Spring Fever

It’s still freakishly cold around here but finally a Sunday morning with sun and activity. My manic mood is in overdrive this week – I’ve actually got work so that’s keeping me overly busy. But my mind is cycling incessantly about everything else that needs or is going to happen this Spring season. We’ve even got an Indians game to go to this afternoon (going to freeze to death I say, but the boys are looking forward to it).

Given the choice between work and writing I decided to write in the short time between Sunday morning rituals and game time. Work can wait until tonight.

Song Bird Nests

I’m so excited to see song birds building nests! As far as I can tell we have approximately 3-5 sets of bird parents making nests on the tops of the porch columns. This was totally unplanned but apparently the flat tops of the columns that protrude from either side of the header are perfect nesting sites for song birds. Talk about a bonus sustainable feature of the house. Last year I think we had 1-3 nests. This Spring it seems the word has gotten out amongst the song bird community. At least one pair looks like the same type of bird that nested this time last year – reddish body. I haven’t had time to get the bird book out.

I think it’s awesome that the boys, and the wife and I for that matter, get to watch birds making nests first hand on a daily basis during this time of year. The house and land are like a bird paradise, which makes me extremely happy and proud.

Here you can see each column as a two bird family capacity. Rooms are filling up quickly so make your reservation today.

Here you can see each column as a two bird family capacity. Rooms are filling up quickly so make your reservation today.

The back porch is not immune from homey birds looking for a place to raise a family.

The back porch is not immune from homey birds looking for a place to raise a family.

 

Guinea Fowl

Speaking of birds we’ve been planning for getting four (4) baby guinea fowl this Summer. We inquired at the bee supply store last week and around May / June is when they’ll have chicks. These non-native birds (they’re from Africa) should be useful, natural, pest control in the garden; hopefully eating our ticks. I believe we’d be getting lavender guineas. The only new down side is, according to the wife’s guinea fowl book, guineas eat tomatoes and BEES! So we need learn more before we get them. My hope also is to get all female chicks because the last thing I want is tons of baby guineas running around the yard. We can eat the eggs by the way. I think they are smaller than chicken eggs, and higher in protein. I’m not sure I’m up to eating their eggs yet mentally but we shall see.

The other hurdle for guineas is that I need to build a coop. I saw a cool prefab one for $179 at Rural King but Christine said it got bad reviews.

This is the coop I saw at Rural King but it apparently got bad reviews for quality. It holds four birds.

This is the coop I saw at Rural King but it apparently got bad reviews for quality. It holds four birds.

Another coop at Rural King but not really our decor.

Another coop at Rural King but not really our decor.

 

Also at Rural King they had baby birds – chickens, ducks, turkeys, and even Pearl Guineas! They were all so cute I wanted to load up the Rabbit with fluffy little birds and chirp, chirp, chirp all the way home on the Turnpike. It was kinda sad though, seeing all the little baby birds under heat lamps, in long steel water troughs. Part of me likes to think that they’ll end up in good homes, even if most of them are meant to be food. By the way, do not buy your kids baby animals for Easter. Actually never buy anyone an animal unless they fully are aware of the ramifications of taking care of an animal properly, long-term.

Pearl guinea chicks under the heat lamp at Rural King. I wanted to take them ALL home with me. Was kinda sad seeing all the chicks, ducklings, turkeys and guineas in big steel troughs.

Pearl guinea chicks under the heat lamp at Rural King. I wanted to take them ALL home with me. Was kinda sad seeing all the chicks, ducklings, turkeys and guineas in big steel troughs.

Karen’s Freakishly Awesome Chicken Coop

Back at home the wife found a couple of cool chicken coops on Pinterest. See, originally I was going to make a coop for the guineas, but then we oscillated towards just buying one – figure $200 and I’d save a lot of time. So I guess now I could go either way. If I build my own it’ll take a weekend and probably not save too much but I’ll get satisfaction and my own design. If I buy one then I throw it together and get on with my already overly busy life. We’ll see. Here’s a photo of one I like:

Another coop we saw on Pinterest. I like this one too and it fits our style.

Another coop we saw on Pinterest. I like this one too and it fits our style.

I like the cedar finish and the square mullions which would looks stellar compared to our house architecture.

But the coop I really like comes from “Karen” who has a design blog called “The Art Of Doing Stuff” at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com She doesn’t have plans but the coop she built is stunning. Here’s the link to Karen’s freakishly awesome chicken coop (click here).

Here are some photos I shamelessly stole from Karen’s website (seemingly without her permission so do goto here website and give her some lovin’. Plus there’s a cute pic of her holding a northern pike, so what’s not to love). Karen takes significantly better photos than I do. I really need a new phone with a good camera on it. But I digress.

I love this chicken coop - from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

I love this chicken coop – from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

The worlds best looking chicken coop - from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

The worlds best looking chicken coop – from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

ventilated doors - from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

ventilated doors – from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

chicken coop storage - from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

chicken coop storage – from Karen at http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-coop/

This coop is obviously super complex, especially without any plans.  But it does encourage me to design and build my own out by the garden. My thought is to have two openings: one for the garden and one free range – so the guineas can do tick duty everywhere with varying degrees of “safety” (in my mind only).

One question mark in my head is winter, when they’ll need a heat lamp on super cold days. Do I have Tom the electrician run a conduit out to the garden, which would also be helpful with running the electric tiller. Or do I create a winter coop inside the garage where I have easy access to an outlet, plus the fowl would be safer during winter “indoors”, and easier for me to check on them. These questions, along with how in the hell are we going to pay for all this, will be answered in time.

Alright, I wish I could write more but I have a game to go to. I’ll leave you with cat pictures, cause who doesn’t like cat pictures.

What are your plans for Spring?

Does anyone have experience with Chickens or Guineas?

Share your stories in the comments.

-Chris

Photo of Dixon waiting for litter boxes to be relocated downstairs. Finally no more litter smell in my studio.

Photo of Dixon waiting for litter boxes to be relocated downstairs. Finally no more litter smell in my studio.

My mom presented us with this awesome drawing of our home that she made us. We hung it up in the stairwell.

My mom presented us with this awesome drawing of our home that she made us. We hung it up in the stairwell.

dixon-is-gonna-fall-off-the-stairs

Dixon and Daisy chill in out around the staircase this morning.

Dixon and Daisy chill in out around the staircase this morning.

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