Sunday Homestead Update – More Adventures with Guinea Fowl

We spent last week unexpectedly in the hospital and this week with homecare stuff for our son. This was his 25th surgery – he is 6 years old and has a very rare liver disorder that causes him to get infections and sepsis. It came on very fast this time, like last time, and got life-threatening within 12 hours. He was fine one day and in emergency surgery the next. It never gets easier. It is familiar, VERY familiar, but not easier. One thing that was easier was that we live so much closer to the pediatric hospital now. That was easier and we were glad for it. We are now in recovery mode and trying to transition back into our life around the homestead as cold weather is starting to set in here.

Guinea Fowl

The guinea fowl have been the main topic of conversation around the homestead the last couple of weeks. They have been getting into trouble lately and causing us extra work. Everything was going well, as I said the last time I discussed them, and they were hanging out around the property and putting themselves to bed in the coop each night. Then one day we didn’t see them at all for the whole day. Late afternoon our neighbor pulled in to ask if we had lost some guinea fowl because they were all over at his place. We headed over and there they were – apparently in love with their turkey. The neighbor has some chickens and a duck and a turkey all living together, and the guineas had zeroed in on the turkey, and the turkey seemed happy about it too. Maybe it was the naked heads? LOL. So we herded them back over to our place and put them to bed for the night, hoping it was a one-time thing. Of course it wasn’t, and they continued to head straight over to their turkey friend every morning when we let them out. We would herd them back in the evening and put them to bed. The interesting thing was they didn’t have access to water over there, the only water they could get was in their coop, and each night they drank and drank like crazy when we brought them home. I was surprised they wouldn’t be drawn back to the water on their own out of sheer desperation. We decided to see if they would come home on their own for the water and the roost at night, so one night we didn’t herd them back. Nope, they slept over outside the house of their turkey friend. Sigh.

Our plan is to fully fence the entire perimeter of the property with field fencing to keep the predators (stray dogs, coyotes, etc) out and our sheep/goats/livestock and dogs in. We finished two of the four sides of the perimeter this summer, but haven’t finished the rest. When we herded the guineas home from the neighbor’s, they were going through a 4-wire barbed-wire fence and every time we got to it they acted like they couldn’t get through. They had no problem going through in the morning headed to their friend, but when we were trying to herd them back home at night it is apparently a solid wall to them with no way around. So we decided that if they are that silly about just a wire fence, then maybe if we put up the field fence across that neighbor’s side it would keep them home. Yes, they can fly over it, but they are kind of weird about flying over things and don’t seem to like to do it. So we were hopeful. Young man spent two days fencing that line for us, and sure enough – it worked! The guineas stopped visiting the turkey at the neighbors house.

As they were now staying on the property, they started hanging out over in the ewe barn area, where some of the sheep, goats, and the livestock guardian dog (LGD) are living right now. One day, when they came back to the poultry barn late afternoon, there were only 7 of them, instead of 8. When we went to do barn chores we found the remains of the 8th one – just feathers – in the ewe barn area. The LGD in that pen has lived with chickens for years and not killed them. We are assuming she saw the guineas as wild birds, not like the chickens she guards, because they live outside her fence and they act wild and different. So when one of them somehow got in there with her, she killed it. Sigh.

We figured that watching their guinea-friend get killed would keep them away from that area, but nope. They still head over there and hang out along the fence lines. So we have started training the LGD that they are like chickens and not to kill them. Thus far, they have stayed out of the pen, and thus far, we have not lost any more. Though I don’t think the LGD is trustworthy enough yet as far as the guineas are concerned to not kill another if they chose to go in with her. But we will continue working on it.

Heritage Arts

Adjustable hemmer foot – where have you been all my life?!?!? Have you ever heard of or seen an adjustable hemmer foot? I never had, though I desperately wish I had all these years of sewing. My antique Singer treadle machine came with a few different feet, of which I could not recognize even one. Well it turns out that one of them is super useful and now my favorite sewing tool. As I was working on the aprons for my sisters I discovered this gem. You set the measurement on it to the size of hem you want, and then you feed the fabric into it folded at the hem and as it runs through it, the foot folds the edge under just a little and sews it just perfectly along the edge. Creating a perfectly beautiful hem every time!!!

If you like to sew clothes, aprons, curtains, anything with a hem, and haven’t used one of these yet – get your hands on one! I know they make them for modern machines too, because I looked it up since I had never heard of them before. It can be tricky to figure it out at first, but after playing with it on a few scraps of fabric I got it going and it worked great.

I have finished all the aprons for my sisters and now consider myself completely adept with the treadle machine. It doesn’t feel foreign anymore – treadling just comes naturally now. I love it! It took one lap quilt and three aprons to fully get the hang of it. It was totally worth it and I am enjoying using it for most of my sewing now. There have been a few things I have brought out my modern electric machine for – button holes (and other zig-zagging), and quilting (because the antique machine can’t handle the thickness). Other than that, this machine is my go-to machine now.

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