Category Archives: guineas

Guineas going to bed

Now that there are chicks in the greenhouse, they like to come adventurously popping out when I open up for the guineas.Greetings, part-time residents.The keets are looking, and acting, quite grownup now. First they all run by, seeing if the door is really open.  Then they muster up somewhere and … all surge in at once.

Cheeks has developed a new trick.  She watches and waits, and then gets right in the middle of the flock of keets and runs in with them.  For a chicken, that’s a full speed dash.

It’s very funny.  And totally works, because she’s right in the middle of the crowd.  I still see you, Cheeks!  Twice I flushed her back out of the greenhouse, once I left her in there (door closed) until chicken bedtime, and she had a lot to say about that.  I was jsut looking!  You didn’t have to lock me in!  Now Betty will have taken my spot on the perch!

No more Inky

 Inky is gone.  She wasn’t in her tree and I searched, and  found a half dozen black and iridescent green feathers. I’m heartbroken, and I’ve already been having a hard few weeks.  I want to get out of chickens, because it hurts too much.  I can’t protect them 100% and let them range.  It’s captivity, or risk.  It’s not fair though, it’s like they know which are my favorites, and get the special ones first.  Inky!   In the evening now I’m opening up the greenhouse adjunct garden, where only some root veggies remain, so that they will go in there for the last hour before bedtime and maybe be a little more protected from snatching by the fence.  The guineas were so excited about this access that they stayed out extra late.  In fact, they all went up to roost twice and came back down and  ran back out for some more rummaging.   This one still in the greenhouse:Where’d everyone go?  I thought we were going to bed.

The evening scratch

Now there are eight.  The keet with the lower body injury died in its sleep in the morning, head tucked into a wing.  Hopefully it was peaceful.  After a quiet night it did a little scruffling in the early morning, but seemed to go back to sleep, and then, didn’t wake up.  Guineas die so easily and quickly. The evening before bed is one of the peaceful times in bird land (one of several – they like to lounge), time for a last scratch and snack in the long light.   The Brahmas and Barred RocksCleopatra high in the tree, wearing her jacket.  She got used to the one with shoulder pads. Inside the greenhouse in the evening, it’s cooling off and the chicks remember they need mom after all, for a bit of a warming.  Ursa.  Her other three are still playing behind her.  The black and white ones are SO cute.  She’s got a pair of dominoes too.

Then there were eight – nine

Last night when I yoohooed Galahad and crew in to the open greenhouse door, I was horrified.  Only eight keets came with him!  He did his doorway pause, and satisfied, he went in and they proceeded to shuttle up to their perch.  But!  You’re missing two!  Where are they?!

A white and a grey one were missing.  I came upon the grey one hunched in the weeds nearby.  Immediately I knew he was hurt, and when I tried to coach him to the door, he demonstrated a limp on the right side, and more alarmingly, deliberately avoided the greenhouse door, instead fleeing from me and then settling down in a hen tent.  Alright, I thought, I’ll get him from there later when the sun goes down.  Guineas are super dopey after dark.

That’s terrible!  They were doing so well, how can two be lost in one day?  At least this one with the lower body injury can be saved.  I just need to get him inside and into rehab.  It’s been awhile since there’s been a rehab bird in the house.

After dark, no guinea!  Gone.  I flashlight searched for quite a while.  Vanished.  That’s it for him, I thought.  A raccoon showed up two days ago.  I hoped to maybe see him come out of the woods in the morning.

This morning, no keet.  This afternoon, no keet.  Now there is a family of Galahad +8.  No keet all day.

Until close up time!  There he was, hunched near the healthy flock.I got the bird catching hoop net and pursued. He was limping even harder than the previous day, but still gave me a good chase, and the rest witnessed up close the whole capture and disentangling and removal, so I wasn’t sure Galahad would ever trust me again, but so far so good.

I carried the hurt keet home and stuck his head in a hat, so I could inspect his injury.  He laid there perfectly still for a long and thorough palpating, and continued to lay there long past the inspection.  I just live in this hat now.

I couldn’t find anything wrong!  No bone breaks or skin breaks – it’s a mystery.  But perhaps, like Sprout, it will show up later with swelling.

Now the keet is in an Ikea EKET organizational solution (lidded felt box), sans hat, with victuals and electrolytes.   Finally silent after mounting a thumping, pecking, escape attempt.  I know, it’s super weird to be in a box in the house, and guineas really really hate being contained in anything, but it’s for your own good!  Drink your aspirin water!

