Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Guineas: A Few Clowns Short of a Circus

When I moved to the south, I had never heard of a bird called a Guinea. Down here, guineas are very popular. I probably get more phone calls for guineas than for any other bird. The farmers around here love to use guineas for pest control, especially for clearing out ticks. The guineas are constantly moving and keep busy chasing down bugs. Here on our farm, I have about 50 guineas that free range around the house and pastures.

Guineas are a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They have got to be the dumbest birds I have ever owned. One of their favorite activities is the "Help me, I'm trapped!" game. This game consists of a guinea flying over the fence then forgetting how to fly back over. The guinea will run back and forth along the fence line, screaming it's annoying guinea call. They have worn the grass down along the fence line from running back and forth. After 20 minutes, the guinea will have its beak open wide because it's tired and hot from sprinting. Suddenly, the light bulb goes off in its pea sized brain and it finally remembers how to fly over the fence.

I sold 30 guinea keets to a man last summer. About two months after I sold them, he calls me back and wants more because all his guineas got killed. I asked if it was a fox. I should have known better, that would be too normal for a guinea death. The school bus killed all of his guineas. I guess the guineas would follow his son down to the bus.
They hated the school bus and when it would drive away, they would chase and attack it. When one guinea would get hit, all the guineas would stand in the road and scream their clown looking heads off. Cars would come around the corner and take out more guineas. I think he lost all of them in a matter of three days. They are suicidal too, I don't know how they survived evolution.

Another favorite guinea game is "Up on the house top". Guineas are great at flying, if they remember how to do it. Some days, they decide to fly on top on the house and play reindeer games on the roof. They enjoy playing these games when we are trying to sleep in the early morning. It sounds like Out of Fucking Africa, in stereo. We don't need an alarm clock, we have a guinea stampede on the roof!

Guinea hens love to hide their nests. You cannot train a guinea to lay her eggs in a nest like a good chicken. Again, that would be too easy. They will find a spot in the woods on our 25 acre farm to hide their eggs. I have to go on egg hunts if I want to incubate any guinea eggs or have any keets to sell. Once you touch their nest, they will not return. Guinea hens are terrible mothers. Once the babies hatch, they go about their simple life running through the pasture eating bugs. The key word is running. The baby guineas can't keep up with the Mama. They start dropping off like flies and the hawks are always ready to swoop down for the kill. We will take away the baby guineas if a hen hatches them and raise them safely in a brooder.

Baby guineas are pretty cute. They are striped like little tigers. They are busy the minute they hatch and scamper around the incubator searching for morsels. That cuteness is gone by month 4. They start developing this scary clown face, white with red trim. Then, this giant lump of a dome piece forms on top of their head. It reminds me of the cartoons when someone gets hit on the head and a giant flashing lump appears. How can something be so ugly?

This morning, I was milking the goats and I see this tiny Taco Bell dog running up our driveway. The guineas see this little mutt and start screaming. Then the group of Einstein's decide to chase the dog. It was hilarious! The little dog starts yipping and runs home with his tail between his legs. They still are idiots though. What if it was a fox? The fox would just be sly and stand there, "Come to Mama!"


At 3:05 PM, Blogger DaisyDuc said...

Stupid guineas....I can see how that heard got killed...I must have laid on my horn for 60 seconds, just stopped in the middle of this back road waiting for some guineas to get out of my way last week.

But heck, they are kind of amusing and do eat bugs.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Stillwater Heron said...

Too funny!
Hope the kid on the bus wasn't attatched to them....
Anyway, guineas seem alot like sheep.
I used to raise them along with goats and horses.
Sheep "seem" stupid at first but their not.
They are smart once you've been around them long enough to start thinking like them!

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Papa Louie said...

Thanks for an entertaining education on the life and times of a Guinea. How do you pronouce it anyway?

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Great story! Must be a riot living and working on that farm of yours. Animals can be so amusing.

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