Tag Archives: Guinea hens

Lesson 654 – Guinea hens and vultures

Our newest editions, the young Guinea hens are settling in nicely. After a few days of hiding and getting pecked on by *everyone*, they have more or less become full members of the flock.  There are still, however, a few of the older ladies who will only put up with so much youthful exuberance. These grand ladies want to constantly remind the youngsters where their place in the flock is, but much to my relief, the Guinea hens have learned to get to safety by roosting on a high bar (and how they get up that high sort of defies any kind of logic, they don’t exactly look like flying birds.)

Our as yet, un-named birds huddle together, keeping each other safe and warm under the keen eye of other flock members.

That’s one keen eye.

They make sure to keep out of pecking distance and are content to watch what goes on below them.

“How are the vultures doing?,”  Asked one of my sons when he saw me taking pictures out at the coop.

“They’re not vultures,” I corrected him. “They’re Guinea hens.”

“Can’t you tell the difference?”

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Lesson 646 – new chicks and *another* storm

Whew, the election is over. Whether your side “won” or “lost” the decision is made and now it’s time to work together to do what we can to right this ship and put it back on a steady course.

And speaking of work, we’re in the path of a snow storm. Yup, last week a hurricane, this week a snow storm (what is it they say about New England weather – something to the effect that if you don’t like it, just wait a minute?)  In any event, it’s time to get prepared *again.*

Although, can I just officially ask Mother Nature to give us a little bit of a break? We haven’t even had time for the carpet of leaves on our lawn downed from the last storm to dry out enough to rake them up yet. Please go easy on the limbs and trees.

On the chicken front, our two newest additions (*still* unnamed but we’re working on it) are having some difficulty fitting in. I had read somewhere that Guinea hens didn’t transition well into chicken flocks but I was assured by the breeder that this wasn’t the case.

I’m starting to wonder. Continue reading

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Lesson 642 – May I introduce our newest flock members

The kids are back at school, Halloween has been pushed out to Sunday (second year in a row, last year we were buried in snow) and things are slowly starting to get back to normal.

The winds are still blowing and we have soggy skies (and ground), so not only are we staying away from the woods in our back yard, but yard cleanup will have to wait until we know everything is safe.

I had mentioned on Monday that we had two new members to our flock. Perhaps the timing wasn’t the best to get new birds right before a hurricane, but sometimes chickens wait for no storm. I’ve talked about getting these types of birds before and so when I saw them at our local chicken swap I jumped on the opportunity – Hurricane Sandy be damned.

May I present to you, two, as of yet, un-named juvenile Guinea hens. These little guys are about 6-8 weeks old and are old enough to be outdoors, but too young to be loose in the henhouse without supervision – hence the cage. When I know that conditions are safe, I’ll be transitioning them to the rest of the coop, however, they will not be allowed to do any free ranging for a few weeks. Guinea hens are notorious for not returning to the hen house and instead living the rest of their lives freely outdoors. (Apparently we have a flock of these birds roaming in our town already.) For now everyone is just getting acquainted. Continue reading

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Lesson 548 – Egg Washing 101

During my chicken workshops I cover how to wash eggs. It’s not really a complicated subject but you might be surprised at how many people are concerned about bacteria on eggs (especially with that big Salmonella scare last year) and want to know specifically how to clean them.

I get it, I get it. Eggs come out where??? Poop is gross. Poops on eggs is even more gross. But let’s talk a little about those eggs.

First of all when eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin oil coating that makes the shell impermeable to water (and therefore bacteria.) Because of this, you don’t need to refrigerate an unwashed egg for up to a few (3 tops) days. (Of course I tell people that they shouldn’t ever leave any eggs in a very hot kitchen or in direct sunlight.)

Most people don’t like any kind of dirt (especially poop) on their eggs. Not a problem, but all you really need is a little water and a soft sponge.

This is how I wash all of our eggs:

I use gloves, but I use thin plastic (reusable gloves) so that I can retain a certain amount of feel for the eggs. If you have any cuts or scraps on your hands, gloves are a requirement. (If you choose not to use gloves then make sure you use lots of soap and hot water afterward to wash your hands.)

I use a soft plastic bucket (I use the bottom of an old salad spinner) and fill it halfway with warm (not hot) water. Each egg gets gently placed in the bottom of the bucket (I only do about 10 eggs at a time to make sure they have room around them.)

Any eggs that float or whose butts tilt upward are discarded because it means that air has entered the shell and you can no longer guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated. Throw those suckers out.

Each remaining egg is then picked up and with a soft sponge (dollar store sponges work great) I gently scrub off any dirt. You’ll soon discover that a light touch is all you need. Continue reading

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Lesson 547 – Notes from a chicken workshop

My new official chicken workshop bag.

Last night I gave my Chicken 102 workshop. Here are some notes on the experience:

  • Even though I came prepared with a cone, even though I talked about how to humanely kill a chicken using a cone, every time I mentioned the act, I stumbled over the word. Stumbled, as in fell flat on my face, couldn’t even say the right word. Kill, dispose of, cone? Finally a man in the audience came to my rescue and like a parent gently leading a child to the coffin, told me that the word was “harvest.”

    Harvest. It’s a good word. The end of a successful season, the fruition of your labors. Something that is appreciated.

    It’s a good word.

  • That young family was there (with the lava lamp girl) and this time, after I had answered the question “what is the smallest flock you should have and what is the largest” (smallest is 3 birds, largest depends on your space and resources) she asked me, if chickens are flock animals, and if I had a chicken living in my house, then wasn’t that chicken lonely?

   Good question.

    I told her that this was a clear case of do as I say and not as I do. Charlie has flock members (she’s sitting next to me right now as I write this) but they are just birds of a different feather. Charlie is a unique situation and as much as we love her in the house, I’ve got to go on the record as saying that I don’t recommend that people start raising chickens in the house.

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Lesson 449 – Guinea hens – the platypuses of the fowl world

I have so much stuff to put up on this blog (including a new release by one of our chick-lit authors and a new induction into the Good Egg club – all will go up next week) but today I want to tell you all about my newest executive decision.

First let me introduce you to this magnificent creature:

It’s called a Guinea hen (or fowl) and if you ever thought that chickens resembled prehistoric beasts then you’ll see this little throw-back has everyone beat. Guinea hens are like the platypuses of the fowl world. Someone, somewhere wasn’t really paying attention when this genetic code came down the line. Continue reading

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