Category Archives: farm guineas

New Arrivals

There are surprise babies at Tuppinz Farm!

A bunch of “scrubbing bubbles” appeared in the poultry food line yesterday:


“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We have 18 new guinea keets!

When the guinea fowl go broody, they do it in secret. We never know if a hawk or fox has made off with one of them (we wouldn’t mind too much as we love the wildlife also), or if they’re not coming home to roost at night because they’re on a nest. Apparently this time it was the latter. I think I spy another hen on a nest out in the sheep pasture… we’ll keep an eye on her to see if another clutch hatches out.

Our tick population is well under control, and guinea fowl are amazingly loud, so perhaps if all of these grow up to adulthood, we’ll fatten a few for the freezer.

Our chicken coop was also home to another hatch of babies – barn swallows:

The parents kept the coop insect-free while feeding their young, so have been quite welcome. Chef Jeff tells me he would give the babies a little pat on their heads each day. Don’t they look like they’re smiling? Having barn swallows grace our farm with their presence is something we look forward to each spring. They zoom around like tiny fighter jets all summer long, catching bugs on the fly. Beautiful birds. We always sigh and know it’s springtime when we see them return.

This is my favorite hen, Pigeon Pie. She is a Quail Antwerp Belgian bantam.

When it’s my turn to feed the poultry, she is first in line, and flies up onto my outstretched arm, or onto my head, or right into the feed scoop to fill her little beak and scatter food everywhere, creating a pile of chickens, ducks, guineas, and geese at my feet so that I can’t take a step. Today, she thought I had something special for her in my egg basket, and flew up to take a peek. Sorry, Pidge, just my work gloves and camera in there…

Weather is perfect here today – sunny, not too hot, breezy. Baby kestrels are learning to fly and hunt. Dogs are napping. Sounds like a plan. Blogger just ate a complete post I had done with it’s “autosave” feature (I hate that feature!) Perhaps they could nix that, and get the autopublish feature up and running again? Sigh.

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm guineas, food, nature, positivity, summer, weather

Who’s this fuzzy face?

We are officially a four-donkey family! Meet Rocky Mountain Songbirds Ty-Dyed Champ:

Currently, Tikki won’t let him near Jazz and Eli… or her hay pile. But things are actually working out well and in a day or two they will all be fast friends.

Champ is a nine-year-old gelding who comes to us from the nice folks at Dixdlor Ranch here in Wisconsin. He was born here and the photo on that web page is in fact Champ himself!

Eli‘s wondering if we’ll still love him. Silly boy!


Spring is almost here at Tuppinz Farm. The sun sometimes feels warm, the grass is starting to green up, and we’re having lovely evenings before the nighttime temps drop back down to freezing.

This guinea bird is doing his evening predator scan and calling the others back to the roost.


My seedlings are doing well in their indoor greenhouse. Tonight we are getting a truckload of soil for our new veggie garden bed. This weekend, we’ll get the cold frame set up and the beds made. We’ll plant around May 15th.

I have some wonderful seed potatoes from Seeds Of Change and I’m going to try this super easy method of planting them.

Hope things are green in your part of the world!

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm donkeys, farm garden, farm guineas, weather

Enough With Red And Blue – I Need Green?

You Need Some Green in Your Life

Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced. And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony. If you want stability, you’ve got to get a little green in your life!

For extra punch, combine green with blue or purple. The downside of green is that it can promote jealousy in yourself or others.

The consequences of more green in your life? You will be drawn to a new life path. You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange. You will be released from the demands and concerns of others.

What Color Do You Need?


The guilt won out and I voted. I forgot that I had one more choice. What a country! But I didn’t get cookies and I didn’t get a sticker – I was bummed.

Thought I’d show you the one-room schoolhouse that serves as our voting place. One booth. Five nice ladies who remember who owned our farm 25 years ago. No line. No other voters! But it had apparently been a busy morning, with 36 people voting before we did at 8 a.m. We didn’t have to present any identification – Otter Creek is a small community and as newbies, we kind of stand out (Jeff was voting in a suit in a community where most folks wear John Deere hats.)