Guinea spa

I heard the musical little sounds of the guineas approaching the house (doesn’t happen especially often), so I peeped out.

They were going for the bath!  There’s a spot right by the trail where I was weeding out buckthorn, and the birds have decided that that’s the optimum dust bathing locale.  Now there’s all divots and feathers. The guineas came in for the bath as purposefully as if they had little towels over their shoulders.  It was their specific destination.

I went out to get pictures (all the keets tossing up a storm of dirt), and I felt like the paparazzi sneaking through the bushes, wishing I had a longer lens.

I see you there

Galahad is hard to fool.He let me get closer though.

Don’t think I’m not keeping an eye on you there, creepin in the bushes.

The keets have passed their peak cute.  They are entering the small turkey phase.  Scraggly necks, heads balding, and the fleshy bits that grow on their faces are starting to develop.Their behavior and mannerisms are still super cute.   And still bright orange feet, although dark patches are coming in.Galahad is rightfully proud.  He has kept them all alive and well, and they are model guineas.   He’s a truly outstanding avian parent.They are very musical, the sounds they make.  Also very NOT musical, when they’re in a certain frame of mind, and their kind is famous for that.  It only took three generations of coddled guineas living here in order to get a non-neurotic batch of comfortable, quiet ones.Vigorous dirt bathing. Oh, now here come the chickens horning in.   It’s like, just when you’ve got the hot tub to yourself, ten college kids show up at the pool.Oh, bathing?  What a great idea.  Don’t mind if I do.  I’ll just, excuse me,  I’ll just… get in right here, if you don’t mind,  just pushing over a bit? Back to looking like rocks.  There’s Cheeks sporting her jacket.  She’s breaking it in.  It’s working though, the simple design is keeping the right places covered. And… there they go. We’re done here. ‘scuse me.If we could just get by ya here.And, there they go.  Back to the greenhouse area.   That happened so fast that little brown rooster hasn’t moved. What was that just happened!?The chickens don’t always congregate by the deck, they don’t even show up to the house daily, but when they do, I love it.  They come in a drove, and sprawl out, more like they’re visiting and comfortable here than that they’re rabid for handouts.  It’s nice and safe by the house for them, so I’m glad they do. They love those sawhorses.  Those’ll go in the greenhouse this winter for them

 

cool days, cool Moms

It’s chilly in the mornings.  The chicks are around with their shoulders shrugged up.  The leghorn twins went back in the box.  The cardboard is warmer on the tiny naked feet.

You know what’s really warm on the feet?  Mom. Until she starts walking away – whoa!

Ursa Minor surprised me with chicks this morning.  She had that I’ve got chicks, ya know face.  And then there was all the peeping.Oh!  there’s a little leg, and it’s attached to some black feathers!  Yay, another black one.  Oh, there’s a a whole little butt, already dry and fluffy.

Ursa’s so chill.  She’s all confident.  This is my second brood, you know.  I’m kind of a pro at this. (She is).And there’s a whole chick popped out.  I didn’t disturb them much in the cold morning, but in the afternoon she was trying to start their education in the dark cave of the broodery, so – into the chickery with them.  There are two black ones, and two “spider” marked – that’s how Brown Silkies look when they hatch.  But… I can’t remember if she was on Silkie eggs or full size?  Those chicks look pretty big.  So they might be crosses.  Who knows!  It’s all exciting.

Cream Puff slid into the greenhouse with Galahad last night, and I was chasing her around with a rake, which G was surprisingly unconcerned about.    She knew she wasn’t supposed to be in there, and Galahad knew  that he was.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that she should stick right next to him to not fear the rake, which she did, like glue.  Smart move.  I chased them both out, and she ran squawking back to her boyfriend, while Galahad made a lap of the hen tent and glided back in before she’d hardly turned the corner.   Very smooth.  The keets mostly ignored all of this.

Tonight I comprehended another maneuver of his.  I’ve seen it before and thought he was just being fussy: I come to open the door to admit the keet family to the GH (Galahad periscoping, doesn’t miss anything).  I step back.  G runs up, jumps onto the doorstep looking into the GH.  Keets gather.  I lean or step forward, ready to shut the door behind them as soon as they all…. but no!  He doesn’t  jump in.  Nope. He pops back out, makes a wide meandering lap, though rather fast and urgently, like he’s frustrated, pauses somewhere (today it was under the hen tent), then rushes out and deliberately charges into the GH.  I have been frustrated with this extra phase of bedtime procedures.  Just go to bed!  It’s the same greenhouse it was last night, just go in!

