Life just got a whole lot easier on the farm with all birds, young and old, chicken and guinea fowl, living together in (mostly) peace! We had the “mini-guineas”, now 11 weeks old, and the pullets, now 18 weeks old, together for a while. It seems the chickens don’t turn into “mean girls” until they’re older! It’s said it’s best to wait until everyone is the same size, but we got impatient and decided to give it a try anyway, since the guineas had been inside the coop, in their dog crate, for several weeks. They were outgrowing it and we could barely keep up with keeping it clean for them when they were constantly dumping their food and water.
They could only go out of their cage when the older chickens were out free-ranging, which is usually for a few hours in the afternoon/evening.
They were easily flying up onto the roosts, so we felt like they knew how to get away from the big girls if they needed to.
The older birds do pick on the younger ones still a bit, but the younger ones are learning to get away, and there are no serious fights. Now with the dog crate out the coop is cleaner, roomier, and there are less feeders and waterers to keep full. The only thing that is a little work is getting the “guinea boys” out in the morning without everyone getting out. It used to be easier, but now they are pretty fascinated with the young ones, and not so anxious to go out!
The guinea boys free range all day, but spend a lot of time right next to the coop and run! We will probably try letting the young guineas join them for at least the afternoon as soon as the Dadz and I get some time where we can both be around to keep a close eye on things.
The pullets have done some free-ranging, but not a lot yet. Soon we’ll have everyone out together and that will be fun and make life easier as well hopefully; though we have to remain diligent. Luckily things have been quiet on the predator front lately – knock wood.
In other good news, some of the pullets have started to lay eggs! We can tell, because their first eggs are quite small.
We know one of the pullets laying is our Auracana, Kermie, and we had thought she would lay blue or green eggs. Apparently, that’s not always true, and hers are a pale cream color. We hope our other Auracana might give us a colored egg, but we’ll see. We’re not sure which of the others is laying right now, since we haven’t caught one in the nesting box yet.
So I’m finally getting a bit of that down time I was hoping for! A little harvesting still goes on in the garden, but other than waiting for clean-up time and preparing it for the spring, there’s not a lot to do. I am thankful to be getting a bit of a break right now, and to be able to spend more time just enjoying our birds and being outdoors in the cool autumn weather!