Category Archives: guineas

rain days

We’ve had a bunch of rain.  All the paths are muddy lakes (again).  It’s very tiresome.

Nope, can’t cross without getting our feet wet.

The chickens have made it over to the house.  They are happily rummaging around in our “front yard”, outside the window.  Still sharing space with the wild birds.In this dull brown picture, there are two doves, a chipmunk, a chickadee, a blue jay, and some goldfinches.  Oh, and a chicken.  But really, I see you’re going to have to take my word for it.

Guinea on the loose

Not too long after I let all the birds loose into their fenced enclosure, I’m outside and I hear a godawful clamor go up from the guineas.  Which isn’t by itself at all unusual.  But I knew right away it meant one or more was out.  OMG, we’re not TOGETHER!

Sure enough, there’s a lone guinea circling the fence, looking forlorn, and furtive, at the same time.I opened the fence, started chasing her/him around the GH to go back in.They never want my help though, and always go streaking off into the woods as soon as they get close to the opening welcoming them back in.

This one ended up pushing its way back in where the fence meets the GH, probably just like it got out.  It seemed to remember.

The most accomplished flyers, the guineas are always able to escape the fence and mesh tent intended to protect them.  I know they’ll at least return at night, and don’t worry about them.  But they do make an unholy racket when separated.

Stewie and Perchick, sitting in the coop…

These two were hanging out in the small coop together, which is unusual.  They looked at me like I just busted them smoking behind the school, which was funny.  Then they shot out of there like they were on fire, not acting guilty at all.  We weren’t doing anything!  Nothing at all!

There’s a guinea in that coop.  They go in there every day, sometimes lingering, and I wonder.  Are they considering laying a few eggs?  (They don’t).  Are they just inspecting all the areas of their territory?

Or are they nostalgic?  This used to be the skycoop, and some of these birds were either born in it, or the hen who raised a brood in it.  This used to be my house.  Or, This was my chickhood home.  Guineas are funny.  In a weird, furtively darting way.  When they aren’t just yelling.  WIND, WIND, WIND!!!  VISITOR, VISITOR, VISITOR!Cheeks REALLY REALLY wants that food.  Because the grass is always greener.  It probably drives her nuts that they don’t eat it all at once. Hey, if you’re not going finish that- Then she gets her head stuck.  Cheeks has turned into a no-nonsense, bossy chicken.  She gets huffy and indignant easily.   And is a loner, like other chickens are beneath her.

New dirt bath

Credit to the Chicken Chick – a recent post said to give hens a wading pool in the winter with peat moss.  I thought Hey, I have one of those!

First step, introduction of the pool:Some curiosity.  Then, the potting soil.  All the hens did ring a rosy around it- What’s this? I’ll let them take that apart themselves. I have to say, I thought there’d be a hen on top of that in seconds, but interest was muted. I expect the top of that will get hollowed out until there’s a chicken wallowing in the top of the bag and the pool is full of chickens.

Stay tuned.  Hilarity may ensue.

Meanwhile, back in the old dust bath...The hens are getting worked up about another hot bath.And then, a surprise.  First one claiming space, is the keet (it’s in there, but hard to see).What!?  How does the keet pull rank?  Dibs dirt bath!   The keet was the first one in, with a hen, and then pretty much the whole room cycled through it.

The hens and guineas hardly interact…until there’s a dirt bath!Later, when the queue got shorter….

Real snow, and one lucky keet

Last evening was windy, and the guineas were twitchy, and several of them escaped.  They flew up into the mesh and scrambled against it to find a gap and then got out.  I was watching them, and I didn’t think they could get out, right up until they did.  Then it was a long round of persuading them back into the area of the opening in the fence (they wanted to go back in), until they darted back in one by one.

The only keet is now at that stage where they think they’re all grown up and are paling around with the big birds, but they are still little.  So the keet was out with the other escapees, but instead of staying with them, it ran straight into the big brush pile, waited for the coast to clear (of us), and then peeped a little, calling out for the others, and then sprinted back out to rejoin them.

After a long patient wait, finally all the birds were back enclosed.  Until an hour later, just before dark, when I went in the yard to close the greenhouse door, disturbed them, and three guineas escaped again!  And the keet.  Good grief.