That’s not it though.

I figured it out tonight.  He’s collecting all the keets!  They don’t flow everywhere together like a school of fish, like they used to, these days as they mature and get more independent.  Some are lingering at the grub box, the feed dishes, the water fount.  First he confirms the door is open, and then he does his lap to get their attention.  They snap to and fall in.  Then he pauses for muster – all present?  Then they storm the castle.

He’s the best guinea mom I’ve ever had.  He does everything almost completely silently.  Amazing.  And I hardly see them all day, but they know when mealtime and bedtime is.

Oh, and I shifted the coop drama dynamic in Silkieland.  For two nights, I picked up the two little bitches that want to play bouncer at the top of the ramp, and I held them.  All the other birds went gratefully and peacefully to bed, while I just stood there, holding two hens.  I even walked around and did stuff with one hand, holding them.  They were pretty ok with it (it’s warm; birds usually like being held, they just don’t like the transition- being grabbed).  Then, dead last, I dropped them into the doorway, and shut the gate.  Only problem was the rooster, who was very reluctant to get aboard the ark because he knew these two weren’t in yet.  His job, and therefore identity, is to be last in, first out.  Tonight I had visitors distract me from interfering, and yet, something had shifted over there!  It was quiet and quick, and there were no sentries atop the ramp!  We’ll see if the lesson sticks.  You be good or I’ll hold you!

 

 

dirt bath and other shenanigans

Chocolate’s out of the chickery now too.This is great.  All the small chicks with moms are at large, meaning I don’t have to constantly monitor do they have shade, do they have water?  Their moms take care of that now (lots of water options).   Soon enough there will be another round of chicks hatching.She’s diving right into the dirt bath.  There’s two popular spots at the moment, an old pig wallow, and this one under the corner of the hen rain tent, which is a bit of a sauna in the sunshine.   The dirt she’s spraying  is sticking to the condensation on the roof.Guineas  when they’re not aware they’re being watched.

Oh, last night! I went to open the door for guinea bedtime, and I didn’t see them so I hollered Galahad’s name.  I saw him pop out of the woods by the pig fence, quite far away, periscoping.  I’m like “Hello!  Over here!  Yoohoo, I’m here to open the door”, waving,  like over a crowd at an airport.

In the moment, this sort of thing – waving at and calling a bird – feels rather silly.

Galahad launched into the air, as did all the keets behind him, and flew in to me.  A little cloud of keets inbound.  They fluttered down to land at the coop and I stood back for them to scamper through the door of the greenhouse for bedtime.  Thanks, human.  This bird is incredible.  Cotton’s  chicks exploring out of the box.Big pathway pileup.

Perchick became the most recent “wildlife” to hop in the open door of the house, casually jumping up on the doorstep and poking through the screen door to look at me.   Hey.   So, yeah.  Got any snacks?  I was peeling peaches and didn’t get up.    She rummaged through a basket by the door, ignoring my remonstrations, and then casually left.  No snacks.  Chickens haven’t strolled into the house that I know of since the episode with the dried beans last year (maybe they do it all the time when I’m not here).The young teens (the Famous Five/Pufflings) and the tweens have formed an alliance to mount an assault on the bird feeder (there’s nothing in it). Recon complete, moving in.. . ckkk… ground support in place … ckkk… on final approach. .. ckk ….

Keet bedtime

The guinea family is admitted to the greenhouse as early as 6:30, and usually by seven.  They go to bed much earlier than the chickens. Galahad watches for my appearance, and they scamper in as soon as I open the door.Bedtime begins with some last foraging for a snack and a familiarizing walk around the greenhouse.Then they hit the ladder.  They really do use it as a ladder, hopping up a rung at a time, zigzagging, until they get to the top.Then they have to fly to the perch.  Galahad is already up there.It’s tricky, the perches swing.Then they walk along the branch, like getting off the runway.  Wings are good for balancing.      Now the rest are all gathered on the top of the laundry rack, and the ones on the branch need to get themselves organized in the order they want to be, all on the same stick.All done.  This is where we sleep.And I get to enjoy the hooting of owls:)Take a close look at Galahad’s left.  Somebody still feels needy.

