June 16th, 2012 § 0
June 15th, 2012 § 2
As I mentioned in my last post, one of my reasons for getting rid of my guineas was that I had new developments among my poultry stock. Since May 27 my hen Iris has been vigilantly tending 13 guinea eggs in her own little maternity coop in the garage.
Iris has gone broody at least four times this spring, and I finally decided to indulge her instincts. For one week I very unscientifically saved guinea eggs in a carton in my guest bedroom closet, turning them every day, or when I remembered, until I had a baker’s dozen. Then I set up a little house for Iris and gave her the eggs. She marched right into her homemade cardboard nestbox like she’d owned it all along, and there she’s remained for the past three weeks.
And is she ever serious about the task at hand. The only way I’ve gotten her to eat is to lift her off the nest and offer a palmful of scratch feed. She always goes for the corn kernels first, and then if she can shake off the fog long enough she’ll peck at the seeds or maybe take a drink of water. After a few bites she considers herself sated and zombie-walks back on the nest, rolling and tucking her eggs under her as she settles back to the task at hand. Her single-minded determination is really humbling to see. I know we’re only talking about a chicken here, but to so strongly feel a desire to fulfill a single purpose must be so wonderful freeing.
Guinea eggs incubate for 28 days, which means that if all goes well, we may have a hatch next Sunday on June 24. I don’t have high hopes for this whole reproductive foray, as my method of collecting and storing the eggs was less than professional, and I have no way of knowing if they were even fertile. I really just wanted to let Iris live out her dream, and if I end up with baby guineas, well, I guess I will be back in the guinea business.
June 12th, 2012 § 0
My five remaining guineas left the farm tonight in a crate in the back of a rusty black Ford pickup. They’re on to a new life as pets of a poultry-loving, 80-some-year-old woman, my coworker’s mother.
Although their departure makes way for new developments, I am sad to see them go. They caused me no end of stress and heartbreak with their ironic mix of idiotic wildness, and yet I already miss them. Watching them travel about the farm in their dapper little flock was entertaining and usually hilarious.
Some people see guineas as hideous dinosaurs, but I think they are extremely beautiful in their dappled coats and with their turquoise heads. I think my favorite part of owning guineas is what most people mention most hating about them—their noise. Their raucous alarm screams always alerted me to strange goings-on, and their standard “buck-wheat” calls, which I could hear even from my bed at night, told me all was well with the farm. And my favorite—their soft and murmury singing when contented—will always be one of my sweetest sounds. Tonight it’s too quiet around the yard and doesn’t quite sound like home.
June 3rd, 2012 § 0
The five baby bluebirds are still alive and busy outgrowing their nesting box. I have to open the box very slowly so they don’t tumble out. Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird have begun divebombing me as I check the nest—so I do it really fast. I am glad they are upping the security as their babies get closer to fledging.
Sneaking a stretch out the open door.
Look at that cute little tail! Had to tuck this little foot back inside before shutting the box.
Mama bluebird appears to have found the time, while raising this brood, to also lay a single egg in the nest.
In less joyful bird news, I lost a guinea hen today. For the past week she’d been looking off, and had been getting picked on by her coopmates. I set her up in her own crate in the garage with medicated electrolyte water, and she just kind of sat around, crying herself hoarse for her flock. Today I let her loose with her buddies as they free-ranged, thinking the sun and fresh food and companionship would do her good.
Well, in a couple of hours I found her dead right by the coop. I picked her up and chucked her in the woods for the foxes and their kits.
It stinks to lose a charge, but in some ways I am grateful to not have to mess with a sick animal, particularly a guinea as I am on the fence about whether they are earning their keep and I’m devising potential exit strategies for the flock. The only thing that really makes me sad is my mom says she likes the guinea eggs, and now I have only one hen left. The era of the guinea may be coming to an end at Bonafide Farm.