Oh the milestones we note as the days, weeks and months go by. It seems like only yesterday we brought home our “adorable” flock of guinea fowl. They went from a small box, to medium brooder, to outdoor larger brooder and eventually to their permanent coop out in the field. After weeks and weeks of tender loving care, it was graduation day: time to be let out during the day. It was to be a grand day, witnessed by us and two of our daughters, Lydia and Bridey.
We had been talking about this day since well before we brought the homely little critters to the farm. We spoke of the joy of watching them canvas the fields, plucking succulent little bugs and pests out of the ground, swallowing them after one bite. We envisioned them heroically snatching those pesky mosquitoes in midair, as we looked on fondly. We couldn’t wait! The promise of the future made it much more tolerable to open up that brooder to change their smelly poop soaked newspaper.
And here it was……the day of glory. Steve marched out to the coop and as he thrust open the door, he gave the guineas instructions to go out and “own” this property. Steve stepped away to allow them out. They tentatively approached the open door and one-by-one squawked loudly as they made their way into the open field…….and then promptly ran right into the woods on the border of the property. And that is where they stayed, hour after hour, just clustered in a huddle squawking wildly.
No, there would be no carnivorous bender that day. The tics and mosquitoes seemed to laugh as they watched us forlorn and crestfallen. The garden pests just continued to munch on my peppers and squash like my field was an Old Country Buffet.
By 3:00 Steve’s mood had gone from disappointment to worry. The guineas were supposed to go out every morning, careen the fields feasting on bugs and then have a desire to go back to their home for the night to safely roost far away from predators. What if stayed in the woods all day AND all night? They would be easy prey for the coyotes.
Like any good father, Steve decided he would “rescue” the guineas by coaxing them out of the woods and back into their coop. Even though it was only mid-afternoon, he was becoming certain that all he had read about these creatures was bullshit. There was no way these stupid birds were going to do what they were supposed to do. It was time for human intervention. So Steve headed into the thick woods in his t-shirt and shorts, swearing loudly as the barbed branches cut his skin. As he trampled through the woods he was doing anything but rescue the guinea, as every step he took towards them forced them further into the foliage.
Defeated, Steve emerged looking like a man off of the battlefield, cuts and scrapes everywhere. Screw them he pronounced, “I guess we will just let nature take it course”.
We fretted and continued to cast a worried eye towards the woods, but we remained committed to letting nature play out. Well, what do you know, as sundown approached the guineas made a cautious step out of the woods, but instead of waddling towards their home, they began to slowly work their way towards the chicken coop. Crap! Steve was busy manning the last few important minutes of our dinner on the grill and every time I approached the flock they just squawked and eyed the safety of the woods. There was no way those buggers were going into their coop that night. Enter the guinea whisperer.
With margarita in hand, our daughter Lydia calmly walked towards the skittish cluster and began ushering them towards their coop. She deftly managed the crowd and even did some smooth basketball sideway slides to keep them moving in the right direction. With the confidence of Mother Earth herself, Lydia corralled those 23 ugly little souls into their home. And she did it all without spilling even an ounce of her drink. That’s my girl!