This time I propped the fence open, waited until I saw the keet make its run out of the brush pile to reunite with the others, and they were all milling around by the open gate.  I left them to it, confident they were fine.

After dark  I closed all the coops, and all the guineas were back in the greenhouse.  No keet.  You’re kidding me.  I rarely do see the keet at night, it tucks itself away somewhere, so I told myself it may be in there but it’s hiding.  Worst case scenario  it didn’t find its way back in, it’s in the brush pile, but it will most likely be able to survive the night, since it’s got a full suit of feathers now.

The night started with hard blowing snow pellets and froze, with our first lasting accumulation of snow.

This morning I open up and feed the hens (the guineas are always already up and about), and there’s no keet.  I look around the edges of the brush pile but see nothing.  I hear nothing.

I’m sick about it.

I carry on taking care of the chickens, back and forth, and then I see what I’ve been hoping to – little bird prints walking out of the brush pile.  I almost miss the little brown bird huddled, still, in one of my footprints.

It was on its way, struggling back to the greenhouse, but it did survive the night!

I shoved it in my shirt, hastened back to the house and transferred the patient to under HW’s shirt, and went back to work.

I came back in to find the chick bedded in a bowl, clearly labeled:)

They have eyelashes!

Sleepy and not out of the woods, but will likely be fine.I put a towel over her later in case she got ideas about hopping out. And HW uncovered her later to peek.  A transformation!  Up pops the head.  Yes, I am feeling better. Oh, maybe I still am a little sleepy.

Winter chicks…

The tell-tale shell!  It’s so cool how the chick unzips the egg much like we would take the lid off a hard-boiled egg.

Snow White was all about rolling her eggs out of the nest today.  She probably knows something I don’t, but I gave her reject eggs to Heather, in the duplex next door.

There’s the chick!  All of them spilling out of the box.

There was another chick as well, partially hatched, but her egg was crushed like it had been stepped on, as if being in an egg isn’t cramped enough.  The membrane was drying out, so the chick was in trouble.  The membrane that keeps them alive in the egg can kill them when they are hatching,  if it dries out.  It becomes stiff and adheres to skin and eyes.  I’ve seen a couple of chicks die during hatching because they couldn’t break that membrane or worked too slow and the membrane suffocated them.  That’s gross and sad.  But this chick, I rapidly grabbed it and peeled it, Cheep!  Cheep!, and popped it back under the dark hen belly.   It was alive but not necessarily well, so I don’t know if it will make it to tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to moving the broodery to a fresh spot and making it all clean for the chicks to grow up in for a week or two.  It’s pretty messy from two hens pooping for a full term.

Everyone else is well.After a year naked, Jean Jacket is sprouting a lot of feathers on her wings, which is excellent.  She must be enjoying her fleece jacketExcept the black really shows the dirt!

There’s the keet in the corner, up on the keet highway.  The keet is very active now, a big hopper and it can fly some too.

Time to groom! Everyone at once now.

 

Keet’s day out!

I was brought out mid-morning to check on the birds because the guineas were putting on an almighty hollering.

The cause?  The guinea chick was outdoors for the first time, having made that big hop up to go through the chicken doorThe guineas were all worked up about it (they’re so familial).  This is the outSIDE!  This is GRASS! (sort of).  The chick is the lone survivor of  a few hatched outdoors, so it may remember “outside”, but it seems it was a big guinea moment nonetheless. Right away the chick slipped through the fence. Here the hens are drawing attention to it- It’s over here!, and it’s barely detectable right by that fence post. Mom came running in, and the chick climbed back in just as easily.

The hen yard is already kind of grim, after freezing, being hammered by rain, and scratched up well.  The chickens loooooove that pine tree through.   They all cluster up under it for most of the day.

This is the Colonel’s flock of girls  – it’s a very large flock, and they group under the pine day all day for a long, relaxed grooming meditation, and often a good perch.  Usually there are 2-5 hens perching in the tree at any time.   I pruned it out for them hoping they’d enjoy it, so it’s very gratifying to have them enjoy it so completely.

Guinea roosts

I hung sticks up for the guineas’ roosting pleasure.  They’re tied off to the purlins about 7′ up, and they swing a little.  The guineas seem to love it, but they are exceedingly coy about being captured on film using it.  I can see them through the plastic up on their sticks.  I can sneak up and catch the last two still holding on, just before they fly down.  But they won’t let me see them all roosted up on it, and they aren’t using their sticks to sleep at night yet.  Still sleeping on the header of the door.

