Monday, August 26, 2013

Guinea Update v2.0

For the last couple of days I've been letting the guineas roam free for awhile in the afternoon.  It is a lot of trouble but I hate seeing animals caged and these guineas are teenagers - so to speak.  And much like teenagers they have become a daily dose of irritation and amusement.

Yesterday I saw them in real flight for the first time.  They flew up in unison.  There was no getting a running start or any of that chicken stuff.  One second they were on the ground, the next airborne!  For me it was spectacular.  The reason for this sudden flight?  They were spooked by a butterfly.

Before I got these fowl, my thinking was they would wander about the yard eating insects, making little guinea noises and generally just be cute and useful.  I could nod proudly when people said things like, "those guineas sure are pretty" and "I bet they eat a lot of bugs."  So far the first one is true and probably the second although I cannot yet verify that.

The trouble is they spend very little time in the yard.  They like the woods.  Yesterday afternoon I got worried about them.  It wasn't really time to bring them inside but it was getting kind of late and I wondered if they were okay.  I found them fairly easily but they were a fair distance from the house.  The ground back there is rough due to several old uprooted trees.  We've had some bad and unusual weather here in the last few years.

I start heading the guineas back to the house.  Soon I realized I should have put on shoes because the guineas decided they wanted to go under every vine and brier along the way.  Here I should interject that I wear shoes only when it is absolutely necessary.  If I get a brier in my foot I just pull it out and limp on; scrap my foot on a stob or sharp rock, no biggie, it's the price for going around without shoes.  So my progress was slow compared to theirs as I had to pick my way carefully as I could.  The guineas would stop anytime I got too far behind them and tarry but I knew that would not last for long.  So I tried to keep up.  They stopped just on the other side of an uprooted tree.  Rather than go around it, I stepped high up on the mound.  The dirt felt kind of soft and as soon as I put my weight on it, whoosh!  I sank to my knee as I fell backward, flat on my back.

A lightning fast thought crossed my mind of what might be hiding down there in the hole so I jerked my foot out immediately.   When I did a pile of dirt came with it, spraying me all the way to my belly.  Oddly enough I was not hurt at all, not even bruised, there were lots of leaves under me and the ground was soft.  It just looked really bad with my head downhill from my body and half of me covered with dirt.  I got up and dusted myself off.  In the most determined voice I could muster I told them, "okay little guineas, we are going home now and no more tricks!

Which we did.

Today though they learned a new trick:


It was only about 4:00 PM when this was taken and the sun doesn't set until around 7:30 PM but they seemed to have settled in.  I was planning on leaving them there for the night but they were just foolin'.  So about seven I rounded them up and they went into their cage.  I didn't bring them inside though.  They're spending the night outside and seem very pleased with that.

Sorry about the quality of the picture.  They are not as big as they appear.  I'm obviously no photographer.

28 comments:

ADRIAN said...

Nothing like animals and birds for causing distress and amusement.
It's good that you came to no harm but bad there was no-one there to video the fall.
Photography is only a matter of practice, the trouble is the more I try the harder it is to feel any sense of satisfaction.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Ha, what a cool picture. I've always wondered what these guys looked like.

Also, I have an insect eater in my house. Two of them, actually. They're my venus fly traps, and I like that they're low maintenance and can't fly away on me.

(How horrifying would that be? A flying venus fly trap? Or maybe a 'venus flying trap,' rather...)

David Oliver said...

It would have been funny. I could have posted on YouTube. I wonder if women are attracted to men who fall? I bet they are 'cause they love to laugh. I need to get a video camera and recreate it. Probably need to check out that hole first...

I know what you mean about trying harder. It's a waste of time. It's all just luck!

David Oliver said...

It doesn't matter what you call it. You see a plant with flapping jaws flying around in your house and it's scary! And really those plants don't even have to fly to get scary. All they have to do is grow. Remember "feed me" from "Little Shop of Horrors?"

The Crow said...

I have added a new occupation possibility to my list of things to do when I retire: guinea-herder.

David Oliver said...

Wonderful! Martha, they are happy little creatures and much better for the environment than insecticides.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Spooked by a butterfly? I'm beginning to think those guineas aren't the brightest of creatures. They do keep you busy and us entertained, though.

Be well, David.

xoRobyn

Andrew Leon said...

I'm impressed. I don't think I could do that without having some way of keeping those guys close to home.

David Oliver said...

Robyn, they are just now discovering the world. Before long they'll likely be chasing that butterfly. I don't know if they ever try to catch anything when both predator and prey are in flight but that will be interesting to watch for.

David Oliver said...

Andrew, the reason for getting babies is so that they will stay close to home. I wasn't really that far away from the house. I have no back yard to speak of and distance in the woods fools your eyes. We were only about 30 yards or so from the house.

rhymeswithplague said...

If I remember from my younger days in Texas, guineas can make a "right smart" racket. Have your teenagers learned to do that yet? You may love it, but your neighbors will hate it, if you have any close neighbors. Sounds like you live in the country.

I may be confusing guineas with peafowl in the racket-making department.

My daughter and son-in-law live in Alabama too. Their house is in Blount County but they both work in Jefferson County. I think you are nearly in both Mississippi and Tennessee, so maybe you don't count as a true Alabamian or Alabaman or whatever the heck it is.

If you have some spare time to poke around in my old posts, check out "banjos of mass destruction" in my labels list sometime. Also "Alabamistan"....

...

David Oliver said...

Will do, Mr. Brague.

On a dif topic, I want to thank you again for your instruction about elder and younger. I have used both terms often and come to a new appreciation of grammar. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I once talked to a woman who said God gave her a mouth and she was going to use it. I didn't inquire what uses she had found for her mouth although the obvious principal use was speech. I chose not to pursue her. These guineas are much like her about using their mouths/beaks, whatever. They are never idle. They are either pecking or making noises. I actually enjoy the sound. I have no neighbors except a sand plant. It is noisier and messier than the guineas. I should probably get some peafowl to make our relationship more equal.

