Our guinea experience

We have two guinea hens these days.  Well, two guinea hens left that is.

We raised a number of them from little, cute keets to young, ready-to-have-access-to-the-whole-farm, hens.  We let them free of their brooder once they were of age, giving them the whole farm during the day and the turkey house we offered or at least counting on them finding safe quarters in the trees, at night.  

Unfortunately they passed on the offer of the turkey house and choose the trees instead. During the time we tried this nighttime solution, we lost a number of them to the raccoons who also call this place home. The hungry, masked villains would sneak into the trees, out onto the limbs and grab the little cuties while they were snoozing. (Guineas like chickens have an "lights out protocol" that means they are totally vulnerable to predators once it is dark, so safe quarters means high up on tiny limbs or some farmer-contrived safe zone like an area protected by an electrified fence.)

After losing too many of these little pin-head-sorta chickens, our solution has been to raise them with the (real) chickens.  It's a compromise we aren't delighted with as we loose the whole benefit of having the hens free-range.  But until we safely band (so as to not injure) all of our trees (at least the trees within the guinea girl's  preferred zone) with a collar of 2' flashing, we'd likely lose these last two ladies as well.  We may do the banding at some point as having a nice population of guineas would be an excellent addition to the doings of the little 'stead.  They are terrific tick removers and ticks are certainly a concern these days. So banding our trees may be a project we move higher up the list.

And a funny little addition to this history of our guinea raising adventure:  Early in our guinea parenthood much to our distress, we lost 2 of these little hens when while changing the water in their brooder-- two fast little birds popped out of the little keet nursery, slipped past our catch and in lickety-split-fashion with us (Lenny, Amy and Kate) in hot pursuit, made their way to next-door-neighbor, Memorial Park.  The micro guineas won and somehow got across the creek to their well-wooded new home.  

We hear them a year later still living and squawking in the park!  

Maybe the guineas survive better at the park 'cuz the raccoons are so well fed over there? Perhaps the stripy fatsos don't bother with (our) birds in their trees as they have such great offerings from the campers? It is puzzling, but hearing our guineas across the creek is another happy noise we enjoy from the park and makes us laugh when we hear their "sorta dreadful" squawking- ha, ha! Wonder what the rangers and visiting campers make of their guinea residents in the wild?

And here's what got me writing these guinea prose. Lots more handy info on these "goofy-looking" characters from Modern Farmer:

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/10/get-watch-bird/