Guineas and other animals…

Last summer we had a lot of grasshoppers and crickets on the farm. They eat the grass, but we have excess grass around here since we don’t have enough animals to eat it. Anyway we also have a lot of spiders, black widows to be specific.

Yup, black widows. Most of the time we find them on our back porch hanging out in corners. Every once in awhile we find them in the house. This is getting serious.

We are trying to be an organic ranch. But black widow spiders in the house?

So last fall we got 5 guineas fowl. They were about 2 months old at the time

5 guineas getting used to their new barn.

5 guinea chicks (keets) getting used to their new barn.

Guineas are predators, they eat insects and the occassional mouse or snake. And unlike chickens, they’re also good at not eating vegetables. So these birds have a job, it’s called eating grasshoppers, crickets, and black widow spiders. And not eating our veggies.

In Dec 2013 we had that ‘polar vortex’ and it got cold; -10F or so. The guineas had a nice spot to live in the barn, and they were well accustomed to at spot. However when the cold weather came we allowed with goats and cattle access to the barn. The guineas were not accustomed to their new house mates and took to the trees at 10 below zero. 3 of them disappeared over a few weeks. It was probably owls that got them, while there were sleeping.

So we’re down to 2, luckily a male and female.

The guineas and their window.  This is actually a pig shelter, unused at the moment.

The guineas and their window. This is actually a pig shelter, unused at the moment.

Now the weather is getting warmer and you’d think the birds would be out hunting insects (the guineas are completely free range). But they’re not. We have an old pickup canopy in the pasture that is normally the pigs shelter. One window is left on this canopy and the guineas spend about 90% of the day looking at their reflection in the window. Not eating, not drinking, not hunting, not procrating. Just admiring their reflection. Grrr.

We really like having these birds around. They’re goofy, polka dotted with a funny helmet and gas mask on their head. But they have a job to do. Eat insects.

Life on a farm for an animal is all about jobs. Sometimes it’s just eat and get big. Or eat and lay an egg. Right now we have 2 cattle, soon to be 4. For the time being their job is to eat and get big. That’s it, pretty simple. Our laying hens have to lay 4-5 eggs a week each. Our turkeys need to eat and get big, same with our broilers. Not a bad life. We give them all of the food, water, and shelter they need and they get to spend the rest of the day socializing in their own way. Our dog Joe is borderline here. He’s old and fat, his job is to lay there and be nice. But it’s amazing, while he looks like he is just laying there, he is keeping his eye on the pasture looking for fox and deer. He’s pretty good at spotting the fox. But he’s too old to run or fight, so he just barks. Better than nothing. Speaking of nothing, our cat does not have a job- except don’t eat the chicks. She is not a farm cat and has no interest in the chicks, so we can’t complain about that.

Back to the guineas. Start doing your job.

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