Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guinea Attack!

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that the guineas have been the evil fowl in our attempt at animal husbandry. After one of the guineas was suspect in the killing of one of our Buff Orpington chickens, my compassion level for the guineas has waned. The only reason they have continued to be tolerated is only because I dislike ticks a whole lot more. Much more!

I had planned a couple weeks ago to write a post about the guineas and particularly their social order in the guinea gang. As the gang roams our property, the leader of the gang will usually be on the lookout for any mischievous activity or innocent chickens they can harass. Most of the guineas are oblivious to what is happening, filling their bellies, hopefully on ticks.

Until the leader of the gang sounds the signal while standing tall.

Then they all let loose with their farm yard siren. Surprisingly none of the neighbors have made any comments or complained, but in their defense, we have some really great neighbors.

Last week I was pretty upset with the guineas about the gang style murder of my Buff Orpington. Yes, I am assuming guilt without full evidence, but sometimes that has to happen in the country when no one was around to witness the dastardly deed. I decided to leave them out all day, even though the Good Wife was taking the kids to King's Dominion amusement park all day and I was going to meet them there after work and I knew it would be late before I got home. They had already been free ranging all day for a few weeks, and they always came back to the coops to roost at the end of the day.

We didn't get back home until 10:30 pm and I went down to the coop right away. I looked in and there were only two chickens inside!   I had a flashlight and looked around.  There were two more up on the coop, so I reached up and grabbed them and put them into the coop.  Another was found up on the top of the rail of the run.  After a little coaxing, I was able to reach her and get her into the coop.  I couldn't find the other two chickens or any of the guineas.

I walked the perimeter of the yard at the edge of the woods, hoping to find them under the brush or up in the trees, hoping they had enough natural instinct to go somewhere safe. After searching in the dark for what seemed a long time, I closed up the coop and left the run open, in case any decided to come home in the middle of the night.

Come morning I was eager to find my runaways. Looking out the window from my bedroom I saw the two runaway chickens walking around the coop, along with a couple guineas! They were safe...or so I thought.

As I headed down to the coop, I noticed a lot of feathers in the yard. They were all guinea feathers. This wasn't good.

Feathers everywhere. I started following the clumps of feathers. Obviously they had fought and ran, fought and ran, fought and ran.

There must have been 15 small clumps of feathers all over the property.  After following clumps of feathers around the yard and through the pasture, I finally found one of the feather sources.

It was sad to see one of the guineas dead. I was mad at them, but I didn't want to see them die, and especially suffer as it appeared this one did. I never found the other three guineas. I like to think that the gang leader had a turf war to the end, defending his gang, and the other three guineas were chased out of town and are now free roaming on someone else's property. Unfortunately that probably isn't the case, although the other three are still MIA.

So now, if you are keeping count, we are down to seven chickens and only two guineas.  I know one of them is a male, but I'm not sure about the other.  It is hard to tell the difference, and these last two don't make much noise any more.  They also seem to be hanging around closer to the house, and definitely get back to the coop before sunset.

These last two guineas better be hungry, because we still have a lot of ticks around.  And so far it seems like a lot of work with minimal reward from the guineas.

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