Archive for the ‘guinea fowl’ Category

Once we started the adventure of raising animals for meat I found two questions came up with great frequency.  Do you really think you could kill them?  and, What about your daughter, don't you think it will be hard for her to eat the chickens she plays with? 

I had no idea what the answers to those questions would be.  When we made the decision, jointly with my parents, to raise the animals, I asked Dad if he'd be my back up if Husband and I really couldn't follow through with the processing.  He had done this sort of thing as a young man, and was willing to do it again, so we moved forward, knowing the bases were covered.

In the end, I was able, and quite comfortable to process them, as was Husband.  I was able to come to the place of knowing this was what needed to be done, and what people have done for generations, decades, forever, before the industrial age.  It's far more natural than we like to philosophize about, after the business of raising meat has been moved to centralized locations, instead of our backyards.

When I took the animals off to process them with Jessica, I told Mini they were leaving and when they came back they would be meat for eating, and would no longer be alive.  She stood looking at them for a minute and I asked her if she had any questions, and besides being concerned that one of them was Jane, who was a mother, so could not be killed, for what would her babies do…Jane was not among the bunch, at which point Mini said, "That is okay then.  It's what they were here for, right?".  "Yes, Mini, it is.  We took care of them, and they will feed us".  "That is okay then". 

Now it was time to eat one of the guineas.  I wondered what she would think.  We told her that was what we were having for dinner.  She looked at her plate and then said "I took care of this guinea, didn't I?"  "Yes, Mini, you did".  "I helped feed us"  "Yes, you did".  She ate well that night, and seemed proud of the work she had done.  

We have been reading Little House on the Prairie with her, we have a great book called I Am My Grandpa's Enkelin
that talks about life on the farm, time, loss and life, and we have been honest with her since we brought the chicks home.  She knew the day they arrived they were on the homestead to grow big and strong, and to feed us this winter.  A few weeks before their processing date we reminded her, and when we switched them to their fattening food, she told my father "Grampa, the birds are on fat and finish so we can eat them". 

I know other kids might not respond so matter of factly about this situation.  I do think us being honest and unappologetic about the situation helped.  We did not tell her the fate of the birds with sadness, nor did we give her reason to believe this was not normal or natural.  I'm glad that she is okay with what we are doing, and I'm glad to know that she would say so, if she wasn't, as in the case of being concerned for Jane.  Another chapter in the homesteading adventure has been finished.  We are now enjoying the meat we have worked hard to raise for the past 6 months.

Dark Day's Dinner:

Guinea, from our homestead, was placed in a clay dutch oven, salt and pepper for seasonings, and a little water in the bottom of the pan.  Oven on 400 degrees, until preheated, place bird in oven, and drop temp to 350.  Cook for 25 minutes per pound of bird. 

I cooked up some fingerling potatoes with some shallots (both from Meadow's Mirth), garlic (Osprey Cove), Rosemary (A friend's garden).  I'm LOVING Rosemary potatoes.  It's such a great herb, and one I will definitely be growing in the Spring. 

Boiled a squash, which was given to be by a friend, from their garden.  Added salt, pepper and butter, when I mashed it up.

The Salt was from Maine Salt Company, so the only thing in this meal not from the local snow covered NH/ME area, was the pepper!


Day 19


…while they were there (in Bethlehem), the time came for
her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She
wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because
there was no lodging available for them.

The fact he was born is a stable is a very significant point. 
The God of the Universe sent his only son to Earth to be born of a
human woman in a lowly place, the stable, home to common work animals,
and placed in their feed trough.  This shows that God’s power is not
about might but rather about who He is.  He chose not to show men his
stength, but rather their weakness.  The humble bridge was formed
between God and a race of men who had turned their back on Him, and He
was not there to force them to see Him, but rather to give those, who
were willing to look, the answers they were seeking.

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What a bad blogger I've been.  I haven't posted since the 13th, and frankly the posts before that have been a smidge rushed.  Life is getting a bit crazy around here.  Nothing major, just life…before Christmas, for a Mama who wants to make all the gifts, and all the food, and run the homestead…My camera has finally made nice with me and my computer, so I put pictures up again!  

