Tag Archives: guinea

Galahad is step-fathering the new keets

The bee swarm denouement can wait – this is too cute.

So, also yesterday, I picked up ten beautiful little guinea babies! Keets are crazy cute, with their orange puffin beaks and long necks.  They were almost completely silent on the drive home.  Birds seem to like car rides, if not the transitions and banging doors.

I was looking forward to Galahad‘s reaction to them, but I got home at bedtime.   G hopped right up to his perch, and I installed the keets in a vacant chickery, slowly tipping their traveling boxes to the side (scuffle scuffle) and opening the ends.  They didn’t come out.

In the morning they were quiet.  Galahad hopped outside as usual.

Then the babies came out of their box and started singing their little car alarm sounds, and he went nuts.  He was streaking around the greenhouse, stopping, listening, peering, running back and forth.   I hear them!  Where are they?!  I was doing all the morning feeding,  shifting, and watering, and I left the door ajar for him to get back in if he wanted.  He did.  It seems louder at this end.Warmer. Warmer…Found’em!They’re a month old, and they are a selection of colours!  “Normals” – pearl grey, white, and buff.

I left him there chatting.  They would car alarm, and he’d talk, and they’d quiet.  I checked on him later- did he want to stay in the greenhouse?  Yes, definitely. 

The keets were cute, relaxed.  A content guinea is a quiet guinea, and they were all piled up roosting on top of their box.

Then came lunch time.  I moved their lid askew to feed them, and left it that way, and when I came back later, uhoh.  Ghost town.What do we have here?

I thought it was extra quiet in here. 

The keets had liberated themselves (should’ve known, guineas are mad escape artists) to get to their new Daddy.  G was struttin’ around, tall and as proud as if he hatched them, and they’re all scuttling along behind him, happy as clams, digging under the vines.  They are used to a jungle.  So adorable!

Lock up time, there was one little keet scurrying around the door.  I don’t know how it leaked out, but I opened the door and it shot inside and showed me where the rest were.  They were buried under a pepper plant, and I could just see Galahad’s black and white speckled wing and hear him cooing.   I can’t be sure if he was sitting on them, but he was settling in on the ground with them.

Wow.

I figured he would assume parenting the little birds, but this exceeds my expectations.  I planned to keep them in the chickery a couple days, then let them stay in the GH with Galahad until they learned they lived there, but this is great!

He’s such a treasure, and since his habits are going to be reproduced 10 times now, it’s a good thing he’s got such great qualities.  He’s unconcerned about me; he lets me get quite close, and doesn’t screech when I show up (my husband is sure to get the treatment though).  He comes in every night, which is keeping him alive.  He’s quiet, not too much of a yeller.  He’s down with the chickens.  When he doesn’t have his own kind, he makes friends.  But he’s sure happy to have his own kind!  Finally, someone who can run just as fast.

I figured they couldn’t do too much damage in the GH now the plants are all too big to kill, seeing as guineas are only moderately destructive.  Chickens are very destructive with all that scratching.   But I did mean to harvest all the low tomatoes and eggplants before letting them out of the chickery, because I imagined eleven taste tests.  As it was, they only broke one young tomatillo (it’s not dead), trampled the lemon balm (so what, it’s a mint) and perhaps have damaged some  watermelon  vines (we’ll see).

Now that I don’t have a shadow of a doubt that he’ll bring them back in every night, I can let them go outside soon, if they don’t handle that liberation themselves too, like one already did.

He’s eying the high hanging fruit

 

 

 

Real snow, and one lucky keet

Last evening was windy, and the guineas were twitchy, and several of them escaped.  They flew up into the mesh and scrambled against it to find a gap and then got out.  I was watching them, and I didn’t think they could get out, right up until they did.  Then it was a long round of persuading them back into the area of the opening in the fence (they wanted to go back in), until they darted back in one by one.

The only keet is now at that stage where they think they’re all grown up and are paling around with the big birds, but they are still little.  So the keet was out with the other escapees, but instead of staying with them, it ran straight into the big brush pile, waited for the coast to clear (of us), and then peeped a little, calling out for the others, and then sprinted back out to rejoin them.

After a long patient wait, finally all the birds were back enclosed.  Until an hour later, just before dark, when I went in the yard to close the greenhouse door, disturbed them, and three guineas escaped again!  And the keet.  Good grief.

