The Kamikaze Georgia gnats have often been a problem here on the farm. I could live with them having been born and raised in the mother of all NoSeeUm breeding grounds of Upper Michigan, some of the more delicate folks on the farm, however, could not. This year, 2010, came real close to the gnats even gnawing away my indifference.
At the suggestion of guineaologists I decided to try and silence the gnasty gnat grumbling by gambling with some gobblin' greedy guineas. About the fortieth, "Otter gitchew sum guinee!" later I was sold.
Last May I got 7 guinea keets from some folks I know. I kept them in a "brooder" until they outgrew it. They looked too big to get out of the dog run so I thought I'd keep them in the dog run until they got a little bigger. You'd be surprised how softball-sized guineas can go through golf ball sized openings without even slowing down. They were around for a few weeks then I was down to one living in the bat shed and then even it disappeared after a week or so.
Last August I got 14 guinea keets from the same folks and I was a little wiser this time and I brooded them in the three horse slant load. When they got too crowded in the trailer I decided they were big enough to move to one of the dog runs. Trying to catch guineas in a horse trailer is hairy so I went and bought a fish net.
Four keets managed to escape in the process but I managed to move the rest to the run and get them contained. Meantime this full grown guinea shows up out of nowhere and starts running back and forth along the edge of the woods yelling, "HEAD FOR THE TREES!!" over and over. Pretty soon my four escapees have joined forces with it and formed a gang dedicated to forming a guinea underground railroad.
The neighbor had originally had a half dozen guineas or so but over time they were weeded out down to one according to the neighborhood scuttlebutt. I figured the insigator (instaguinea??) was her guinea.
Hour or so later I see the escapees going in and out of the next cell in the run so I trap them and catch them all and put them with the rest. In counting I find I now have 15 guineas. I have caught the gang leader too. It dawns on me that it is the neighbor's guinea. So I call her and leave a message on her phone, "If you're missing your guinea, I got it here with mine and I'll let them go in a couple weeks. If you want it sooner, let me know and I'll try to catch it out."
A few days later she tells me her guinea is in her coop. So I got an extra guinea from somewhere. It seems the lone survivor from the first seven had managed to stay out of sight. When I released the batch they decided to spend half their time, night time, over at the neighbors and half their time, day time, here. The neighbor's lone guinea has taken over as king of the flock and when he goes home to roost, the entire guinea gaggle trails right along behind him.
I ran into one of our vets and her family at the local ice-cream tavern and in the course of the conversation her 5 year old tells me some biddy he has is hatching Buff-Orpansomethings. So naturally I begin to tell them about my guineas. The vet looks at me and laughs, "You mean, Diane's guineas."
About a month ago I was mowing with the tractor and finish mower and looked back in time see a bunch of eggs. So I go to town and buy an incubator and move the eggs into the house. Last Friday three of the fifteen hatched. I put them in my brooder.
Today I says to my self, "Self, that one guinea has been hanging around that extremely thorny and growed up, really gnasty blackberry patch for NAR. ((N)o (A)pparent (R)eason, and I often call myself "Self" when I talk to myself - "Chances are there is a hen in the patch.") So I go and look using my tracker skills and quickly see a little patch of white under the overgrowth. I reached down to move it aside for a better look and a rattle guinea struck me on the hand.
Guinea keets do not do well outside under the hen's control. Dew, rain and what have you is real hard on them. So I schemes to catch her and move her and the eggs to a better place. Make a long story shorter, she has other plans and manages to escape my net and resists all my efforts to catch her so I gather up the eggs while 7 other guineas show up to back up the parents and tell me they don't like me all that much. So I have 15 new eggs in the incubator.
I step out side and the Democrats are still out there complaining and I happened to see this little fluff ball making its way through the grass. Then I see four more. They are obviously only a day or two old. I chased them around the yard and caught them and threw them in the brooder with the other three who are twice their size.
The prisoners are peeping like 5,000 crickets and the adults are running around outside the office trailer trying to find them. They finally gave up after a couple of hours. I was making my way to the house when I heard flapping wings behind me and I looked in time to see the hen making a pass at me from behind.
I originally got them because folks claimed they were great buggers and we have a tick and gnarly gnasty gnat problem. This year the gnats were so bad that even I was amazed at how thick they were. I find myself growing rather fond of them. guineas, not the gnats. It's a real kick when they, guineas, not the gnats, line up to greet the guineas they see in the truck bumper.
Here it is the next day and the entire lynch mob is still looking for its child gnapper. When they spot me they line up and head toward me full bore screaming, "MOTHERS!!! HIDE YOUR BABIES!!"
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