The guineas are gone.  We have been having to corral them in at night, and at least a couple have stayed outside to roost a couple nights, and my guinea raising friends tell me that means they will keep roosting outside until a predator finds them.  That is not going to happen, for a couple reasons.  No matter what your view on killing animals, humans are the most humane of all the options.  Being eaten alive in the wild, is no way to go.  Then there is the matter of having fed and cared for these birds for months,so letting some wild animal come along and dine on my hard word seems counter productive.  With all that in mind, Tuesday the guineas were harvested. 

They are missed more than any of the other animals who have found their way to the freezer.  In part because there are no more like them.  We still have chickens, rabbits and ducks, but all the guineas went at once.  Also, the homestead is much quieter.  There is no guinea sqwacking, as they make their way around the property letting all who will listen know what they are finding.  Yes, the guineas were a very entertaining bird to have, and are missed.


I've done some sewing lately.  I made a dress for Mini from the book Carefree Clothes for Girls: 20 Patterns for Outdoor Frocks, Playdate Dresses, and More (Make Good: Crafts + Life).  I want to make another one in red cotton velvet, for Christmas, so I needed to make a test dress.  I don't like to make any pattern, for the first time, with special fabric.  I prefer make one with good fabric, but fabric that can be replaced easily.  This pattern was new to me, and it didn't have the seam allowance on the pattern, I had to add that, so I really needed to make a test.  It came out great, and fits her wonderfully.  I need to add buttons down the back of the bodice and on the front, but otherwise it's done.  The fabric is a cotton flannel, and oh, so, soft!  A great winter frock.  There are a lot of garments in the book I'm looking forward to making, it's a great book, with decent directions.  I do wish they included the seam allowance in the pattern and am never sure why patterns don't, but what I did worked well, and I now have the pattern, with the allowance, for the next dress.


The baby needed a snow suit.  I didn't like the store options, so I decided to give it a try, on my own.  I used a pattern by Burda,  .  It worked up very easily.  I used a wool/cashmere blend for the outside and lined it with the same flannel I used for Mini's dress.  It's so cozy.  When we take her out she's nice a warm, so I'd say it is doing a good job, in addition to being adorable.  I'm trying to figure out a way to "girl it up" a little, as the neutral colors, and predominantly red lining makes it look a bit boyish.  Not a big deal, and for now, I think it's going to be the way it is, but after Christmas crafting is done, I'm going to try something like what I have in this pic, for the front.


To go with the little snow suit I whipped up a pair of thumbless mittens.  They are together for the picture, but have not been together since.  I wanted to put a cord to attach them, and when I went to grab them to do so, only one remained.  I'm looking at possibly needing to make a third…happily I still have the yarn, but now is not the time of year that I really want to remake something!  Here is the pattern I used…I made it up, it's pretty basic, and simple.


Baby Mittens

Sport weight yarn

Needles: 40" Size 6 (knitting top down, in the round on one needle)

  • Cast on 16 stitches, 8 on each needle, using a "toe up" technique.
  • Round 1 and each alternating row: Knit
  • Round 2, 4, 6, 8: K1, M1, knit to last stitch on needle, M1, K last
    stitch on needle, K1, repeat for next needle. (Increase of 4 stitches)
    Note:  keep increasing until you have enough stitches to accommodate
    the width of the wearer's hand, for my baby, that was 16 on each
    needle, or 32 stitches total.)
  • Once you have 16 stitches on each needle, work even, knitting each
    row, until it's the length of the baby's hands, for my little one (9
    months) that was 23 rounds.
  • Switch to 2×2 rib, and work to desired cuff length.  I went long in
    the hopes it would help keep them on her little hands.  It should also
    help to keep her arms warm, too.  I went for 26 rounds, then bind off.
  • Make another.
  • I have a cord to attach them, inside her snow suit, hoping to keep
    from losing them…like when she does pull them off, in the car.
  • Note, you can really make mittens for any size baby or toddler,
    using this method, simply keep increasing until it's wide enough for
    the wearer, and then knit without increasing until they are long enough
    for the hand.  Since there is no thumb, this is really best for a
    little person, but if your baby is not the size of my baby, this will
    still get you there.

Advent Catchup:

Day 16


Luke 1:39-45

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the
town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted
Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped
within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed
you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored,
that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting,
the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you
believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

Day 17


Luke 1:57-66

When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to
a son. And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had
been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.

When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision
ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But
Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”

“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that
name.” So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to
name him. He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise
he wrote, “His name is John.”  Instantly Zechariah could speak again,
and he began praising God.

Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had
happened spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about
it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out
to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Isaiah 40:3-4

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
and smooth out the rough places.