The baby guinea has a new talent.  It can hop up on the baseboard now and run along it behind the ribs. It’s a chick sized highway.

Greenhouse peace

I hope it means the guineas are happy to be in the GH, that they don’t spend half the day yelling anymore.  They are much quieter.

The GH is a chaotic scene littered with debris- just the way the birds like it.

The hens and guineas pretty much completely ignore each others’ existence.  They hop through the door right next to each other, graze, and show no sign of noticing each other.  All the chickens notice each other, all the time, though.

It’s colder now, so the layer hens, who still have their coop outside, drift inside, to where it’s warmer, while all the teenagers like to hang outside.

Four little chicks are alive and well.  Two guineas and two Silkies.  So cute.The two hens who were broody are sort of co-parenting the chicks. The one who seemed to stay broody changed her mind and is now the main Mom (after the other being the main Mom for at least a week).  Now they tend to hang out together with the chicks. 

Oh, just hanging out!
I don’t think I’m going to get my clothes rack back
What’s that, a box!? We love a good box.

 

Fire-spitting guinea mama

The hens are perching in the pine tree- hilARious!  They’re so implacable and smug up there.  Yep, we’re totally real birds.

The former Oreos are officially massive.  They’ve  turned out to be much if not mostly Copper Maran.  Both very handsome.  This will will my new big boss rooster.   Provided he can figure out how to mate the ladies.  He’s been having some issues.

Before

Here’s guinea mama, and her chicks peeking out from behind her tail.  They’re hard for me to see, every day – their natural protective camouflage while they are small.They she goes, erupting like the Hulk (only very, very quickly).  Think you’re going to look at my chicks?!

After

You got another think coming!

A wall?

The baby guineas were running around on the wrong side of the greenhouse plastic again, sounding like car alarms.  Mom was beside herself, throwing herself at the wall trying to attack me while I scooped up her chicks.  The chicks are funny.  Catching them is the hard part, but then I can stuff them in a sleeve, or pocket, or fold, and they instantly go quiet and still.  Oh, cozy!  Zzzzzzzz.  

That means plugging holes around the perimeter just moved up the priority list.  They won’t last long once it’s cold, slipping out like that.

I was planning to build a wall, harhar, to separate the guineas from the chickens, because the guineas move so fast, en masse,  they zoom through like a guinea train and all the other birds go bursting and squawking into the air.  Because there’s so many guineas, that’s a big train.

But I’m rethinking the wall.

Everyone is getting along so well.  The guineas are exceptionally quiet, with hardly any yelling sessions.  I assume that means they are content.

They’re sleeping on the ground, too.  The guinea mom loves this hay bale cave, and then the other guineas pile on top.

 

Livin’ in the greenhouse

Spent the day redoing the emergency windstorm work to rights (baseboard, bolts, adjusting all plastic- no small job), and installing everyone in the greenhouse.  Alas, one tiny guinea chick was found dead in the morning, possibly of exposure.  It was cold, but still – odd to keel over in the GH, mom right there.

The two broody Silkie hens co-hatched two chicks.  What with all the competition and apartment swapping, there is no apparent parentage of the two new chicks.  Even the hens don’t seem to be clear.  I installed both of them in the chickery with a broody box and new eggs.  This is for their comfort, for protection from the amorous roosters (How I have longed for you!), and the teenagers who pile in at night.  No one wants teenagers around, even your own.

Broody hens are so funny, they act like it’s Christmas when you give them eggs.  Eggs?!  You shouldn’t have!  Cluck cluck cluck, and they settle right on, like they’re slipping into a warm bath.She’s been sitting on eggs more than a month, and she’s still thrilled about it.

The cohabitation seems to be great for the chicks.  One mom seems pretty into mothering, but the chicks can go in the box anytime to second mom for a warming, which they do.   I think I’ll have a nap with you now.Especially when Mom A is getting down in the dirt bath.  We’ll leave you to it.  We’ll be in here.They all pile in the box at night.  TOO cute!

Before I took their box away, the teens were playing house in it:

A box? Let’s all get in!

