City Gal Moves to Oz Land

From City Lot to Country Acreage: A Pictorial Retrospective

 A tiny bungalow in Akron  

 From my teeny little city lot in Ohio... 

 blue sky views 

to expansive views that stretch for miles in Kansas. 

Next week will mark 3 years since I left my city life behind for a very rural existence in south central Kansas.  Any regrets, you ask?  My answer: None whatsoever!!  Who in the world wouldn't want to trade a postage stamp sized city lot for 27 acres of rural life?!  Three years later, I can't imagine living in the city ever again.

I traded my view of the neighbor's house to views like this...
 

putting up hay 

and this....
 

rainbow  

and this. 

sunflowers 

 Three years later, I'm still mesmerized by our "forever" views out here on the Kansas prairie.

No tall buildings to block my view of spectacular sunsets and sunrises that make me want to pinch myself - is this for real?

 Do I really live here?
 

pond sunrise 

windmill sunrise 

  purple sunset 

In Ohio, we got lots and lots (and lots) of lake-effect snow.
 

Ohio snow 

Snowed in!  -Ohio city lot. 

 Kansas snow storms create fantastically beautiful landscape vistas, unlike any my city neighborhood could deliver.

snowy pond 

A serene snowy sunrise in Kansas. 

a frosty horse
A frosty mare.  

snowy Ringo  

 A snowy chocolate lab. 

 frosty tree break 

A frosty tree break. 

And I've seen creatures out here I would NEVER have seen in Ohio...

barn owl 

This young barn owl snuck into our shop and became entangled in fly tape. 

 It was quite an adventure for us to get a blanket over him and untangle the fly tape off him!

bull snake 

Large bull snake in back yard - it's best to wear your Muck boots out here.

wolf spider 

A large wolf spider reminds me again -  wear my Muck boots and not my flip-flops.

engorged tick 

My first experience with ticks - they are truly disgusting!

barn swallows 

Barn swallows guard their babies.

baby starlings 

A mama starling feeds her babies.

mama longhorn 

I never tire of watching our neighbor's longhorn cattle and checking out the new babies each year.

And finally, the view from our back yard. 

horses in our back yard 

 So my 3 year retrospective just reminds me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful landscape. It would truly be difficult for me to ever return to city living again.  I am content to live the rest of my days here in the country.

 

Our Guinea Adventure

A photo of Oz GirlThinking about adding some guineas to your homestead?  I've been interested in guineas ever since I moved to Kansas in 2008.  My friend has a few, and every time I visited her I enjoyed watching her guineas free-range on her property.  In addition, I had heard they were excellent at tick control, and I was tired of picking ticks off our dogs or employing chemical means to keep them free of ticks and fleas!

But our chicken coop had been severely damaged in a pasture fire, so before we could get any birds at all, it needed renovated from the ground up.  Guineas and chickens were on hold for now, until we had more time to fix-up the coop... or so I thought.

The Old Coop 

On September 2nd we walked into Orscheln's for a few farm supplies, and lo and behold, they had new guinea keets and chicks in stock!  There were only 5 lavender guineas, which I wanted oh-so-badly.  Finally, hubby conceded and told me to go ahead and get them – he even bought them for me.  I was in guinea heaven.  I told Orscheln's staff I would return on Saturday to pick up the keets.  Sadly, one of the lavenders drowned himself before then, so I took a pearl guinea keet to replace him.  FYI – drowning is a common occurrence with young keets – to prevent this, I put rocks in their waterer for the first few weeks.

Week Old Keets 1 week old guinea keets 

Hubby spent all Saturday afternoon building a large brooder for the keets.  This worked out well, since I had decided I wanted to keep them on our enclosed back porch. And now this brooder will be handy when we get our first chickens this spring.

brooder

My goal was to tame them, but alas, I found out you really need to start this process from the day they hatch.  They were already a week old and sadly, quite skittish!  To this day, they squawk up quite a commotion when we enter the coop, but if I'm patient, and sit still with some millet, they will eventually peck it from my hand.

Next on hubby's agenda:  the chicken coop renovation.  This was no small task, since the coop was severely damaged in our 2009 spring pasture burn.  Even before the burn, the coop was not a very sturdy structure.

Renovated Coop in Progress 

Needless to say, it took quite a few weeks before the coop was ready to house the guinea keets.

Coop still a work in progress 

In fact, we released them to the coop on their 6 week birthday!  My advice:  have your coop ready if you get new birds.  At 6 weeks old, they were too big for the brooder and we were anxious to get them off our enclosed back porch.

Guineas at 6 Weeks Old 6 week old guineas 

It took the guineas 2 days to come off the edges of their brooder and explore the coop.  We continued working on the coop -- insulating the inside, painting the exterior, and building a temporary outdoor run.  This spring hubby will construct an outside enclosure, not necessarily for the guineas, but for the chickens we hope to add. The guineas will be allowed to free-range once spring arrives.

Finished Coop with Outside Run We still need to build a separate nursery area for future new chicks and a ladder roost inside the coop.  In the meantime, an old saw horse seems to work just fine for the guineas.

Guineas at 9 Weeks Old 9 week old guineas 

One word of caution: young juvenile guineas DO make a lot of noise.  They squawk at almost everything.  I've been assured this is a "teeenage" phase they are going through, and they will quiet down as they mature and realize that not everything is a threat.

Our chicken coop has come a long way - before winter weather arrived, hubby finished stripping off the old roof and installing used metal panels, adding a vent on one side, and installing electric.

Tearing off the old coop roofOld roof tear-off 

Finished Coop with New Roof Vent and Electric New roof with salvaged metal panels 

The internet proved to be a valuable resource for guinea information, as did Jeannette Ferguson's book, Gardening with Guineas.  Do you have guineas, or are you thinking about adding them to your homestead?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject!