Saturday, December 10, 2011

That Rainy Night!

One day this past week it rained here for 12 hours straight.  Pouring rain.  Luckily it was actually warm that day.  Warm as in, not freezing, but not warm as in, comfortable.  Warm in the 50 degrees F range in the afternoon and 40's at night.  After dark the weathermen predicted the rain to turn to snow, and I assumed all the water to turn to ice.

It really flooded that day.  The ground was saturated and could take no more water.  Streams overflowed, roads had standing water and parking lots flooded.  It just so happens that I work during the day in a building directly on the bank of the Potomac River near Washington, DC.  And of course, the massive river overflowed into the building's parking lot.  I left the building around 6pm that night, had to swim through water higher than my knees, in my work clothes, just to get to my car.  Luckily I keep a gym bag in my car, complete with a clean towel, gym clothes and sneakers.  I dried off and changed in my car - it was dark anyway, no one could see.

And when I made the slow drive home, the winds picked up.  Boy, did it get windy.  When I pulled up to the farm, I found one of the guinea fowl down on the ground in the pitch darkness.  It gets really dark here at nighttime.  The guineas roost in the trees at night.  But they don't sit on a solid branch when they roost - they sit on a tiny twiggy branch in the trees, which is right beside a strong branch.  And then they fall when the wind blows the branches around.  And they are so very blind after dark.  And stupid.  They just freeze up, and don't move.

Guineas in trees

So I ran up to the front door and literally bumped into a opossum on the front porch because I wasn't paying attention.  It was the Little O.  He had torn open a bag of aluminum cans which was ready for recycling and cans were all over the porch.  He was waiting for food beside the cat, Bobby's, foodbowl, which was empty.  Bobby was nowhere to be seen.  I pushed the critter away with my foot.  Damn opossum.  He's almost as tame as Bobby. 

I went inside, put on an old farm coat which I would never wear out in public in a million years, got a big spotlight flashlight, and went out to help the guineas roost.  An umbrella wasn't possible, it would have scared the birds and with all the wind and branches, it just wasn't feasible.  So I knew I was going to get soaked to the bone.  I picked up the guinea on the ground, it was a grey male guinea, and tossed him up to the branches.  He screamed and flapped his wings in my face (they have strong wings), but he would not grab onto a branch, he just came back down to the ground.  I tossed him a bunch of times, but he flapped back down each time.  All the other guineas were screaming at this time, and the chickens, who were safe and warm in their coop, could hear all the loud guineas noises, and I could hear all this noise coming from their coop.  The roosters were crowing in there.  I had guinea feathers in my mouth, that must have happened with the wings flapping in my face.  My hair was all plastered wet to my head.  Cold rain was running down my back under my coat.

More guineas in tees

I shone the flashlight up in the tree for a while and a few of the other guineas who didn't have good footing were smart enough to move to stronger branches -they could see a little with my spotlight.  But this one boy guinea just wouldn't roost in the tree.  Sitting on the ground is not an option for a guinea at night.  He will be killed by fox, opossum, owl, or coons.  Finally I decided he'd sleep with the chickens that night.  My guineas have been known to be mean to the chickens these days, so I normally wouldn't want a guinea in with my beloved hens, but there was no other place for this bird. 

I wrapped my arms around the soaking wet guinea (they are very strong) so he wouldn't get loose from me, and we marched into the chicken coop.  We swung the door open and entered.  The chickens were having a party. The heat lamp was on, and they can see with any kind of light, even though it's a red bulb and isn't supposed to produce light.  And when they have a light on, the chickens like to party.  Five or six were eating at the feeder (there's a feeder and waterer inside the coop).  A couple were drinking.  One rooster was crowing.  The other was having sex with Zoner in the corner.  A few hens were sitting in nestboxes.  What was going on?!  Everyone was excited to see me and came running and gathered around my feet when I walked in.  They all wanted hugs and pets and treats.  The guinea in my arms was terrified.

I chastised everyone for partying after bedtime, told them it was too late for hugs and pets and treats, and turned out the party light.  The party's over!  Everyone moaned little chicken moans and started rushing around bumping into each other trying to find their roost spots.   I put the guinea on a roost beside Freckles (a hen).  I got my tiny flashlight I keep in the coop and put everyone up on their roost spots, making sure to turn out the light quickly so they wouldn't jump down.  I promised hugs and pets and treats another day, sung a quick lullaby to them (they love to be sung to, it calms them), and closed them up for the night.  Freckles chatted briefly with the guinea - Freckles used to hate guineas, and when she was a young hen herself, she killed a guinea to protect her chicks at the time.  But Freckles has gotten more understanding with age and she let the guinea sleep beside her that night.  The guinea was terrified without his fellow guineas nearby and he was quiet and good all night.

Freckles chatting with Boy Guinea

Leggy, with Freckles and Boy Guinea chatting
I love Leggy

And such was the beginning of my night.  I had to clean up the cans, called Bobby many times, but he never showed up for dinner, and this was back when Danni the hen was still alive, so I had to feed her and deal with the human's dinner and other household chores afterwards.  I was concerned about Bobby, he was missing for a couple days.  On a good note, the rain never turned to snow and ice that night, and it stopped raining by the next day.  The Boy Guinea was released back to the guinea flock the next morning and he told his brothers and sisters about the horrible night he was forced to spend locked up in "The Coop" beside a convicted murderer and a monster-sized albino man. 

By the next night the flooding in the parking lot at work was all gone and that rainy night was just a bad memory.


CaliforniaGrammy said...

Oh my goodness, this post would make such a good children's book! I read it out loud to my husband and we were both wrapped up in the story and so glad things had calmed down by morning!

I assume Bobby came home safely.

Razzberry Corner said...

CA Grammy - I always wanted to write children's books! But I think I should leave out the part about me pushing away Little O with my foot, and the rooster having sex with Zoner!

Oh, and Bobby will be another story. I'll tell you, I vowed that night if he came home I was moving him inside...


John Gray said...

my three guineas live in the elm tree in the churchyard.... 80 mile an hour winds could not dislodge them recently!

Chai Chai said...

That opossum is going to be trouble someday soon.

One of your hens killed a guinea - wow!

My guineas still live with the chickens but I'm thinking next year we may need another coop.

I hate finding guineas on the ground at night, they act like they are frozen - easy targets.

Razzberry Corner said...

John Gray - My guineas must not be too smart!!! Yours are more wise!

Chai Chai - I agree about the opossum. Randy keeps saying he needs to go. I keep saying he needs to be moved to another location. We just need to make time. Yes, Freckles viciously killed a guinea back when we first got guineas and she was our only mama hen. The guineas and her were in the same coop overnight. When we opened it up in the morning we found a crime scene - she was trying to protect her chicks. Now that she's gotten old (she's 3 years old we estimate), she's gotten very mellow. She's not laying eggs anymore, but she's in the nestboxes trying every day. I love Freckles, she's staying with us during her entire retirement.


Ratty said...

You tell a good story. It was fun to read this dark and rainy story right through to the end.

Razzberry Corner said...

Ratty - Thanks!

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

Oh such fun they were having until you came along and spoiled it. I recently put a light in our coop because our nights have been colder than normal (normal for our part of California). I can see out the kitchen window and into the coop window. With no food in the coop, they don't have a reason to get down. It's just a nighttime house for the most part, unless we are having blinding rain and wind.
Your story was very entertaining:-)

Robin said...

Wow, that was quite the night.