Chef Jeff signed up to be a poll worker next year, as his company encourages employees to dedicate a day to volunteer work. The polling ladies were impressed with his Declaration of Independence Silk Tie.

Since there is only an old outhouse behind the “town hall” they have to rent a porta-potty for election day. Hee hee.


Another glorious day here in Wisconsin, so I took the dogs up to the playpen a little early and let them blow off some steam. If you need a quick dog pen, cattle panels and posts are inexpensive, and an easy way to go. I don’t know what I would do without an area where they could all safely romp and get out their P&V. Daily exercise makes them so much more well-behaved indoors, and being youngsters (except for Valentine), they really need to work off some adrenaline every day.

Exercise is a better option, I believe, than crating a dog who suffers from boredom when its “parents” are away. A crate is great for giving a dog a den for a feeling of security, or for playing a role in housebreaking a puppy in-between letting it out every three hours… but it’s no replacement for the daily workout that every healthy dog needs, and which will help prevent him from releasing his energy through chewing up your sofa cushions while you’re at work.

That being said, if you have a young dog, expect some household losses; despite all of Molly and Emma‘s exercise, they still destroyed a recliner in a single afternoon. God made puppies cute directly in proportion to their penchant for mischief.

Our dogs beg to be taken to the playpen at a set time every day. They have some kind of internal alarm clock that goes off (and which has not changed despite the Daylight Savings Time switch, throwing me off), and suddenly they are all jostling me, trying to lick my face, and panting vigorously. One word – “Playpen?” – sets off a frenzy of excited barking, and we are on our way up the hill to the little run. It’s shaded in summer by giant maple trees, and sunlit in winter, being on the south side of the apple orchard on the hill.

Want to see the Tuppinz Pups in action?



Molly is not supposed to dig in the pen but when she’s worn out from playing tug-of-octopus with Emma, she resorts to excavating tree roots. Don’t tell Chef Jeff, but I think it’s funny when she does it. He’s the one who fills in the holes so he doesn’t find it quite as humorous.


What a wonderful fall day! Now that the trees are a bit bare and the fields have been harvested, I can show you the layout of the farm. I took a couple of pics on my way back from voting.

The photo above is a view of our farm from the south:

A – the house amongst the old maple trees
B – the brooder house (chicken coop)
C – the goats’ barn
D – the “long barn”; it’s falling down so only the upstairs is used for light storage
E – the “big barn” which is being repaired; it’s a former dairy cow barn
F – the donkeys’ and sheeps’ current shelter (will eventually be the big barn)
G – Nellie The Tractor’s garage
H – hay storage
I – two more hay storage buildings
J – the neighbor’s cornfield
K – another neighbor’s land; we call this area “Dr. Zhivago-land” because it’s full of beatiful birch trees and looks like Russia.

In the picture above, A is Jazz, Tikki, and Eli; B is a Jacob sheep to the left of a little sheep shelter; C are the guinea fowl; and D is the “basement” of the chicken coop where the sheep have excavated a hole so that they can go under the building in the summer and stay cool. They have a large building and large trees in their pasture to provide shade, but apparently the walk is too far for them, or it is cooler lying next to the rock foundation. In any case, it’s quite a scene when they all decide to pop out from underneath the coop at once.

The white building is an ugly garage with a roof that leaks; it’s going to have to be torn down before it falls down. I will be glad when it is gone because it is hideous and useless, and blocks a beautiful view.

Right. Here we are looking towards the south. A is the road where I took the first photo, looking north. B marks two huge mounds of dirt – a new neighbor is putting up a tractor shed on that site, prior to building a house on that land. C is “Dr. Zhivago-land” along that same road, which curves east and then south from our property. And of course in front we have Tikki and Jazz.