The guinea chicks are so tiny, smaller than the Silkie chicks, perfectly camouflaged, and slippery.  After the morning death, I was keeping a close eye and an ear open for their car alarm cheeping, and sure enough, one slipped under the baseboard.  There it is outside on the wrong side of the plastic.  Mom tried to give me a good thumping through the plastic.

The greenhouse is chaotic and messy.  I strew hay bales around for them to distribute, make it less of a mud hole.  They love a good hay bale.

Here we have a guinea perching on the chickery, all the teens, Silkies and Chantis, chilling on the hay bales, and the Oreos, now big grown birds, visiting.
From the other direction. One teen perching, and the guineas, Hey, that’s OUR clothesrack.

It was a stressful day, because it was beautiful outside, and all the teens were determined to get outside in it, and were sneaky and extremely clever about slipping out behind me.  I’d herd two back in and three would come shooting out.  But there were no attacks, and I got everyone back in the GH eventually.

Late in the day, Mama got out with her chicks!  I didn’t see how.  The guineas all seemed to be fixing to roost at large, so it was time for another chicknapping.

Now with only two:(
Mom’s stopping for a snack on her way back in

Then all the other guineas trooped in.

Mama found a real nice spot in the corner of the bales to bed down.She has a very interested observer.

Almost all safe now.

Got ’em!

Caught the guineas under the netting tent, finally.  Went like clockwork.  When I came out to serve supper a few were even perching on the clothes rack.

I said I was going to build them a perching rack like a fish drying rack, and HW said “Why don’t you just stick the clothes rack out there?”  Why not.

I subtly herded the rest into the fence, which surrounds a scrubby patch all the birds like to hang out in, and closed them in with the last section of fence.  I closed in more than the guineas, though.  Three Silkies were in the fence too.

I had to hang out until they started looking for the exit, and lift up the fence for them to duck under.  They slipped right out like it was prearranged.The guineas at first weren’t too fussed about being captive, but got increasingly noisy and agitated, yelling for half an hour and doing perimeter laps.

The netting isn’t visible, but it’s draped down to the ground on most of the edge, and tented up between the GH peak and a tall post, so I feel good about their safety now.  I figure once they have a good night on the clothes rack, they’ll be back tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, inside the GH:

Progress?No.  Backsliding.  Empty coop.  All birds trying to pile in on the broody.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.  The guineas escaped.  They got over the snow fence and under the netting, and did so so close to dark that they’re roosting now in a really bad, exposed place on the edge of the field, because they don’t have time to get to somewhere better.  They get dumb and fumbly in the dark.  I was holding the flashlight so they could fly up into the branches, and it was still a catastrophe.  They hate me.  I’m mad at them.

Some days.  You try your best to take care of the things, and they’re smart enough to outsmart you, but not smart enough to accept your help.

worry

Loungey pigs.  They’ve been rooting well, but sort of avoiding the big rooty area in the middle that I need them to work, asap.  She’s digging herself a hole so deep she’s almost below grade now.I closed the small coop a touch too early.  There was a latecomer.

Excuse me!

I dropped the ramp again and du du du – trotted right up!

That’s better!

The guineas are killing me (poor choice of words).  They are getting picked off and I can’t help them.  The downside of being wild and independent.  There was an owl picked one off the GH;  I knew lining up on the GH was a bad idea, but I thought if they slept on the coop, right by the wall of the GH, they’d be ok.  Nope.  And since, they’ve been moving around in the forest, because they don’t return to any roost proven not safe.  They were roosting in a big apple tree, which I thought was a great choice, nice safe spot, and it was for a few days.  But last night there was another event, and I didn’t get a chance to count them today.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to make a safe spot.  I sewed together two widths of bird netting to make a strip wide enough, and draped a big canopy off the end of the GH.  I set it up with electric fence at the base, they went in, I closed it up, and found that guineas slip handily right through the electric fence.  Then I was after deer fence, and the co-op said they had some, until we went to buy it and they didn’t.  Then I finally get some (very attractive orange) snow fence tonight, get it all set up, feel good about it, and the guineas choose to skip dinner.

T-minus one week to move the GH and get all the birds in for good. 

