Friday, February 3, 2012

Plugging away; and, Guinea fowl...

Hi, folks.

Hopefully, I'll be writing more regularly again. We just had a big pile of "stuff" all at the same time, over the past weeks; leaving me with very little energy.

I come back here though, because of you guys. Some of the "stuff" was hard and depressing (of course- it's life) but it cheers me up to check back here and see that my readers stick- and in fact even slowly increase, even when I'm not writing actively. It's nice to be listened to.

One of the things slowing down my return to regular writing is the huge number of things that need writing about. Way too many. Too many of which are downer type things that I don't just want to dump on you. (Like, for example, the really great news from Japan this week; that they will be starting to actually try to tap deep ocean methane clathrates, opening up an entirely new, and huge, can of fossil fuel worms for the world.) Not going there, at the moment, you'll have to fret on your own.

I've got brain overload; and I've been reluctant to just pass it casually on. Not helpful. But then, in comments on my last post, Tickmeister asked for "useful guinea fowl information" - and that triggered my avalanche.

First of all, Ticky, do search the blog here for "guinea"; there will be quite a few posts, with a bunch of information. Start there. What I wrote is still valid. (Well, except for the part where I said "we've solved all these problems..." oooh, embarrassing, that one.)

But; I did leave the entire enterprise hanging; promising "more soon", and failing to deliver. The problem was the "more". There's too much "more"; and most of it is murky. I hate putting out non-information, it's a pet peeve of mine when I have to sift through other people's crap: "We just got guineas last week, and they're the greatest! You need to get some now!" Yeah? How'd that look at 2 years? Silence.

Quick summary on guinea fowl: We've had them since 2008. I think 4 of the original birds are still alive and well, and I value them highly. We've got a total of around 30 now. We're intending to try to hatch a lot more this year. But then; we tried to hatch a lot more last year- and failed completely.

They're a good animal to have. They are, however, not chickens; something people insist on and persist in forgetting, constantly. If you want to keep guineas, and benefit from their company- you have to pay attention. Every day- just like all other livestock.

There are a lot of ways in which they are less trouble than chickens- when they are out free range, they find about 90% of their own food. They're good at surviving predators; both mammals and hawks. We still think they're promising.


Ok, see; way too many "buts". Not for the guineas; for me. If you're thinking about keeping guineas- I'd encourage you to try them. They can be worth it. But. A great amount of the information on exactly how/when/what etc. that's available - is iffy. At best. "Guineas behave thusly..." is likely only half true. My own version of the various aphorisms regarding half-truths: "A half-truth is the most durable of lies."

And. Do I have time to write the monograph on keeping guineas? Not today. Besides; at this point in my relationship with them- I'm mostly aware of how much I don't know.

Which at the moment is my feeling in regard to the entire Universe.

So, cheer up. You're not alone.



knutty knitter said...

Clathrates!!! I think here I can perhaps learn something and then ignore it for now - ugh!

On the other hand I grew an indoor cucumber and we ate our first fruit last week and the capsicum plant has little fruit on it too. My indoor plants are rapidly becoming edible :) Someday I'd like a proper glasshouse but those cost big time. In the meantime I need to grow 4 cucumbers to eating level to break even on costs and it looks like this just might happen.

viv in nz

Robin said...

Nice to have you back. I keep checking, and I knew you'd pop up sooner or later. Happy halfway to spring!

Greenpa said...

Hi, Viv- I always enjoy your comments, with the lucid reminders that the Universe contains a lot of polar opposites. You're in late Summer there in the antipodes, and while I knew that in the first place, the reminders of the realities are priceless. :-)

Be careful what you wish for with the glasshouse. We've got one; and it quickly becomes a Thoreauvian question of who owns who. I'm pretty sure it owns us, at this point. Sunny day? Gotta get out to the greenhouse and make sure it doesn't overheat (automated cooling works... USUALLY)... or, lose everything. Still; we're not abandoning it.

Robin- thanks! But we've got record heat this winter; 2nd all-time warmest January (#1 was 2005), and the entire world outside seems to think we're in late March, not early February. More to fret about. :-)

Lauren said...

Glad to see a post from you. I've had guineas now for over a year and love them. I've had to add through hatching (three) and new purchases (seven older keets). Mine run wild all the time; I feed them scratch to keep them close.

Best advice: if you purchase 10 or 20 or 30 older keets or birds to get started keep them penned for a month. (If you have new keets, this process might take two to three months.) Then only let out half of the flock. This will keep the newly freed fowl close to their brethren. And during that time they will find their way around. Two or three weeks later release the remaining flock. I fed the freed birds close to the penned ones while the half were penned. Mine show no signs of wanting to leave.

Greenpa said...

Lauren- yep, good advice; gradually does it. I talked some about that training process in one of my earlier guinea posts here:

And, I recall writing out a LONG set of exact, day by day instructions for training them to stay and come back - somewhere in the comments- but so far I haven't been able to re-locate it.

I'd add one part to your process- when you release the "whole flock" - don't. Leave ONE bird still closed inside. That one bird will keep calling to bring the flock back; and reinforce the "this is home" training. After 3 days of this- or 4, or 5, depending on how much you trust them- then go ahead and let the entire flock range free. The united flock has its own mental processes- and an urge to find a secure home. And possibly a little urge to get AWAY from humans- they do still have some wild bird behaviors.

Basically, when training birds (or people), more is better. If you find yourself thinking "I bet they're probably trained enough now!" ----- DON'T BET ON IT. You need to wait until you're 110% certain they're trained enough. It's the cheapest insurance you'll ever invest in.

Anonymous said...

We've had guineas for about ten years now and I can't agree more with the slow and steady training methodology. We've never raised them from scratch, so to speak, but have always adopted older birds that silly, I mean uninformed, town fold try to keep in their various hamlets and villages, very effectively enraging all of their neighbors within walking distance. Ahem. Anyway, we keep newly adopted adults "cooped" for six weeks, checking daily on rations and then let them out for a full-on free range life of tick eating. This has worked 99% of the time. Except for that time the group of 12 split into two and one group of 6 went on walkabout...forever. Dang. We really do love our guineas; especially when they are on patrol before bed on a summer evening.

Anonymous said...

Hated my guineas. Noisy, troublesome, argumentative; useless, really, IMO. Glad to see them go.

I like chickens. And small ducks. That's about it in the fowl department, and we've tried a few. Never again.