Following all the sage advice I have gleaned from raisers of Guinea hens, I have been keeping the Pearlies in their coop with a screen door for their viewing pleasure. I have dutifully rattled their feed cup, calling out "Pearlies! Dinner!" at the same time (more or less) every night to train them to come in for the night when they hear the dinner bell (pebbles). We are four weeks into the recommended six week re-imprinting time and they were getting a little stir crazy. So I carefully blocked all avenues of escape (and entrance) with a combination of chicken wire and poultry netting. Have I told you my idea about using poultry netting as a method to get terrorists to talk? I'm sure I have. I love it THAT much. Saturday morning, I let them out into their little run. And, from my observations over the weekend, Guineas ain't chickens.
First and foremost, when I appear, my chickens come running IN my direction from all parts of the yard. You can almost hear them cry, "Food, it's Food!" Guineas? When I appear, they run in the opposite direction ("Run away! Run away!) When I let the chickens out for the first time, they spread out and look things over. The Guineas? They move in a solid, many-footed mass. They are never more than two inches from each other. The first night was a disaster, as only four went back into the coop, one managed to escape and went over the fence into the dark and the other disappeared (it spent the night UNDER the coop). The next morning, I heard Lonesome George crying his LOUD distress call all around the house. I left the gate open to the back yard, and tried to get him going in the right direction. Of course, he ran away - in the opposite direction. He did finally hear his gang and come back over the fence. And I was able to get him back in with his clan.
Sunday night was even worse, if that is possible. NONE of them went into the coop and all roosted on top of it. Another difference in Guinea vs. Chicken? When it is dark, you can pick up a chicken very calmly and gently and move it inside. Guineas? Hysteria at any time of the day or night. I am not feeling that there is going to be a successful and long term relationship here. In a couple of weeks, I will be letting them range and will have to resort to finger-crossing. I hope we ALL live through the experience.
The price of Paradise? Two days and two nights of agony, and still counting. Last Thursday evening, I was able to spend a lovely evening with a friend I don't see often. Her home is set on a rise, surrounded by a pine forest, with a lovely view. She has created an outdoor room that is just gorgeous - fire pit, table and chairs covered in lovely floral linens, flowers in vases, torches for light. My ex-cat, Bebe (now Smoky) lives there and always comes racing to drape herself across my shoulder vibrating with a happy purr. She is a wonderful cook and we sit watching fireflies, catching up, drinking a glass of wine, eating good food. It is heavenly.
The next day, my legs started to itch. I figured it was a change in laundry detergent. By Saturday, from the tops of my feet to behind my knees, I counted over 60 mosquito bites. ITCHY ones. By Saturday night I was having visions of cattle, blinded by clouds of gnats, galloping happily off cliffs to their death - and blessed relief. I could barely concentrate all day Sunday. Monday, I was finally over the worst. The next time I visit that Paradise, I am going to dip myself in citronella, wear socks, hip boots, long pants, a turtleneck, gloves, hat and a full body net suit.