But they are loud. Really loud. Really really really loud. At least the guineas on my friend's farm were. And I could never figure out a way to buy fewer than of 25 of them at a time, which seemed like insect hunter overkill.
A few weeks ago I had a wild hair to check the farm and garden section of craigslist. This is not something I do often, mostly because it’s like going to the store without a list. I put myself in danger of buying something I did not plan to get, and don’t especially need, but suddenly can’t live without.
Sure enough, I found an ad for 14 baby guineas for only $2 each. This is about as cheap as I can get them from a hatchery, and far fewer than the mandatory 25 minimum. Suddenly I couldn’t live without guineas.
A quick email query to the Head Farmer, then an email to the seller, and I was committed. In the good way, as in "I made a commitment." Not committed to a mental hospital. Although perhaps...
But I digress.
That afternoon I picked up some unmedicated game bird feed and a cute little special waterer, and drove to pick up the guineas. Fourteen hopping, trilling, terrified, one week old guineas, in two cardboard boxes.
|Guinea chick at one week|
Now this is Texas. Hot. Dry. But because I am special, on the night I bought baby birds who need the temperature to be 90 degrees round the clock, the forecast called for lows in the low forties. And I had loaned our new brooder lamp to a friend.
Nooooo problem, thinks I. They will sleep in the tub tonight.
Just in case you should find yourself in this predicament, I have, out of the kindness of my heart, prepared detailed instructions. Be sure to follow them exaaaaaactly. And take pictures. Please. Because I forgot.
First Night :
- Clean out tub
- Hunt down old brooder lamp
- Note spider web inside lamp
- Clean lamp
- Unscrew bulb to remove all web (fire hazard!)
- Jump when large black spider emerges from behind bulb
- Stare at broken bulb in tub
- Thank God that bulb didn’t break on your feet
- Clean tub again
- Hope for extra bulb in storage
- Find extra bulb
- Rest metal crutch across top of tub to support brooder lamp
- Place cardboard boxes with guineas in tub under light
- Remember that you only bought one little waterer
- Fill small metal lids from recycling bin with water and feed
- Repeat an hour later
- Tell the guineas to go to sleep already!
- Wake up to find two soaking wet cardboard boxes, an empty waterer and empty lids. Those birds can drink! And spill.
- Refill everything
- Get caught up in homeschooling.
- Feed and water guineas again
- Weed whack around brooder
- Clean out brooder
- Lay down pine shavings
- Search for chick feeder
- Search some more for chick feeder
- Find countless lost items in fields, shed, barn, shop, laundry room
- Find no chick feeders
- Try to retrofit full sized feeder with chicken wire to make it suitable for babies
- Repeatedly poke self with wire and pinch self with wire clippers
- Struggle to not say bad words
- As sun is setting, shout to 13 year old to get smallest chicken waterer from chicken pen.
- In the dusky glow, learn from 13 year old that waterer has a leak, rendering it useless without welding.
- Give up and go to store and buy new waterer and feeder. Get extra bulb for heat lamp because bulb breakage seems likely
- Finally get guineas settled around 10:00pm
Now, really, you can see that things couldn’t have gone better. Except, well, maybe if I had to change just one teeny tiny thing? I would have started working on the brooder project in the morning.
Live and learn.
By the way, these guinea chicks have a lovely cheeping trill for a song. Not overly loud, and surprisingly like a song bird.
|Guinea chicks at two and a half weeks|