The numbers of our guinea flock have fluctuated over the years from an over-abundance to so few we worried we might eventually not have any due to attrition. A neighbor who had successfully raised too many little keets called late last fall to see if I would be interested in adding to our dwindling flock of five adult guineas. I agreed to take six young ones from her, including four of the pearl, or light colored ones.
Guineas are different from chickens in that they don’t bond with newcomers to their flock. This is a lesson we had heard from others, but learned first-hand with our six new guineas. Once placed in the “big house” with the other chickens and mature guineas, the little ones were ostracized and pushed aside. Attrition began to occur at an alarming rate and over a few months, we were left with one young guinea who I named Minnie Pearl.
Guineas love to graze far and wide and Minnie Pearl tried to stay on the fringe of the group hoping to be accepted. She was always by herself in a corner of the poultry house when I came in to feed and gather eggs, and she did not roost with the rest of the chickens or guineas at night. We believed that over time she would fit in with the older group but over the winter months it became evident that she was still an outcast. On several occasions I observed one or two of the older guineas picking on her. Was it just her pale color they did not accept?
A few weeks ago there was a fracas out in front of the poultry house that ended up with Minnie Pearl on the roof. She had flown up to escape her tormentors and would not come down. It was bitter cold and snowy and the metal roof offered little protection. Toward evening it was apparent Minnie Pearl intended to stay where she was. We reasoned that if we tried to get her down she would likely fly into the nearby poplar or elm trees, which would leave her equally as exposed to the cold. As darkness descended I decided to try one last time to coax her down. I went out with a broom and aimed the brush end at her. I let fly several times, getting closer with each throw but not close enough to dislodge her. Finally my broom stayed on the roof, leaving me frustrated.
I gave up and headed through the gate when I noticed a large tree branch about 4 foot long and an inch in diameter sticking up from a snow bank. By now it was almost dark and I was determined to try once more to get Minnie Pearl down from her icy perch. I pulled the branch out of the snow, backed away from the poultry house far enough to get a good sight-line of her, and hurled the branch as hard as I could, hoping I would not hurt her. WHAACK!!! I nailed her and down she fell on the opposite side of the poultry house, into the yard. Maud the wonder dog was all over it and chased her under a spruce tree, where she lay paralyzed with fear. I made it through the gate as fast as I could run in the snow, sighted her huddled under the lower branches of the tree, and grabbed her in my arms. She was cold and shaking and I ran to the house with her.
Michael retrieved a cat carrier from the garden shed and we placed her on a towel inside and locked her in. She spent the night in the bathroom in front of the heater. Next day I called a friend who also raises chickens and pleaded with her to add Minnie Pearl to her flock. I could not bring myself to put her back into the hostile environment that she had endured in our poultry house with the older guineas. Our request was graciously received and Michael loaded Minnie Pearl up and delivered her to Joyce, who has been caring for her since. We are grateful that her chickens don’t mind, and that she took pity on one of God’s little creatures. Minnie Pearl is thriving in her new home and roosts with the chickens at night.
You still have one goose?
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Yes, Ethel resides in the poultry house with all the other motley crew.
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