This is the sad story of how we suddenly became guinea-less.
Of all our critters, I think the guineas were my favorite. We got them as keets to clean up our tick problem. What we discovered, is that they are unique and remarkable birds. They have personality, and opinions! Ours came when they were called, ("guineaguineaguinea") and usually spent the night in their guinea house.
The most common question folks ask about them is, are guineas really as noisy as they are reputed to be? The answer is yes. They are loud and noisy sometimes, at other times, they chirp and twitter amongst themselves like songbirds. The other problem is that they roam.
The noise and roaming were always potential problems because we have neighbors near the front of the property. As long as the guineas stayed away from the road, no problem. True, they would often hop the fences to check things out next door, but there had never been complaints. The neighbors on the one side had lots of acreage and likely never noticed. Our neighbors on the other side have chickens, so occasional stray birds on either side of the fence (theirs or ours) is mutually accepted. If only things would have stayed that way.
When the guineas wandered too far we'd go bring them back. They would come for chicken scratch when called, and could usually be distracted by being allowed into the chicken yard. For some reason they loved the chicken yard and would happily spend the afternoon there (much to the indignation of the chickens). Even so, it was a chore to keep retrieving them.
One day the guineas were being particularly naughty. They decided they were going to go across the street. We'd already had several go-rounds with one of our neighbors, about their dog doing its business on our property, and wanted to keep things amicable. Having our 9 guinea fowl continually exploring others' neat, trim, suburban looking yards didn't seem a good way to keep things neighborly.
Anyway, I had to go get the guineas several times. None of the usual distractions worked, and the last time I went to fetch them, they balked when they got into the street. To make matters worse, a pick-up truck came barreling over the hill and had to stop because of them. I'm out there waving my arms and trying to herd them to our side of the road, they're all screaming at the truck, and the driver is making faces and hand gestures to let me know that having to wait 20 seconds for me to get my birds out of the road was not acceptable.
As I herded them toward the back of their property, I debated what to do. As much as we loved and wanted the guineas, the nine noisy wanderers were really too many. Keeping track of them was becoming a full time job. I began to understand why the job of herding animals was often given to youngsters in days gone by. Still, I needed to do something immediately.
In the end, I took them back to their house and used chicken scratch to get most of them to go inside. I closed the door, posted an ad for free guineas on craigslist, and waited by the phone. Seven of them were locked up, two were still on the loose, and I figured two would be a better number for our situation than nine.
The folks who took them were trying to get their own little place together. They didn't live close so there was no chance of the guineas coming home. It was hard for me to watch them go and I kept hoping a few others would get away too. It was amazing how quite the place was after they left.
The interesting thing about the two remaining birds is that they were not only on the bottom of the guinea pecking order, they were guinea rejects. The others would continually chase them away and not let them come in the coop at night. It took forever to get the guineas put up in the evening because the last one was afraid to go in with the others. I'd seen them attack it several times. But it always went in, which I felt was safer than leaving it out all night as easy picking for some predator.
About a week later I went to feed our two guineas and they were gone. Dan had seen them at about 2:30 that afternoon and I discovered they were missing around 5, so they disappeared within a several hour timespan. We'd been outdoors and never heard them holler and fuss, so we have no clue as to what happened. Did something get them? Did they decide to leave? Did a fed up neighbor pick them off? Did someone think they were wild turkeys or oddball pheasants?
The other night Dan woke up and went to look out the window. He thought he saw something run by and went outside to investigate. While he stood there in the dark, something came running across the road. At first he thought it might be a large fox. A second one followed and he shined the flash light on them. It was coyotes, likely the same ones our neighbor told us about last summer. Right now, that seems the most probable reason for the last two guineas' disappearance.
I've not given up on having guineas, but will definitely not mail order them next time. The minimum order of birds was too many for our situation. Maybe next summer, if I get a broody hen, I'll see if I can buy a couple keets locally and graft them onto her.
So that's the tale of our brief career as guinea wranglers.
Where Oh Where Did My Guineas Go??? © December 2013