Busy, busy – guinea keets, potting up seedlings and a new chook tractor

It’s been hot, hot, hot here on the farm.  With the wet season on its way, the humidity has been building up resulting in some cracking thunder storms.  As we try to keep the small animals (the guinea fowl keets and the guinea pigs) on the grass during the day, the unpredictable weather means I’m forever dashing out and carrying the cages back undercover, only to have to put them back on the grass an hour later when the sun comes out.

I haven’t worked out how to solve this for the guinea pigs yet, but the guinea fowl keets will have a much better housing option as of tomorrow – their own chicken tractor.  It’s a duplicate of the one we have for our chickens (see pic below).  The chook tractor won’t house the keets forever (they’ll get too big) – but by the time they’ve outgrown it they should be big enough to freerange fulltime.  That’s the plan anyway.

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While I’m talking about keets, I’ve got to say how much I’m loving having them.  They are ridiculously endearing, toddling about like a fluffy little mini flock of birdy cuteness.  In the two weeks we’ve had them they’ve probably increased in size by fifty percent.  Their brown hatchling fluff is fading away, revealing classic guinea fowl patterned feathers of dark grey and white stripes underneath.  As they’re ‘pearl pied’ guinea fowl they should retain the white splash of feathers across their chests.  At the moment the white area is still quite widespread and more like soft fluff than feathers.  I’m not sure how that will change as they grow.

Wanting to check out how they’d respond to being let out of their cage, we took out the smallest guinea fowl (the kids have named him/her? ‘Paloma’) and let her loose in the fenced house yard.  Turns out she wasn’t too keen on being outside without her flock and spent her few moments of freedom trying to get back in the cage.

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Paloma, the smallest guinea fowl, on her first excursion out of the cage

 

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“Guys!  Let me back in!” Paloma missing the flock.

 

The solution is probably letting them all out at once but I didn’t want to be in a position of having six of them flapping about the yard and not being able to catch them – they’re still too little to fend for themselves in the big wide world.

And onto a vegetable seedling update…The hot weather has hurried along the growth of the vegetable seedlings I sowed just over two weeks ago.  Here they are in pictures:

From this:

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to this:

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to this (in just eighteen days!):

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Seedlings ‘pricked out’ and planted in their own pots.  I’m growing them to an advanced stage before planting out in the hope of making them strong enough to resist pest attack

 

The Asian vegetable seed mix  germinated within two days and over a 90% success rate.  Strictly speaking I’ve sown them about six weeks too early so we’ll see if they bolt to seed.  All of the ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes germinated and have grown strongly.  The squash have been incredibly vigorous, threatening to climb out of their seedling tray and plant themselves. Only one of the cucumbers have germinated.  Both the pumpkin and watermelon were slow to germinate but are now taking off.  The capsicum, lettuce and shallot (green onion/spring onion, depending where you live) have been dismal failures – not one seedling.  You win some, you lose some!

We’ve cleared the old potato patch and added loads of compost.  I contemplated digging in the mounds of compost myself but figured the chickens would enjoy the job more than I would.  I threw in a few handfuls of grain and let the chickens loose on it.  Can’t say how nice it is to sit back in the heat of summer and watch your chickens do your work for you!

So the vegie garden is all ready for the cucurbit seedlings (watermelon, squash, cucumber) to go in.  In amongst all that we’re going to squeeze in a block planting of corn.  As I’m trying to be good and rotate crops to prevent pest and disease build up, the tomatoes (being from the same family as the failed potato crop grown in the garden bed previously) will have to go elsewhere.  The Asian greens, being from the brassica family, will need their own area.  We’ve got two raised beds ready and waiting to be assembled so hopefully that’ll work!

And in other exciting news (well, exciting if you happen to garden-obsessed like me!) the kids and I have ordered our spring flower bulbs – tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, ranunculus, anemones and bluebells.  Having not lived anywhere cool enough for bulbs in many years, I’m ridiculously thrilled 🙂  I can imagine the flowers already…

Happy weekend!

Julie.

5 thoughts on “Busy, busy – guinea keets, potting up seedlings and a new chook tractor

  1. Guinea fowl are great, but very self-reliant once you let them out (you may not see them for days at a time!). They don’t damage plants, they leave small, regular deposits of organic matter and they produce great eggs (if you can ever find them). The behaviour when separated is typical – they will also do it if they are either side of a fence and can take ages to realise they can fly over the top. After complaints from neighbours we now keep ours caged all the time – though there are often as many as six escapees on a day!

    Liked by 1 person

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