I came home from work Monday afternoon thinking everything was good. The guineas survived the cold night without any problems and the chicks were walking around their condo eating and drinking in the morning before I left for work.
When I got home, the boys told me that they had let them all into the run to get some exercise, but that the guineas had all moved up and into the chicken condo. Apparently they had enough of the low-rent district and wanted to move up into the lap of luxury. The chicken condo is too small for all of them when they get full size, so I didn't want the guineas getting used to all the amenities the condo had to offer. So I pushed them all out of the condo and into the run, then let the chickens back in but kept the guineas out. Then it was time to put the guineas back into their coop and seal them up for the night. But as I looked at the guineas, there didn't seem to be as many as before. Hmmm. Maybe I missed one in the condo. I went back and looked, but he was not in the condo. I went the guinea coop and checked. Not there. I took a cursory glance across the yard to see if I saw any piles of feathers that possibly the dogs had been successful, but nothing. The boys figured it out too and started to look around, but nothing could be found. So we got the rest of the guineas into their coop and went up to the house for supper.
The good wife was at a ladies meeting at the church, but left a pot of excellent homemade potato soup on the stove for us. We cut the tops off the bread bowls and dug out the soft sourdough center in anticipation of filling them up with soup. It all tasted so good, I felt bad that the good wife was not there to enjoy it with us.
After dinner we decided to take a stroll through the woods behind the house to see if we could see the guinea. A long shot at best I thought to myself. My oldest son started at one end of the ravine and my middle son and I started at the other end and headed towards each other. All of a sudden my oldest son starts yelling. He sees it! He sees the guinea! It's alive! Quick. You go over there around behind it. Middle son, go up to the house and put the dog in the house that youngest son let out. Now go over to the road to keep it from crossing the road. (I know there is a guinea crossing the road joke there, but not sure what it is!) Now everyone come closer together. There it is again! Keep moving closer. Slowly. We have it surrounded. Up it flies onto a low tree branch. Then up to a higher one. It is now about 10 feet up. I pull the branch down towards me and stretch to reach up to grab him. Right when I go to grab him he moves and flies off. Back on the ground and running. Oldest son, go that way. Middle son, go over there. Try to get him up to the yard. He is down in the ravine! I'll stop him from going over to the neighbors house. Quick, try to grab him. He is running down the ravine. We have him now...
Where did he go?
Right into what looks like an old fox hole or den of some sort. We look in with the flashlights and he is down there, probably a good 10 feet. Still going deeper. He turns the corner and is gone. I know he has to be in there.
One of you get some bird food. The other get a shovel. We look which direction the hole goes and climb up above the ravine and start digging. We'll get to the bottom and pull him out. I start digging. And digging. And digging some more. I check the hole again. Am I heading in the right direction? I keep digging. One of you get the post hold digger. This shovel isn't going to cut it. I keep digging.
We move closer towards the entrance to get an intermediary hole. I keep digging. We break through! I look down in the hole. Nothing. I get a better read on the direction of the second hole. It looks like I am digging in the right spot. I keep digging. And digging. And digging some more. It is getting dark. Youngest son is getting cold.
We finally decide to get a live trap that we have and put it outside the hole with a bowl of water and some bird food. Hopefully he will come out to eat and get caught.
We get back to the house and middle son starts crying. "Now we have lost four birds!" Two chicks and one guinea. Possibly a second. I tell them that I will check before bed. Hopefully if he does decide to come out he will skip the trap and go up to the coop to get warm under the light. Or if he does get caught, it is before I check when I go to bed so he doesn't freeze.
I can't believe that I dug these holes. Big holes through roots and vines. At least four feet deep on the one, and no intersection with the den hole. Piles of dirt in the woods, testament to our attempt to save the guinea.
We aren't sure how he got out. I wonder if one of the boys let him get out when they were in and out of the run. Maybe he flew out the top over the six foot fence. If he is lucky he will come out and get caught. Be put safely back into his coop where he has food and water and a warm heat lamp. He didn't know how good he had it. If a raccoon, possum or fox are the next thing that goes down that hole, he will be wishing he had just stayed home with his friends.
Only time will tell. Sleep well and see you in the morning...I hope.