A long awaited event

Saturday, the day before Easter, an event I had long been waiting for finally took place!  Polly’s eggs began hatching!

I had noticed her standing over her nest when I went to close the barn door on Friday.  I thought it odd, but didn’t understand what was going on…  Later I would realize that her eggs were talking to her and she was listening!  Little minute piping sounds were coming from inside and just audible to only her!

Next morning I came out to open the barn door and there she was standing over the nest again.  Reaching down with her bill, she kept adjusting the eggs vigorously.  So vigorously, in fact, that I thought she would shatter each and every one!  I needn’t have worried as it turns out.

Here with few words are Saturday and Sunday’s main event on the Farmlet… NOTE:  All pictures are clickable for a closer look if you like.  🙂

It began as a small hole

A tiny bill is just visible through the top of the opening… It’s a GIRL!   (I will explain how I know this at the end of the post.)

I would visit many times throughout the day.  The process was painstakingly slow!

It’s a BOY!

Aww…  It’s a Boy, a Boy, a Boy, and a Girl!

“Here, drink this, this is good!”

When you are only less than 24 hours old then everything must be taught.  What to drink and what to eat are important lessons!

Polly’s bath made puddles for the goslings to explore.

Hatching and learning all about your world is hard work!  Time for a nap.

Polly brings the babies out about once an hour to eat and drink.  While out of the nest she calls to them constantly.  Interesting to watch, and when they get too far away (for her comfort) she calls more loudly and the flaps her wings quite hard!  The gust of wind she creates sends all four hustling back to be right underneath her.

As Promised

I mentioned that there was a way to distinguish between the boys and girls, and with the Pilgrim Goose it is quite easily done!  This heritage breed is sex-linked meaning that the males and females are different colors from birth.  Pilgrim goslings with dark bills and darker gray down are the girls, while the goslings with lighter coloring on their bills, and more yellow in their down are the boys.  EASY!

I chose the Pilgrim Goose breed for this as well as the following reasons:

  1. They are smaller in stature
  2. More docile (with people, though apparently not chickens!!!)
  3. They are on the critical list for domestic breeds.

I love how Polly will follow me about, though not at the moment, and talk to me.  Perhaps with the babies this will change?  We’ll see.

To find out a bit more on this wonderful goose bread please go here:  http://albc-usa.org/cpl/waterfowl/pilgrim.html

At Last

At last, the sun has come along
The coldest days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My yard is wrapped up in clovers
The sunlight feels good too…

Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For the sun will shine
At last

(With apologies to Etta James 😉 )


The view from my window

Sadly, I think if I want a lawn this year I will have to get out there and replant it. The winter was just too harsh and not much but weeds and daffodils have survived it.  Ahem, and much as I love my chickens, I will need to put up the electric poultry fence to keep them from eating all the seeds!!!

And poor Little Red Hen…

Little Red is finding the sunshine particularly comforting this morning.

She has lost about 75 percent of her feathers so far this spring and got an eye infection to boot!  I took her to the vet in Tennessee yesterday and now she gets eye salve three times a day to clear it up. Gasp! But every time I pick her up more feathers fall out!  Thankfully, they are growing in quickly and the weather is going to be warmer for the next few days.

Is it warming up where you are?


So what do a guinea fowl and I have in common with Dr. McCoy in a Star Trek movie?

Have you ever noticed how sometimes our lives can mirror the fictional experiences of well-known and/or loved characters from favorite books and movies?  You’re going along minding your business, getting the job done, and suddenly you are inexplicably relating to a character or living a similar experience to theirs.  Here is what I mean…

Those of you who raise chickens know that you can only have one rooster for every 8 to 10 hens.  I have 19 hens and two roosters, Grayson and Topper.  So, everything works out peaceably and my little hens are safe from becoming bare backed and injured from too much attention…  Or at least they were until the weather became more springlike.

With the longer days and warmer temperatures the Guineas have been feeling “… in the mood for love” and very aggressive.  I thought up until very recently that I had two Guinea Hens, and one male Guinea.  I was wrong!  I have TWO males and they ignore the Guinea hen in preference to the chickens.

