Saturday, January 10, 2015

Baby Love

Yesterday morning's visit to the guinea coop left me unsettled. You see, now that we have guinea fowl, I fully understand the term "pecking order." The recipient of the pecking in our flock is the guinea we've named Baby. As in, poor Baby, they're being so mean to him. 

And the others are. They peck at him, they jump on him, they chase him. They try to keep him from the food. We've noticed bloody toes and ruffled feathers that seem to be from the abuse. Even the cat joins in when Baby's out of the coop. It's not for the tender-hearted. 

We've been watching out for baby for several months, shutting the others in the coop while he comes out to eat, hand-feeding him some yummy millet when he's too scared to come out of the coop. We just didn't know what else to do.

Here's Baby. Not the best picture because I couldn't get the camera in to him/her.

Well, yesterday morning was the worst. Baby was huddled on the ground of the coop, not moving a bit. I was worried he was dead. I called, "Baby, Baby, time to wake up!"  He finally moved and hobbled out to greet me and gobble up some food (the others usually won't come out of the coop when I'm in their enclosure). He seemed to have lots of feathers missing on his back. I shut the others up while we could figure out what to do because I was certain he would not last much longer.

I told my husband all about it, and he spent the better part of his day off, and by better part I mean until the sun went down, making this ramshackle lean-to for Baby.* It's off to the side of the main coop and is completely separate so he can still see the other guineas by day, but they can't get to him to be mean.

It's rough, really rough.

We were worried last night that one of the cats or another predator would get in or that Baby might freeze, but this morning, all seemed okay.

I know that we should probably just let nature take it's course. I know farmers have to cull their flocks and such, but it's just not in me right now to let go of this one. I want to give him a fighting chance.

On a side note, it's been pretty cold lately. We had a couple of inches of powdery snow earlier this week. We trekked out to the coop and back several times, packing down the snow. The wind blows really hard here usually, and this week was no different. It blew away most of the snow from our driveway. But the ice prints were left. In the picture below you can see human bootprints next to the tiny paw-prints of our cats.

I can't believe the little cats packed the snow enough to make ice.
*It has been noted that perhaps the picture of Baby's shelter isn't really fair to my husband's skills. He really only had a few pieces of rotted plywood and some spare boards to work with, and the lean-to is quite nice. Of course, I noticed after publishing the post, that you can't actually see the lean-to part because it's covered up in spare boards to keep predators out of the places where there are holes in the rest of the contraption.

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