The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Update on the Farming friends – Cottage Smallholder guinea fowl breeing event. Just left with a couple of birds.

happy gunea fowl coupleTowards the end of May 2007, Sara at Farming Friends offered us six guinea fowl eggs to put under a broody hen, the rest is history. Five keeets hatched out and finally last weekend, we were left with two.

The boys have gone. They were collected last Sunday afternoon. The Chicken Lady, her husband and son arrived in a snappy VW Golf, looking calm and confident.

As we walked through the garden, I explained that we’d had problems catching them and briefly outlined the pitfalls. They listened attentively as I pointed out Thunder & Cloud (the pair that we were keeping) and identified their two male birds. They opened the door of the run. I took my time before settling down to watch them try to catch the birds – imagining a long wait.

As smooth and charming as successful serial killers, the trio moved as one into the corner of the run and grabbed two male guineas. After a short, fleeting, batting of wings two had a guinea fowl each, held in the crook of their arms. Calm guinea fowl. These were clearly experts. Although in the rush they had scooped up Thunder. They were practical and held onto him as the one remaining was theirs and now easy to identify.

Goggling from the other side of the wire netting, I felt a bit of a twit having lectured them on the complications of catching contained birds. They caught the remaining gf in a matter of seconds.

As we walked back to the cottage they explained their plans.
“Did my wife tell you that a few years ago I gave her five pairs of guinea fowl as a Valentine’s present?”
She had mentioned this and the strange synchronicity, as it was Valentine’s Day when I offered her our birds.

They seemed so pleased with their new companions.
“We are thinking of getting them girlfriends in the spring.”
My heart leapt for the celibate guineas. Life at the other end of the village was going to be a racy affair.

Within minutes they were striding through the kitchen, guineas under oxters, surrounded by our pack of querulous and inquisitive Min Pins. These were on red alert, having only bawled through the wire at the guineas until now. The guineas had the poise of royalty, staring calmly, straight ahead not appearing to notice the marauding throng.

The fowl were secreted into a compartment in the boot and, with a gutsy roar, the car backed swiftly into the road and shot out of sight.

Even though I knew that the guineas would have a better home with The Chicken Lady’s family, I walked back up the drive with a heavy heart. I sat at the kitchen table and shed a tear for the two boys that had finally left home. I had seen them hatch and watched the first faltering steps. And I loved them.

Danny and I went down to the run to see if things had calmed down. As we turned the corner of the long rose border, chickens and guineas rushed to hide behind the hen house, with Carol alone peeping out from one side.

By the morning things had settled. Although Thunder was standing very upright staring intently at the rose bed. Three kidnappers had magically appeared from there just a few days before and stolen his rivals. Could they reappear and steal his wife?

It has been much quieter in the run this week. The remaining guinea fowl pair are happily together. Thunder stands between Cloud and the world beyond the wire. It’s a touching, heartening partnership.

This morning I went down to the run to top up the water and check that all was well. Thunder was pacing in front of the hen house and Cloud had vanished. What was going on?

I briefly scanned the run. No sign of Cloud. The scattering of guinea fowl feathers were the ones left behind by the boys on Sunday. I pushed open the gate, observed closely by Thunder and stepped into the Land of Fowl. He paced back and forth before he stuck his head through the front door of the hen house and peered into the darkness beyond.

When I opened the upstairs compartment, Cloud was lurking up there, looking a bit hunched. I reckon that she will lay her first egg very soon. I checked the birds a couple of hours later and Cloud was swanning about in the run, husband in tow. There was no egg but it’s just a matter of time.


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7 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jenny

    Some of our hens have never been broody and some like Mrs Boss get broody at the drop of a hat.

    I do hope that one goes broody soon – you can get fertile eggs sent in the post. Watching chicks hatch and grow is wonderful.

  2. You are so lucky to have Mrs Boss. I live in the city, I don’t have a car and it is difficult to add any more birds to my flock of 2 pullets.
    I’m feeling very broody for little chicks at the moment. Shame my chickens aren’t. 🙁

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    We are on tenterhooks waiting for the first egg!

    Hi Sally

    Yes, we identified Prince Charming!

    Hi FarmingFriends

    We are delighted that everything has worked out so well.

    Thanks so much for giving us months of pleasure and fun!

    Hi The Chicken Lady

    Great to have news of Marco and Gep (great names).

    Love to think of them roosting up high. They are rather beautiful birds so preening is in order!

    Love to hear how things work out when the girlfriends arrive.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  4. The Chicken Lady.

    Fiona you do write wonderfully, i love your site.

    Just an update on the boys Marco and Gep (Guinea fowl) who have settled in very well. They roost on the highest perch (about 7 ft) and have taken their place in the pecking order which is behind 1 Maran and the 2 battery hens, and seem quite happy to be dominated by 3 older ladies. They are remarkably calm and spend most of their time preening, perhaps in preperation for the spring when we hope to get some girls for them.

  5. farmingfriends

    Another wonderful story of your guinea fowl. I love the fact that the Chicken lady was given guinea fowl as a valentine’s gift and got the boys around the same time of year. I look forward to hearing about the egg when it arrives.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  6. That’s lovely. I guess Cloud wasn’t left with the one with ‘goofy teeth’ then. (That did make me smile.)

  7. Fiona, so glad the boys have gone to a good home. And soon to have partners too. Glad all is well with Cloud and Thunder now and can’t wait till they have their first egg!!!

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