Suddenly all my hens are looking bare on their backs and are unwilling to come in from the pasture at night.  I hear a commotion and look out to see the white guinea chasing a hen and he is unrelenting.  He grabs to poor girls feathers and she runs about with him in tow until the guinea is left behind with a  mouthful of feathers!  I ask you, how much can one chicken take?

The Farmlet is no longer a place where happy chickens abide.  I have a decision to make and watching at the window I already know the answer to my problem.  I am not happy.

I round-up the white guinea at bedtime and put him in the holding pen so that I can ‘do the deed” in the morning.  However, when morning comes I find that the gray guinea has moved right on in and is now taking up where the white guinea left off…  I go into the chicken run and round up the other male.

As stated, the job is not a happy one and it is made all the more difficult for their strength.  They are beating me with their wings and making the job nearly impossible.  I almost give up.  Then I look over at my hens and see how much happier they are already.  They have lingered in the chicken yard this morning and are dustbathing and just hanging out with Grayson.  I haven’t seen them do that for weeks.

WARNING:  Now, I promise you I will not go all gory on you, but if you are the least bit squeamish, then do not read any further.  If however you ever intend to butcher your own Guineas you need to know what I discovered yesterday.

The anatomy of a guinea hen is of course made up of all the same parts as a chicken, BUT… they are not all in the exact same place as a chicken!

Here for your reference is a diagram of the anatomy of a chicken.  And by the way, I looked high and low for a diagram like this for the guinea hen, but there were none to be had.

Now, again the guinea had the same “innards” but they were not where I expected them to be… and this made cleaning them awkward…

And it was at that precise moment that I recalled the scene in Star Trek’s “The Undiscovered Country, when Bones (aka: Dr. McCoy)  is trying to save the life of  Admiral Gorkon and fails.  Now I grant you, my mission was not the saving of life, but the preparation of food for the table, but the consequence of not knowing the precise location of some important anatomy nearly made the job impossible!  As was unfortunately the circumstance for Dr. McCoy.

As you can see from the diagram above the chicken’s body is very rotund and the crop is located well down into her chest.  Her gizzard is pretty well centered in her middle and her lungs are  compact more to the anterior location of her spine.

Well, first off the guinea’s shape is elongated as in this picture.

So, in a guinea you will discover, should you choose to go there, that the crop is elongated and comes up into the neck region.  The gizzard instead of being into the center of the bird is located along the bottom and in the posterior region. The lungs  seemed to be all along the interior spine, and in my observation nearly twice the size of a chicken’s lung.

So why does this make cleaning a guinea harder than cleaning a chicken?  Well, it doesn’t once you know where it all is.  However, there are three organs you never want to damage or pierce (for health reasons) when cleaning a bird and these are:

  • the crop
  • the gall bladder
  • and the intestines

Your successful accomplishment of the task of cleaning depends on knowing these locations.  So why did I mention the lungs you ask?  Only because I was so amazed at how really big they were.  Which explains perhaps why they are able to make such a loud and ear-piercing noise.

So today was a very quiet day.  The hens stayed in the chicken yard for most of the day, only visiting the pasture in late afternoon, and everybody was in the hen-house by sunset.  All in all, enjoyable if you were a hen.

And that is as it should be here on the Farmlet.

NOTE:  If you butcher your own bird you must refrigerate and let it sit for 2 to 3 days before you freeze or cook it.  Otherwise it will be very tough and hard to chew!

Roast Guinea Fowl

Rub down the outside of the bird with Olive oil.  Sprinkle inside cavity with kosher salt.  Sprinkle outside of bird with sage and Kosher salt and let rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.  Place rack in a roasting pan, put bird in rack, add about 1 inch of water to roasting pan,  and carefully place into the center of the oven.

Warning: If you need to check the oven for any reason, then please stand back when you open the door to avoid steaming and or burning your face!

Bake for 22 minutes per lb. or until thermometer reads 180 to 185 degrees.    Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.