Tag Archives: guinea fowl

Old times, new developments

After a leisurely breakfast we dropped off some dry cleaning and went to have two new tyres fitted. Including tracking it cost me £270, which is more than I’ve paid for some of my cars. After that it was off to Men in Sheds to drop off birthday cards and then on to Rufford Abbey, where I failed to capture photos of Wrens, Nuthatches, Marsh Tits and a Kingfisher.

Just a few shots for now, showing the guinea fowl enjoying themselves in the sun, the new bird feeders being made by Men in Sheds and the kitchen extension.

The guinea fowl seem unaware that they should be staying inside to avoid bird flu, the bird feeders may never be filled (there has been no feeding done since we left) and the kitchen extension has meant that the pizza oven and barbecue have been demolished.

Such is life.

In which the day improves

This is the promised Part II, in which the day improves. The morning wasn’t too good but the day improved as it went on. The group has baked mince tarts and iced the cake, so the party food is underway.  Our fully-qualified and licensed Santa Substitute has collected the suit and is going to practice tonight (he has already grown his beard at the sides ready for the Big Day). I can’t post a photo of Santa yet as it will spoil the surprise.

I managed to get a few Fieldfare photos, but with only one skittish individual as a subject it proved difficult. The bird was intent on eating hawthorn berries and when it was in the tree it was either moving or partially obscured by branches. When it was on the ground it spent most of the time in various hunched positions eyeing up berries. I did get a shot of a Yellowhammer, but it was small and blurred. It’s only the second one I’ve seen this winter, which is a bit annoying when you think they were regular visitors to the allotment during the summer.

And finally, after worrying that the guinea fowl had been absent all morning, they finally appeared, waddled across the yard and started to eat all the food under the bird feeders. I suppose it saves waste, but I’m not sure the Chaffinches were happy. A word of warning to the guinea fowl though, if people consider you good to eat it might be a good idea not to eat too much in the run up to Christmas.

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Guinea fowl on the prowl

Boiling a frog

We had a power cut yesterday, starting just after lunch and lasting until we went home. At times like that you realise all your work is on computer, and when the wireless connection goes off everything grinds to a halt.

Julia had just started a meeting about The Grant (it is taking over my life to such an extent that I now think of it with capital letter) when everything went dark. Fortunately she had her laptop and a fully charged battery so she was able to carry on.

I filled my time usefully by reading the paper outside on the decking and by taking photographs. That’s when I found another problem with having no computer – I had nothing to view the photos on. It’s so much easier using the computer screen for viewing; the small screen on the camera just isn’t good enough.

When, I asked myself, did I become computerised to the extent that I can’t function without electricity?

And when did I start referring to the  verandah as “decking”?

That’s how it is with change (as exemplified by the tale of the Boiling Frog) – it just creeps up on you without you noticing it.

 

 

A mystery solved

You may recall that I’ve been blaming jackdaws for knocking bird feeders down and then eating the contents.

Well, it seems there is another possibility. They may have been knocking the feeders down but I now have another avian candidate for the emptying of the feeders.

Look at the photos of these two suspicious characters mopping up spilt food and all will become clear.

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Suspicious characters lurking under the bird feeders

They need to be careful, because unlike jackdaws, they taste nice when roasted and people are always asking about them at Christmas…

The third day

With nine visitors with learning difficulties and our normal Wednesday six, we had a lively day as everyone decided there were no strangers, just friends they hadn’t met.

Today’s pizza count was only 14, but I had to prepare all the dough myself, ready for topping (it’s a long story featuring a glitch in timing).  Actually I made dough for 18, but we only used enough for 12, and took my two emergency gluten-free bases out of the freezer.  I used the extra dough, with a selection of olives and fresh-picked rosemary to make a loaf. It’s quite good, though the flour is just cheap flour, rather than strong white.  I didn’t take a picture, just made a cheese sandwich. It was good.

My arthritis is now playing up, as kneading the dough for 18 pizzas is not quite what the doctor ordered. Strange how when you’re young and healthy you don’t look at a pile of pizza dough as a challenge. How things change.

The keets are looking perky, and several of them are exhibiting a tendency to have a go at flying. The grey one is actually developing a taste for showbiz by the look of things and Julia says it’s almost impossible to put your hand in the pen without it throwing itself at you for selection.

The woodpecker came back to the feeder, the sun shone, a mistle thrush did its stormcock act in a tree top and  all in all it was the sort of day that makes it all worthwhile.

Things that went badly – checking up on allergies. Things that went well – emergency gluten-free pizza bases, new friendships, Gemma’s felted teddy bear (made with alpaca wool).

