Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Less Guinea

Ahh, remember these happy days?
Last summer we got some day-old Guinea keets and gave them to a broody hen Bella.

Proud mama hen Bella with her new Guinea keet babies.  Bella thought they were her chicks
Bella looks out for her keets.  Leggy thought he was the Daddy ~ he was watching out for the keets, too

Keets integrated into the flock - they were so small!

Guinea in the pine tree

It is with a heavy heart today that I say we lost a Guinea this week. 
We had 8 light Guineas and 2 darker ones.  Now only 7 light colored Guineas and the 2 darker ones are left.  Every morning the Guineas start out in their huge pine tree overlooking the chicken coop.  They sleep in the tree, at daybreak they fly down and eat the Guinea food we provide for them beside the chicken coop.  In the wintertime we have been feeding them, as there's no grass or grain or bugs for them to find.  After eating, they wander about the property, and in the late afternoon they return home to the feeding area beside the coop again.  At dusk they all fly into their pine tree to sleep.

Yum!  There's some cracked corn in the bowl this morning!

This week one didn't come home.  Everyone else acted like nothing happened.
We have no idea what happened to the missing Guinea.  We searched and searched all around for feathers, for an injured Guinea, for a broody Guinea, for any sign of what happened.  Nothing.  Previously we tried to let our chickens free-range over the property, but they were picked off by foxes.  Where the fox grabbed a chicken and carried it away there was always a massive amount of feathers left behind.  And a feather trail into the woods.  But we found no Guinea feathers at all this time.

Guineas digging holes and taking dirt baths under the bushes
 Maybe a Great Horned Owl took it away??  We have seen Great Horned Owls hunting our fields and we often hear their calls.  I'd think a Barred Owl would be too small to carry away an entire Guinea.  We have Barred Owls close, too, we can hear their wonderful hoots.

But you know, back when Boy Guinea was young, he disappeared for 3 months in the deep of winter, and then reappeared one happy day.  He watched the chickens and Guineas from afar for about a week, and then he couldn't take it anymore and he joined back up with the flock again and quickly became the Guinea leader.  I mean, he had experience, he had traveled the world and come back home.  All the other Guineas thought he was awesome, he had such stories about his travels.  They worshipped him and made him the flock leader.  And he still is the leader.  We never knew what happened to Boy Guinea during that time, we thought he was dead.

Boy Guinea
We've noticed recently that what we assume are young male Guineas, the light colored ones, don't really appreciate Boy Guinea as much as the female Guineas do.  The females stay right beside Boy Guinea.  Some light-colored Guineas, we assume at least one is a male, often separate into another group.  Maybe they want to be the leader of their own Guinea flock, they are tired of following Boy Guinea? 

Maybe this missing Guinea is going away to do his sabbatical, maybe he's a male and that's what male Guineas do???
Maybe he'll return back in summer like nothing strange happened? 


Country Girl said...

Hope the guinea returns! Wouldn't it be something if he brought his own lady back with him? What if he ran off and married a pheasant? LOL!

CeeCee said...

I hope he comes home.
It's always such a shame when an animal goes missing with no trace of them left behind.

Farm Girl said...

I can only hope that it will return like the other boy guinea did. It is cold and I am sure with all of the wild life you have, maybe foxes are getting hungry too.
The mama foxes will be having babies soon if not already. This is the time of year when chickens start disappearing in broad daylight here. I am so sorry, it always upsets me to loose a animal any animal. :)

Mary Ann said...

I have always loved guineas and enjoyed your story so much! We have been afraid to have them because of our chicken-eating dog, Lilly Ann. At least the chickens (mostly) stay behind the pasture fence. If we could train the guineas to, that would be super!

Chai Chai said...

Lynn - I sure hope he is OK, I would hate to think something is out there stalking your guinea flock. I did a post on guineas the other day and listed you as a place where people can go to ask guinea questions, hope you don't mind.

I would like to get the chickens to raise a few new guineas this spring to replace our losses, how hard was the introduction?

