Category Archives: guineas

These two are dating

These two guineas are dating.  Or bonded for life; I can’t tell what stage they are at.  Probably post-commitment ceremony somewhere on the continuum, maybe still honeymoon.   It’s been nearly two months.

Here they are running away from the paparazziand seen here jumping out of the bath after privacy invaded:

You wouldn’t know that these are the tamest guineas I’ve ever had and let me get quite close.  It’s been hard to get a picture of them together, although they are ALWAYS together.  They are never farther apart than a table for two, unless I walk between them, and they can wander pretty distantly from the other guineas (dates).  I haven’t noticed any of the others paired off yet.

It’s funny because when these guineas (Galahad-raised) were juveniles, they gave the white guineas such a hard time because they were different.  Bullying, rejecting –  I considered separating them.  But now, she’s exotic.

There may be no keets this year

Ugh, it’s always awful logging in and seeing how long it’s been since I last posted.  Almost a whole month!!! I will try harder!

It’s been an action packed month though.  Major personal changes, and a whole lot of dental work.

The toothache I’ve been “toughing out” (not a recommended course of action) for months, outlasting the waiting period for my dental coverage, needed a root canal, so that finally happened this week, sweet relief!! but there’s more to do.

There are five new chicks, little baby Cheeks’!, to two moms, Velvet and Ghost, who insisted they were determined to have babies, and they are scampering around, little fuzz nuggets.  The “old chicks” are half-grown now, and they fight with me every night for their right to sleep in the tree.

The keets are all gone, unfortunately.  They lasted only a few days and disappeared over three.  The hen would hide somewhere at night with them, going to bed early.  Of course, there isn’t really an option to interfere with that, and then one day there were two missing, the next day down to five, and the next day, down to one.  The first two losses I thought were her negligence, but no, it is likely a fox.  Why wouldn’t it harm her?  Why only a couple at a time?  At any rate, there’s something in the woods.

When there was one keet left, I kept it alive for several days.  Evening time, I had to capture it (peeping bloody murder, getting rushed by the adult guineas), and then carry it into the greenhouse.  I’ve never gotten the guineas in bed for the night so fast.  All of them surged in behind me, bristling, I dropped the keet off in the peppers, and then locked them all in.

Then I had to go back in again and again as it got dark,  to knock mom down from the perch where she tried to roost with the grownups instead of taking care of her baby.  Eventually she would stop flying up and settle down in the tomatoes with it.  Then one evening there was no keet left at night to grab.  Sad.

The other two hens that were setting also came in (I only knew of one for sure, the other white one who would show up to wolf down some food and then leave again).  She rejoined the flock keetless.

The last hen, whom I hadn’t known was out setting, was much more vocal near the end.  She would howl every morning and night, so I knew roughly where she was nesting, and I’d see her boyfriend heading out there some nights to sit with her instead of going to bed in the GH.  In the morning she’d be yelling before I released the others, and they would go out in that direction, to visit, I’m sure.

Then one night this week I heard her shriek in the night, and I stumbled out, shouting and getting all scratched up thrashing the weeds, until I felt like a crazy person in the foggy silence.  In the morning she was waiting outside the GH for her friends.   I’m glad she was unharmed, but no keets from her either.  I can only assume her nest was raided and she narrowly escaped.

If only they would be so accommodating as to nest in the GH, or take over a coop.   It seems unbelievable now that one ever nested in the skycoop; they are so wild and insistent on doing it their way, as ill-adapted as their ways are.

Keet care share

The keets have been around more; they even got walked nearly to the house.  I hear their cheeping like tiny bells (they will grow into klaxons).  They already have dart-and freeze-in-the-grass skills, scratching, dozing, and following skills.  Little beings the size and weight of ping pong balls, walking, eating, pooping, thinking.   They’re so cute I can hardly stand it.  They are already surprisingly independent, with a noticeably larger radius of dispersion than two days ago, and the flock moves faster.  They aren’t obsessively dependent on mom at all, more that it’s important to them to stay with the group.I went out today and found a grey bird  sitting on the chicks in the cool morning.  The white (mother) hen came up nuzzling, like she was checking on her kids under the babysitter.  I thought awww, Galahad’s at it again, sitting on the keets.  Then I realized Galahad, who has been shadowing them the last couple days, was sleeping in the sun behind me.  So who the heck is this co-parenting?!

You guys have complicated relationships. 

Guineas are just SO lovely.  They have a different social system than chickens and it seems very evolved.   They accept the keets as tiny new additions that walk with the flock (reminds me of elephants).  The keets will run to any of them, it seems, and any of them might run and get a left-behind cheeping chick.  The males are super involved in keet care.

They’re so special and interesting that I just put up with the bloody noise.  Even that, though, often means something.  Not always, but often, there’s something they’re trying to say.  Like, visitors are on their way, put some clothes on!  They’ll come to the house together and yell at me, looking at me, then five minutes later someone walks up.  Don’t say we didn’t tell you.The white hen spent some adult time lounging away from the keets today, who were all with someone else.  Then all the birds were doing walkabout together with the keets flowing among their feet.  I felt very “approved of” that they let me stand so close to their pile of chicks.  When I walked right through the group was the first time I got a hint of mom flaring, reminding me of how crazy, insane cobra mom the last guinea mother I had was.  This one is zenned right out.

The other white hen was also around today!  Wolfing down food.  So maybe she’s nearing the end of her sit as well.

I’m looking forward to when she stops leaving to hunker down with them at night, and brings them to the greenhouse for bedtime.  I’ll need another laundry rack.

 

 

OMG KEETS!!!

I went out to feed everyone lunch and got stopped in my tracks by a tumble of new keets!  A whole new cast of characters.  I think there’s 13.  They’re hard to count.  Little white ones and brown ones!