The sumac berries are nice and red. The leaves are almost gone. I think this is the last day of Indian Summer. I’m off to enjoy the afternoon, and curiously await the outcome of the election tonight. Have a good one, and may the best candidate win!

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Filed under animals, fall, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm donkeys, farm goats, farm guineas, farm sheep, nature, pets, weather

Blogworthy Bs

Before

Bare

BOO!


Babies

Beauty

Blaze


Barley

Boris – Back!

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Filed under animals, fall, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm donkeys, farm goats, farm guineas, farm sheep, pets, weather

Autumn Bounty

It’s here, it’s here! The glorious harvest season, the time of plenty.

The Eau Claire Farmers Market is bursting with bountiful veggies. Check out the amazing, vibrant green color of these leeks, cucumbers, and eggplants!

How’s that for inspiration for some funky, hand-painted sock yarn?

Chef Jeff decided to cook up a wonderful pumpkin bisque recipe that I found in the latest issue of Victoria magazine. It was awesome.

Chef Jeff says to add white pepper, and he would have preferred to use heavy cream instead of the coconut milk.

Click here to visit the Victoria site.

We had a surprise a couple of days ago – the arrival of “homemade” guinea keets!

The whole band of adult guinea fowl turned out to monitor the hatching, and then proceeded to corral the little ones as they ventured out to hunt for bugs within a few hours of emerging from the eggs. All are white save one, who is brown-striped like a chipmunk.

We’d protected the nest from donkey and sheep hooves by placing half of a dog kennel over the hen…

That worked well, but a beautiful hawk has also been monitoring that pasture, and we didn’t want to take chances with the keets. So Chef Jeff braved a rather protective mother (who went after him with her sharp toenails, making raucous calls and holding her wings out to the sides so that she resembled a tipped umbrella) while I gathered up the keets in a bucket and carried them into the brooder house. Hee hee, I had the easy work on that job.

The mother followed, and we were able to screen her in the brooder. Guinea keets seem to rely on their parents’ instruction far more than baby chicks – they are less likely to learn to eat and drink properly from a mere human. I think we were lucky raising them in the past because they were housed with chickens, and looked to them for guidance. (Now, the guineas rule the roost, and some of our roosters have missing tail feathers to prove it!)

So with mama in the brooder with the keets, there is no need for a heat lamp, and all readily took to eating and drinking. As soon as the keets are feathered, we’ll let the family go back to free-ranging.

When I look out on the pasture, our grand total of 14 sheep seems to be plenty, too:

And since the 2008 spring clip has arrived back from our new, wonderful processor, plenty is an understatement!

Holy smokes, what am I going to do with all this wool and mohair?! We still have the 2007 bags!

The lovely Dixie and Cindi at our fabulous LYS have invited us to have some available at their fall festival on September 20th; look for Chef Jeff if you stop by! He wants me to stop by with one of our Angora goat babies, but I don’t want to get a ticket for having a farm animal at a sidewalk sale… do you think they’d believe me if I told them she was a poodle?

As one of my usual asides, here is what that wool/quilting storage room looked like before we moved in:

When I tell people it used to be PINK, I am not kidding. It took Chef Jeff three coats of Kilz to cover up the Pepto Palace. I would not be at all surprised if a child growing up in a room like this ended up in Las Vegas, would you?

Much easier on the eyes…

All the “big goats” (I say that in quotes as the majority of our goats are miniature versions) are being very, very careful with little Elfine. Here she is with Pippin (a full-size, but still young, Toggenburg) and her mama, Pansy (Nigerian dwarf):

Little Elfine, though tiny, has all the regular goatie instincts. She loves to rear up on her hind legs and fake butt the others (picture mountain goats in the Rockies)… and she’s not afraid to do it to goats 10 times her size. They seem to realize she is just a baby, and they stand there with their heads lowered, so she can bump them on their foreheads with no more force than a mosquito; they make absolutely no moves to hurt her, and just humor her baby efforts at asserting her position in the herd. You can practically see them smiling.

