My Prairie Home is coming out of its first winter with us on board. Winter has been hard on some and easy on others that over wintered here on this patch of earth. This past fall we started with fifteen guineas, fifteen chickens, one cockle, six geese, two cats and a dog. We enter spring with five guineas, twelve chickens, one rooster, three goose hens, a goose gander, two cats and a dog.
So, what happen to the missing critters? Well, the guineas had periods of roosting in the large pine that is directly next to the coop. With that they wouldn't come down and into the night they would go roosting on the pine branches. At first the guinea past the night away unharmed, but it wasn't long before the hunters of the night found them. Only one guinea would be missing at a time, but before long that numbers of guineas was noticable. For weeks they would roost again inside the coop with the chickens, but they would forget the hunter that would appear and disappear without a sound andso, back into the tree they would roost for a night or two. Well, I guess it was mother natures way of thinning out the dumb, cause the last five head into the coop long before dark now. I am sure that old Great Horned Owl feed well and told most of his buddy about the banquet that would be served up here on the prairie.. There were nights after nights that they would hang out in the big pine and hoot into the night. I haven't heard any now for weeks. The chickens had visitor one day as the neighors dog came for dinner. Those that survived were freaked out for weeks and would fly about the coop each time I entered. They aren't so flighty now. The two missing geese went to the freezer, so there isn't any story to tell.
The cockle is now a rooster since passing his first year. We call him Ruddy and he's variety is not for northern climate. Ruddy had a large beautiful red comb and waddle that was a great contrast for a jet black bird, but frostbite has taken its toll on both. He is looking pretty rough right now and it didn't help getting beaten up in a play session with the dog. Near death he was before being rescue off the ground where he layed motionless. It's a bit humorous, the one person he would go out of his way to spur is the one that picked him up and placed him into a warm dog kennel. After a few days of mending in the kennel, he was reunited with his flock, less some feathers. Now, he will regrow the feathers, his comb will heal, his waddle is cropped short, but he will be ok and rule the yard. Oh, yes he is still trying to spur Trish.
We have collected twelve chicken and twelve geese eggs for the incubator, while leaving the geese with their own to brood. So, around the 20th of April, the stork will be stopping in for a visit or two.