Epic pig move

We moved the pigs a fair distance, from where they were recovering the field from the alder and buckthorn, to beside the greenhouse.  They must till up the ground where I’m about to move the greenhouse to.  It involved setting up the fence a couple of times in long corridors.  The pigs were cooperative.Now they’re back in the sun, and practically  on lawn, which they are making short work of.  It’s kind of strange to have them (back) in the middle of everything, smack between the chicken tribes.

—-

Something has been snatching guineas.  A couple of adults are missing, and now there’s only one chick:(But gosh, it’s cute. A pile of bumps in the food dish: The guineas are not exactly “mine”; they’re very much their own, unlike the other obedient farm animals.  They don’t mind eating the food, but they are cunning and very hard to trick or contain, even for their protection.  They’ve been sleeping in the trees, and I’m racking my brain for how I can get them into someplace safe.  I don’t even know what’s getting them.  Nor do I have “someplace safe” in mind.  I’ll get them all into the greenhouse for the winter, but it’s another week+ before that’s ready.  What to do?

I love the outrageous purple of scarlet runner beans.  It’s like the fake colouring of grape candy.  And they are preposterously large beans, too – the plant, the pods, and the beans.  Jack and the beanstalk beans.

Nuts and more nuts

We’re real birds!  The Blondies in a rare moment of repose:It’s funny; all the birds that grew up here, and then some,  are into perching.  They love the tangled alder brush. There’s the baby guineas.  Nice to get a sighting.  All mixed up in the flock of young adults.Time to groom like everyone else! Surprise!  The second, smaller walnut tree is bearing.  They come later, and they are a different kind of walnut.  This kind is nice.  The husks are round and super easy to shuck off the shell (on the right), and the nut is round, exactly like ye old familiar walnut.On the left, the pear shaped walnuts (from the big tree) have flat, pointy shells, and stubborn husks.I’m starting to get a respectable haul, for the first walnut harvest ever.  Nice.

Guineas in the walnut tree

The guineas love perching in the walnut tree.  There was this one night when they all flew off the greenhouse, after dark ,and tried to land in the top branches of the walnut tree, and some were more successful than others, some falling all the way to the ground, bouncing off branches the whole way.  But usually, they like the long low branches over the feeder and the coop.

Guineas are so funny looking!

It starts with one. Then come some more.

Oh!  Flight!

Then a fourth, tangled in the leaves at the end.

All sorted out.

Back down to two

Only two guinea chicks running around today.  Life is brutal for latecomers.

They’re so funny!  Little bitty chicks, the size of ping pong balls, scuttling around on their orange legs right in the middle of the big flock, like they belong there.  They’re hard to even find in my pictures.

It’s a big rain day.  The rain is thundering down; I caught 300 gallons of water in an hour off two roofs.  Everything is puddled and the hens are mostly huddling under their new tents.

Wet chicken

New additions!

Already!  Two little guinea chicks showed up at feeding time in the middle of the guinea herd!

Only two?  She had about ten eggs in her nest even after the close call with the tractor, but I checked it out, and there were two empty shells, and four intact eggs.  Maybe something happened, she rolled out a few eggs or something stole a few.

Then HW came home, discovered the new additions, and said “did you see the three new chicks?”

Three!?  Sure enough, there was a latecomer.  Easy to tell which one.  Just a few hours made the original two old hands at life.  The late arrival was shaky and slow and having a hard time navigating uneven terrain and obstacles.

Mama isn’t as crazy as she used to be either.  She let me pick one up.

It all becomes clear

The guineas are building an army.

Now the chicks are all transitioning from their brown juvenile feathers to the polka dot adult feathers (and looking quite scrappy while they’re at it), and they are large.  And loud.  They move like a school of fish still and they’re bold.  Bolder in numbers.

They look like they’re performing maneuvers half the time.  Flank the food dish!  Charge the walnut tree!  Establish defensive positions around Mom!  Recon missions around corner of greenhouse!  Circle back!

I have to get rid of some, I mean, give some away, but I haven’t got any bright ideas how to trap them.

Guinea crisis II

She’s on her nest alright, but the mystery of why I hadn’t missed her is solved: she can’t resist dinner.

The other guineas hang out right on top of her most of the day, sunning, and grooming, and chatting.  Literally, even.  The “chicks”, little butterballs now half the size of full grown birds, hop over and on top of her, hunkered down in her nest.    I don’t know what she thinks of this; she always looks angry, flattened out on her eggs, but she is easy to check in on now, with the weeds trampled around her.  In fact, I went and clustered some cut weeds around her to help her out.

