Jun 18
by Maryclaire Mayes

A Guinea Disaster!

IMG_1607A guinea hen disaster! Anyone who thinks we should all get along like animals do in nature, just don’t understand nature, but I’ll get back to that later.

First I want to tell you about guinea fowl. Some people have never heard of them, some people love them and and lots of people hate them. Even so they are becoming quite popular birds to keep, because most of the country is seeing an increase in tick borne diseases and guineas love to eat ticks. That’s the top reason for keeping guineas on a pretty short list. They also lay small hard shelled eggs that are very tasty. The reasons not to keep them is a much longer list. They are extremely noisy, seriously noisy, maybe only topped by the lack of intelligence. They sound their alarm, or should I say alarming calls at anything they deem a danger.Some say they make good watch dogs, but that is only if you don’t mind them crying wolf all the time.

They can be bullies; they may chase cats and dogs and have been known to kill snakes, rats and roosters. They love to roam and your neighbors may not like it ( see reason one). Guineas are native to Africa and are hardly domesticated. Without proper training they will not roost in the safety of the coop at night, they will fly to the tops of trees. They prefer to make their nests hidden in the brush, with many hens laying their eggs all in the same nest, then one will get the urge to sit on the nest when there is usually about 20 to 40 eggs in it.

When I got 10 keets ( that’s what baby guineas are called) I tried to handle them to tame them but they made it very clear they did not like being handled and it caused them so much stress. When they were old enough I moved their cage in with the chickens and I think that helped to tame them. I was able to train them to come in at night by treating them with millet seeds. But I then I noticed they were not laying eggs in the coop anymore. I had found my white hen on a nest of 26 eggs and she didn’t put up much of a fuss for me to take the eggs and get her back in the coop. Then one evening only 5 guineas came home when I called them. I had an idea where they might be and when I looked I found two hens on a nest and 3 males guarding them. This time these two hens were pretty serious ( and scary) about staying put on their eggs. I had no idea what I should do. Would they be safe because they had all these males that wanted to guard them? I thought about trying to move their nest to a safe spot. I called a friend who thought I should either take the eggs and get the birds back in the coop or just leave them and hope for the best. So I left them there, half my guinea flock! Later that evening I saw the males had all come back to the coop, so I let them in. The next morning I saw one hen at the coop door.  Here is where we get back to the nature part.  I went to check on the nest and the hen was dead with feathers scattered everywhere.  imagine it was a raccoon that mangled her and left her dead next to her nest. She had been sitting on 40 eggs. Whatever it was it seems like it was just for fun as she was not eaten. That’s just one example of how creatures get a long in nature. I’m still letting my guineas free range to eat the ticks, but I won’t be letting set on nests in the wild anymore.

May 18
by Maryclaire Mayes

Again; Many Hands…little hands

IMG_1062My mom used to say ” Many hands make light work”.  I remember she often said this when we would help her can the bushels of tomatoes that came from our garden at the end of the summer.  When I had my own children I read if you don’t let your toddlers “help” you with chores around the house, they won’t want to when they are old enough to really help. So even though it always took longer to do chores with a toddler, I considered it an investment in the future. My future, that eventually they would be capable of helping with chores, and their future, that they would become productive adults that have learned that work is part of life.

I know my kids heard “Many hands make light work” a lot growing up too. I always let them “help” with dishes and cleaning and of course canning too. When they were 7 and 10 we moved to a small farm. Then there was lots of opportunity to work together.  We did a market garden and our young daughter did most of the planting without complaint. Now we have grandchildren, six so far! They are all becoming eager little helpers. Now our Little Miss Number Five loves to sweep up bugs on our porch.  It makes my heart glad to see our kids families carrying on the tradition of ” Many hands make light work”.

Apr 18
by Maryclaire Mayes

Sweet Memories

16.GardeniaI have sweet memories of my mom. We shared a love for gardening, but my mom really excelled at house plants. She had several different kinds of plants. I think orchids were her favorite but mine was her gardenia. It is a treat for your sense of smell and sight. They say fragrance plays an important role in memories and the smell of the gardenia is sweet and intoxicating. It is also has beautiful creamy white petals that slowly unfold like a graceful dance into a beautiful rose – like flower. Unfortunately I’m not as good as my mom in growing them. But every so often I can’t resist bringing one home. The sight and smell of the pretty white blossoms always bring back happy memories of my childhood and my mom.

