Friday, December 23, 2011

Guineas - Part I

One of the biggest things we first noticed after moving out to the woods is how bad ticks are out here. We figured we'd just be vigilant about checking ourselves after going into the woods and might find a tick every now and again. No big deal.

Well, as it turns out, just about every time we walked outside the door, we'd have ticks to pull out of our skin (several in not so fun places!). That was unpleasant enough, but then David developed a bull's-eye rash after being bitten by a tick. We looked up info online and what we found was pretty scary, so we high-tailed it to the doctor. David's doctor said that anyone who presents with the bull's-eye rash should immediately begin taking antibiotics (doxycycline) to prevent Lyme Disease from developing. In most cases if caught early and treated with antibiotics, Lyme Disease is curable. So we let out a big sigh of relief and went straight to the pharmacy. 

After that scare we started seriously thinking about how to deal with all these ticks. One option was to stockpile tick repellent, but we wanted to find a way to protect ourselves without having to be drenched in spray every time we stepped outside. We started researching ways to reduce the tick population and stumbled upon guinea fowl. Apparently guineas loooove to eat ticks and many people say they have practically no ticks at all if they have guineas. This seemed like the best option for us, so we went online and ordered 15 of them!

They came in this box, just like when we ordered our chickens.

Of course they were adorable, and I spent the whole first day playing with them and watching them run around.

Almost all my pictures turned out blurry because they move so fast!

The next morning I excitedly went to check on them. I put my hand inside their pen to pet one of them, and they all freaked out and ran in the corner furthest away from me!

I read that guineas are wild, but thought ours would be different. And I was very wrong! Some people say it is possible to tame them so they will let you pick them up and cuddle, but you have to spend hours with them EVERY day. We couldn't commit to that, so we just came to accept the fact that they are wild and won't be pets like our chickens.

They grew really fast (and started to get stinky in the garage), so after a few weeks we moved them to their outside brooder.

Once they outgrew the brooder, we let them out to explore their new coop.

After a few more weeks, we let them out to their enclosed run.

We kept them separated from the chickens and Duchess so they could all get used to each other.

We decided that we would keep them enclosed until they were fully grown. We would then let them out to free range and hopefully gobble up all the ticks. Also, since guineas aren't very smart, they need to be enclosed for a while to learn their coop is their home so they will stick around the area once they are let out to free range. They are fully grown at about six months old, and they hit that mark last weekend. It was time to let them out to do their job!

However, things didn't go exactly as planned, and now we have some decisions to make...

Stay tuned for Part II of the guinea saga!



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