 

 

 

Rainy Monday and a feeling of Doom

Well, the elastic bands sort of worked. Only one feeder was knocked off over the weekend, and it retained its contents. On another feeder the band had snapped and was lying in the water container. It makes refilling the feeders a bit more complicated but as it seems to have saved a feeder of Nyger seed it’s worth it.

We had a blue tit visit the feeder I stuck on the window. It announced its presence with an irritating irregular tapping sound, which tends to suggest it might be a bit of a mixed blessing.

Out in the cherry trees down the drive Alasdair spotted a green woodpecker. We’ve had a bit of a chequered history with the species, having some good sightings locally but none round the centre. We hear them all the time and sometimes see something in the distance that flies like one but we’ve not had a good sighting. Alasdair is usually very good on IDs like this, so I added it to the list. A bit later I saw it too, as it rose from the ground and flew down the drive just as Alasdair had reported. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.

As I write this there’s more irritating tapping on the window. Julia says it’s a blue tit but as soon as I moved it spooked and flew off.

The keets are all keeping well, as are the two chicks that are in with them. We’ve called it a day with the eggs in the incubator as they were showing no signs of life and were well overdue. That’s what happens when you put dirty eggs in a dirty incubator. I know there’s a skill to it too (It’s not like the monster incubators we used to have at work) but basic attention to detail goes a long way to ensure hatchability.

There are around 17,000 pores in an egg shell. That is 17,000 places for a pathogen to enter. As the egg cools the contents contract and air and is drawn into the shell.

If your egg is laid in a dirty nestbox, or on the floor, the cooling process will suck in germs, which will find the mix of nutrients and warmth in an egg a very good environment.

When I worked in a hatchery we used to candle the eggs at 18 days and transfer them to a hatcher, which had a different environment for the last three days. It was dark in there, it was cramped and , above all, it was 37 degrees C (about 99 degrees F).

Just to add to the excitement, an egg would would occasionally explode when you pulled a tray of eggs out of the rack. These “bangers” were eggs that had incubated a full load of pathogens and, on being disturbed, burst under the pressure. When that happened we used to grab a disinfectant spray and mist the incubator in an attempt to stop a build up of germs. They used to work continuously, so there was never a time when we could switch them off. In fact those machines only stopped three times in 30 years – once when we moved them to another building, once when we programmed a major maintenance programme and once when we switched them off for the final time.

Anyway, backed to the cramped darkness and the stench of a burst egg. It wasn’t pleasant, and it was bad for the other eggs. Sometimes you could see this when candling as you could see a central egg and a spreading ring of eggs around it where it had infected the others.

And so, as my wife gradually draws me back into dealing with poultry, and into incubating more eggs, you can see why the feeling of doom is creeping up on me.

Two of the pictures are from today – the wet one with wheelbarrow and the red one with keets under a heat lamp. The others with poultry are from last week – look how the goslings have grown! Look at the way one of the parents (probably the gander) is thinking of having a go at me. He is going to end up with a shiny jacket and a couple of hours in a low oven if he isn’t careful.

The goats, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, are planning an escape. I know that because I had to spend 20 minutes getting them back in the pen later that afternoon.

Great days! 😉

 

 

 

 

Rescue!

Byron the farm apprentice was walking through the barn twenty minutes ago when he heard chirping coming from the large coop in the barn.

We don’t use it for much these days, having moved the last of the hens out a few weeks ago and moving most of the remaining guinea fowl out last week. (No, don’t look for logic, it was just one of the things the farm did to tidy up for Open Farm Sunday).

There are still a few guinea fowl left, indeed two of them provided a great deal of entertainment last night by chasing each other round and flying in and out of the barn to the accompaniment of much noise and posturing.

The chirping was coming from the roof of the coop, where the escapee guinea fowl often roost. There are always escapee guinea fowl. There have been since two days after Farmer David initiated the big guinea fowl round-up.  They are without doubt the escapingest birds I have ever met.

Anyway, to cut to the chase…

There were eight guinea fowl keets on the roof – one looking a bit shaky and one a bit wet. I’m pretty sure that the shaky one isn’t going to survive because it seems to have damage to the nervous system. The wet one is currently in the incubator as we rig up a heat lamp.

It’s probably best to avoid a discussion on Health and Safety here as I’m pretty sure that neither to rescuer nor the photographer were adhering to best practice.

There are also a couple of chirping eggs that we have put in the incubator.

Oh yes, there’s always a surprise if you work here!