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! 


  1. I really enjoyed this post! I must admit that I chuckled more than once at your description of this dreaded chore. I could just imagine what it must be like running around in the dark, with all those birds frantically trying to avoid me.

  2. Oh Sharon, thank you! You've understood completely why I find other things to do when this needs to be done... ugh!
    No since showering beforehand either, as when the job is done, you need to wash away all the dust, poop, blood and bits of feathers that have adhered to every part of you~

  3. OH MY!! What a task indeed!! What a country gal you are =) You have no idea how much I love reading your adventures!! Hope to get caught back up as we are moving into the busy season here with sowing, planting and preparing for spring. Much Love ~ Pammy

  4. Wow... I can never think outside the box when it comes to different growing zones, Pam! Here we are in the thick of winter, but with only a little snow. It will be at least 4 months before I can begin to start planting! My heart is in the garden there with you! xox

  5. Hi Laura,
    I just found you and your beautiful Blog. I'm in awe at all that you do! Are you still standing? Ha, Ha! Nice to meet you :)
    xxx Liz

  6. So glad you stopped by, Liz! It's wonderful meeting new friends. I will return to your blog soon... my browser is being particularly sassy this evening. I am SO glad that chore can be scratched off my list til spring... PHEW!