This time I propped the fence open, waited until I saw the keet make its run out of the brush pile to reunite with the others, and they were all milling around by the open gate.  I left them to it, confident they were fine.

After dark  I closed all the coops, and all the guineas were back in the greenhouse.  No keet.  You’re kidding me.  I rarely do see the keet at night, it tucks itself away somewhere, so I told myself it may be in there but it’s hiding.  Worst case scenario  it didn’t find its way back in, it’s in the brush pile, but it will most likely be able to survive the night, since it’s got a full suit of feathers now.

The night started with hard blowing snow pellets and froze, with our first lasting accumulation of snow.

This morning I open up and feed the hens (the guineas are always already up and about), and there’s no keet.  I look around the edges of the brush pile but see nothing.  I hear nothing.

I’m sick about it.

I carry on taking care of the chickens, back and forth, and then I see what I’ve been hoping to – little bird prints walking out of the brush pile.  I almost miss the little brown bird huddled, still, in one of my footprints.

It was on its way, struggling back to the greenhouse, but it did survive the night!

I shoved it in my shirt, hastened back to the house and transferred the patient to under HW’s shirt, and went back to work.

I came back in to find the chick bedded in a bowl, clearly labeled:)

They have eyelashes!

Sleepy and not out of the woods, but will likely be fine.I put a towel over her later in case she got ideas about hopping out. And HW uncovered her later to peek.  A transformation!  Up pops the head.  Yes, I am feeling better. Oh, maybe I still am a little sleepy.

Keet’s day out!

I was brought out mid-morning to check on the birds because the guineas were putting on an almighty hollering.

The cause?  The guinea chick was outdoors for the first time, having made that big hop up to go through the chicken doorThe guineas were all worked up about it (they’re so familial).  This is the outSIDE!  This is GRASS! (sort of).  The chick is the lone survivor of  a few hatched outdoors, so it may remember “outside”, but it seems it was a big guinea moment nonetheless. Right away the chick slipped through the fence. Here the hens are drawing attention to it- It’s over here!, and it’s barely detectable right by that fence post. Mom came running in, and the chick climbed back in just as easily.

The hen yard is already kind of grim, after freezing, being hammered by rain, and scratched up well.  The chickens loooooove that pine tree through.   They all cluster up under it for most of the day.

This is the Colonel’s flock of girls  – it’s a very large flock, and they group under the pine day all day for a long, relaxed grooming meditation, and often a good perch.  Usually there are 2-5 hens perching in the tree at any time.   I pruned it out for them hoping they’d enjoy it, so it’s very gratifying to have them enjoy it so completely.

Back down to two

Only two guinea chicks running around today.  Life is brutal for latecomers.

They’re so funny!  Little bitty chicks, the size of ping pong balls, scuttling around on their orange legs right in the middle of the big flock, like they belong there.  They’re hard to even find in my pictures.

It’s a big rain day.  The rain is thundering down; I caught 300 gallons of water in an hour off two roofs.  Everything is puddled and the hens are mostly huddling under their new tents.

Wet chicken

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.

Near tragedy

Our wonderful neighbour was over to bush-hog my field last night.  I need to move the greenhouse this year (not looking forward to it, no), and there were some robust shrubs growing right where it needs to go.

Anyhoo, he was driving around, mowing, and once, right when he came to a stop, I saw the weeds rustle directly in front of his front wheel.  As he backed out, I ran to the spot, fearing that a bird had been hit (I’d been paranoid and been tramping through all the weeds in front of him trying to flush out frightened chickens that were used to the tall weeds being a safe zone).

Horrors!  A nest!

A guinea nest.   His front tractor wheel had rolled into it, crushing a half dozen eggs, but not rolled over it, so most of the eggs were intact.  The eggs were kindled, with bloody yolks, but only a few days past.  I quickly scooped out shells and yolks, tossing them out, trying to clean up the mess with my fingers and restore her nest.  It was a nice nest, too, dried grasses lined up in a swirl. 

The hen herself had stayed to the bitter end, jumping out only when that black tire loomed over her, and we had both seen her flee at the last second.  My flushing hadn’t unseated her, only imminent death.

I did not bother her again by “checking on her” that night, hoping she would come back.

I didn’t even know I had a broody guinea!  I hadn’t missed her.

And what is she thinking?  Aren’t there enough brats around?  I’m flattered that she thinks this is a great place to raise children, but how many is enough?  Sheesh.

