We were driving to work this week when I saw a funny rumpled yellow thing at the side of the bridge we were getting ready to cross. There was a doe making tracks across the road into the woods. We stopped in case there was another deer. The little rumpled thing began unfolding and you can see in the picture what it was. Long little stilt like legs that were wobbling and trying to work together. It reminded me of out kids trying to walk on stilts. The poor little thing wobbled this way and that and finally got off the road. After a few minutes it found its mother and they both disappeared into the woods. It was the cutest little thing!
Drink that water? You have got to be kidding? No way--risk swallowing tadpoles and algae? Yuccccch! A few weeks ago I wrote a sorrowful blog describing how the little tree frog tadpoles were washed out of the watering trough. Lately the trough has been getting lower and lower and green with algae. Guess what-- it is teeming with life! It is filled with tree frog tadpoles of two types. Little teeny weeny black tadpoles (actually smaller than they appear in the picture above) are swimming everywhere and fewer slightly larger tadpoles of a different type are swimming with them. The larger tadpoles are lighter in color and developing little tiny legs--just little bumps to begin with. See the picture below to get a sense of the size difference. Machi and Picchu have been horrified to see them swimming in their water. Every day, I ask them how many tadpoles they have swallowed and they look at me with disgust. I have been filling a bucket with water from the tap for them. We will drain and refill the watering trough after the tadpoles have turned into frogs and left it.
My marigolds that I planted to keep bugs off the potatoes, tomatoes, etc. were all pulled up by their heads. When I went into the garden they were lying with their roots stuck up in the air and their flowers picked off. Luckily, it has been rainy and I was able to pick them up and replant. My mind started racing--what would do such a thing? Rabbits, chickens, guineas, ducks, geese (yes, all of these would love a good marigold, but I am sure none were in the garden). I was mystified. The next morning I looked out to see about the marigolds and I discovered the culprit--the GANG of 7. They were out in the garden enjoying marigolds, peas, and raspberries. HA! Gang was the right word for them. They were taking plunder out of my garden. The weird thing was they didn't act like criminals. They behaved like a prince and princesses--like they were divine and we owed them whatever they wanted out of the garden. I watched them and they were really quite amusing, I guess they will get away with their antics. We will just have to share the garden with them! We will have to plant more.
This is Cane! He is innocent--since he is kept penned up. But wait, maybe not, since he is the attraction. The 6 girls from the Gang of 7 find him quite enticing.
Six peahens and one peacock make up the Gang of 7. One of the peahens spent several weeks in our peafowl pen--she jumped in when Mack was watering them. Later she was lured out by her sisters and brother (?) and the whole group disappeared into the woods behind our house. Then the cock reappeared making horrific noises on the roof of our garage. Now they are all back. They visit us (or our birds) twice a day in the morning and the evening. Sometimes they just hang out all day on the roof of the chicken house, the hay shed, or the garage. No, they aren't ours, they belong to the neighbor across the street but they love to visit and tease our birds, especially Cain our beautiful male. The hens are all infatuated by him and the cock tries to fight him. I enjoy them immensely and I guess they know it. This morning the cock was peaking into the sun room looking for us. His tail is quite short (only about 2 feet) but he is quite gorgeous.
In spite of the rain and cold, it seems that spring is finally here. We have seven more baby geese. This is a picture of three of the seven babies with their mother. She is trying to coax them out of the nest.
Here they are working their way down the ramp. The mama worked real hard getting them out. Some of them fell off, which caused a great deal of consternation and one was stepped on while she was focusing on a different baby, but eventually, they all made it.
Four of them exploring the new, big, wide world. First matter of business--getting something to drink and then to eat. They were also introduced to Dad, who had been hanging around trying to help. He wasn't able to, until I let them out of the pen. He is ferocious! Yesterday and alpaca, full of curiosity, came too close and Dad flew at his head full force. The alpaca moved out of there.
