Tag Archives: guinea fowl

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.

They grow up so fast

Everyone is growing up in the greenhouse.  The Chanticleer (and young Silkie) roosters are coming into their oats, so they’re always showing each other their neck ruffs, sorting out their hierarchy.

“Did someone say neck ruff?  I have one I can show you!”    White Chanti roo- still not fully grown! How big will he get?
Snow White. She’s got chicks under her. I can tell by the expression.

The Colonel is in retirement, especially since the rooster formerly known as an Oreo has become huge and dominant. He may not be invited to stay.  I was hoping being aggressive was a stage he would grow through, as he seemed to be cooling enough a bit, but not enough.  We can’t keep any jerks around, if they endanger the health of the flock at large.

Open the coop for a minute…

The guinea keet (keet in a bowl) is ungrateful and aloof and has forgotten all about being saved, and is also about to transition from brown stripes to black polkadots, which is always a sort of magical transformation.  Why are they brown from hatching to mid-size? Camouflage?  Does the arrival of their black feathers mean they are adult in the ways that matter while still not fully developed?

So it begins

When the sun shines, even if it’s minus tens outside, it’s very comfortable in the GH, and the birds lounge around sunning, like it’s summer.  They like to lean on the hay bales, so there are lots of hay bale nooks for them.

Cheeks

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

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 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.

 

 

Movin’ on up, up, up

The guineas are at this age where they just get into trouble all day.

They’re falling in the drink, getting stuck in or under stuff, and practicing perching anywhere they can.  I get called outside frequently by the panicked shrieks of the mortally assailed, and I find chicks…

How did it get in there?  Last year I planted a highbush blueberry and set a cage over it so the chickens didn´t uproot it through their vigourous appreciation of mulch.

I routinely found wailing chicks “trapped” in the chickery until I set it up on its side.  Now it´s a perch.They’ve got that guinea vase shape and they´re starting to turn speckled from striped, but they’re still brown.

Then I was brought outside at dusk by some particularly sustained alarm calling.

To find this:

The chicks were getting up on the greenhouse.  And they were really nervous about it, making  a lot of consternation noises.It started with the grownups.  They started inching up onto the greenhouse from the sky coop while mama was sitting with her brood on the perches.

A couple of days ago, they started roosting on the peak.

Not to be outdone, the chicks just decided that’s the place to sleep now.

First they flap up to the arch from the coop Then they scoot up until they gain the peak

A few of them are content to stay on the coop, which I think is smart, but I’m sure they’ll be leveled up in no time.

I have a theory that this started with the weather vane.  If that bird can get up there, then so can we.

Their additions are not very attractive.  They’re adding a lot of nitrogen now to the water I’m catching off the greenhouse.

No, they don’t puncture the plastic.  It’s tight at night in the cold.  It makes loud rumbling as they all scurry back and forth across it.

What’s funny, is that there’s not much space at the top.  It´s kind of a one way street.  Yet they insist on going back and forth, and when they pass each other….

If anyone gets more than a few inches from the center, they start to slip, then run in place, flapping, and either they regain the summit or abort, and push off to fly to the ground and then begin the quest again.

Eventually they line up like beads for the night.  It looks like an owl buffet to me, but I don’t have any ideas how to stop them.

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?”

Finally, a few pictures of the elusive guinea chicks

Over and over, all I get to see is lots of little guineas vanishing into the brush.This morning, they were under the chicken’s coop before I opened it.

They have little wings of their own now, and they are at least doubled in size from when they hatched.  Still with Big Bird orange feet and beaks.

I can’t believe one hen can cover them at night, and I think of her when it pours cats and dogs at night, resolutely making herself into a tent.  In the morning, all the chicks are dry.

They still move en masse, attended constantly by all five adults.  They get superlative parenting.

They aren’t quite as terrified of us, and I got closer today than ever before.  Now they leave when I come around, rather than flee. Not quite as much of a panic.   And the adults show their suspicion but are more tolerant.

I even got a chance to count them! and there are definitely 16, so that means that little spinaround chick made it.  I’m glad:)