Tag Archives: keets

There may be no keets this year

Ugh, it’s always awful logging in and seeing how long it’s been since I last posted.  Almost a whole month!!! I will try harder!

It’s been an action packed month though.  Major personal changes, and a whole lot of dental work.

The toothache I’ve been “toughing out” (not a recommended course of action) for months, outlasting the waiting period for my dental coverage, needed a root canal, so that finally happened this week, sweet relief!! but there’s more to do.

There are five new chicks, little baby Cheeks’!, to two moms, Velvet and Ghost, who insisted they were determined to have babies, and they are scampering around, little fuzz nuggets.  The “old chicks” are half-grown now, and they fight with me every night for their right to sleep in the tree.

The keets are all gone, unfortunately.  They lasted only a few days and disappeared over three.  The hen would hide somewhere at night with them, going to bed early.  Of course, there isn’t really an option to interfere with that, and then one day there were two missing, the next day down to five, and the next day, down to one.  The first two losses I thought were her negligence, but no, it is likely a fox.  Why wouldn’t it harm her?  Why only a couple at a time?  At any rate, there’s something in the woods.

When there was one keet left, I kept it alive for several days.  Evening time, I had to capture it (peeping bloody murder, getting rushed by the adult guineas), and then carry it into the greenhouse.  I’ve never gotten the guineas in bed for the night so fast.  All of them surged in behind me, bristling, I dropped the keet off in the peppers, and then locked them all in.

Then I had to go back in again and again as it got dark,  to knock mom down from the perch where she tried to roost with the grownups instead of taking care of her baby.  Eventually she would stop flying up and settle down in the tomatoes with it.  Then one evening there was no keet left at night to grab.  Sad.

The other two hens that were setting also came in (I only knew of one for sure, the other white one who would show up to wolf down some food and then leave again).  She rejoined the flock keetless.

The last hen, whom I hadn’t known was out setting, was much more vocal near the end.  She would howl every morning and night, so I knew roughly where she was nesting, and I’d see her boyfriend heading out there some nights to sit with her instead of going to bed in the GH.  In the morning she’d be yelling before I released the others, and they would go out in that direction, to visit, I’m sure.

Then one night this week I heard her shriek in the night, and I stumbled out, shouting and getting all scratched up thrashing the weeds, until I felt like a crazy person in the foggy silence.  In the morning she was waiting outside the GH for her friends.   I’m glad she was unharmed, but no keets from her either.  I can only assume her nest was raided and she narrowly escaped.

If only they would be so accommodating as to nest in the GH, or take over a coop.   It seems unbelievable now that one ever nested in the skycoop; they are so wild and insistent on doing it their way, as ill-adapted as their ways are.

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. 

 

Guineas going to bed

Now that there are chicks in the greenhouse, they like to come adventurously popping out when I open up for the guineas.Greetings, part-time residents.The keets are looking, and acting, quite grownup now. First they all run by, seeing if the door is really open.  Then they muster up somewhere and … all surge in at once.

Cheeks has developed a new trick.  She watches and waits, and then gets right in the middle of the flock of keets and runs in with them.  For a chicken, that’s a full speed dash.

It’s very funny.  And totally works, because she’s right in the middle of the crowd.  I still see you, Cheeks!  Twice I flushed her back out of the greenhouse, once I left her in there (door closed) until chicken bedtime, and she had a lot to say about that.  I was jsut looking!  You didn’t have to lock me in!  Now Betty will have taken my spot on the perch!

cool days, cool Moms

It’s chilly in the mornings.  The chicks are around with their shoulders shrugged up.  The leghorn twins went back in the box.  The cardboard is warmer on the tiny naked feet.

You know what’s really warm on the feet?  Mom. Until she starts walking away – whoa!

Ursa Minor surprised me with chicks this morning.  She had that I’ve got chicks, ya know face.  And then there was all the peeping.Oh!  there’s a little leg, and it’s attached to some black feathers!  Yay, another black one.  Oh, there’s a a whole little butt, already dry and fluffy.

Ursa’s so chill.  She’s all confident.  This is my second brood, you know.  I’m kind of a pro at this. (She is).And there’s a whole chick popped out.  I didn’t disturb them much in the cold morning, but in the afternoon she was trying to start their education in the dark cave of the broodery, so – into the chickery with them.  There are two black ones, and two “spider” marked – that’s how Brown Silkies look when they hatch.  But… I can’t remember if she was on Silkie eggs or full size?  Those chicks look pretty big.  So they might be crosses.  Who knows!  It’s all exciting.

Cream Puff slid into the greenhouse with Galahad last night, and I was chasing her around with a rake, which G was surprisingly unconcerned about.    She knew she wasn’t supposed to be in there, and Galahad knew  that he was.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that she should stick right next to him to not fear the rake, which she did, like glue.  Smart move.  I chased them both out, and she ran squawking back to her boyfriend, while Galahad made a lap of the hen tent and glided back in before she’d hardly turned the corner.   Very smooth.  The keets mostly ignored all of this.

Tonight I comprehended another maneuver of his.  I’ve seen it before and thought he was just being fussy: I come to open the door to admit the keet family to the GH (Galahad periscoping, doesn’t miss anything).  I step back.  G runs up, jumps onto the doorstep looking into the GH.  Keets gather.  I lean or step forward, ready to shut the door behind them as soon as they all…. but no!  He doesn’t  jump in.  Nope. He pops back out, makes a wide meandering lap, though rather fast and urgently, like he’s frustrated, pauses somewhere (today it was under the hen tent), then rushes out and deliberately charges into the GH.  I have been frustrated with this extra phase of bedtime procedures.  Just go to bed!  It’s the same greenhouse it was last night, just go in!