Goats are brilliant, emotional, kind, curious, compassionate, and gentle animals. They awe me with their family and friend relationships. When I am feeling blue, I go sit with the goats, and they come over to lean on, sniff, nibble, and comfort me. They are very much like dogs in their personalities, which is probably why I love them so much.

Just look at that bright-eyed little girl! What an unexpected blessing she is!

So much to be grateful for at this season… I need to keep reminding myself of that when things get tough. I must just remember to…

(Pendant by Under The Moon Jewelry Designs.)

Here’s some music that’s seeing me through at the moment:

I hope you are finding bounty in your life today!

P.S. Those mitts I was working on? I totally botched the EZ “thumb trick” afterthought thumb… I can do a short-row-heel sock without gaps, but I could not conquer that thumb. Back to the drawing board on those…

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Filed under animals, fall, farm, farm animals, farm guineas, farm sheep, fiberarts, food

The Small Picture

Hi gang. How’ve you been? We’ve had a busy summer here at Tuppinz. It’s been two years since we moved here, and we still haven’t made a dent in the junk the former owners dumped hid “forgot” when they left.

Let’s just say they might not have had the best environmental policies. Between the paint and chemical cans, and the 30 (so far) tires we’ve cleared, we’re having to pay quite a chunk of change for someone to sort through it and for appropriate disposal.

When we left our last house, it was clean and tidy, the lawn was mowed, and we didn’t steal all the lightbulbs when we moved out. Just sayin’…

I learned an important lesson from the previous owners: when people advertise how “religious” they are, it just might be because they’re compensating for guilt in the ethics department. Then again, they might just not care about lying, if it helps them achieve their goals.

No, it hasn’t been an easy time thus far. The move, Chef Jeff’s new job, and the serious illnesses and subsequent deaths of my father, our three dogs, and our cat were not made more tolerable by (to mention just a few things): a bathtub that leaks through the kitchen ceiling; constant seepage in the cellar; incorrect and potentially dangerous wiring and plumbing; laundry and bathroom pipes that freeze solid in the winter; and a bedroom that never gets above 45° during snow season despite $500-per-month propane heating bills. Top it all off by discovering structural defects due to an undisclosed fire and “reconstruction” they did themselves, and it leads one to believe that the last folks here had never heard the phrase, “sins of omission.”

Why didn’t we hire a home inspector, you ask? Actually, we did. Now that was money well spent. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard the seemingly endless stream of repairmen say, “It’d be cheaper to tear the house down and rebuild, than to fix all that’s wrong with it,” and one even asked, “Did the inspector actually see the house before filling out his report?” Apparently any schmuck can become a “home inspector.” Next time (well, there will not be a next time, but if there were,) I’d hire an actual general contractor. Those that can, do, as they say… those that can’t apparently hang out a shingle and pretend they’re qualified to give advice.

So there it is: Hobby Farm Mistake No. 1 – the Big Kahuna of them all: believing that, because we’re honest, other people are, too. Well, just because someone has the letters of an accreditation organization next to their name, or their parent was a minister, or they attended a Bible college, or they teach vacation Bible school and paint sayings about the Lord on their kitchen wall, doesn’t make them honest. Silly us, the naive city people getting taken in by the “honest” country folk. Won’t happen again, I can tell you. We can learn to use the tractor, take care of the animals and the land, and give vaccinations or trim hooves from books (and we have!)… but getting royally robbed is one lesson that can only be learned by living through it. I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemies (which, now that I think about it, would be those who did it to us. Better give me a second to re-think that… Nah, you know me better than that. I have faith in karma. Wonder if they’ll be coming back as slugs…)

Despite the various “surprises” that awaited us in this house, (which have caused me significant stress and sorrow though I try to keep it from you all, as this is supposed to be a positive blog), I hope I’m still the kind of person who “uses her powers for good.” That’s one less victory for the Dark Side, so poo on them.

But I have met many truly good, moral, generous, inspirational, and kind people since moving here, so there is still hope in my little world!