The Isaiah verse talks about John the Baptist and his role in
preparing the hearts of men and women to be ready for the coming of
Jesus as the Messiah.

Day 18


Luke 2:1-5

that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be
taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  All returned to their own
ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a
descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s
ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in
Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously

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Wow, I'm exhausted, and I'm wimping out on my post for today.  I processed 36 chickens today, 20 of my friend's and 16 of ours.  There were 5 of us working and we W.O.R.K.E.D.  I'm hoping the nice weather holds out for the other 36 left to go. 

I did finish 2 knitting projects, so I'll tell you about those tomorrow.

I'm going on the dry bean run with Jessica tomorrow, so I'll tell you about that, and show you pics for the 143 pounds of beans we are picking up!!  Oh, My.  I've never seen 143 pounds of beans in once place before.  After the soup I made for today, that used the local Black Beans, I'm so excited to cook with beans.

The soup was all local, except the pepper and rice.  It contained stock made from a locally raised Guinea Fowl, added to it was Brown Rice, Black Beans, Delicata Squash, Dried Cabbage, Dried Celery, Dried Onion, Fresh Rosemary, Dried thyme, Salt, Pepper, Leeks, and carrots.  It was delicious and made a great meal for a cold day of chicken processing.

Okay, going to bed, tired, in a good way, and ready for a fun day tomorrow.

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Bean Run!  In the next week, or two, I'm going to take a drive to East Conway to pick up some beans from Sherman Farm.  If you are one of my local bloggy friends, and want in, send me a message.  The beans are $3.00 a pound and they have the following varieties available:

  • Kidney
  • Soldier


  • Jacob's Cattle


  • Yellow Eye

Just let me know how many pounds of whichever varieties, and I'll pick them up, and we'll figure out the matter of getting them to you.

I made a quick stop at the Northwood Indoor Farmer's Market, before heading over to Yellow House for more chicken processing.  I got 4 pounds of local honey!!  I'm so excited.  I had a small jar of honey that was given to me as a birthday gift, but have had a hard time finding more.  The honey folks don't seem to go to the Markets.  I also got a darling little bowl from a guy named Shawn, who has some really nice pottery.  Hard Goat Cheese!  I used that, grated, for dinner tonight.  Very yummy.


The eggs were not purchased at the market.  They are among the last of the eggs from the mature chickens I bought 2 years ago, that got me started on this crazy poultry journey.  I'm keeping Jane, as she's been a brilliant mom, but the rest are going for processing tomorrow.  They will be good for stew birds, and great for making stock. 

Calvert!  I'm very pleased with this sweater.  The style is fabulous, and it's so comfortable.  The pattern came from Norah Gaughan, Volume 3.  The yarn was Classic Elite Yarns, Soft Linen in Cathay.


Happy Sprout Eating Chickens…and Guineas.


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Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and yet all we saw was gray dark skies.  What a disappointment, and we have more of the same predicted for the next few days.  Any bright, cheer is going to have to come from inside for now. 

Seems a new bag is in order.  My winter bag was really too big, and with the lining of cotton velvet, it was becoming too heavy and hot for summer.  I really loved the fabric I made the Mei Tai out of so I decided the scraps leftover would be a perfect bag.  I think I might have been right.  Of course, bags prove their perfection over time, not when you first select or finish making it.  They all seem wonderful at first, but the test comes later, when you are searching for your keys, or you have one last thing to add before heading off for the day, or when the cell phone rings.  Will it fit everything and still allow you to find it?  For now I'm over the moon about this one.  It seems to fit everything…wallet, cell, notebook, pen, "cleanse" size knitting projects.



Home Dec Toile' lined with linen, and trimmed with homemade Black and White dotted bias tape.  A pocket of the Toile' on the inside.

The pattern came from the book, Pretty Little Purses & Pouches (Pretty Little Series) 
There are several really cute little projects in there. (I need to make that little embroidered  village bag!) This is the Beach Tote, which is much smaller than I would consider a bag to be for a beach tote, but as a summer purse it seems to be a good size.  The book has all the templates in the back, but the one downside to this, is they all have to be enlarged quite a bit, like 400%.  Waiting for the Staples guy to figure out how to enlarge it and capture all the parts took almost as much time as making the bag.  I got, in the end 4 pieces of paper that I pieced together and taped in place.  Then I drew the pattern onto some pattern making paper.  But other than the labor intensive process necessary to obtain the pattern, the pattern and instructions were great and the purse worked up quickly and simply.