The whole group of guineas hovers around her like she’s the kitchen stove, generally blowing up her spot.

But when the rest of the flock left to visit the trough, she went running along behind!  I’ll eat too!  Then I swooped in to make adjustments, but she hawk-eyed my every move from the food dish.  She didn’t run me though, just watched, neck long.

I moved the pigs in another direction, after a long and laborious session cutting out alders and buckthorn.  Then, of course, a pig slips out, right by the nest!  The pig fence is about four feet from where she decided to brood.

I kept the other pig in, but the free pig, not caring about togetherness for the moment, started romping around the field, and ran right over the nest.  She came bursting out, attacking the pig, as all the other guineas, even the chicks, join the skirmish. I’m chasing the pig with a stick, the birds are all screaming and flapping, together trying to defend against the pig, but a pig is a pig, oblivious, gleefully prancing around.

I’m horrified; I have to get back to the house for the milk- the only sure pig bait, but the birds don’t stand a chance while I’m gone.  This pig is going to stomp in and snarfle up all the eggs in seconds. I run for the milk, hoping only that the pig finds something else to do for the moment.

I get back, the nest is still intact, all the guineas shrieking in phalanx.

I easily catch the pig again with the milk, and I finish moving them, and everything is ok.

The hen’s scowl may have deepened, but she’s back on her eggs, crisis averted.  This hen has had to put up with a lot, and she’s barely started.

Near tragedy

Our wonderful neighbour was over to bush-hog my field last night.  I need to move the greenhouse this year (not looking forward to it, no), and there were some robust shrubs growing right where it needs to go.

Anyhoo, he was driving around, mowing, and once, right when he came to a stop, I saw the weeds rustle directly in front of his front wheel.  As he backed out, I ran to the spot, fearing that a bird had been hit (I’d been paranoid and been tramping through all the weeds in front of him trying to flush out frightened chickens that were used to the tall weeds being a safe zone).

Horrors!  A nest!

A guinea nest.   His front tractor wheel had rolled into it, crushing a half dozen eggs, but not rolled over it, so most of the eggs were intact.  The eggs were kindled, with bloody yolks, but only a few days past.  I quickly scooped out shells and yolks, tossing them out, trying to clean up the mess with my fingers and restore her nest.  It was a nice nest, too, dried grasses lined up in a swirl. 

The hen herself had stayed to the bitter end, jumping out only when that black tire loomed over her, and we had both seen her flee at the last second.  My flushing hadn’t unseated her, only imminent death.

I did not bother her again by “checking on her” that night, hoping she would come back.

I didn’t even know I had a broody guinea!  I hadn’t missed her.

And what is she thinking?  Aren’t there enough brats around?  I’m flattered that she thinks this is a great place to raise children, but how many is enough?  Sheesh.

In the morning she was on her nest.   I can see her scowling in there. 

Hopefully she got back on them promptly; if she returned by nightfall the remaining eggs would be fine.  Now the weeds are gone, she’s far less concealed.  Her nest has a view.

Right there by the pigland too, right where I was planning to shift the oinkers to next.

 

Guinea growth

The guineas are growing up.  There’s fourteen left – two disappeared along the way.  They’re still running along usually like one school of fish behind one hen, but sometimes they break into a couple of groups, and even get caught alone.  Then there is shrieking, when they look up and realize everyone’s gone.  I’m alone!

They’re SO fast, and they can fly quite well.  They’re starting to make their transition from brown stripes to black and white dots, but they still have the bright orange feet.

They’re also lost their “chick immunity”, and can and will get pecked for being rude, especially by the layer hens.  One of the guinea cocks seemed to be being a real jerk, chasing and attacking the chicks all the time.  But I have a theory that that’s a developmental strategy, like play fighting or wrestling, that he’s teaching them the art of escaping attack (try catching one).  Especially since the hen is right there letting him do it.

In the morning the group fills the feed platter, literally.  They eat, get full quickly, and then depart.  I give them a chance and then let the chickens out.  Through the day the guineas spend their time quite far afield (or awoods), sauntering through chicken land at times for a snack.