We already have a candidate for the lag-behind

The white guinea hen is back with a hugely successful brood!  I’ve been seeing her at the food trays occasionally the last couple of weeks wolfing down food, at off hours, so I’ve wondered.   I’ve also seen her at the end of the driveway, where I’m pretty sure she nested – the others were making not very covert visitations down there.  That means these little keets have already had one heck of a long walk to get here.It begs the question, are the others ok?  Did they survive the rains and raccoon and other roving predators?  Are two other hens going to roll out of the woods (any day, since they all disappeared at the same time) with a baker’s dozen of keets?Galahad of course, is right at her side, rushing at anyone who thinks they might get close to the keets (which is usually the chicks, who don’t understand why he’s mean all of a sudden).  She gets to be all calm and serenity, with her bulldog security detail. 

OMG, they are so much tinier and more adorable than I even remembered- so small!  Having trouble climbing out of the pot lid:) They do  come out of an egg about the size of a Silkie egg. 

 

Nosy guineas

I was sitting on the sill of my open front door, a convenient place I’ve found for potting up starts, my dirt and trays arrayed in front of me, when the guineas wandered up.

They arrived quite suddenly, maintaining their constant twittering conversation about everything, and they came right up on the deck to see what I was doing.   Whatrya doing?

I was so glad I was in arms-reach of my camera.  I thought they were after the green stuff, but they didn’t make a move for it.  Then, they apparently reached a conclusion about what was happening here, and, inspection done, they turned and left just as quickly, still ceaselessly conversating.Carry on. You passed. I’ll be checking up on you later, Cheeks.

Notice Cheeks was with me at the side of the deck, and she was subject to inspection too.  She looked a little nervous- she froze and her eye got big.

Guineas are so funny.  Strange, and funny.  They’re different.  I’m so pleased with this bunch.   They roll around like friendly patrol cops on a beat, keeping tabs on everyone, including me.   Oh, gardening?  That’s acceptable.  Hi again, how’s the job coming? I haven’t seen them on the deck before, but it’s great that they come around the house so close, instead of insisting on being cagey distant wild animals.

Guinea was here

The snow is almost all gone now, but when it was still here, it didn’t stop the guineas.

They tramped up and down and all around, and made a fantastic constellation of footprints.  They were so pleased to be out, they put up with a little cold feet.

Who says we’re jungle birds?  We’re Canada birds now.I found them at the end of their footprints!

Escape escapades

Little Nosey, being herself. I’m teasing her with a litter grabber. She’s like Why. Why are you pointing a robot arm at me?

The guineas had a big adventure, escaping in the morning. Good day for it. They came yelling down the trail, went grazing in the woods, but around lunchtime they were wanting back in. It’s cold. We would like to be back with the food.

They found this challenging.
I propped the fence open, away from the corner of the greenhouse. One of them got stuck unable to comprehend going around the end of the fence. The white one appears to be on the way in, but no!
She managed to be looking the wrong way when the other one figured it out, and so dithered around Where’d everybody go? Oh look, there’s a door!

Shortly after the guineas ran back in, a flock of chickens escaped somehow. I arrived later with lunch, and a visiting dog (because, all the chickens are put away, dogs are cool), and ten chickens and a rooster are sauntering around on the edge of the woods. What the!

I tried to get them back in. The dog didn’t help. They fled into the woods and reconvened around the rooster.

Thus they got to stay out until nearly bedtime, when they were all waiting by the door. On the bright side one rooster earned his keep. The leghorn rooster was out with them, and they were all glued to him; he was herding and leading them. It’s good to know who a quality rooster is.

He probably talked them all out the gap in the fence in the first place, but he was taking good care.

Guinea grazing

We have snow, everywhere but in these pictures where the sun shone.  A light crunchy layer of snow.  It was very nippy today and I thought the guineas weren’t going to even come out for their graze.They’ve taken to climbing up the pile of sticks during their recess.  No grass up there.  Maybe they just want to look around. This little one is the most successful greenhouse escapee.  She darts out right in the middle of the guinea pack so I cant’ turn her back.  Cheeks’ old stunt.  I can preempt most of the chickens, but never this one.  It’s a pain when chickens get out with the guineas, because they’re not on the same schedule.  Chickens will stay out until the bitter end of light, so after the guineas run back in after a graze, I get to herd chickens.  This one’s not too bad at going back in, and makes the cutest little noises, but tonight she was so intent on digging a hole, she kept running around me and back to the spot, and was very displeased to finally have to go in.  Peep peep PEEPpeeppeep!I’ll just have a bit of rest here.

Escapee

One of the guineas escaped from my carefully constructed bird shield.  It flapped and scramble-ran up the plastic, therefore slipping under the edge of the mesh and out into the clear air.I actually saw it in progress, yet was unable to stop it from happening.It had just enough foot friction, I supposeI’m up here. Now what? Looked neat from inside.  I left her up there to figure it out.

Later… how’s that guinea doing?Well, it’s on the wrong side of the mesh, and now suspended, like it’s in a mesh bag. We’re helping!

Its friends (whites only), were trying to help by pecking.  Not helping.

I can get them down from here pretty easily though, by bounce, bounce, bouncing them on the mesh, until they slip under the overlap mesh- wish I could say I designed it like that – and flop unceremoniously into the yard they’re supposed to not be able to escape from.

Roof sitting

Apparently the coop roof is the place for the guineas to camp out.It’s nice to work in the greenhouse for some time, enough to see them relax into completely ignoring me and resume their chicken activities.Dozing on the roof. Grooming…Chilin’ This is the gang that hangs out on the other roof.  Too bad the roofs don’t get washed by the rain when in the greenhouse.