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.
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!
Well, somebody’s feeling better! I came back in the house to find the bird had escaped form the bowl and was peacefully sitting on the windowsill, HW companionably having a coffee in the rocking chair.I grabbed her with a towel and we pet her for a bit before putting her back in the greenhouse with her family.
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:)
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.
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 door! The 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.
I hung sticks up for the guineas’ roosting pleasure. They’re tied off to the purlins about 7′ up, and they swing a little. The guineas seem to love it, but they are exceedingly coy about being captured on film using it. I can see them through the plastic up on their sticks. I can sneak up and catch the last two still holding on, just before they fly down. But they won’t let me see them all roosted up on it, and they aren’t using their sticks to sleep at night yet. Still sleeping on the header of the door.
The baby guinea has a new talent. It can hop up on the baseboard now and run along it behind the ribs. It’s a chick sized highway.
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.
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!