Mar 18
by Maryclaire Mayes

Oh you just never know

OIMG_0722h you just never know what the day has in store for you! I had been having a strange tightness sometimes in my stomach. My coach suggested I should see my doctor. I wasn’t too worried and told her I had a physical coming up next month. She advised me not to wait that long ( Thank you Rebbekka!)

My doctor thought maybe he felt the start of a hernia and referred me to a surgeon who agreed. He said we really can’t diagnose it without a CAT scan. I thought about it for a few days and decided to go ahead with the CAT scan. After the scan the tech told me I could call my doctor in 24 hours. The radiologist would read the scan this evening and send it to the surgeon. So I went home and finally had my first food of the day.

Imagine my surprise when the surgeon called me and asked if I had eaten yet. He said no hernia, but my appendix was enlarged and he recommended taking it out. So the surgery was scheduled, sort of unusual for an appendectomy, which is often an emergency surgery. I was planning of getting up a 5 am, but Dean came and woke me at 4:30, he said the septic is backed up and he had to turn off the water so I couldn’t take a shower. Dean was able to get some warm water from the hot water heater so I could wash off a little and we went to the hospital for surgery.

It turns out it was early appendicitis, so I was very fortunate. The hospital staff were wonderful and after my recovery my daughter suggested I stay with her until we had water at our house again. Our granddaughter, Miss Number One, gave me her stuffed animal she sleeps with, in case I wanted to take a nap and then she read me stories. She was just adorable. My grandson ( Mr. Number Three) was just as cute, he brought me his blanket and stayed close by. He gave me his triceratops to take home. Granddaughter, Miss Number Two, gave me her sheep that she had made in her homeschool class. Dean came and picked me up after he had gotten the water back on at home. I  can still feel the warmth of their love.  But I’m glad to finally be home. So you just never know!

Feb 18
by Maryclaire Mayes

A Time To Die…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die…”

9.Chia (1)

It seems lately it has been a time to die with a few of our animals. It started with one of our chickens. Of course it was the friendliest chicken we called Brownie. For some reason she started to molt during the coldest weather. I researched what to do and most experts advised she would be fine, but she didn’t make it.

Then our goat Allie, (short for Alabu) that we had bottle fed as a baby and she amused us with her antics and affection for the past 13 years. She  succumbed to old age. Her teeth were bad and for the past few years lost some weight over the winter when there was no grass and weeds to eat. I tried to make up for that with other things she would eat. But last month she was down and couldn’t get up. We called the vet and she rallied. She loved all the extra attention she was getting, from fresh veggies, blankets and even heat via large jugs of hot water. But then at last she gradually stopped her interest in food. There wasn’t anything I could entice her to eat. She was getting weaker and wasting away, so we had to make the decision to call the vet for her again. This time we knew we had to let her go, it was her time to die. We didn’t have any regrets, about not making the decision earlier, she really seemed to enjoy her last few weeks on earth.

At the same time, our dog Chia had been struggling with arthritis in her spine for the past month. Our small animal vet had been treating her for it. Chia would get better and than do something she shouldn’t like try to jump on or jump off our bed and then she would get worse again. This had been going on for the past month. This time she couldn’t stand at all and I had taken to hand feeding her with a syringe. We couldn’t take her to our regular vet as she was closed due to her own health issues. We had planned for the large animal vet that was here for Allie to also put an end to the suffering of our much loved dog. But after examining her and the x-rays we had, he thought a shot of cortisone might be all she needed. We were happy and relieved and Chia slowly made progress to back to her happy somewhat active self. But in a few weeks she went downhill again fast. We took the long ride to our other vet to see what he thought we should do. He did tests for tick diseases and she tested positive for one. He gave her some powerful antibiotics. The next day she was a little worse and we went to the vet again and he gave her more antibiotics. That night it was obvious she was in pain. Chia’s last night was the only time we had ever heard her whimper or complain in her whole life. Every time she would, I laid down next to her and she would stop. I was relieved she was comforted by my presence, but heart broken we had let it come to this.

The next morning we let the grandkids all come to say goodbye to her and then Dean and I took her one last time on the long drive to the vet. We stayed with her and told her she was a good dog. She always liked to hear that. We know she was just a dog, but she was a very good dog who warmed the hearts of all who met her and left a hole in ours.  Good Dog Chia!!