Wednesday, June 15, 2011

in touch with nature

The past week or so has been filled with wonders...both travelling, and at home.
There was the day that I rescued a hummingbird. To hold a hummingbird in your hand is a wonder.  I had opened the barn door to our workshop so that I could photograph a window I had been working on. When I went into the workshop, there was a hummingbird in distress trying to escape the workshop and get back outside through a closed window. I bellowed for John, and the two of us managed the rescue. John blocked the light from the other windows, and I managed to get my hands around the hummingbird....gently carried her outside...and released her. She flew high, high into the sky. And I felt blessed to have the experience.

A couple of days later, I was walking our two dogs. We were returning from picking up the newspaper, and walking up our 1/2 mile long driveway. I could hear the guineas squawking madly, and wondered how many we would return to. (we have lost 3 guineas this year...meals for the local wildlife)

I looked up the driveway, and saw something...what was it? took a few seconds to realize, but it was the most beautiful fox. He trotted along the driveway towards the dogs and me. Our dogs saw him, but seemed dumbfounded, and were still and quiet. The fox was oblivious to us and got within 40 feet...he looked up...saw us...paused a split second...then darted into the woods. Good thing our dogs were on leash. Otherwise, they would have given chase. And again I felt so very lucky for the experience. (I should note here that we didn't lose any guineas this time, but now I know perhaps the culprit of the previous losses).
Our newest guineas....guineau babies are "keets"
Last week we picked up 8 keets (guinea babies) to replenish our guineas (in case you are wondering, we do not eat these guys....we keep them because local lore says they eat ticks). You have to really baby these babies....keep them under a heat lamp for several weeks, free of draft and damp. They are kept indoors for six weeks...time to let them grow feathers and adapt to cooler conditions...and then they can be released. We generally keep them in a dog crate for a few weeks (covered in cardboard so they can't squeeze through the bars,  and blankets to keep out the drafts) and then move them down into the coop.

Day one....I knew two were sick. They were shivering and laying face down...definitely not a good sign. I removed them from the crate, wrapped them in an old dish towel, and shoved them under my sweat shirt next to my tummy to keep them warm. It was a rainy day, and I watched some recorded shows while keet warming. After a couple of hours they started to move and peep.  I was very hopeful as I put them back into the crate, but it was not to be. They were dead by the next morning.

We lost 4 more keets over the next two days. From 8 to 2 in the blink of an eye.  The good news is....the remaining 2 look healthy. They are already growing feathers on their wings, and scurry around chirping.

This morning I checked in on  them and discovered that one was blocked up with poop. This is something I had been warned about...if you don't clean off the hunk of poop from their bum, they can die. Yikes. Imagine if you half crawling into the dog crate (it's a large crate) to remove the keet. I put some water in a bucket and gently wash his bum!!

I can't believe this...yes, I washed a bird's butt.

How did you start your day? Bet you can't top that!


Nancy said...

Oh Sara! No I can't top that! Sorry you lost so many before you even got started this time. They are quite cute as babies aren't they?

Loth said...

Nope. Can't come close.

Janet said...

I just know I'd rather catch a hummingbird than soak poop off a baby guinea fowl's bum!!! But just think - you got to do both in one day!!!

Roberta said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and read about your keets and hummingbirds and your wonderful good life. I live in Austin, TX and a few weeks back we had a stray guinea hen adopt us. She's lovely, we call her La Bete. She has taken to sleeping with the 4 hens and 1 rooster. I suppose this is ok, I just hate to lock her in at night. And oddly, I had to rinse my hens bum yesterday. It was NOT fun.

Sybil said...

I few years ago we found and baby bird. After cutting up worms into teeny pieces and carefully ramming them down his gullet he would always turn and stick his little bum up in the air. Out would come a bit of white poop which I would remove with a piece of Kleenex. That's what the mommy bird would do -- otherwise the babies would be coated in sh*t all the time.

Does that count ?