Tag Archives: Guinea hens

Lesson 741 – Honking horns and peeping

I usually don’t include videos in my posts (who has the time to watch them right?) with this incredible exception (which still makes me laugh.) But I thought I’d include two in today’s post as sort of a public service announcement.

Marc took this video, it’s entitled, “Why your neighbors will hate Guinea hens.” He took it right before we put the birds in the box for transport to a new home. The Guineas are the ones that honk, pretty hard to miss it. To do this video justice, turn the volume up (way up) before you hit play.

Why your neighbors will hate Guinea hens

(Actually for the full effect, play this loudly on loop at 6 a.m on a Sunday morning.) Continue reading

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Lesson 735 – Guinea hens and Serial Killers

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. Continue reading

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Lesson 733 – The Guinea male is not going to work out

We tried, but we couldn’t make it work.

This weekend we will be re-homing our male Guinea hen (rooster.) It’s that mechanical-alarm-like nonstop honk, literally having our neighbors up in arms, that is what’s at issue.

Not that I blame them. If you have listened to Guineas hens you know they have the sort of call that when heard makes you sit up, look around, and say “what the heck was that?” Not such a horrible thing to happen during the day but definitely not the best neighbor-bonding event to take place early (*early*) in the mornings on the weekends.

We’re starting to get those sideways “Oh. My. God. Will you shut those things up?”  looks when they see us in the grocery store, or on the street, or in our backyard.

When we got our Guineas, we had hoped (prayed) they would be females. We picked the slightly less ugly ones thinking that nature would at least cut those girls a tiny break. And while we got one female, we also got a male. It’s that little guy, who’s the problem.

Each morning, he honks and honks (and honks), riling up the rest of our flock to squawk along with him. Until he entered our flock, I didn’t even know our other girls could call like that.

Apparently I have very fast learners.

I was hoping that the theoretical advantage of the Guineas eating our ticks would make the noise that everyone (and now me) talks about worth it.

But it’s not.

When I teach my chicken classes one of the things I stress is that a responsible backyard chicken owner should not have roosters in their flock if they have close neighbors. It’s time to practice what I preach.

I’ve found a lovely new home for our Guinea, where he can join an existing flock of other Guineas and will be able to eat ticks and honk his honk to his heart’s delight.

For now, I’ll be holding onto the female hoping that with the male gone, she might just settle down, but who knows, in a very short while, she may be going to live with her brother down on the farm.

Just what is this guy thinking?

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I write about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact me 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.

 

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Lesson 716 – Charlie and the Guinea Hens

This morning I tried to get a quick video of our Guinea hens. Actually, I tried to get the male’s “barking” sound captured but as soon as I got near he stopped, I’ll keep trying.

Instead I have this little clip of our prehistoric looking Guinea hens alongside our other flock members. The only problem was that our ex-house chicken Charlie saw that I was at the coop and so she just had to get into the picture. That’s her with the black head shot hogging the picture at the end. Mr. DeMille, she’s ready for her close-up. Continue reading

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Lesson 710 – In the eyes of the beholder

The other night, my son, home for college spring break, went out to the hen house to give the flock our kitchen scraps.

“Some of those chickens are really ugly,” he said as he returned to the kitchen. He was referring, of course, to our pair of resident Guinea hens – birds I had gotten right before he left for college and had never really had a chance to see. The pair are speckled oblong shaped birds with red and blue heads that resemble a vulture’s – definitely different looking flock members.

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I sighed, as I turned to my son, the mama hen always ready to protect her young. “They’re not ugly, they’re just … unique.” I told him.

“Yeah, well one of them is also barking,” he said. Continue reading

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Lesson 689 – Apologies to our neighbors

You know those two Guinea hens that just a few weeks ago I proudly declared both to be female?

They’re not.

Guinea hens are notoriously difficult to visually sex, however, believing that I somehow had the magic power, I decided based on the comb alone, that both of my birds were girls.

Then we started hearing some major squawking from the hen house – sort of like the anguished cry of a clown horn mixed with a maniacal laugh. The first few times this happened, we went out to the henhouse to check on the birds’ safety. Maybe something had gotten into the coop and was threatening the birds.

It certainly sounded that way.

But no all the birds were fine. Hmmm, perhaps, my birds were just complaining about the cold weather.