In the morning she was on her nest.   I can see her scowling in there. 

Hopefully she got back on them promptly; if she returned by nightfall the remaining eggs would be fine.  Now the weeds are gone, she’s far less concealed.  Her nest has a view.

Right there by the pigland too, right where I was planning to shift the oinkers to next.

 

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.

Guinea sleepover II

The next night was rainy and a bit bleak.  In the morning when I released the sleepover chick, I hadn´t marked it, although we´d talked about banding it, to know which one was “our friend”.

HW did some out loud wondering whether we´d have another visitation.  Jokes about discovering the good life in the house aside,  maybe this little bird had an injury.  A sprain?  Perhaps it was having a hard time and the falling in the tank was a symptom, not cause.

In the evening, he closed the coops again and returned without remark.  He climbed to the loft, where I was, then halted meaningfully at the top of the ladder until I looked up.

No way!  There he was, holding a guinea chick to his chest, chick looking at me with neck stuck out, orange legs dangling.

The bird’s total comfort with the proceedings was the first clue this was the same bird.  And now I will be wrapped in a towel and snuggled.  Yes, please!

Wow!  Night two!  This time it had not gone for a swim and was only wet from the day´s rain, but it had been struggling to get up on the coop, and allowed HW to catch it (I don´t think it tried to get away very hard).

Same procedure:  Wrapped in towel, hugged, pet on the head (same bumps on the head confirmed definitely same bird), encouraged to go to sleep.  The chick was a little bit less tired tonight, keeping eyes open longer, but even more relaxed.  Totally silent.  Lounging.Like the previous night, I fell asleep with it and it woke me later by hopping up, then resisting my hey go back to sleep hand over top of it, and I put it back in the night box.

Now HW´s jokes about having a house guinea seemed a bit more real.  Hmmm.

 

Guinea sleepover!

HW called me to the door with urgency, just while he was doing the coop closing round.

He was holding an exhausted, soaking wet guinea chick!

I´d been worried about that stock tank, sitting practically under the guinea coop, especially when the chicks were first emerging.  Then when they were older they managed to start roosting on the coop together without my supervision, or incident, and it´s been weeks since they were hopping up on the coop, using the rim of the stock tank as a jump off point.  I figured we were well past the risk of someone falling in.

But no. He´d found this baby swimming, exhausted and nearly dead.

I snatched it up in a towel, wrapping it up with just a beak sticking out, and held it to my belly.  It was shivering hard.  I rocked with it in the rocking chair for awhile before remembering it´s mammals that rock, not birds, and then I took it upstairs, as we were headed there, to bed.

It took about an hour to stop shivering, and a couple of re-wraps with a dry part of the towel. 

After it was out of the woods, then it was all fun. It would poke its head out of the towel and then suck it back in, like a turtle.

It was a dream come true, being able to hold and snuggle a little chick!!

I put the swaddled bird in HW´s lap ´”for a minute” to go out and make a last check that there was no one else in trouble outside.  The guineas were really shrieking up a storm.  HW: “Where’s Roberta!”

When I got back, he wouldn’t give it back!  He called me a chick hog and told me to get my own chick.  “Me and Roberta are hanging out.”  Whenever he leaned or reached for something suddenly, the chick would protest with a little trill.  He kept it in his lap until he needed to get up for something, and I got it back! 

Eventually it started to pant, and I loosened the towel, more and more.  It was totally unwrapped at the end, but very, very relaxed.  It was clearly perfectly happy to be where it was.  No designs on escape.  It was very tired, dozing off, sticking its neck out, and then, Awwww!  resting its head on my arm and going to sleep!   Adorable!  I pet its bumpy little head and skinny neck, hugged it.  It was into it. Looking at us.  Making little sounds if someone moved too quick.

HW said “you´ve got a little dinosaur over there” and said it´s not going to want to go outside again, now that it´s experienced the good life.  “You´re going to have a little house guinea!”

I was very tired myself, and I fell asleep with my arm around it.  HW thought I would roll on it and I should put it in the box, but I didn´t.  How often am I going to get to cuddle a little wild chick?  I´m going to get every minute I can.

Sometime in the night, it got restless, and woke me by standing up, hopping on my arm.  So I put it in the box then and it was silent until morning.

I carried it back out, head whizzing around trying to figure out where it was, then getting excited as we neared the group, and voila – back in the flock!