The adult flock escorts the chick flock less.  One hen has resumed her partnership with a cock and the two of them travel together independently.  The other pair and the bachelor accompany the chicks.

Hey, I wouldn’t mind getting here for some food.

 

 

Guinea sleepover II

The next night was rainy and a bit bleak.  In the morning when I released the sleepover chick, I hadn´t marked it, although we´d talked about banding it, to know which one was “our friend”.

HW did some out loud wondering whether we´d have another visitation.  Jokes about discovering the good life in the house aside,  maybe this little bird had an injury.  A sprain?  Perhaps it was having a hard time and the falling in the tank was a symptom, not cause.

In the evening, he closed the coops again and returned without remark.  He climbed to the loft, where I was, then halted meaningfully at the top of the ladder until I looked up.

No way!  There he was, holding a guinea chick to his chest, chick looking at me with neck stuck out, orange legs dangling.

The bird’s total comfort with the proceedings was the first clue this was the same bird.  And now I will be wrapped in a towel and snuggled.  Yes, please!

Wow!  Night two!  This time it had not gone for a swim and was only wet from the day´s rain, but it had been struggling to get up on the coop, and allowed HW to catch it (I don´t think it tried to get away very hard).

Same procedure:  Wrapped in towel, hugged, pet on the head (same bumps on the head confirmed definitely same bird), encouraged to go to sleep.  The chick was a little bit less tired tonight, keeping eyes open longer, but even more relaxed.  Totally silent.  Lounging.Like the previous night, I fell asleep with it and it woke me later by hopping up, then resisting my hey go back to sleep hand over top of it, and I put it back in the night box.

Now HW´s jokes about having a house guinea seemed a bit more real.  Hmmm.

 

Guinea sleepover!

HW called me to the door with urgency, just while he was doing the coop closing round.

He was holding an exhausted, soaking wet guinea chick!

I´d been worried about that stock tank, sitting practically under the guinea coop, especially when the chicks were first emerging.  Then when they were older they managed to start roosting on the coop together without my supervision, or incident, and it´s been weeks since they were hopping up on the coop, using the rim of the stock tank as a jump off point.  I figured we were well past the risk of someone falling in.

But no. He´d found this baby swimming, exhausted and nearly dead.

I snatched it up in a towel, wrapping it up with just a beak sticking out, and held it to my belly.  It was shivering hard.  I rocked with it in the rocking chair for awhile before remembering it´s mammals that rock, not birds, and then I took it upstairs, as we were headed there, to bed.

It took about an hour to stop shivering, and a couple of re-wraps with a dry part of the towel. 

After it was out of the woods, then it was all fun. It would poke its head out of the towel and then suck it back in, like a turtle.

It was a dream come true, being able to hold and snuggle a little chick!!

I put the swaddled bird in HW´s lap ´”for a minute” to go out and make a last check that there was no one else in trouble outside.  The guineas were really shrieking up a storm.  HW: “Where’s Roberta!”

When I got back, he wouldn’t give it back!  He called me a chick hog and told me to get my own chick.  “Me and Roberta are hanging out.”  Whenever he leaned or reached for something suddenly, the chick would protest with a little trill.  He kept it in his lap until he needed to get up for something, and I got it back! 

Eventually it started to pant, and I loosened the towel, more and more.  It was totally unwrapped at the end, but very, very relaxed.  It was clearly perfectly happy to be where it was.  No designs on escape.  It was very tired, dozing off, sticking its neck out, and then, Awwww!  resting its head on my arm and going to sleep!   Adorable!  I pet its bumpy little head and skinny neck, hugged it.  It was into it. Looking at us.  Making little sounds if someone moved too quick.

HW said “you´ve got a little dinosaur over there” and said it´s not going to want to go outside again, now that it´s experienced the good life.  “You´re going to have a little house guinea!”

I was very tired myself, and I fell asleep with my arm around it.  HW thought I would roll on it and I should put it in the box, but I didn´t.  How often am I going to get to cuddle a little wild chick?  I´m going to get every minute I can.

Sometime in the night, it got restless, and woke me by standing up, hopping on my arm.  So I put it in the box then and it was silent until morning.

I carried it back out, head whizzing around trying to figure out where it was, then getting excited as we neared the group, and voila – back in the flock!