If you are interested in getting in on the free Mei Tai pattern drawing, check out my post from the 21st, and leave a comment!

Baby Ducks!  Due tomorrow, but started hatching today.  One died, not sure why, but it was dry and completely out of the shell, so it seems it died after a bit.  Which is sad.  Josephine had pushed it out of the nest so we pulled it out so it wasn't in the way.  I've seen three others, two black, and one light like the one that passed.  There are 10 more eggs, so I hope to see at least a few more hatch.  I probably won't know how many until she moves off the nest, which she'll do when she's sure all that are going to hatch have done so.  Doesn't she look like a proud mama?!


The guineas are already showing their comical side.  They are much more agile than the chickens, and are enjoying jumping on the divider between the two sides of the brooding pen.  They will jump down to the side with the Buff Orpingtons and herd them.  They make a call then start running the chickens around the pen.  It's kind of funny to watch.  When they have had their fill of amusement, they jump back over to hang out with the Dorkings, which is where they spend the bulk of their time.  Here is one checking on me while I check on them.


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I've decided my mama brain cannot handle as much as I'm throwing at it, especially in my knitting.  I'm a pretty experienced and capable knitter, usually.  Lately, things have been going a bit awry.  I told you about the big one, but I started Buttercup, and have already made a few mistakes.  Grrr.  Okay, step back, and take a deep breath.  Time for a knitting cleanse.  I don't want to stop knitting, as I love doing it, and it's so portable and fun to do.  Besides it makes me a more patient person when I'm out and about having to wait in line, or for an appointment to start, and a less jumpy passenger in the car.  So, instead I'm going back to knitting 101 projects.  Small, Fast, Simple, Obvious Construction.  No brainer type projects.

My first, this fabulous wash cloth.  I love knitted wash cloths, but I don't love how bulk they can be.  I stumbled across a blog where the author shared that same opinion, and had a solution.  The Not Your Ordinary Knitted Dishcloth pattern was perfect, for my cleanse, and the finished product is just the kind of cloth I'm looking for.  I used some Baby Yellow Filatura Di Crosa Dolce Amore that I had sitting around, instead of buying crochet cotton.  It's so soft and delicate.  It would make a marvelous baby washcloth.  But I'm keeping this one for myself, for my face.  I'm sure I'll knit more of these.  They work up fast even though they are on small needles.


For when I'm over my cleanse and onto bigger projects again, this adorable Knitting E-zine has some great projects.  They are all free!  They look adorable.  Mostly little girl patterns, but they do have a little boy vest, a great knitted lobster and a mama messenger bag. 

Chicken update:  The Buff Orpington's are on their way from Mt. Healthy Hatchery, and should be here tomorrow.  The Dorkings are doing well, have full wing feathers.  I moved them and a couple guineas, to the big brooder pen I made a couple days ago. The Guineas all look good today.


I made a brooder pen in my garage, instead of doing a brooding house.  I wanted to find a way to do this without spending any money, and I wanted to be able to do something with it when I was done.  This is what I came up with.  I had 2 boards, one plywood, another pressboard, both 4×8.  The pressboard is the back, the plywood I cut in half and used to make the ends.  I had another used piece of pressboard, that was big enough for a low front.  I divided the pen in half to separate my breeding stock birds (dorkings) from my meat birds (orpingtons).  I will have to add some height to the divider as they grow, and the front will have chicken wire across it when that time comes too, but for now, the 20" height is enough to contain them.  No money spent on construction! 


Don't they look happy!?

What will it be when I'm done?  I'm going to cut the back in half, and add (this I may need to buy) ends to create 2 3 sided square structures.  I'll put a pallet covered with chicken wire in the bottom of each, and chicken wire on the front, and use them to hold chicken manure/shavings/compost pile.  The wood will face the road, I'll paint them and all that will give me a nice clean, pretty yard, with easily accessible manure piles.  I have so many painting projects I want to do this summer.  We'll see if I actually get to them.

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Calvert…It may be the death of me, but then to, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so maybe it will put me on the fast track to "Super Knitter", but either way, it seems to desire a profound effect on me.

