I don’t think I had ever told Roy this, but when he told me he had guineas on the farm, I only knew of one kind of guinea – the guinea pig. All I could imagine was a bunch of guinea pigs running around the farm which seemed kind of silly and odd to me so I had to Google it; after all, guineas were not part of the typical farm animal repertoire. I never heard of Old MacDonald having a guinea on the farm and there certainly were no guineas hanging out in the barn with Charlotte and Wilbur in the book Charlotte’s Web. After consulting with Google, I found out that guineas were really weird looking birds that were loud and seemed kind of dumb. I wasn't sure about these birds, but I was interested to learn of the allure of the guinea.
When we pulled up to the farm for the first time, I saw all of the guineas rushing to the car in a group as if they were the welcoming committee. Or perhaps they ran over sounding their alarm and wondering who this new person was and why she was there. The volume level of guineas is a point of contention with many people who have owned guineas and believe me when I say they are loud! They are a built in alarm system on the farm so we always know when something is going on. Their squawking volume never bothered me much because they have a certain innocent charm about them that makes me smile.
They are certainly amusing to me as well. Not one day goes by that I don’t see them running across the farm chasing each other. One will be showing their place in the pecking order while the other is seen running away for dear life. They can be aggressive and can be considered bullies. I've also seen them chase the hens and I've seen them pull feathers out of the roosters’ tails. It is amusing to watch the dynamic between the chickens and the guineas but at the end of the day they all seem to figure out how to get along. Kind of like brothers and sisters, fighting one minute and tolerating each other the next.
I've read that they are stupid animals as well. I don’t like that word, but at first I did believe that they were intellectually challenged. But as time went on and having the opportunity to observe them, they seem that they are not as bad as what I have read. I have come to believe that they do actually have quite a bit of intelligence. I've actually watched them as they try to solve a problem – successfully! I think the problem is that they are not fully domesticated birds and their instincts take over; telling them that they need to wander around to find food even though there is plenty of food in the immediate vicinity of our farm. And in doing so, they look lost and get into trouble sometimes.
We've lost a few guineas because they decided to cross the road and did not pay attention. They are so observant when it comes to predators and strangers on the farm, but don’t consider a vehicle zooming by as a threat. They love to roam and are curious explorers, but that can be a dangerous excursion. If only they would learn to look both ways before crossing the road, I think they would be just fine.
Ooh – and the keets! Little baby guineas are called keets and they are the most adorable things on the planet! Guineas are not very good mothers and I am not sure if this is because they like to hide their eggs and then forget where they put them or if they just have such a small attention span that they cannot sit on their eggs long enough to ensure they are viable. I have a suspicion that it is both. Regardless, Roy and I have taken the eggs and put them in an incubator to ensure the keets survive. We have been successful in hatching dozens of keets and found each one of them happy homes.
I asked Roy one day if it was weird that I love the birds so much and he said that it is part of what he loves about me. My enthusiasm for the birds and every other part of the farm is apparently endearing which is something that no one back home could begin to comprehend. I am glad that I have a partner in life that understands me and my love for these birds. I didn't really think I could love them as much as I do, after all, they were funny looking, loud, and goofy birds – but I fell hard for these birds. It might sound strange, but I can’t get enough of the guineas and I can’t imagine my life without them.
Oh. My. Gosh. I did it again. I drove another very expensive piece of farm equipment.
It was time to harvest millet a couple of weeks ago to bring it to the grain elevator. One afternoon, I decided to ride along to spend a little time with Roy as he had been gone all day working in the fields. I got to the field and Roy was in the process of moving the truck to the other side of the field. He asked that I follow him in the combine. What? Drive the combine – all by myself? Didn't he see the anxiety ridden version of me when driving the tractor a few months back? And that was with Roy in the tractor with me! Is he sure he trusts me to drive the combine? Since my last “adventure” in the tractor, I was tentative because I lacked confidence in myself, but agreed because it would be a big help, not to mention it would save a lot of time … and if he trusted me, maybe I should trust myself.
Okay, here we go. I took a deep breath and got a brief lesson on how to make the combine accelerate, decelerate, and my personal favorite - stop! Accelerating to the top speed of 6 mph and I have to say that I felt pretty good about driving the combine. That is until I decided to push my comfort zone a little further to drive the combine while operating the pickup header in the front of the machine. Just like driving the tractor, there was a lot going on. I had to learn when to raise and lower the header to be able to navigate the uneven ground. It all looked the same to me so I was glad to have Roy by my side for my maiden voyage in the combine. He was able to tell me when to raise and lower the header so I didn't ruin the crop or the equipment. But that was not all I had to do. When the combine was full, I had to line up next to the truck and move the unloader over the truck bed to unload the millet. That was an adventure in itself. Again, I was glad Roy was there to help me with that.
All of the dust that kicked up when loading the truck with all of the millet we just gathered made my allergies go crazy! When we made a trip to the grain elevator the next day, my allergies were even worse. Back in Chicago, I had allergies growing up but as I got older I sort of grew out of having allergy attacks. I guess my system got used to the pollens and other allergens in the Chicagoland area well enough that my body was no longer reacting to them as I did as a kid. Now in Colorado, my body has to get used to a bunch of different allergens. Luckily there is a solution without having to take allergy medicine as I am not a fan of taking pills – local honey. I am glad that we have honey bees, so I can eat the honey to help with acclimate my body to the new local allergens. It certainly is a delicious alternative to allergy medicine because consuming local honey helps develop immunity to local pollen. It is similar to how allergy shots work. When exposed to allergens in smaller doses, your body builds up immunity to those allergens. So, these bees better hurry up and make a bunch of honey. I need them more than they will ever know.
All in all, driving the combine was an okay experience. I am getting more comfortable with developing my farm equipment driving skills and pushing myself out of my comfort zone more each day. Roy said that all he has to do now is get me driving the semi-truck. Uh … gulp … nope … not going to happen … but that’s what I said about the tractor and the combine and look at me now. We will see how long it takes to get me driving any of the trucks!