I believe the animals’ energy is helping to clear some of the bad residual karma from the farm. There’s nothing like a happy bunch of animals thankful that they didn’t end up at market to cheer a place up. When we’re outside, it’s actually pleasant here. One sign that our respect for the land is paying off – this gorgeous Antheraea polyphemus moth caterpillar I found the other day:

I’m continually amazed at the striking coloring of the Nigerian dwarf kids. Pansy’s Elfine (Jeff calls her Elephant) is still the tiniest goat of all, but fun-loving and just as naughty as her sister and cousins. The little ones give me palpitations by slipping out of the paddock gate and hollering for their mamas, who obviously can’t follow. No, it’s too much work for them to go out to the pasture to graze – they’d rather be in the shade, nibbling on pine or willow, while screaming for the other goats to join them. Of course, the other goats, furious that they can neither taste the goodies nor go out to pasture without the babies, bellow right back.

If you’ve never heard baby goats’ calls, let’s just say that there’s probably a reason the little ones are called kids – imagine a cranky newborn human, but ten times the decibel level. Sometimes, we even get an echo here in the valley. It’s not fun at vaccination time.

I’ll be glad when they’re a little bigger and can’t slip through the gate any longer.

Sitka is Elephant’s Elfine’s half-sister, and she, too, gets her amazing color patterns from her father, Dexter – that is him behind her, and Sitka’s sister, Sequoia, just behind him. He was wethered under sedation by our vet, so now can spend the remainder of his life living with his family and the other goats.

Elfine was the last of the kids to be born here, as we can’t bear to send any of these intelligent creatures off to unknown futures, and certainly can’t afford to keep more than the 24 we have! So much for the goat breeding idea… but goats are truly good for the soul. There’s nothing to bring a smile to your face like a goat’s antics!

Believe it or not, I have gotten some knitting done the past couple of months. When I think of the amount of knitting and spinning and dyeing and creating I did before moving here, it seems unbelievable. You fiberartists thinking of getting sheep – don’t say I didn’t warn you, if you’re not careful what you wish for! Most days I can’t even fit in a shower, much less fiber time.

Here are a couple of hats and half a pair of mittens I’ve done for Macuwita Sni. I’ve used STR in the Bunny Foo Foo and Pink Granite colorways combined together on the left hat. Bunny Foo Foo was used for the mitten and the hat on the right.

The hat pattern is from a recent Spin-Off magazine*. It claimed to enable the reader to make the hat using any gauge yarn. Unfortunately, no formulas (think Elizabeth Zimmermann percentage system) were provided – only two variations of the hat in two particular handspun yarns.

I finally got the formula figured out and now will be able to make the hat with any yarn. The flap nicely covers one’s ears and the back of one’s neck. In future, I will start the hat with seven or eight sections, as six just makes it too peaky. But I love that it’s knit top-down! No casting on a bazillion stitches – by starting at the top, I can stop increasing at any time when the circumference is appropriate to the intended victim wearer.

As for the mitten, I was determined to learn to knit one from the fingertips up. It’s that casting on a lot of stitches thing again… just hate that. I think it worked well – next time, I will try a round fingertip area, so that the mittens will fit well on either hand no matter where I choose to place the thumbs. With this one, I’m going to have to remember to make the next one with an opposite thumb. That’s a mistake waiting to happen…

The blue yarn is EZ’s “thumb trick” – I’ll just remove it and knit around until I have a thumb. I hope.

I found the percentages for a patternless mitten in Knitting In The Nordic Tradition in a tiny diagram. Thank goodness – because they are not to be found in all of EZ!

Well, I know this will come as a shock to you (not!) but another abandoned cat has shown up. Jeff named him Squeaky II (Squeaky I showed up last year, and was adopted by our vet… I don’t think we can pawn another feline off on her, so Squeaky II is here to stay.)

He’s an extremely handsome and friendly boy, and has actually helped the other cats to get along a bit better by somehow evening out the teams. He’s quite relaxed in his new surroundings, as you can see.

