Saturday morning I drove our two Guinea hens down to Connecticut to be re-homed. A reader (thank you, Georgette) knew of someone; Dick, who raised Guineas as a hobby and who was willing to take my pair. I had decided to send both birds because I thought it would be easier on the pair if they went together.
Marc got a cardboard box from our Tractor Supply Store and after about 20 minutes of chasing our Guineas around the pen (seriously, an oiled-up pig has nothing on Guinea hens) I finally caught them (and if truth be told, re-caught them after they escaped several times) and then loaded them into the box. They went into the car and I set out on my way.
It was a 2 hour drive, a trip I was willing to take if it meant my birds would go to a nice home.
As a point of interest, during the drive my Guineas settled down right away to the CD of James Taylor and Carole King but I had to turn John Denver’s Calypso off (not that I really blame them, it definitely wasn’t one of his best) as it seemed to get them too excited.
If I were a serial killer, I thought to myself, as I started driving through rural Connecticut, I might put up an ad asking for people’s extra Guinea hens. This I thought to myself after having sat through 3 hours of Criminal Minds with my sons the night before. You’d have an endless supply of victims once the birds reached puberty and neighbors started complaining about how noisy they were.
I made sure once again, that Marc had the address and contact information of where I was going.
Turns out I didn’t have anything to worry about. Dick lives in Connecticut with his 19 (now, 20, and 21) Guinea hens. He raises them simply because he loves having them around. His birds roam freely around his property and although one neighbor does complain, for the most part, everyone accepts them as part of the neighborhood fauna. Seeing all those birds in the woods was an amazing sight.
Dick and his wife don’t eat the Guinea eggs but he does sell fertilized eggs to those who want them. He also has a story of raising over 60 hens for someone who ordered them to simply roam his property to get rid of ticks. Dick did it and the person has reported that the Guineas have kept his property (and the surrounding woods) tick free. I was envious. That was the entire reason we had gotten our pair. They were supposed to be our best defense against the tick population.
Dick is 77 years old and he told me that he is on the go from the minute he wakes up until he has his solitary beer (that he’s earned) in the evening at night (all of which probably explains why he is so active at 77.) He cares for his flock, some chickens, a garden, and 4 terriers (who also added to the noise of the Guineas.) Dick’s backyard is not for the faint of heart.
But it’s heaven for someone who loves and respects the idea of sharing your life with other critters.
Before I came, Dick had set up a cage within the coop to house my two birds until they were accepted into the flock. When it came time to take them out of the cardboard box, still smarting from my workout of trying to get the Guineas into the box, I offered to help.
“Nope, don’t need help,” Dick said as he pulled both of the birds out by their feet and proceeded to put them into the cage.
I admitted that I had never held a chicken by its feet before, to which Dick informed me that not only was it the easiest way to hold them, but that it was a way to show them “who was the boss.”
We talked for a bit more. I found out that Dick had grown up in Pennsylvania. That he had served in the Air Force, and that he had gotten some training on the G.I. bill to become an airplane mechanic.
It turned out that Dick is not a serial killer (damn you, Criminal Minds, anyway.) Instead, he’s an incredibly centered man whose compass points true. He has a great sense of humor and loves living with his flock. In short, Dick is the kind of person you want to be like when you grow up.
And he’s the kind of person I felt perfectly comfortable leaving my birds with.
With a large family, we tend to make weekly trips to donate used goods to the local Goodwill and Savers stores. A running joke in our family is that if I come home with less bags than I dropped off, then I’m doing good.
I dropped off two Guinea hens at Dick’s house on Saturday, and this is what I came home with.
All this week, you’ll be hearing about this incredible gift.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.