I don’t know how many times in a week either Steve or I, when one of us asks the other about a project we are doing, will respond with “I don’t know. This is my first rodeo”. So many things around here are trial and error. When the guinea babies started hatching 5 days early we scrambled to turn the incubator into a hatching center. I just assumed that once they began hatching, all of them would peck themselves out within an hour or two, but that wasn’t the case, it took four days. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done on my to do list because this was my first “guinea hatching rodeo”.
I spent the entire week running in and out of the house from working in the field because I felt it my duty to be present for every birth. I checked on them several times in the middle of the night. I hovered over that machine and got so caught up in the process that I was fogging up the plexiglass window on top. I coaxed and coached them through the birthing process. I swear I felt like I was back in labor/delivery myself. I found myself pushing right along with them as they pecked and kicked their way out. I stopped short of telling them to do the whole “heehee whooo” technique like they teach in Lamaze because that would have been just weird. After a hatching at 3:00 A.M., I rushed back into the bedroom to announce the wonderful news only to have Steve open one eye and say, “WTF Karen, you have totally lost it”.
The hardest part of hatching these keets (baby guineas) was not being certain if and when it was necessary to intervene. I spent a shit ton of time on Google searches. Naturally, the Internet is full of conflicting information and opinions so I was left to cross my fingers and hope I was choosing the correct intervention. How soon should I remove the keets from the incubator and place them in the heated brooder? Some said don’t touch them at all and others said remove within 45 minutes. What happens when the hatching process stops midway? Some said don’t intervene and some said to assist after 3 hours of no progress.
I had four keets that stalled during hatching. From what I understood, if the humidity drops in the incubator, the membranes can become dry and sticky, making their exit near impossible. I was left with little choice other than to perform a C Section (I like to call it that because it makes it sound way cooler than “peeling the egg”). I scrubbed in like a surgeon, sterilized the counter and had Steve act as my O.R. nurse. Steve looked the way he always did in the delivery room……he became pale, but he soldiered his way through. It was the strangest, scariest and most amazing experience to assist those little beings into the world.
So after a few sleepless nights and hand ringing worry, we are the proud parents of 20 beautiful keets. What is most remarkable is that we have only one adult white male guinea and no female white ones. 16 of those babies are either pure white or partially white, meaning that dude is quite the player. He is the baby daddy to at least 16 of them. I am not sure if I should be offering him a cigar or serving him a restraining order.