Close call and a happy ending

I had a rough-ish day, and came home wanting to just eat and go to bed, but then had unexpected visitors that disrupted my usually smooth bird closing procedures.  With the delay and tumult, Galahad and his keet fleet failed to get back into the greenhouse!

That they spend nights in the greenhouse is the only thing that allows me to sleep – it’s a hard won habit, as guineas usually want to roost outside, and inside is what keeps them safe from owls and foxes.

Galahad is my golden bird.  Not only is he quiet, relaxed around me, and habituated to going inside at night, he’s an incredible step-parent, raising ten adopted keets, and I’m not even sure how rare that is for a cock to devotedly parent baby birds.

Therefore, without question, I had to find him.

I did.  It didn’t take too long, but it was solid dark.  He was in a decent spot (guineas tend to pick better places on the ground than in the trees), but still, on the ground, they’re not safe, period.

Their really weak suit is how they behave at night.  They don’t do dark.  Once flushed, they flop and stumble around, and make noise when disturbed.   I had planned to herd him and entourage back to safety, but he wasn’t capable of it, so I scooped him (violent reaction to being removed from keets) and plopped him in the greenhouse, promising to bring the keets.

Finding all the keets took much, much longer.  They peep, and also stumble around in the dark, but can be quick darters.  I scooped them in warm cuddly pairs and shuttled them to Daddy in the greenhouse.

His volume went down with every pair delivered, although he seemed satisfied after the delivery of six.  Six is enough, really.  Who can keep track after that?

Seven and Eight took a long time, and Nine, wow.  Half an hour at least.   The tenth was not to be found.  I needed one peep, but wasn’t getting it.  I was hungry and tired before this, and after two hours of low sweeping with a flashlight, I was stumbling.  I started to think I was beating bushes for a ghost, that maybe Ten was lost earlier in the day, or that he was somehow already in the greenhouse.  I went to look at Galahad and see if I could count keet heads.  Nine.

I tried a bit longer, but eventually gave up.  This bird got all the quiet guinea genes, may they serve him well.  If he could evade me so well, I figured he had a decent chance of making the night, although I hated the risk and settling for 90%.  I was VERY cranky, mad at myself, and did not sleep well, listening for a cry that I wouldn’t be able to make it out to intervene in.

Early up, it had been a chilly night, an October night, in August!, and that would be hard for a guinea keet alone.  All the cozy guinea keets were in no hurry to get up.  I walked around in the field some more.  No peeps.  Proceeding with chicken opening, I saw a lone keet streak across the yard!  It made it!  I tried to head him off in the woods, but he was elusive (skills).  Seemed fine.

Then Galahad et al exited the greenhouse, and his head shot up, listening.  I couldn’t hear the keet, but he could!  He started running back and forth, then zoomed out for the woods with a tail of keets following. All together again!  What a relief!  They found where I left the feed bucket for me.G was up on the coop.One by one, the keets flew up. Except for two, who looked up at the roof, and then went up the ramp.  Good inference, but flawed.  Hmm, that doesn’t go where we thought it did.They’re clamoring for a warming.  Hey, it’s cold!Time to go down now.

I can tell today is a big teaching day.  Before leaving the greenhouse, Galahad demonstrated the use of the perching rail, which he hasn’t done before.  Flew up, flew down – an obvious show-and-tell.  This is what we’re working up to.   I don’t think the keets can fly that high yet, some had difficulty getting on the coop, but I expect they’ll be on the rail in a few days.Then there was ridgepole walking.  I can tell today will be packed with practice.  Perhaps he’s extra motivated after the night they had, although he’s not holding anything against me.

They are really all there.  It’s hard to get them in one picture, as there are always one or two a little apart, doing something different, or lagging behind.Often eating.


In other news, Feisty, the little demon, has hatched three chicks.  Nothing’s changed.  She doesn’t care she’s in the 0-1 pound weight class and I’m a LightweightI’ll take you!  When I transferred her and chicks out of the dirty, cramped broody kennel into a chickery yesterday, I got her by her feet for everyone’s safety and held her upside down,  maximum 2 seconds, while I whisked out the chicks.  She produced an eruptive, liquid poop in those two seconds so toxic I almost threw up, proving she can attack from both ends.

Do not mess with Feisty.  Those chicks are safe.Arrrrr.