I seem to have knit the fronts longer than the backs.  I didn't realize this when I was stitching one front to the back, but when I stitched the other side, it seemed a bit off.  I thought it was how I stitched it.  But after it was all put together one side seemed about 1" longer than the other.  It didn't lay quite right…Well, my friend Kim, wise and experienced knitter of something like 25 years, suggested I pull out the side stitch, count rows, then cut the extra length off.  Sure, I'm brave I can cut my knitting.  So I did just that.  When doing this, I found that I had gone about 3" too long, not 1", as I thought!  How did I do that?  I have no idea.  But as I was looking at the other side, next to this newly shortened side, it appears I made that one too long, too.  Hmmm….


This means counting and cutting that side too….or counting the one intact side, then cutting the back and bringing the cut side and the back to the same length as the intact side…Either way, a lot of work, and time consuming.  Worth it of course, because the sweater is gorgeous, the yarn is beautiful, great drape and color (and kinda pricey).  So I shall make this right, but not today.  No today I will work on a summer t-shirt style sweater for me, and a couple new soakers for the baby.  I will pick Calvert back up closer to the season for wearing.  Small, fun summer projects can now begin!  I think maybe my mama brain needs smaller bite size projects for now.

Buttercup is coming along very nicely.  I love the color, dark (flattering), but not black.  The same yarn I used for Calvert, so it has a nice drape, and should make a nice summery top.

I commented before about wanting flowers for the garden, for attracting pollinators like bees, as well as for shots of color in my otherwise mostly green landscape.  I want them to be organic, especially since they will be sharing space with my food plants, so I've been not sure what to do about obtaining plants…until I saw a listing on Craig's list.  Right in Gonic, which is this little sliver of a town between Barrington and Rochester, there is a farm that supplies organically grown veggies, herbs, annuals and perenials!  Whoohooo.  I took a trip over with my mom.  Well worth the trip.  Freya, the very knowledgable owner of Leap Frog Farm was super helpful.  I told her what I wanted the plants for and she walked me around her fabulously full plant yard pointing out the options she thought would be best.  I packed them up and will be putting them in bucket to be spread throughout the garden.  If you are local and looking for herbs, veggie plants or flowers, head on over to her place at 65 Gear Road in Gonic. 



After our garden stop, we swung by Four Corners Antiques.  Husband and I went there on Sunday, and I found a great set of measuring cups, but I didn't buy them…they've haunted me ever sense, so I headed back hoping I'd find them waiting, and was so pleased when I did.  They are the cutest little glassware nesting set with a 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup.


Phew, you still with me?  I had a lot happen today, because there is still more! 


More poultry, but certianly of a different feather.  I did it, I finally got some guinea hens.  8 of them, and I'm just so excited.  I have toyed with getting these crazy little birds because they are very different then chickens, or ducks.  They are still a very wild breed of bird.  They are semi-domesticated, and are still quite happy to roost in trees if they get it in their mind.  They are not easy to contain, as they are decent flyers, and have been known to hang out on the roof of sheds, barns, or even houses.  They are a social lot and very chatty, but mostly with each other.  They are skittish around people.  So there are a lot of pros and cons in this kind of bird. 

The big pros are:

  • Their watchdog ability.  They have a very loud screech/call when the unknown enters the barnyard.  Great for alarming the other animals and their caregivers of danger, whether that is the neighbor dog off their leash, or a fox sneaking up on the hens. 
  • They are also avid bug eaters.  Bugs make up about 90% of their diet, if they are allowed to forage for their food. Especially fond of ticks, they have been in high demand lately, and some municipalities are using them to help keep the tick population under control, as Lyme disease becomes more and more prevalent.
  • They love to eat weed seeds!  Great for help in the garden.  They are animals, so they can on occassion eat your plants, or fruit, but mostly they stick to bugs and seeds if they can get them.
  • They are so stinken cool looking.  I guess that is a matter of opinion and there are really two camps, folks that thinks they fabulous to look at and those that think they are ugly.  Not many people are indifferent to their appearance.  I find them fun to look at and watch.
  • They can be used for meat, and if you are lucky enough to have them lay in the nesting boxes, with the chickens, or you can find where they are nesting you can eat their eggs too.

I especially like the Pearl color pattern, so when Sylvia (the lady who does the hatching I talked about a couple days ago) had 8 to spare I headed right over.  I believe that one of the birds I watched hatch the other day is one of the birds I got today.  So cool.  They are hanging out with the Dorking chicks, who were fabulous hosts and hostesses, making the guineas feel right at home.

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