Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Not To Do

Last night a cold front rolled through with accompanying thunderstorms and we got over 3 inches of rain, everything was soaked.  For whatever reason the eggs under guinea girl decided to hatch in the middle of the storm, when I checked on her this morning I spotted several keets under her wings and one cold keet that was outside the nest.  I took the poor wet and cold keet and put it under the broody chicken, I didn't have much hope it would live.  By afternoon at least a dozen keets were swarming guinea girl, I had not planned on her having so many. 

Guinea girl has survived several close calls with predators at night so I decided that I would catch her and gather up the keets and move her to a safer location.  The chicken coop was full, I had just introduced the five keets that I had been raising in the garage - terrible timing.  I decided to set up an area in one of the sheep birthing stalls, lined it with mesh and put down wood chips and hay for a nest.  I was now ready for the move.

Unfortunately guinea girl wasn't ready to move.  When the Commander tried to grab her she went crazy and after a short struggle she twisted herself free.  The keets scattered in all directions when guinea girl screamed, for newborns they could really move.  We caught ten with four escaping into the wild.  I looked at the nest and one egg was in the process of hatching and several others showed no signs of life - what to do now?

I couldn't move the keets to the sheep barn without their mama, and I couldn't abandon the nest or the escaped keets even if I could figure out a way to catch their now angry and elusive mother.  I decided to leave mama to round up the keets that escaped into the wild and see if she would go back to the eggs in the nest.  The captured keets would join their soggy sibling who was now living happily with the broody hen.

Like the others plans I put into place today this one went poorly.  When I put the keets under the hen in a nest box they ran off into other areas of the coop, ten keets were chirping in terror and now the hen was clucking madly.  I closed the coop off to the other hens and had to figure out how to get the keets to think that the hen was their mama.  I remembered seeing a picture over at Razzberry Corner of a hen locked into a small area with baby chicks so I figured I would give that a try.

I cut some mesh and stapled it across the front of the nest box the hen was harboring the lucky survivor from the morning rains, unfortunately this made the hen panic and off she flew.  At this point I decided to round up the keets in the coop and place them in the meshed nesting box, after a bit of a struggle I now needed to catch the now crazed hen.  The Commander and I chased her down, but this attracted the attention of Leopold the rooster who was not happy with our actions.  The Commander fought him off as I grabbed the hen and put her in the now crowded box, one mama hen and eleven baby keets.  I watched her for a while to see if she accepted them, so far so good.

Meanwhile, back at the guinea nest, things weren't going well.  Guinea girl and guinea boy had found the four missing keets but had moved away from the nest to a spot down by the road.  Great, what am I going to do with the eggs?  The Commander couldn't get guinea girl to move away from the road, and not wanting to separate her from the babies he gave up.  I had to do something with the keet that was in the hatching process so I gathered it and all the other unhatched eggs and brought them out to place under the chicken - things are really crowded in there now.  As I was removing the eggs I found two dead keets that looked like they had drowned in the heavy rain, this confirmed for me that the decision to move the keets was the correct one.

As night was falling guinea boy and girl were rummaging around looking for a place to spend the night, I wish them the best of luck.  Tomorrow I will move mama hen and the keets to the sheep pen that I had prepared for guinea girl, hopefully the keets will have all hatched/bonded with her so she can raise them.  The sheep pen will provide more room and will be a good place to spend the winter.  If anyone thinks that the guineas will somehow give my sheep a deadly disease please let me know so I can work on finding another option.

As I closed up for the night I checked on mama hen and she had all the keets and eggs tucked safely under her wings, I'm crossing my fingers.


  1. Never a dull moment, is there? You should write a book on these antics!

  2. oh geez, sorry baby. rough day for sure. sometimes its hard to figure out what to do. i think it will all work out. one thing you can do for eggs-about-to-hatch is put them in a brooder under a warm light. they just need to be about 99* (for chickens) and sometimes this works about like an incubator. hopefully your hen will just take them all.

    guineas = crazy, i think we'll just say all's well that ends with the most keets!

    you're doing a great job - hang in there!

  3. Wow. Traumatic for sure! You did great.

  4. Wow, what a commotion. Hopefully they are all warm and happy in the morning, and the move to their new home goes better!

  5. oh. my. gosh. I am COMPLETELY STRESSED OUT now. Poor, poor you... I can just picture you and the Commander running all about, trying to do the right thing, but being thwarted at every turn. What's meant to be will be - I think you've done everything you could.
    Hoping for a happy update tomorrow....


  6. Aw, poor things! At least you were able to get the keets with the hen in time.

  7. What a fiasco! Craziness! :) Hope all goes well!

  8. Ian - "What Not To Do, a Misadventure in Farming!" My family thinks we are a lot like "Green Acres" here!

    OFG - The hen has all the eggs now, she will do a better job than I ever could. Guineas are crazy, I hope they don't make me join them.

    Lana - It was heartbreaking, but I did learn a lot for next time - if there ever is another.

    KK - The move to the coop worked out for sure!

    Danni - An update will be coming your way today, with pictures too!

    Autumn - The hen is taking good care of them, thank goodness.

    Rae - This whole place has been crazy lately, crazy is the new normal I guess.

  9. Oh man, I hear that! Yes, guineas are so difficult to raise--maybe b/c they are native to Africa, hmmmm? :) We always have a hard time keeping then alive too!