Sweet, sweet freedom

luigiAfter spending a few weeks in a quarantined brooding box, Vinni and Luigi finally got to come outside and live in the big wide world with all the other critters. Although getting them out of the brooding box proved to be quite the rodeo, at least for Abigail and Gene, they took to outdoor living right away. After being extricated from their box amid a squawking, hopping, hissing cloud of angry feathers, they spent the afternoon in a wire cage in the chicken coop so the chickens could get accustomed to their presence (and so they would have a few solid hours to calm down, nothing in the avian world gets fussier than a guinea fowl, apparently). Last night, I dumped them out of their wire kennel in the dark, then let them out this morning at dawn to roam. According to a few articles I read, guineas take 6-10 weeks to figure out where “home” is at night, IMG_9606but ours took to it right away. They quickly figured out that if they see me coming, treats will follow shortly, so they both barrel up to me whenever I walk out there. Not being one to disappoint, I always have some sort of delicious edible handy. They fell right in with the flock, and even roosted up tonight with no prompting from me. Apparently they are voracious insect hunters, and have even been known to kill rats and mink. They’re smart, too – you can’t keep bee hives with guineas around, since they’ll stake out the hive and snap the bees out of the air as they exit, one by one. They’re like a more calculating, even uglier version of the turkeys.

turkeysDimsworth and Hawthorne, for their part, haven’t even noticed the new arrivals, despite the family resemblance. Vinni and Luigi spent the better part of the afternoon exploring the pasture, and the turkeys didn’t even bother to give them a second look. They were too busy trying to out puff each other. I’ve never had two male turkeys at the same time before, but apparently both of them are feeling a tad inadequate in the others presence, and do what they can to prove they are, in fact, the fluffier, fancier turkey. They’ll puff up and circle each other for hours, much to my great entertainment. They don’t fight, they don’t squabble, they just have this endless puff-off going.

The pasture is definitely getting full, especially since our broody duck’s eggs are startingduckling to hatch. So far today we have three brand new ducklings, which of course prompted a safety review of the area surrounding the Duck Mansion. I decided that I didn’t like the looks of the crevices surrounding the duck pond (I now have a great respect for landscapers that can magically make the hole fit the pond), so I screwed wooden planks to the pond rim in any spot I thought a duckling might disappear down into. Gene also devised an ingenious wooden swim ramp that angles down into the water, so the ducklings should be able to exit the pond with no problem. So far, the ducklings haven’t left the nest, and the new additions to the pond scared the adult ducks to the extent that they wouldn’t go near the pond until darkness fell, but I still consider my handiwork to be an unqualified success. I’m optimistic that way.

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