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August 15, 2011 / 74

The Guineas Get their Freedom. The Chicks Settle For Less.

It has been a busy week, and a lot of it non-productive.

Monday went shopping for groceries (a two hour round trip – just to get there and back), and ended up leaving my car at the garage (at closing time) with a bad battery.

Tuesday picked up the car and did the grocery shopping, and picked up some material for a few necessary projects.

Wednesday I put in seven hours of shredding and bagging straw for bird bedding, and collected about 5 to 10 pounds of rye.

Thursday the belt on the mower deck broke, and since the deck needed leveling anyway – Early Friday AM I called the fix-the-lawnmower guy and took it over. That was a large chunk of the day… he’s about an hour drive one way too.

Saturday was riding to town and sitting in the waiting room for half the day while the techs put a new rear tire on and greased and oiled Frogger. (Frogger = 2005 750 cc Honda Shadow Aero). The tire was so bald, I feared getting caught in a rain storm – and having no traction on the back. NOT GOOD on a bike! Riding home was an experience since the new tire had TREAD on it, and it vibrated a lot. It took me about six blocks and my rear was numb. ;-D

Sunday we opened the pen dividers and let the pullets in with the hens, and then opened the ramp so they could all go outside into the hen-pen

… and we opened the outside door and let the guineas out to free range to their hearts content.

It worked out pretty well, with the guineas roaming in a flock down to the yard, and up to the pasture. Then it was dusk – time to go in. All the eggsperts said they’d just return to their pen because they have a strong “homing” instinct. But these guineas had a better idea. They were going to roost on the ground out by the deep deep woods. It took me nearly an hour to get frustrated with one of the dogs who thought it was great fun to watch me get the birds flocking, then to run through them scattering them.

So I put that one in the house, and kept the border collie/ lab with me and we took our time and eased them to the ramp, where they decided that it was bed time and promptly began to settle in – on the ground beside the ramp. I finally convinced one of them to go up the ramp and inside… then another followed, etc, until only one remained. It refused to go in and ended up flying off to roost in a dense weed patch. I raised and locked the ramp and wished the maverick well during his night with the owls, & etc.

And we got some more tomatoes today – as well as some of these little guys… tomato horn worms. These critters will eat the entire tomato plant!!!

A Tomato Horn Worm

We also found some tobacco horn worms.

The pullets didn’t seem to be interested in eating them – I think because they didn’t recognize them as food since they didn’t move. The guineas, however, were more than willing to give the worms an exploratory peck, and then when the worms moved, they snagged them and played “keep-away” with the worms as the prize. These critters are gross and ugly, and look FEROCIOUS – which is probably how they survive. It’s that whole camouflage thing – first they’re hard to see when among the greenery, and second, as I said, they look nasty with that “horn” poking out. The worms in the below picture are in the bottom of a “3 pound” coffee can – which should give you some idea of how BIG they are.

Tomato Horn worms have the "V" on their sides. Tobacco HWs have a forward slash.

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