Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trimming time

I finally got around to trimming the flight feathers of the guinea fowl... young and old... and the banty-houdan cross hens I picked up in Vermont this past July. All 20 guineas and the 9 banties got into the naughty habit of "flying the coop", or at least the barnyard every day, and often than not wound up down near the road where they managed to cause a bit of a stir with ongoing traffic. I always put this particular chore off as long as I can, as it is time-consuming and a bit of a hassle...

The above photograph shows a nabbed guinea hen waiting to be clipped. It is a good idea to make certain their feet are tucked tightly under one arm, as they will fight and scratch as much as they can to escape. What I did not photograph was the half-hour spent wrangling every bird in the barn into one area, the boarding up of the window and unscrewing of the lightbulbs  (the birds cannot see well when it's dark, so they are much easier to grab!) nor the whole process of sorting through a good 60 assorted geese, ducks, chickens and guineas in the dark one at a time to figure out who needed their wings trimmed and who didn't. Such a fun time, as the panicked geese and ducks helped stir up enough choking dust to make the job extra exciting~

In this photograph, you can see that I have already trimmed the wing-feathers to the right side... I just need to trim the left and this guinea is free to go! Now, mind you, I have read many articles on what feathers to trim, but to be completely honest, after I've spent the time trying to corner and grab a bird in the dark, trip over a few geese and ducks on may way into the feed room to flip on the light so I can see where I'm cutting, all the while tucking scrambling wings, beaks and feet under one arm and fanning out the wing as quickly as possible while I reach for the scissors with my free hand, I really don't care if I'm cutting too many feathers. I only want to do this once and get to the other 28 birds and get this over with, so I cut all the lower wing feathers, but on just one wing only. This makes them lopsided in flight... hence, they can't get over the fence and out into the road.

Here is a shot of one of the banty crosses... she is pure black, as is the tuft on her head. I just love these girls... they resemble crows when they're altogether in the field. Two are pure white, and the rest are black flecked with golden brown. They are flighty (hence the need for a wing-trim!) and they lay tiny cream-colored or light tan eggs. Not great for selling on account of the egg size, but the aracaunas take care of my egg customers and I use these. (This procedure was quite stressful for these girls, as they haven't laid a single egg since the "operation")
All in all, it only takes a minute to trim each birds' one wing, so I'm not certain why I always make a big deal about this chore, as once you get a rhythym going, it moves along rather quickly.

Here are the geese giggling in the corner at how silly the trimmed birds look with one wing fully feathered and the other with a crewcut. Thank goodness I didn't have to trim their wings! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A blessed New Year to you

This new year dawned warm and foggy, with no snow in sight. The fog has burned off, and the temperature is in the forties. I am wondering if we will ever receive a goodly amount of lasting snow this winter... 2011's weather sure left a lot of folks scratching their head. I can't help but wonder what is in store for us this year...

I cannot help but think back on the winters of my youth. Perhaps my memories are all tumbled together and deceive me now, but it seems to me there was almost always snow, and lots of it, by Thanksgiving. Certainly there was always snow at Christmas time! And storms would follow, adding more loft to the downy blanket that covered the countryside... and NO melting off in between! I remember playing "King of the Mountain" at recess in gradeschool, and can still picture the huge piles of snow outside the window. And when we got off the schoolbus, we could walk home on top of the snowbanks all the way down our little road. Even when my children were small, the photographs show lots more snow, and it lasted well into April.

So I spend the New Year's Day yearning for a good old-fashioned snowstorm, reminiscing about time's passing, reflecting on last year, and wondering what lies ahead in 2012.

My wish for all is a simple one... may the New Year be kind, may it bring true contentment to our hearts, may we find comfort and grace, peace and good health. Happy New Year!