Garden Girl Hangs Tough

Buzz off, I’ve got work to do! . . .

This guinea hen made a wise choice for her nest–in the vegetable garden!  She is protected by a deer-proof fence that also keeps dogs and most other pests at bay.  Guinea hens start nesting in warm weather and roam far and wide to find the perfect protected spot for a nest.  Unfortunately, predators locate them when the guinea begins sitting on the nest overnight, and too often, she turns up missing!

Each evening, if the headcount doesn’t turn up right in the guinea pen, Rosie the Guinea Hunter is on the case and takes off with her nose in the air.  She inspects all the fallen tree stumps, sagebrush, willow groves, and every old nest that she has previously detected in a wide area, focusing intently on “finding Guineas!”  She rarely misses her mark, and then it’s likely because the guinea has met her demise.  If she is alive and sitting on her nest, Rosie will find her.  Then the fun begins.

The first clue that we’re spot on is Rosie’s stance: body motionless; ears forward; head erect; stub of a tail wagging.  We arrive, breathless from a chase that may have covered a few acres of ground, and approach the nest to confirm Rosie’s detective work.  And then we take up the unpleasant task of interfering with MOTHER NATURE.  Disturbing a nesting guinea is akin to tackling a lion in her den.  After you have cleared away all the cover that typically conceals her (deep grass, branches, tree stumps) you take a moment to develop a strategy on which end to tackle her.  (Previous failed attempts have taught us that if you don’t grab her in front of her wings, thereby having some leverage, you will never hold on).  But first you have to get past the sharp pecking of her beak, staccato clucking and piercing eyes that warn of trouble if you try to rout her from her precious eggs!  She fans her wings out high over her back and lowers her head to prepare for battle.

If you aren’t completely intimidated by this time, you reach into the nest (with gloves on) and go for it.  After a skirmish, which you lose, she will shriek and climb off the nest, stepping aside to scold and call out to her kindred guineas.  Upon hearing her cries, the rest of the flock arrive in time to scold and create such a squawking cacophony that you know MOTHER NATURE will soon intervene and cast you into purgatory for ABANDONING GUINEA EGGS BEFORE THEY CAN HATCH!  But I digress.

Garden guinea is likely the smart hen who created her nest in the garden last year and things went well for her until a bull snake arrived to eat her hatchlings as soon as they were out of the shell.  We saved five and raised them in the house, but this time she made it to the finish line on her own.

Hey, you! Get in with the rest of your siblings . . . .

Believe it or not, there are six babies tucked in under her wings.  The curious one who wants to see the action will soon be enfolded in her protective embrace.  When she arrived at the guinea pen with her newly hatched chicks, a hasty arrangement was made to place her in Fred and Ethel’s goose condo for an extended stay, but that’s another story.

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