 

I was literally writing about the guinea chicks getting trapped in the greenhouse, at dusk, and I heard some persistent cheeping outside.  I went to check, with a flashlight, and sure enough, there was a keet darting around on the ground.

Why?

I swung up the light and this greeted me. 

She brought them home.  This was the night.  Ok kids.  This is where the grownup guineas sleep.  You aren’t keets any more!

I just about died laughing, while I ran back to get a camera.  Then I tried to round up the loose keets on the ground, hoping to, I don’t know, lift them up into the house?  Obviously there just wasn’t room for all of them.

I couldn’t find the keets, though, they had hidden themselves so well, so I wasn’t terribly worried about them overnight. (They were fine).

I added more perches, so the house is bristling now, and tonight, they looked much more comfortable.  I even saw the last one fly up from the stock tank, climb over some others to burrow down next to mom:)

 

Summer’s turn

So it begins, with the guineas.

What have we here?  A pile of chicks trying to perch like grownups on the coop, next to mom.

But look closer.  Who’s that IN the greenhouse?  I don’t know how the F they got in there, maybe the gap above the screendoor?, but there were three little guineas on the door header on the wrong side.  Frantic!

I get involved, scare them off the door, thinking they’ll come out the open door after they’re on the ground.  Nyoooo!  Mom is on the ground now too, so they run towards her and out of my sight behind the cucumbers.

Mom can see them running back and forth through the plastic and starts pecking at them.  Naughty!  Get out of there!  Chicks:  We can’t, we can’t! 

The plastic is like the skin of a drum,  and her pecking it is frightening the daylights out of the chicks.  Boom!  Boom!  It’s frightening me too.

HW swings around outside to get Mom to cease and desist, I undo the wiggle wire on that corner, and after rattling the cucumber vines, the chicks come popping out the hole and it’s all over but the storytelling.

The wild Oreos and their fluffy stepmom no longer slip under the fence into Pigland but are content in the partially desertified former Pigland.  They tower over mom now.  One is coming into slate shingle colouring, and the other has developed coppery neck feathers.

The light is shortening, and it’s that glorious time of year when when the chickens feel like going to bed lines up with when I want to go to bed.  Midsummer is awful.  The chickens outlast me every day.  I’ll be so tired I’m struggling to stay awake long enough to close them up, because they’re out there hopping around!  Not a care in the world!  SO not ready for bed.  Today, I’m like, What?  Are you guys seriously all in bed at 8:20!?  I could weep with joy.

Inside the greenhouse Brown Bonnet is proudly bringing up 7 chicks.

These chicks have a different start because instead of chickery time, when they first emerged I lifted her box out of the fence because she was sharing, and trusted mama not to lose any chicks in the jungle.

Funny, the first three days, she barely went two feet from the box.  Now she’s using half of the tomato aisle as the chicks increase in ability.  Soon they will be anywhere, and I’ll think twice about slinging buckets of water.

At night they all go back in the box to sleep, which is adorable.  They are going to be so wild, never getting the daily airlift touching

Someone’s always got to peek out.

Or two someones.

Or three.

Bats back

So many exciting things today!

Mama Silkie I completed hatching out her eggs for a grand total of seven little Silkie chicks, three white and four brown.  They are at liberty in the greenhouse but haven’t gone more than a couple feet from the box.

A restorative friend visit and blueberry pick- 10# of fat blueberries that the piglets and chickens will be ecstatic to have a little taste of.

The promise of rain!  The smell is light relief in the air.

Then the guineas decided to level up.

We win. We’re up higher!

While I was taking pictures of these clowns, a BAT! came flapping around.  100% bat!  It was flying right over my head to hoover up the bugs that I was attracting and I saw the whole bat silhouette against the sky (much clearer than my camera saw it).  It seems like the bats might be on their way back from the brink!

Perching practice

There’s the guinea keets this morning, practicing perching on the feet of the guinea sky-coop.  They grow by the day. 

HW has raised the issue of what happens when all these guineas grow up.  Case in point, when they start hollering about something, it’s “How do you think 20 of those are going to sound?”, and “What happens when all those guineas decide to sleep on top of the coop?” and the most difficult:  “So, if you had two hens this year and they had 16 babies, then what happens next year when all those hens are grown up, and they have….how many babies are they gonna have?”