That’s not it though.

I figured it out tonight.  He’s collecting all the keets!  They don’t flow everywhere together like a school of fish, like they used to, these days as they mature and get more independent.  Some are lingering at the grub box, the feed dishes, the water fount.  First he confirms the door is open, and then he does his lap to get their attention.  They snap to and fall in.  Then he pauses for muster – all present?  Then they storm the castle.

He’s the best guinea mom I’ve ever had.  He does everything almost completely silently.  Amazing.  And I hardly see them all day, but they know when mealtime and bedtime is.

Oh, and I shifted the coop drama dynamic in Silkieland.  For two nights, I picked up the two little bitches that want to play bouncer at the top of the ramp, and I held them.  All the other birds went gratefully and peacefully to bed, while I just stood there, holding two hens.  I even walked around and did stuff with one hand, holding them.  They were pretty ok with it (it’s warm; birds usually like being held, they just don’t like the transition- being grabbed).  Then, dead last, I dropped them into the doorway, and shut the gate.  Only problem was the rooster, who was very reluctant to get aboard the ark because he knew these two weren’t in yet.  His job, and therefore identity, is to be last in, first out.  Tonight I had visitors distract me from interfering, and yet, something had shifted over there!  It was quiet and quick, and there were no sentries atop the ramp!  We’ll see if the lesson sticks.  You be good or I’ll hold you!

 

 

Keet bedtime

The guinea family is admitted to the greenhouse as early as 6:30, and usually by seven.  They go to bed much earlier than the chickens. Galahad watches for my appearance, and they scamper in as soon as I open the door.Bedtime begins with some last foraging for a snack and a familiarizing walk around the greenhouse.Then they hit the ladder.  They really do use it as a ladder, hopping up a rung at a time, zigzagging, until they get to the top.Then they have to fly to the perch.  Galahad is already up there.It’s tricky, the perches swing.Then they walk along the branch, like getting off the runway.  Wings are good for balancing.      Now the rest are all gathered on the top of the laundry rack, and the ones on the branch need to get themselves organized in the order they want to be, all on the same stick.All done.  This is where we sleep.And I get to enjoy the hooting of owls:)Take a close look at Galahad’s left.  Somebody still feels needy.

All they needed was a keet ladder

Last night when Galahad and the keets went to bed in the greenhouse, there was a lot of noise, and G was running laps around the greenhouse like he wanted out.   He settled down, but I felt he was distressed, and maybe frustrated with sleeping on the ground.

Tonight after bedtime, I thought the greenhouse was remarkably quiet.  I peeked…and just about died!   In case it’s unclear what you’re seeing, that is one keet perched on Galahad’s back, yes, and all the keets lined up on the (swinging) perching rail, at 6′ in the greenhouse.  They are all very content.This is how they got up there.  I gave them a laundry rack last night (I’ve offered it before as perching media).  I thought it would be a starter perch, and they could probably hop hop hop up and maybe get on their final destination, the rail (in a day or two).  They wasted no time about it!

Hens and their chicks

Daisy’s chicks have the greatest outfits right now.  Worthy of Björk.   Silver is still specialCotton’s chicks are little screamers.  Always yelling, no apparent reason.   They’re moved up to the big Silkie house with the grownup hens.Making the rounds of the dish, literally.

Feisty’s chicks are the newest.Foxy’s four:And Galahad’s chicks! Monopolizing a feed dish.

Sir Galahad and the keets of the round table

Galahad and the little guineas went wild today too.  Just like when it was just him, I left the door open and turned my back on it and whoosh- all out.  Little keets flowing through the world like a school of fish.  I don’t know if they’re already familiar with the great outdoors, but they seem pretty comfortable in it.

They promptly disappeared into the weeds, making brief showings at the house, by the pigs, and at mealtimes. The slightest chirp from him and they all hop and gather up to him.  Galahad hasn’t been this happy for months, since before he lost his mate.  Now he has a Very.  Important.  Job.   He’s practically levitating.

Keets piled in the trough.  Cartoon rocks with orange legs
I’ll just be at the next bowl
Same profile, in adult.

They were all very quiet (a content guinea is a quiet guinea) until evening, when one keet got into the GH ahead of schedule, and was anxiously car alarming, making Galahad scamper back and forth on high alert.  I opened the door, and he was hesitant until I walked behind the coop, and then they all shot in in seconds.  We live here.

The sunflowers are blooming

The bees  are feasting.  The goldenrod is out too, so the pollen drive is on.Galahad is ready to be free again, but his little charges are perfectly content and thoroughly entertained.The greenhouse is crowded right now!  I moved Daisy and Cotton back in the greenhouse for rain days, and the door is even blocked by a chickery.  We had a rain day, and then a drizzle day.  Daisy cares not, as long as she can dig.  Cotton wants out, asap.

I harvested a mountain of Tulsi, exposing a lot of ground and the keets were deeply engrossed in scratching it all up.

Mount Tulsi

Uhoh!In the evening, there was a sad keet trapped in with Daisy and  chicks – they were unperturbed.Little cutie.  Not so much of a fighter as the one who fell in a chickery yesterday.   At night Galahad was warming them in the pepper jungle again, doing an umbrella impression to shelter the horde.  The pictures I take at dusk are too dark though.