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.