Will Today Be the Day?

Flycatcher chicks

It looks to me as if these flycatcher chicks are ready to get a lesson in flying from their parents.  Although you can only see three chicks in this photograph, there are actually five in the nest.  I suspect that they will be gone shortly, off discovering the world for themselves.

Ideal viewing location for nest

We normally discourage birds from building their nests on our house, but these flycatchers have chosen to build their annual nest in an overhang just outside a front-door window, which affords us a wonderful view of the nest from inside the house, as you can see above.  Having a nest at this location is a little messy at times, but because we have such a good view of the action,  it is allowed to remain year after year.  It doesn’t hurt their cause that flycatchers, as the name suggests, will consume vast quantities of flies.  You may recall from a previous post, entitled Non-Toxic Fly Control, that we try to utilize as many natural methods of fly control as possible.  These flycatchers are just one more tool in our arsenal.

I’m In a Fowl Mood Today

Turkey parade

I’m in a fowl mood because it seems like I’m surrounded by the feathered creatures day and night.  Stepping out the door, I see a group of wild turkey parading before me.  It’s a sight I always enjoy, and it gets me to thinking about the domestic fowl we (“we” – meaning Retta) raise as a hobby.

The old hen house

Here is one of our hen houses, which you may have seen in previous posts.  We use this building to house our guineas, whose numbers range variously from a few, to several dozen, depending on the time of year and activity of the local predators.

Broody guinea hens

Usually, our guineas would find some secluded spot in the tall pasture grasses in which to lay their eggs.  This year, however, several have decided to utilize the nesting boxes that are installed in the hen house.  They have been very broody as well, sitting on the eggs in quite a maternal fashion, patiently waiting for the eggs to hatch and the new-born chicks to emerge from their confining shell.

 Hatchling nest litter

Daily, Retta inspects the nest boxes, and when she finds newly hatched keets, she removes them from the box, leaving behind the litter of egg shells and feathers that you see in the photograph above.  To date, we have 36 little keets, and the number grows daily.

Temporary guinea keet nursery

We place the new-born keets into our makeshift nursery, which is comprised of a couple of livestock water tanks, having a bed of pine shavings and warmth provided by a pair of incandescent heat lamps.

Guinea keets

We will keep these fine looking guinea keets indoors, under our watchful eyes, until such time as their feathers come in fully and they grow to a more substantial size.  Then, it’s back out to the hen house for them, where we will keep them penned up for a few weeks.  After that, when the keets are large enough, we will begin letting them out of the hen house during the day, so that they can go about their glorious job of devouring thousands upon thousands of those ticks that we all love to hate so much.

New hen house for the chickens

Meanwhile, you may remember a post where we took a ride across Bull Shoals Lake on the Peel Ferry, the sole surviving Arkansas public auto ferry.  Ostensibly, the reason for that ride was to look over some professionally built hen houses, to determine if we should buy, rather than build, a new domicile for the chicks Retta had ordered from a local hatchery.  You can probably tell from the excellent workmanship of the new hen house in the picture above that we opted to buy, rather than build.  After looking at the cost of materials to build an equivalent structure, it turned out being worth our while to purchase this hen house.  It is sturdy, portable, and heavily constructed with quality materials by a group of Amish craftsmen in the Seymour, Missouri area.

Hen house interior

The interior has a translucent fiberglass panel to allow light into the house, and features 6 nesting boxes, perches, and slide-out litter drawers beneath the perches.  There is access to the protected outdoor “yard” area from within the house, and it is all protected from the weather with well-built metal roofing.

Egg doors for nesting boxes

The nesting boxes have doors that open up from the outside, so that we can easily collect the eggs that the hens will begin laying sometime soon.

Chickens enjoying the shade of the hen house

Here are just a few of the young chickens that now call this hen house their home.  They say variety is the spice of life, and we seem to be pretty well-seasoned with this eclectic mix of chicken breeds, which includes assorted Polish chickens, Silkies, and Spitzhaubens.

So now, perhaps, you understand why I sometime feel that I’m in a fowl, fowl mood.

Should He, or Shouldn’t He? Would You?

Mushroom found in the lawn

While preparing to cut the grass today, I ran across this gigantic mushroom.  In order to provide a sense of scale, I placed a CD on the ground next to the huge blob of fungus before snapping the photo.

I am not familiar with the various members of the mushroom family, so I cannot identify this particular specimen, and hence, cannot tell you if this is edible or not.  But there is certainly one way to tell:

Should he, or shouldn’t he?

If you don’t hear from me for a little while,  I’m sure you’ll have an inkling as to why!