Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chickens & Guineas and a Whole Lot of Emotions

Last Wednesday we started our chicken and guinea adventure.  I had been looking online for quite some time to find some chicks and guinea keets. (How cool is the name of a baby guinea? Keet!)  I had hoped to find a local source, but most weren't going to be available until later in March, and the boys were anxious to get started.  Most of the local sources also wouldn't 'sex' the chicks, which means I would be getting "straight run" chicks.  (For those of you that were like me a few months ago, that means that they wouldn't sell me only boy or girl chicks, and I would have to take what I got.)  Not wanting to have to cull the flock in the near future to get only hens, and wanting to be able to control how many hens I ended up with, I kept looking.  Some more searching online brought me to Hertzler's Farm and Feed down in Powhatan, VA.  Mr. and Mrs. Hertzler are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  This was the first time I had been there, and it was a great little shop, with anything you could possibly need for an urban homestead.  We ended up buying 6 French Guinea keets and 2 Ameraucana chicks.  The rest of our chicks hadn't arrived yet.  We would have to come back on Friday.

Here they are in our brooder box when we got home.  Six little balls of fluff.  They sure can make noise, even at this age.  They didn't like being separated from each other and were very skittish, except for one.  He was really calm and didn't mind us picking him up.  He seemed a little smaller than the rest, but we thought he was the runt.  (It works that way for dogs, so we figured it was the same with keets!)  We named him Stripeless because the stripes on his back were much less prominent than the other keets.  The boys were enjoying their new friends, and the keets seemed to be getting used to them.  Everything seemed to be going great...until Thursday evening.

I was upstairs doing something, and all of a sudden I heard the crying and wailing of the boys down in the basement, where we are keeping the chicks and keets!  I went running down as they were coming up.  They were saying something about Stripeless.  I looked into the brooder box and there was Stripeless' lifeless body, laying there in the pine shavings.  I'm thinking to myself, "What have we gotten into?" We couldn't just throw him away.  He had become a part of our family.  I reached in and put him gently into a paper bag.  We decided that we had to do something special for him.  We went to the garage, got a shovel and went outside to find a suitable spot for his final resting place.  In our turnaround amongst the trees, there was an opening that seemed peaceful and quiet.  We dug a hole, and buried Stripeless.

We grabbed a nearby rock that seemed very ornamental for the occasion and placed it on top of where we buried Stripeless.  (In my mind I am thinking, "This rock should help keep the dogs from digging him up.")  And so Friday after work we went back down to Hertzler's to pick up our remaining chicks that had come in, and we ended up buying 2 more French Guineas, named Feathers and Stripeless 2.

But the weekend was just beginning...

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