Today my farm took a giant leap forward in credibility with the arrival of my first livestock: 32 guinea keets. After having had two tick bites already this season, I decided to go the natural pest control route with these little guys. Guineas have a reputation for eating all sorts of bugs, snakes, mice and other undesirables—without scratching as destructively as can chickens. They also make a loud, obnoxious alarm cry that has earned them the nickname “farmer’s watchdog.”
At 8:10 this morning I was on the way out the door to work when I got the call from the postmaster of the little rural outpost office that handles my mail. I sped up the road to receive a small box full of raucous peeping and beady peeking eyeballs. All the way from Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa my little babies had flown, having not had anything to eat or drink from when they hatched at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 4. Baby poultry feed off their yolk sacks for a day or so after hatching, which nourishes them through the trip.
Yes, 32 birds in the space of shoebox…but that’s actually what allows them to survive their journey. By being so tightly packed, they can conserve their body heat. I have at least five different colors of guineas, and I can identify pearls, whites, lavenders. The other two variations are somewhat perplexing…perhaps buff and royal purple?
I was expecting to open the box to some losses, but all birds were up and vigorous and ate and drank immediately after I placed them in their brooder. Building a house sure comes in handy when raising poultry—all these giant cardboard appliance boxes make perfect first homes!
My mom took great care of the babies on their first day home while I was at work. She even e-mailed to say that a couple of bugs fell in the box and the birds ate them right up! How precocious are these little pretties!
All this excitement has them a bit tuckered, and they look absolutely hilarious when they fall over and pass out. No this bird isn’t dead, he’s sleeping!
Stay tuned as the birds navigate their potentially challenging first few weeks of life. They are supposedly more fragile than chicks, so I steel myself, like any farmer, to the possibility of loss.
But, I am super excited to now be able to write less about house construction and more about the things I’ve been wanting to do at this home!