Early this week I was out checking on the watering trough Picchu and Macchu use as their main water source and discovered the top of the water was covered with tiny eggs floating in what looked like an oily substance. When Mack and I looked at them more closely, we discovered they were tree frog eggs. Mack took out his loupe and we looked at them under magnification and saw the most amazing thing. The egg shells were transparent and you could see the number of cells inside each egg. Some had one cell, others two, but most had 4 or 8 cells. If you watched long enough you could even see the cells dividing. It was truly magical, and something rarely seen without a microscope. We looked at them every morning and then yesterday we looked and there were none. It had rained enough to overflow the watering trough and the little frog eggs appeared to be gone. We looked again this morning, but only pollen appeared on top of the water--the little frog eggs were nowhere to be seen. We assume they washed out of the trough and perished, but I suppose they could sink to the bottom of the trough and hatch down there. I suppose we will find out if some hatch in a few days. If not, well, hopefully mother tree frog will lay some more eggs.
Peafowl! Honestly, they are really weird. We have Cain and Merlot fastened up in a spacious pen--22 X 32 ft outside (about 15 feet high with perches at different heights so they can fly) and 10X12 foot inside (with heated perches and water during the winter). During the really cold snap in March an India Blue peahen from our neighbor's farm across the street showed up along with a cock and hung around for days. One evening the hen jumped into our pen and wouldn't leave. We dutifully went to the neighbors and told them where their hen was--so they could come get her! After a couple of weeks we found a note saying "Just keep her." So we did.
Yesterday morning our neighbors peacock and 5 peahens showed up and hung around all day. They sat on the roof of the pen, the roof of the chicken house and ran around the field and the yard. I was mortified lest they would decide to jump into the pen when we went in to close our birds inside the pen at night! (Remember poor Morgan and the great horned owl!) Instead the guest peahen ran out the door to join her brother and sisters. The last we saw of them they were running down the fencerow to the woods going very, very far from their home across the street.
This morning at 6:00 am I heard an awful loud mmeeeaaww sound that peacocks make. I jumped out of bed and started looking. I couldn't see a peacock anywhere around the pen or in the field or yard. The calls kept getting louder and louder MEEEEEAWWWWW, MEEEAAAAAWWW. Finally I spotted our neighbor's peacock on the gable of the garage roof. He called loudly for about an hour and then disappeared. I hope they all went home--but who knows. I certainly have no ability to think like a peafowl, but I do worry about them. The picture below is of Cain, who is a quiet bird and glad to have Merlot to himself. No fighting through the walls of the pen today!
LG the super protective, hissing, clicking gander has done his job. Princess hatched out 4 little goslings yesterday afternoon--two boys and two girls. They are cute as can be and she is very proud of them. The one you can see clearly is a little girl with a gray bill and eyes. The one Princess is grooming is a little boy with an orange bill and blue eyes. An advantage to Pilgrim geese is that one can determine the sex from the moment the gosling hatches. The other two goslings are under Princess. We got a good look at all of them this morning. She now has the hard work of getting them off the top of the two hay bales and down to the ground so she can feed and water them. She and LG also have to protect them from the cats and the most dangerous risk of all--cold, wet weather. To help her, we put food and water for them on the floor of the hay shed.
We have a lovely young goose which has established a nest with 9 beautiful white eggs on top of two hay bales in our hay shed. We also store our grain in the same shed. Princess (the goose on the hay bales--named after the Princess and the Pea) is very tame and I feed her every morning by hand. There is another lovely nest with no eggs in it on the floor of the hay shed. Why is no bird using it? Occasionally I find some chicken eggs in it, but it is big enough for and made by a goose. Yesterday, I was feeling around in the floor nest to see if there were any eggs when this dark, black headed heat seeking missile came shooting in aimed directly at me. It was LG, who likes me very much. He recognized me and shot under a wall and out without touching or scolding me. This morning I was in the shed fixing breakfasts for the various birds when Princess let out two loud honks. LG, in missile mode, was in the building in a flash. He dashed past me and attacked a female goose on the floor nest. He went after her head and literally was beating her to bits, when she gave up and shot under the wall. LG jumped up on the bale with Princess and asked to be fed. I fed them and slowly realized that Princess is LGs goose. No other goose is allowed in the shed--that is why there are no goose eggs in the beautiful big nest on the floor. The Canada goose below is LG, skulking around in front of the hay shed. The white gander is his buddy and helps him protect Princess.