I'm having Blogger Block. Actually, everything block. You see, I've misplaced a memory card and I'm flipping out trying to find it! I took my camera to be cleaned and made a point of taking out the memory card before I left the house but now I can't find it anywhere. I've cleaned counters, mopped floors, dumped and cleaned out my purse and camera bags, checked in nooks and crannies and my dear husband even sifted through the nasty trash bag that I had him retrieve from the dumpster - poor thing, of course it was the day I chose to clean out the fridge. My memory card is my mind. Seriously. I can't remember a thing without it! If not for photos I'd have no memory. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "What did I do yesterday?" and then looked through my pictures to remember. But this specific card had Blog posts! Fun, exciting, colorful blog pictures, and I'm having a hard time moving on.
But here goes. Where was I? Oh, yes, I was continuing THIS story...
We have guineas
They are an African bird that nest on the ground but roost in the trees. They eat seeds and insects - acclaimed of late as efficient tick control. They travel in groups looking somewhat like a school of fish as they wander about, and they are VERY noisy!! Some say that they are watchdogs that sound the alarm at any sign of danger. I say they just randomly make noise all the time! LOUD noise! One makes a "CHUCK-CHUCK, CHUCK-CHUCK" sound, and the other an "EH- EH -EH -EH- EH- EH", and when they all start screaming at once it can be almost deafening!
This is what I heard the other day around noon. Generally they quiet down pretty quickly, but this uproar continued until I went out to investigate. From the porch I looked out across the wooded yard to where the flock of guineas were and caught a movement with my eyes. It was a raccoon, about 40 feet away heading towards me. If you haven't had a chance yet, read THIS! Thankfully it stopped, looked hard at me, turned and headed off to what we refer to as "Home Depot" - an area on our farm where we store all sorts of used building materials: pvc piping, lumber, window units, wire, bricks, culvert pipe, toilets, fencing and parts and pieces of various assorted junk that we might use for something some day. My husband worked as a home remodeler for years and kept anything that might one day come in handy on a homestead.
Guineas lay eggs in a community nest. All the hens will lay in one nest until there are between 20 and 30 eggs at which time one of the hens will sit the eggs for the next 28 days. I had recently come across a nest with 16 eggs out in "Home Depot" that I had been watching. I hadn't quite decided whether I'd take the eggs and incubate them or let the hen hatch her own eggs. I knew it would only be a matter of days until there were enough for her to begin sitting so I wanted to know the start date for incubation were I to allow her to set. I've found that the hatching rate is better if she does the sitting, but there are risks in allowing her to incubate her own eggs as well. For one thing, our three Rottweillers are curious and will nose her off her nest. There are also foxes and coyotes in our area. I once watched a guinea nest for the entire incubation period. Two days before the eggs were due to hatch I went out to find feathers everywhere and the eggs destroyed. You see, when eggs begin to hatch, the chick inside begins to peep. They call to one another encouraging each other to keep pecking their way out. I believe that this peeping alerted a predator who then came and killed the hen and ate the eggs. Another nest we watched had commotion at the site one day and when we went to investigate we found a snake hocking down one egg after another - no hen in sight. So there are disadvantages to having a guinea hen on the ground for 3 weeks sitting her eggs. Another consideration is that guineas make terrible mothers! They have no maternal instinct and will walk off and leave their babies in the woods, a literal candy store for hawks. We've had guineas for years and we've never had a keet raised to adulthood with a flock. If we allow the mother to hatch a clutch naturally, we time it so as to gather and raise the chicks immediately after they hatch.
I became concerned that the raccoon might mess with my guinea nest so I decided that I would go gather the eggs before they were eaten or destroyed and incubate them myself. Having spotted a raccoon outside during daylight hours I have to wonder... Will this need to be part of my dress code as I go about my daily chores now?
In the infamous words of Roseann Roseannadanna, "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something! If it's not one thing, it's another!"