The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Update on the guinea fowl

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 2 comments

Update on the guinea fowl

Having finally caught the “don’t you dare touch me” pair and imprisoned them in the laundry basket, I rang my friend E and left her a message on her answer phone. When she returned home the new guineas would be in her chicken house. Chicken house does not really describe this palatial realm. It’s the size of a double loose horse box. The hens lay their eggs in wooden vintage wine boxes that are hung on the walls. We opened the wire screen door and stepped into their kingdom. We were greeted by several plump hens, a small...

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Spot the difference: Guinea Fowl 1 – 2 Humans

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 7 comments

Spot the difference: Guinea Fowl 1 – 2 Humans

After much thought, I decided to use a nine foot bamboo cane to close the door to the Emerald Castle. This would put me at a distance and I might not seem so threatening to the birds. Deluxe bird food almost tempted the guineas inside. Thunder let his wife feed in the castle grounds whilst he just stood at the door, his head revolving between the end of the rod resting on the door and the squat human wearing pyjamas and wellingtons on the other side of the wire. If I retreated he would step inside with legs primed like giant springs ready to...

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The Grand Guinea fowl challenge: How can I catch them with ease?

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 12 comments

The Grand Guinea fowl challenge:  How can I catch them with ease?

Do you remember the last time that we tried to catch the guinea fowl? It was a disaster and freaked out our entire flock. Guineas can run fast and they have very strong wings to force those low slung tug-like bodies to become airborne. When you grab them your hold has to be firm yet gentle  as those wings will try to flap. Guinea fowl are short sighted and might not spot the best bargain in the store but they are blessed with 20/20 hearing and have the intelligence to twig when they are the subject of a human plot. In our case they are...

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We have plans for our pair of guinea fowl

Posted in Guinea Fowl, Wildlife | 4 comments

We have plans for our pair of guinea fowl

I love our guinea fowl. Particularly Cloud, the sweet natured Stepford wife who doesn’t appear to notice her husband’s rages or his need to cosy up to Carol, our Maran hen.  Carol is not keen on this type of speed dating so rebuffs his advances. But I know that Thunder rattles her. Often I find her feeding with the younger chicken when I toss them mixed wild bird seed in the morning. Both guineas love these treats and don’t want to share.   The rest of the flock are frightened by his mighty pecks. Thank goodness we have an arrangement...

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Bullying in our flock of chickens and guinea fowl

Posted in Chickens, Guinea Fowl | 14 comments

Bullying in our flock of chickens and guinea fowl

Photo: Hope and Beatyl Boss Now that the mornings and evenings are brighter, I’m spending more time watching our flock. I’ve discovered that there are problems. Our youngest additions to the flock are being bullied. “Poor Beatyl and Hope are being terrorised by Thunder and Carol.” Danny put down his toast. “It’s Cloud too. She can be a real bitch. We could cull Thunder. He’d be tasty.” “But guinea fowl mate for life. Cloud would be devastated.” “We could eat her too.” “Do you really mean...

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Poultry in the snow

Posted in Chickens, Cottage tales, Guinea Fowl | 11 comments

Poultry in the snow

Sara at Farming Friends warned me that Guinea Fowl hate snow. This week’s snowfall is the first since they hatched in July 2007. So I was interested to see how Thunder and Cloud would react when I opened the hen house door. The feel of snow underfoot is always a pleasure for me. The crisp squeakiness takes me right back to our childhood winter garden. The shock of the cold and brightness.  And there are always the footprints. “Are those really my steps?” As I walked down the garden I remembered my ninth Christmas. I was given a...

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Rats in the chicken run

Posted in Chickens, Guinea Fowl | 16 comments

Rats in the chicken run

The rats are back. The harvests are in and they are looking for a decent source of food and water for the winter. What better than a spacious run with layers’ pellets, fresh vegetable scraps in the morning, and the possibility of bagging two plump one month old chicks. Mice are around all year but rats are generally seasonal visitors in our run. “Let’s winter at that cosy cottage down the village,” must be the Rat Master’s cry when the threshers arrive to harvest the corn. “Yes, but after our annual sojourn in the grain store,...

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The Indian Runner ducks have gone

Posted in Cottage tales, Ducks, Guinea Fowl | 9 comments

The Indian Runner ducks have gone

Freddie, Tipex and Eric Boss had a final breakfast of French beans, emptied the fresh water fountain and moved to their new and permanent home on Sunday morning. S and Rollo arrived with a sturdy wooden crate in the boot of the Golf. “We’ll catch one each,” S explained as he set up the crate for our return. Secretly, I was a bit concerned. I’d never picked up the ducks or even touched them. They’d pecked gently at my green gardening gloved fingers hoping that they were edible. S is an expert domestic fowl catcher...

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