Category Archives: guineas

Free chickens

Here they come.

The chickens get some time out almost every day now.  Very soon they will be finished with the greenhouse for the year.

They’re getting tetchy in there.  Starting to hate each other.  They come running to the door when I come, hoping I’ll prop it open.

Although eager to get out, they don’t stay out, unless it’s a sunny day.  There’s still snow on most of the ground, and if it’s grey, they find their way back into the greenhouse pretty quickly.

Guineas in the sun.  They find their way back inside too, when done exploring.

Guinea on the loose

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She’s the little dark lump in the tree just right of center

img_0118 The sun was beating on the greenhouse, so I opened the doors at both ends.  The west door I had to dig the snow out, and it opened on a three foot bank of snow.

I didn’t bother with the screen door; I figured if any birds ventured out, they’d get cold feet, literally.

We left, and came back in the late afternoon, and could hear the guineas shrieking from the driveway.  Not that that’s unusual, but it was unusually sustained.  So I promptly walked out to see what they’d got into now.  There was a guinea, roosted up in a scrappy alder tree.  I called HW to bring his phone and see this.

Her first day out.  Since the guineas were little chicks, they’ve lived in the greenhouse.

She was quite comfortable, settling in for a long stay.  The others in the greenhouse were going off like fire alarms We aren’t together!  WE AREN’T TOGETHER!

I disturbed her out of the tree and herded her along the wall of the greenhouse and she happily darted back inside.  That’s when I noticed, following her and her tracks in the snow, that there weren’t any departing tracks.  She must have flown straight out of the door, and flown without landing anywhere, into the tree.

By Golly, they like it!

Ever since I constructed elaborate toad mansions under my parents’ back deck for the itinerant toads of Ontario as a child, there is little that pleases me more than an animal inspecting something I made for them, deciding This is alright, and using it!  Sometimes there would be a toad using the pool, or the planter pot “cave”.  Yessss.

One night!  And the guineas have decided they live on their coop!  I’m so pleased.  All of them, lined up on the rim.  It’s probably only because it’s about 2 inches higher than the header of the door (by design), but I’ll take it.  On vs in – close enough.  We’ll work up to “in”.

All of them went up there on their own.  They started out on the roof, but after dark, there they were.

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They’re all there.  Facing out.

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Look up, look way up, it’s the new guinea coop

I’m starting to worry about the guineas sleeping out “loose” in the greenhouse.  The hens are all secured at night in their respective coops, but the guineas are not safe, should a weasel come in, and now the GH is breached with multiple tunnels, one easily could.

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@#$% squirrel

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The guineas have a collective mind of their own though, choosing different places to sleep every night.  They used to like snuggling between the hay bales and the plastic, or perching on the top of the open screen door, which is funny.  They’ve just moved up one better though, and are roosting on the top of the door header.

img_4661It’s funny, approaching the GH and seeing their little shadowy silhouettes above the door in the dusk.  There were only four the first night!  I went in to shut the coops wondering if one was lost (a constant fear).  She was fine.  She was pacing along the roof’s edge of the layers’ coop, the nearest high point, trying and failing to muster up the bird courage to flap up and join the others.

I waited awhile, as it got darker, before I intervened.  I walked right up to her, smoothly reached out and grabbed her by the legs.  How well this went surprised both of us.  She eep-ed once and wobbled a little to get her balance as I readjusted her to stand on my palm, and I lifted her up almost level with the others (I’m a bird elevator).  She stood there for many seconds before she took the 6 inch hop.  After that night she’s made it up on her own.  We take the opportunity to pet them at night, which they do not love, shuffling nervously and squeezing together.  But I think it’s good for them.

So I built them a house.

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Hardware cloth floor
Hardware cloth floor

I put it on top of the straw bales for their examination (the layer hens are the most curious and adventurous of the bunch).

And then I put it on legs.

img_4646Knowing they want to be at the highest point in the room, it’s up in the air.  In fact, I won’t be able to take it out of the GH without taking the legs off, so…it’s either going to stay in the GH forever, or dismantling it is, to move their coop outside.

My big idea is to get them to roost IN the coop every night, and then in the summer they will continue to sleep in the coop, instead of the trees, where I can shut the door and they will be safe.

That’s my big idea.  Chances are good that the guineas have other ideas.

The first night, HW moved them from the header to the coop.  They were unimpressed and jumped up to perch on the top edge.  That’s ok with me.  Sleeping on their coop is a good start.  Maybe when it gets colder they’ll have more interest in huddling.

It has a protruding stick so that they can fly to it and then shuffle inside.  The roof is partial because I don’t have a piece of plywood the right size handy, so I set some scrap on it.  No door yet either.  That can come after they sleep in it.