Goodbye Guineas

Sometimes farming is hard. I was telling a friend just recently that it’s important to recognize when you’re in over your head. And sometimes this involves making hard decisions. Letting go of something you really want to do, but aren’t ready for yet.

And by you, right now I mean me.

I really like guineas. I think they’re adorable, in a funny-looking kind of way. I even like they’re gaurd-dog mentality (although I dislike being woken up at 3am)

three guineas

But our guineas have issues – have had them for awhile. We started with 4, and knowing they form mated pairs I was worried when we lost one. But things seemed ok for awhile – over the winter anyway. But I think with spring/summer here and mating season under way it was just too much. The female has been getting beat up from all the attention, and in the last week the males have really started going after each other.

one guinea

The last straw happened the other day when I came home in the evening to find two exhausted guineas still chasing each other at full speed around the yard, and the female in hiding. We’d been talking about getting another female, but I knew that wasn’t going to really fix the problem. It’s a lot like my advice about chickens. They’re flock birds, and the minimum you can keep without long term stress for the birds is 2 – and therefore I recommend people have at least a flock of 3. That way, if one gets sick, or eaten by a hawk, or disappears some other way – you still have 2. Doing some research I’ve found the recommended flock size on guineas is SIX, and probably for a similar reason. Four birds were ok, but just barely.

curious guinea

And we don’t have space for 6 guineas. They live with the chickens, and last winter 3 was almost too many (because they bully the chickens when everyone’s cooped up) If we had a better setup for them – like a barn they could sleep in – then we could get more, and they’d be less stressed. But we don’t have a barn, not yet anyway.

So the guineas need friends, and we don’t have space for their friends. Which means they had to find a new home. One of the local farms where we buy a lot of pork has a few guineas (and ducks, and chickens, and pea-fowl, and a barn for them to sleep in) Last evening I took these pictures, and waiting for sundown. Neil and I loaded these three into our dog crate* and took them to their new home. Hopefully they’ll settle in well. Adult guineas don’t move easily, they don’t like change. But I’m hoping that the barn for sleeping indoors (like our coop) and the presence of a new guineas to flock with, will convince them to stay. It’s hard, but when we couldn’t provide for them properly, and the new farm can. I hope they do well.

*only used for poultry these days

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