Tag Archives: guinea fowl

Greenhouse goings-on

Earlier this year in the greenhouse.

Now it’s a little wilder.  Even at this point, though, the guineas were getting lost.  The “aisles” have kind of disappeared.  I went  to open the far doors, and there was a white guinea in the melons.  Chirp chirp.  Her boyfriend came back in for her, bushwhacking towards her to lead her out.

I have a theory that the guineas have kept down the beetles this year.  I don’t have a problem this year, although I saw eggs on the leaves earlier.  I also saw the guineas pecking the leaves on their evening browse.  I think they might have been doing a daily cleanup.

The guineas are adorable.  They gather at the door at night, and when I open the door, they file right in.  This is where we sleep. They go for a browse and then perch on their swing.  If I’m too late, the seventh gives up on me and sleeps somewhere else.

I have late blight, bummer, but still plenty of tomatoes coming.  I canned 17 quarts yesterday.

Also yesterday, I turned the water on in the greenhouse, forgetting that the two new chicks and their Silkie mama are housed in there.  Some of the joints and holes in the tape spray water in jets, so it might have been an exciting moment, when the sprinklers came on.

These lucky chicks are so late in the year, and with a Silkie mom that is not nearly as destructive as a big chicken,  that they get to have the GH all to themselves to grow up in.  I get lazy late  in the year, and they are happy and safe in the jungle.

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.

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. 

 

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 lift

I can’t believe this just happened.  I was closing up the birdies’ coops in the almost completely dark, and there was one guinea that wasn’t up on the perch.  It’s tough; their perches swing, and they fall off, or knock each other off, but they are usually all back on by nightfall.

He was sitting on the edge of the chickery slash confinement module.  I was already crouched beside him to shut the big coop, so I reached out, like, here, I’ll help you up (haha).  He let me touch him!  Not a hint of a flinch.  They’re dopey at night, but we could still see each other. 

I started prying his little toes off of the edge to take his feet in my hand.  Once he was standing on my hand instead of the wooden edge, I stood up with him.  He settled right down on my hand, squeezing my fingers with his feet like he was ready to stay. One foot was colder than the other.

It was Flash, one with the white wingtip feathers.  I raised him up to the perch, but since he was not at all motivated to jump from my hand to the perch, he did not (Oh, I don’t mind staying on the heated perch), and I’m not tall enough to reach their pole. 

I had to stand on a hay bale and stretch over, and then he shuffled his feet from my hand to the perch.  Adorably, the next bird over on the perch then side shuffled over to cuddle, which was friendly:)

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.

What do I do when I haven’t taken any pictures all day?

Take pictures in the fading light at guinea hour.There’s the guineas grazing in colour-coded groups.There’s the chicks that slipped out today, quite proud of themselves.  Nosey on the left.  They’re pretty good about following the guineas back in, when they call it a night. The little barred rock again.  I’m with you, right?  I’m the right colour! Oooh, can I come out?! The small chickens are so cute. They’re cute right up until they’re suddenly big burly roosters swaggering around.  They spend a great deal of their juvenile lives independent of their mothers.  Months.  They have so much growing yet to do when they strike off on their own, but their sibling bonds (the chicks they shared a nest with) seem to stay really important until full adulthood.

Today was a big sun bathing day, warm in the greenhouse, chicken legs stuck out everywhere.  It’s very quiet when it’s warm.  The birds are all flopped out, dozing.  Too sedate to squabble.   Tomorrow, rain.

I made fudge, which is awesome because it involves vats of melted chocolate:Also worked, as usual, and felled some more of the ugly buckthorn forest.  Is the glass half full or empty?  I can look around after two tanks of gas burned and see little difference, or I can go  Yeah, two more tanks of gas … spent cutting down an invasive so regeneratively powerful I might start calling them Triffids.  I have to do that in the morning in order to feel any accomplishment about it.  When the snow comes, I think that’s when the amount of land I’ve cleared of the beastly GLB this fall, a fraction of the infection,  will actually look like something.  Here’s hoping.

Let them eat grass!

I’ve made the observation that guineas “like” to eat grass the way addicts “like” heroin. They seem desperate for it.  They’ll crowd up and rip grass so you can hear the grass getting mowed.

Just a hunch.  Guineas need grass in their diet more than the average bird.So post-bobcat, I’ve been letting the guineas outside for a half hour before bed, to get their grass fix.Really? Then I stand over them, supervising, but they’re so into the grass they barely notice me.  Happy little grass-eating satisfaction noises.

Now I’m going to have to grow grass for them in the winter.Yes, a couple roosters also wander out, but it’s so close to chicken bedtime that they don’t get too far.  This little chick always comes out.