Razzberry Corner said...

Barb - The farm way way down the road has Guineas. Maybe he went down there? Normally they don't travel that far, so I doubt it. But it's a nice thought...

CeeCee - It's just a mystery. I'm sure he was dinner for someone, sadly.

Kim - Yeah, I figure it was some kind of wild animal that took him, poor guinea. But it's odd that the other guineas aren't all scared and jumpy. They are just as relaxed as can be. Normally they always are together and if one jumps or screams, they all do. Who knows, it's just another mystery. This old farm has lots of mysteries. If only the trees could talk...

Mary Ann - I love guineas, too. But they just wont be trained, they like to do what they want. They like to sleep in trees, they like to go where they please whenever they want. Maybe you could train Lilly Ann not to eat chickens/guineas???


Razzberry Corner said...

Chai - Of course you can list me, although I'm just learning as I go! I'm going to have to go back and look at your blog! I've been really behind on blogging, have been busy with work and life and haven't had time to get on the computer in the evenings.

To answer your question - it was quite easy to introduce the keets to the hen Bella. Bella was broody for a few weeks. We should have put some chicken eggs under Bella, but instead we didn't allow her to have eggs. Then one day we put 8 keets under her. We started with one to see how she'd react - she was happy and tucked it under her wings. Then every couple minutes we added another keet. She was so happy. But next time, I'll let the hen have eggs first so she adjusts to being a mama more slowly. Bella wasn't a dominate hen, and the keets were very fiesty. After a few weeks they wanted to do what they wanted to do, and Bella had a hard time because she wanted them to follow her and do things her way still. After a short while, when the keets were still small, Bella couldn't control them and gave up on being a mama to them. But we had already introduced them to the flock and everyone else accepted them and they were fine with no mama. They then adopted a sweeter hen, Raspberry, as their mama, and followed Raspberry everywhere. Raspberry didn't mind, she is our sweetest hen and would put up with anything. This summer we are going to pick a more dominant hen to be foster mother and see if she deals with motherhood better. Or, if Raspberry goes broody, maybe we'll choose her because of her tolerant personality. It all depends on who's broody.

Good luck to you with your keets!!


Knatolee said...

I remember last year's missing guinea. I hope a similar thing has happened this time, and your guinea will return. Fingers crossed.

And I nominated you for a Stylish blogger award. Check my blog for details! :)

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I just cringe at the thought of a critter capturing your guinea, and I'm so sorry if this, indeed, is what happened. But I'm still going to hope for the happy ending to this story sometime early summer.

Razzberry Corner said...

Nat - awww, an award! I'm gonna have to think about what you don't know about me that would be be blog-worthy! I'm just a boring person!!!

CA Grammy - I hope the bird didn't suffer a slow death, that's all. It's all part of life. It's sad, but we go on. It would be REALLY nice to have him come home in the summer, tho!!!

Verde Farm said...

I am so sorry for your loss. When we lost our girl last summer it broke our heart. We were just talking today that we need a new girl. I am trying to find a place to buy some keets. I just love that your hen raised the guineas--that is so sweet how they do that :)

John Gray said...

I have three guineas left out of six original keets.....
natural selection is a horrid but necessary thing!

Dog Trot Farm said...

Maybe boy Guinea hitched a ride South! Don't give up hope, two of my girl's found their way home after being carried away in the jaws of Mr. Fox. We here at Dog Trot Farm are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that he returns home soon! Keep us informed.

Razzberry Corner said...

Amy - Oh, I look forward to reading about your keets this spring! :-)

John - It happens. We lucked out with all guineas from that batch lasting as long as they did. We thought we'd lose at least one when they were little keets. But happily they all survived...until now...

Julie - I'll let you know! But I really don't have much hope that the guinea will return. But I'll definitely do a happy dance if he does!! :-)


Lauren said...

I squeeled when I saw your broody hen was named Bella ! MY Bella is a black version of yours! She is a wee black bantam cochin that goes broody on a golf ball every chance she can get!