Poultry scares the living crap outta me. Too many negative experiences with geese, turkeys, roosters, and chickens as a child, I guess. (Did you know that chickens are the closest living relative to the T-Rex???) It’s not that an angry Charolais mama cow or a Belgian draft horse in training aren’t unnerving…but they can’t FLY. They don’t have creepy, naked, talon-y feet and BEAKS. They are too big to really sneak up on a girl.
My sister the Shrew tried to adopt two 3 year-old guinea hens from our friend Jacqueline in August. Or maybe one is a hen and one’s a rooster…whatever. That lasted all of about 15 minutes. In her defense, she thought they were properly contained, and Jai, the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog created a diversion by running off into the woods. While BigGuy (Shrew’s husband), the Shrew, Danny Boy and I were running/driving around the neighborhood looking for Jai, GusGus (Walli the Corgi’s little brother) evicted them from the barn.
After a night or two we were pretty sure a fox, coyote, wolf or logging truck had done them in. I was relieved, to say the least. Birds are FOOD, not friends. Then neighbor Elsie called Lois to ask if she was missing some funny-looking, big, gray and white birds. Neighbors always call Lois when strange creatures appear at their homes. (Itchy the pony was under Barb’s deck once, and the big horses went to Cook for coffee years ago.)
Lois rounded up a posse of friends and their children, complete with a roll of netting and landing nets. After a good bit of whining, I went to observe only. I had a gun, just in case, but didn’t really want to shoot the birds in front of other people’s children.
It ended up being a moot point; Guineas are like the Harrier aircraft we saw at the airshow this year– they can take off straight up. And then they blend like ninjas into the northern MN swamp. I was pretty sure they would make their way to my house, to eat me in my sleep.
Over the next few weeks, they were spotted at three other neighbors’ houses. All attempts at capture were futile. At one point, Lois & Co. even tried guns and mirrors (Guineas are notoriously vain). She briefly had them back at the Funny Farm, locked in a horse trailer, hoping they would learn The Farm was now home. No good; they were back at Lori and Steve’s not a week later.
Just when I was hoping Mother Nature had disposed of them for me, I got a Facebook message from yet ANOTHER neighbor. We tried to give her the fowl for her birthday, but she didn’t buy it. Smart woman.
As soon as the neighbors saw that we would shoot them if we had to, to make the neighborhood safe, they decided the Guinea Fowl weren’t so bad. “What’s a little bird poo, weird noises, roosting on vehicles, and feathers compared to the benefits of the birds?” they asked. So they eat ticks. Yay. Ticks are gross, and deer ticks spread Lyme’s Disease. Eat ’em all, I say, but stay away from my house. I will spray us all with DEET instead. And keep the lawn mowed. Maybe even build a moat.
Why did the Guinea Monsters cross the road? Apparently Neighbor Carol feeds them and they like the company of her chickens. She LIKES them. Thinks they are cute, even. They come when she calls. I think we were all pretty ok with Prickles and Eggo (yes, Lois let Anthony name them-makes it even harder to shoot them.) living out their creepy birdy lives across the road.
But they like to roam.
What is GF Peaches looking at? Guinea Monsters in my Great Aunt Emily’s Rugosa roses. IN. MY. FRONT. YARD.
There is one other redeeming quality that has kept them alive thus far: they run like hell from me. Even when I’m not actually chasing them.
Today, however, I see that they dug up the sage I planted.
I know, I know, they didn’t actually damage the plant-they were just looking for bugs. But still. Poultry. Right next to my house. Sort of messing with my plants.
I wonder how long they would need to be in the slow-cooker to get rid of the gamey taste…
Very nice, informative article here. They really are great for gardening, if you can get over the whole bird thing. Feel free to post recipes, if not.