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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guineas Ain't Chickens and What Price Paradise?

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.

21 comments:

  1. Maybe you got actually got the mosquito bites chasing Guineas in the dark?? LOL

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    1. What!? They're supposed to eat the mosquitoes! Could be -- I don't run as fast as I used to...;o)

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  2. Ick! Skeeters :( Nasty little buggers and we've got them now that we've had some rain. Impossible to milk without having to swat every ten seconds.

    And thanks for the reminder that I do not want guineas ;)

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    1. CR - I didn't even hear them, the dirty dogs. I think the key to guineas is patience, which is a challenge for me.

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  3. Be careful with mosquito's and bites. We've had many cases of West Nile Virus here in OK, TX and few other states. People have become extremely ill or have died. The only advise given to everyone is to spray deet mosquito repellant.

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    1. Sandy - I know! I'll be monitoring myself for a while; that's all I'd need.

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  4. That whole adventure makes me think YOUR the stronger woman here for sure! Yikes. LOL

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    1. Elizabeth - LOL! Don't know about stronger, but I sure am challenged!!!

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  5. They are very timid at first since they do not have an adult to show them confidence, but they will learn to know you and will come running. They will even follow you around the yard. Remember the timid is what keeps them alive in the big world. Even a trash bag that blows in the yard is an intruder and they approach it so cautiously. I remember the first time I let my original flock out they just went and hung out under a bush then back to the coop for days. Oh how I miss those days of not worrying if they are 10 miles down the road. I am very concerned you will lose them if you let them out in two weeks. It is usually 6 weeks in the coop and 6 weeks in the run. It seems harsh since they want out so badly, but if they are still that timid around you they probably will not come back to you and they most likely will not roost in the coop. They need a lot of time to know it is the safe place. And like I said, no adult to show them the way. Good luck :)

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    1. Jane - I have so much to say/ask you that I'm going to send you a personal email. I agree that they seem too young to be set loose, but what a worry!!

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  6. Dear Susan, you seem to have a penchant for bring hassle into your life . . . and subjecting your body (in one way or another) to punishment. Even though I worry about you a lot, I still love you. And, oh my gosh, the fodder for wonderful blog posts!

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    1. My dear, the feeling is mutual :o) I always mean well, but sometimes I am my own worst enemy. But I am innocent on the mosquito front - little buggers.

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  7. Since you didn't hear them, nor did you feel them bite you, maybe you were attacked by chiggers. Seems like the smoke from the torches would have kept mosquitoes at bay, but those sneaky, pesky chiggers are just too rude to let you enjoy a glass of wine outdoors.

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    1. Oooh, I don't like chiggers! They're even worse than mosquitoes! I think I didn't hear them because they were down by my ankles and I was too smitten by the floral linens to notice...

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  8. I HATES skeeters! Grrrr!! One of the perks of living in the desert is we don't have them very often.
    I'm with CR on the guineas, thanks for the reminder!! ;-)

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    1. Candy - That's true! I didn't think of that. But you have other things we don't - like scorpions....eek!

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  9. Your life should be turned into a movie. It takes someone awesome to turn chaos into a hilarious blog post. You, my dear, take the cake. :)

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    1. Mama Tea - You are too sweet. But, only if Meryl Streep does NOT play me! It would never work - both Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburn are no longer available for the role of me (as if....) But wait! I heard that Mama Pea is the spittin' image of Audrey H...

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  10. What a timely post. We've decided on guineas to deal with our ticks and I've been reading up on them. Your experience is priceless! (In more ways than one :)

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  11. Good luck with your guineas. I've heard they are very loud, so I don't think I would ever be interested in having them. The roosters are enough loud for us. Mosquitos eat me alive, so I feel your pain!

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  12. I'm definitely scratching guineas off the list LOL!!!

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