar time, whoever returned first plumped for the nest nearest to the door, the last arrival heading for the one furthest away. A game of ‘musical nests’ it would seem, although they were both on the correct nests when Thelma’s chick began to hatch.

Nothing to do with the weather at all, the Guinea Gang have been enjoying the discovery of new perches; any roof will do and in this case, the conservatory one provided a whole new perspective as it’s good for checking out what those humans get up to! This particular perch will certainly provide a topic of conversation over breakfast during the B and B season if it’s still in use!

Guinea fowl

Seasonal weather and greetings!

December 23, 2014

Obviously, Mother Nature has heard that variety is the spice of life. She’s certainly gifted us with her whole catalogue of winter weather over the past couple of weeks; light rain, heavy rain, rain with and without gale force wind, calm frosty days, crystal clear days, mild and murky days, snow, and ferocious hailstone. Some days we can see the Ridge…

The Ridge

…and some days we can’t.

The view

All of the animals deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at them, each in their own way.

There are pools for bathing.

Chance

Perches to reach with your newly grown primary feathers.

Mrs Under-by

There is grassland to forage. (And running to be done if you’re Kevin. Obviously the Guinea has spotted him in the distance!)

Guinea gang

Or one can get up close and personal in the hope of a wee treat!

guinea gang

The hens don’t like to get wet, so spend a lot of their time in the Winter Spa They also tend to be ushered to bed as soon as decently possible by Big ‘Don’t even think about wetting MY feathers’ Fella!

Big Fella

There are one or two hens however, who seem to feel that a good downpour enhances one’s hair-do!

Thelma

Of course, both cats choose to spend the bulk of their time indoors. Needless to say, Patches does it with style!!

Patches

So finally, whatever your weather, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas!

Freedom!

December 7, 2014

It’s been a busy old week. There were a couple of nice, dry days, so it gave me the chance to plant our new raspberry and blackcurrant plants. The plants we have at the moment are very old and it’s time for some new stock. The old D.I.Y fruit cage has taken a battering over the years so will be demolished after next season’s raspberry crop. Of course we now have our new fruit cage, gifted to us by our friends recently before they moved south of the border, which has been great temporary accommodation for the Guinea Gang. Anyway, I measured a space for the cage in the veg plot and planted or new bushes within the boundary. In this picture you can see the fruit cage in its present position beyond the veg plot – along with an inquisitive Guinea fowl!

Fruit bushes

I’ve also been busy indoors too with all things festive; making this year’s Garybuie Christmas cards, along with pickles and preserves as gifts.

Pickles & preserves

Another gift wrapped and posted was my latest portrait, Toby, who belongs to an elderly lady whom I’ve known for most of my life, down in England.

Toby

And then the BIG news; The Guineas are OUT! We really didn’t want to wait six weeks before granting them their freedom, so after just less than three weeks,
we decided to risk removing the netting around the cage yesterday. There was careful exploration of their extended environment and they all went to bed in the evening like good little guineas! Today they’ve been more adventurous, exploring the garden…

guineas

guineas

…checking out the fast food joint (not impressed!)…

guineas

…and checking US out through the kitchen window!

guineas

Guinea fowl update

November 28, 2014

THE VIEW…

the view

A glorious day today! It got off to a chilly start but it has been one of those ‘good to be alive’ days; one when outdoor chores seem well, less of a chore! We really have been lucky with the weather this autumn. Anyway, enough of the weather and more about our recent additions to Garybuie – those Guinea Guys and Gals! Although their world is lamentably smaller than they’ve been used to, they seem more settled. Even the two bottom-of-the-ladder girls are managing to avoid confrontations. Kevin built a high perch in the run and those two really enjoy being up high where they can keep an eye on everyone else.

hen-pecked

They are becoming more inquisitive, with the head honcho (or at least one of them!) leading all investigations…

guinea fowl

Here he is again, checking what I’m up to in the coop!

guinea fowl

Twice each day, mid-morning and afternoon feeing time, I make a point of calling to them (‘Chick, Chick Chickies!’ – is that right Gaye?) and treating them to a few meal worms. Although they can’t see me when I come out of the kitchen door, if they hear my voice, they start to chatter excitedly and as I approach their enclosure, they pace along the fence line in eager anticipation of their treat! The two bottom-rungers get their treat separately in the smaller run just outside the coop. Hopefully, this ploy will help when they become free-range should I need to call them at bed-time, if they forget where their house is!


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