In exciting news, Miss Tikki‘s new (used) Circle Y Flex Tree saddle arrived, and it seems to fit her! I also got a great deal on a 100% wool 1″ saddle pad, which will help keep her comfortable (that’s not it in the photo, though.)

I had a setback on my SparkPeople healthy eating program (my own fault and I admit it!), so I won’t be hopping on Miss Tiks any time soon, but we’ve been working on training and walking along the road to see how she does with cars (just fine!) so we’re still making some progress. The exercise is beneficial for my fibro pain, if I don’t overdo it.

The other donks received pressies as well – custom fly masks and booties from Linda Long. She stands behind her work 100% and is great to deal with.


Yeah, we bad!

Does anyone else get the feeling that Buffy the duck and ‘Zola the Jacob ewe are having a good laugh at the donkeys’ expense?

The ducks keep laying eggs outside the henhouse (fine by me – tho’ duck eggs don’t taste any different than hens’, there is something about the idea of eating them that gives me the heebie jeebies.) We come across nests in unusual places, like beneath this white pine:

I’m careful to keep the dogs away, because the one time Emma got hold of a rotten duck egg, she hid it in her mouth until she was back indoors, and then popped it in the kitchen. That was not a good day on the farm…

We have a guinea hen on a nest in the pasture right now, so we’re hoping that one of the other guineas is a male so that this one will actually hatch out the clutch and we’ll have more tick-eating keets this fall. It is SO nice to be able to walk through the pasture without dozens of ticks latching on! Guinea fowl are the way to go!

Jeff and I are betting against each other about Eggbertina‘s gender. As s/he grows older, I swear I see saddle feathers – an indication that s/he may be a rooster. But s/he hasn’t crowed (despite being twice as large as any of the other young chickens – but perhaps that’s due to being house-hatched and hand-fed?) What do you think? Don’t let the beard fool you – the only chickens with facial feathers around here are all girls.

There has been a decided chill in the air at night the past week – perfect sleeping weather. In my book, there is no more glorious season than fall, and I’m enjoying the beautiful sunsets we’ve been having lately:


Pic by Chef Jeff


Pic by Chef Jeff

May you be well and happy, my friends. Remember – no matter how many problems you have, there is always beauty to be found when living in the moment. Sometimes, it’s more helpful (and hopeful) to see the small picture. Just don’t forget to keep the camera with you!

* Anyone else getting a tidge irritated that Interweave continues to force subscribers to log on to their website for patterns, rather than including them in the magazine? Why not just go completely paperless, then?

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Filed under animals, charity, fall, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm donkeys, farm goats, farm guineas, farm mistakes, farm sheep, fiberarts, knit, pets, weather

Yee-Ha! Or Is That Hee-Haw!?

Here’s the big news!

Jasmine (“Jazz”) and her foal Eli have come to Tuppinz Farm!

We’d been interested in donkeys as pasture alarms for the sheep for some time, but couldn’t find any small ones (small sheep and small fences equal a need for small donkeys. We tried a friend’s alert llama, but he just stepped over our E’Nets, so llama went back home to mama.)

But when these two became available very near to us, we knew that it was providential.

They could not be better pasture companion. Judging from the echoes that resound from the nearby hills when Jazz brays, we’ll be kept informed of any nighttime predator activity tout de suite.

Best of all, they love to be hugged and kissed. Our kind of livestock, for sure.

The goaties are too busy fattening up for winter to be jealous. (Hermione, the orange and white doe on the right, is really fat, as she is due to deliver next week!)

The guinea fowl are all grown up. Here they are stopping to investigate the pumpkin display as they go about their tick-munching rounds (go, guineas!!!)

Fall is here in her full glory. I’d love to paint this scene with my new watercolors… but at present I’m too busy shoveling donkey poop.

Have a beautiful day!

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Filed under fall, farm animals, farm donkeys, farm guineas