A little over a week ago I was taking a break from a customary late summer canning marathon. I sat down at my computer to check my email and heard a funny, almost metallic, tapping sound. My first thought was that Peanut or her twin brother Johnny Cashew had gotten into some sort of trouble so I started looking around to see if they needed to be scolded. Seeing that they were both sitting at my feet with their heads tucked into their feathers, I got up to investigate. The door closest to me was open to keep the heat from the canners from turning the house into a Dutch Oven. As I approached the doorway, the tapping became louder. What I discovered was a pair of the strangest prehistoric cartoon character looking creatures I had ever seen tapping at the chrome bumper on my truck. There was no mistaking the unique and more than a little peculiar look of Guinea Fowl. Because of the higher than normal level of predators in our area, I knew that if we didn’t do something for them it would be less than a day before they were a meal for something else. We cornered then and put them in our turkey run. I had heard that guineas are wanderers and knew there was a slight chance that they had gotten lost and ended up here, but that the far more likely scenario was that someone dumped them off here since there are no residences in close proximity to us. Once in the large enclosure, they quickly located the food and ate like they hadn’t been fed in a week, which further cemented the idea that they were off casts and not simply wayward explorers.
Knowing nothing of these comical little creatures in their baggy looking grey spotted suits, I reached out to an online group for advice. I was so amused by the responses I got, I decided to write A Top 10 list of Guinea Characteristics…
1. Excellent guard animals. They act as an alarm system and predator alert, even in the dead of the night. I quickly learned that they put the sirens on my home security system to shame and that sleeping with the windows open may be a thing of the past.
2. They are very entertaining. Aside for the outlandish makeup job, and odd attire, they seem to have an almost teenage angst mentality. They tormented my poor Tom turkey for 3 days by waiting until he wasn’t looking and then going up behind him and nipping his butt.
3. They are far from Intellectually gifted. Or as one person phrased it, they are as dumb as a box of rocks. They will investigate neighbors houses, road ways and even spar with moving vehicles.
4. Their clownish fashion sense is rivaled only by their flight ability.
5. They cannot count. They will wander off and leave one or more keets behind.
6. They cannot stand to be separated. They will even do their alarm system impression for you if you try.
7. They love to eat insects. They will help you control ticks, fire ants, stink bugs, Japanese beetles and squash bugs to name a few.
8. They will clean out your flower beds for you. Of everything, including the flowers.
9. They will kill snakes that get into your chicken coops. Or at the very least torment then until they leave voluntarily.
10. They will peacefully coexist with your chickens, sharing their food and their roosts. A theory that my Tom turkey wishes I would further investigate.