You are right about where I live but I'm not sure what a true Alabamian is. I'm really only sure I'm not a Georgia peach.

rhymeswithplague said...

I would say a true Alabamian is someone who knows who Bear Bryant is, and Lurleen Wallace, and maybe even Harvey Updyke, Jr. Oh, and Rick and Bubba.

I'm not a George peach either, although I have been here since 1975.

David Oliver said...

I'm often accused of being vague and rightly so. In my reference to a Georgia peach, I was not implying that I'm not a male from the fine state of Georgia. I was implying I'm not a sweet, beautiful young female from that state. While that is obvious, I'm not above stating the obvious which is obvious now. Whew! Well, that was verbose.

Of the Alabamians you mentioned, I know something of some, have heard of the rest except Mr. Updyke. I will try and remember to google.

I am currently in the process of reading your blogs about this state. The first about the war between the Crimson Tide and War Eagles, I found amusing. And true.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I never realised they could fly. Hopefully they'll use it to dodge the coyotes as well as the butterflies. Are you telling us that you usually walk around barefoot, like your primate cousins?

Helsie said...

Sounds like they are providing lots of entertainment AND keeping the insect population down.

David Oliver said...

Yep, in the guinea world, you gotta watch out for them butterflies.

It is probably not as crazy as it sounds. Bees, wasps and hornets are nothing to joke about. Especially bumble bees and hornets. I'm thinking they evolved to avoid everything until they learn how to deal with it.

They fly beautifully. I don't know if they will get somewhat clumsy looking as they get bigger but we'll see. Will update.

I have little need for shoes until frost. Normally I won't go to town barefoot but once I was halfway to the Pig when I realized I was barefoot. I just went on and bought groceries and to the Post Office. No one seemed to notice. I don't like going barefoot to places like that though as I know it is possible to pick up parasites through the soles of your feet.

All my brothers wore shoes. Not sure what happened to me. I actually like shoes, I just don't like wearing them so you know I have a closet full.

David Oliver said...

Yeah. Just this morning I went out to see if they were okay. I had woke up earlier than usual, about 7:30 AM. They were still in the tree where they had spent the night. This was totally unexpected because you know the expression "up with chickens?" Daylight is when all fowl I thought become active. Apparently the guineas were used to me sleeping late and I guess figured they weren't suppose to be up and around until nine or so. I took some feed out and said, "come on little guineas." At this point they flew out of the tree and followed me to their food bowl.

troutbirder said...

What a bunch of little adventurers and you trying to keep up....:)

David Oliver said...

Yep, TB. It's good practice though for my grand babies. They're still under two. :)

Kenneth Noisewater said...

I want to see video of their adventures! They sound like endless entertainment. I bet they all have their own little personalities, like a guinea pig boy band.

David Oliver said...

The only thing I've noticed so far are some are leaders and some are followers. And the leaders are evenly split. Some are the bravest of the brave and some are the scariedist (my Younger said it was okay to invent words) of the scared.

My only video maker is crap. Actually, that is not true. I have two but I haven't figured out how the tiny one works. Heck, I can barely see it without glasses and who knows where they are? I'll look.

About the band I dunno. If I can set their peeping and chirping to music we might have something.

Phillip Oliver said...

Well, I didn't know that guineas could fly either. Do you still have all of them? I need them at my house because the mosquitos and bugs are awful this year.

I use to walk barefoot all the time but now my feet are so sensitive!

David Oliver said...

Incredibly they have all survived up to this point. I would be happy to give you some of these but you really need to get them when they are very young. At least that's what the preacher told me and from my experience with other animals, I believe it is true.

rhymeswithplague said...

I used to live around a flock of chickens, and they can really make a place messy with their pooping. I imagine guineas, being larger, do an even better job. So WHY would you want to walk around barefoot when "putting your foot it in" is a moment-by-moment real possibility?

I recommend sandals. They let air get to your tootsies but protect the soles of your feet.

David Oliver said...

I never saw my Mother wear a single piece of jewelry, not even a ring. I don't recall her Mother or sisters or brothers ever wearing a ring or any other jewelry. I did manage to hold on to my high school class ring for awhile but eventually lost it and my wedding band. I think my dislike of shoes is related to my dislike of wearing jewelry. It is not an air problem. It is a thing problem.

The poop is becoming a problem. I noticed it yesterday and today. I'm going to try and train the guineas where they can and cannot roam. Having a lifetime of experience going barefoot, I think I'm not as prone to stepping in poop or on other undesirable things as I otherwise would be. That said, I'll be wearing shoes where the ground is littered with guinea poop.

rhymeswithplague said...

Good luck with the guinea training. I predict you will not be successful.

It's time for another post, David!

David Oliver said...

It is too soon to know whether the guinea training is completely successful. The first task was to train them to stay off the deck. Initially it appeared to be their preferred place to poop and gave a whole new meaning to the term "poop deck." Part of the difficulty of training them to stay off it was they figured out early on that I keep their food inside and would come to the door, peeping and pecking whenever they were hungry. Their tendency is still to do that but fortunately don't tarry if I don't open the door directly with food in hand. The other problem is they are not yet strong enough to fly from the ground into the tree where they roost. They have to fly up from the edge of the deck. Even so, I have gently shooed them off it enough so that now they avoid it except for when its use is required. Yesterday around noon was the last time I had to clean the deck.

As for my next blog, it may be awhile. I am still obsessing and beating myself up about the last one. Yes I realize this is irrational behavior. Realization is not a fix. We'll see what the passing of time accomplishes.

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