Lord knows, I was these days. Continue reading

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Lesson 680 – poor little Guineas

Guinea hens are *impossible* to take photos of. They are incredibly skittish and never stand still, not even for one moment.

This is the best picture I got of our two Guinea hens today.

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Yeah, I know not the greatest. My photo was supposed to look something more like this:

guinea hens

I just couldn’t get those two to stay still. Continue reading

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Lesson 675 – Green eggs and Guineas

Look what we recently found in our hen house!

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The brown egg is from a standard layer, the white is from a bantam, and that little green marble is actually a new egg. It’s from a juvenile who is just starting to lay eggs (around these parts, tiny eggs are that are called “fart eggs.”) It’s perfectly normal, except that we’ve never had olive colored eggs before. (Going to have to dig up my edition of “Green Eggs and Ham.”)

The only culprits we can come up with are the Guinea hens (which have both proven to be females, thank God.)  I got the Guineas as young juveniles in the late summer/early fall so the timing is just about right. From what I gather Guinea eggs are typically brown, but the color depends on the breed. I got my hens from a chicken swap and don’t know if they are pure-bred or are a mix, and if they are a mix, then olive eggs would be more than probable.

Guinea eggs are typically smaller than hen eggs (although not this small) and the rule of thumb is to use two Guinea eggs in place of one chicken egg. Some people swear by the flavor and insist that they are tastier than their chicken sisters’ counterparts. And speaking of tasty, although we are not going to eat our birds, by all accounts, Guineas have meat that is compared to Pheasant – I’m assuming that that means it’s a bit flavored and probably needs to be cooked longer.

On that point, however, I shall never know for certain.

Guineas also tend to lay eggs in a hidden corner or under a bush, as opposed to using a nesting box. If they free range, good luck finding their eggs.  Not the smartest of birds, they nest on the ground and will lay up to 20 eggs in a clutch making things very easy for predators to snack on the eggs.  Once the eggs hatch (if they hatch) Guineas are notorious for abandoning the nest – resulting in a very high mortality rate for the chicks.

Bottom line is that if you want to breed Guinea hens, you’ll have to secure them in a confined space or hatch the eggs by incubator.

None of this matters though I got the Guinea hens to help with tick control next summer. My plan was to keep them in the coop over the winter (thus ensuring they know it is “home”) with the intent that if they got away from the coop (we free range the birds during warm days) they would know where to return in the evening.

And if they do fly off to the woods, I’ll make sure they have access to food so they will stay local and still, hopefully, manage our ticks from a distance.

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Lesson 669 – The beauty of Guinea hens

Our Guinea hens have successfully made their transition into the flock and have become full –fledged and fully accepted members (yes, even the one who was so horribly pecked that she was bleeding.)

Although both sit comfortably on the weird side of fashion, I still don’t see any signs of “maledom” which means that we’re probably going to be okay in the rooster department.

(What’s that noise, you say? Oh that’s just our neighbors releasing a big sigh of relief.)

As many of you know, we have chronic Lyme in the house and I got our Guinea hens specifically because they are supposed to be world class tick eaters. In the spring, when they have reached maturity, I’ll release these tick-munching hounds to our back yard and let them have at it. Eat all the ticks you want gals, protect my kids.

In the meantime, as members of the flock, they get attention just like everyone else. I coo to them, point out bits of hidden food in the corners,  and you better believe that on Christmas Eve, they’ll get their fair share of our “Suet Cookies for Santa.”

Guinea hens tend to be skittish though and are not very social. I have yet to be able to hold and talk to them like I do with some of our other girls (Charlie.) As Guineas are not bred for laying eggs, I imagine that when they do starting laying, their production schedule will be more like a bantam (whenever I get around to it) as opposed to our layers (time to make the eggs.)

Other than tick eating, it’s not easy to justify having these birds in your flock. Continue reading

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Lesson 655 – Pictures of the kids

Thought I’d bring out some of the chick photos.

This is Charlie. For those of you who have been following her story you know that we’ve had her since she was a day old. For almost 6 months she lived in our house as a house-chicken post foot surgery but now she rules the roost, although she did let me hold her and cluck into her ear like I used to right before I snapped this photo. Always the mama’s chicken.

Charlie is such a looker.

These are our Guinea hens. I’m still fervently hoping that they are hens and not roos, as I haven’t heard much more than a literal peep out of them, I’m very optimistic that they both might be girls. Just wanted to show you that they do, on occasion, get off the perch. Continue reading

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