Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chick & Guinea update

The chicks are doing fine.  They are all running around their coop, they are as active and hyper as chicks can be.  The foster mama hen is a great mother and is showing them what to eat and how to scratch.  Soon they will be able to go outside with the other chickens.  We want to make sure the mama hen will protect them and the babies will stay with their mother before we let them loose.  Plus the babies have to be big enough to survive a peck or two from the other chickens before going outside.  The foster mama is getting anxious to get out of the coop.  I can tell she's tired of being inside cooped up when spring is starting outside.


The guineas are all separating into pairs.  I guess over the winter they were dating one another and now they decided who is going to be mated.  I thought they were just surviving the winter, who knew they were actually flirting and dating one another!  During the day they separate all around the house.  Before they used to stay in one big flock.  Now there's groups of guineas everywhere you can see, and there's guinea calls coming from everywhere.  Every now and then a few of the pairs will join into a small group.  I cannot figure out how many males and females we have.  In the evening, they all join back into one big flock again in front of our house.

I'm assuming the female guineas will start laying eggs in their nests all around the house, if they're not already laying.  We'll have to start looking for their eggs again.  We are now ready for the guineas to become broody - Randy acquired some small cages to put over the female guinea at nighttime to protect her from fox and raccoon when she's sitting on her eggs.  The females become broody after they get about 20 eggs in a nest, and they constantly sit on the eggs to hatch them.  The wild animals are sure to kill her overnight if she's sitting blind on the ground in the woods.  There's a better possibility that she will not be killed when she's sitting during the day as the fox and raccoons are not that active during the day.  It's always very tough to separate a broody guinea hen from her eggs, I've gotten in fights with hens trying to separate them from the eggs, trying to encourage her to go fly up into a tree and roost at nighttime to protect herself.  The hens attacks me, hissing at me and biting me.  The fights get bad because the male guinea comes to protect his mate and fights me, too.  The male will fight me, but he still leaves his wife alone on the ground in the woods overnight to fend for herself.  But now we are ready to help her, protecting her with a cage.  We'll see if this tactic works if/when we get broody guinea hens.

We are already dealing with fox issues this spring.  A couple weeks ago I heard the guineas screaming and looked out back behind the house and saw all the guineas running as fast as they could run, and there was a fox galloping alongside them!  I flew out the back door and started running after the fox.  If anyone could have seen they'd have laughed - a flock of guineas running, followed by a galloping fox, followed by a running human!  The fox took off, there was too much commotion that day for a guinea dinner.

Last week I looked out back and saw the guineas way behind the house, about 250 yards out.  And there was the beautiful red fox crouching low, getting ready to ambush the guinea fowl.  It was drizzling and freezing cold outside that day.  Before I could even open the door, the fox started it's crouching dash at the birds, mouth open ready to bite a grey guinea on the outside edge of the flock.  I just knew that bird was a goner.  I flew outside, barefoot, into the freezing rain, screaming at the top of my lungs, my arms swinging overhead trying to make myself bigger.  The fox was running at the birds, the guineas all stood looking at me like I was insane, all their heads were up and their necks were long with surprise.  I screamed "Nooooooooooo!  Stoppppppppppppp!!!!!!!!" and ran as fast as my bare feet would take me.  The fox looked right at me and then back at the guineas, still running for the grey bird, mouth open, ready to bite.  The fox must have been hungry.  I screamed again, getting close to the fox and guineas.  The guineas were all frozen in place, terrified of me, thinking I was nuts, not even realizing that there was certain death so close for one of them.  At the very last second the fox swerved to the left and took off bounding away, jumping in high leaps, leaving the guineas after all.  I was still screaming at the top of my lungs.  I had acted on reflex, I didn't take the time to get a weapon, or even shoes or a coat.  I quickly ran back inside, got a gun, shoes, a coat and hat, and dashed back out.  I herded all the guineas up to the chicken coop and hunted for hours until the sun set for that fox, but he was long gone.  I don't think I could have killed him, but I would have shot near him, scaring him for sure.  I think that if he actually had a screaming guinea in his mouth that I could shoot him to save the bird.  I have never actually killed a fox, I'm not a hunter, or even a real farm girl, for that matter.  My husband is the farmer, I'm just getting by here on the farm figuring it out as I go.  But I don't want my farm animals, the livestock, to suffer and die, and I know that fox will kill every single guinea and chicken in my flock if they have the opportunity.

Since then, for the rest of the week, there have been no fox sightings. 


LindaG said...

Hope you took a good dose of something to keep from getting sick!
Have a blessed week!

Kessie said...

Your story made me laugh and laugh. I've had a chuckle all day about you running out the door, screaming at the fox. :-)

Country Girl said...

My sister--- the pistol packing mama!! LOL! - Glad you saved the guineas! They really aren't too bright are they?

Farm Girl said...

Well I have done just what you have done so many times. I am so glad I don't have neighbors to see me running around like that. I am like you I don't know if I could shoot one either.
I have changed since I got chickens. I was pretty tree huggery when we moved here. Now, I still don't like to kill things but lets say, if something goes after my chickens, well, you know. :)
The thing with foxes, there are more than you think. I mean we thought we had one or two, and with a humane trap we caught 31. We have one around now, who isn't afraid of me, who watches.
I think someone must be feeding him for him to be so tame.
Around here they eat cats first.
I wasn't a real farm girl either. :) A very nice post.