We purchased four adult guineas from a farm on Saturday afternoon.  They are supposed to be kept confined for a week or so until they learn where ‘home’ is.  At that time, you can then let them out and expect them to return every evening to roost.  To this end, we roped and taped two tarps together before nailing their edges every few inches around the makeshift kennel that the last owner kept his dog in and made sure the door was locked tight. 

The first day they contented themselves with lunging at our dog through the wire fence.

The second day they knocked one of the roosts down and fluttered into the tarp as I entered to adjust said roost.  (Cows that are already skittish about their new surroundings do NOT take kindly to the cacophony made by four adult birds and two tarps next to their box stall by the way!)

The third day mom wondered why the dog was barking and… was that guineas she heard? 

The tape holding our tarps tightly together (rope only does so much) had separated during some of the guineas’ flights that morning.

Three had escaped and were being expertly herded by our new-to-the farm-dog AWAY from the barn and into our neighbor’s yard.  This is the neighbor who doesn’t like chickens and said we could let ours run as long as they didn’t get in her yard.  While guineas are NOT chickens, mom and I both become concerned that she won’t care about that distinction.

We pile into the van, kids and all and drive until we see them (four houses away).  One is up in a tree and thus a lost cause at the moment.  I start running the other two back through our neighbor’s yards at 7am chasing what must be some of the noisiest birds on the entire planet!   Between windbreaks that are impassable to humans, large trees to play ‘this way, no that way, no this way’ around, and dog kennels that I try to avoid so as not to rile the dog and further disturb an otherwise peaceful morning… we make it back to the yard next to ours, the van that’s been shadowing me all this time zooms off home to help me corral the dog so they don’t get scared away at our fence line.   Almost immediately after it leaves, the purple guinea who had been in the tree previously, shows up and lures the other two away… By the time I head them off, we’re back to where we started… I had gained maybe five feet on our previous starting point.  

Guineas remind me of the loony toon road runner.  They look amiable and sweet, but really they’re devious, evil birds intent on making us pay for ever THINKING of importing them from Africa.  Despite the fact that their bodies look large and heavy, they run as fast as my dog… maybe faster.  Plus, they can fly.  Once again, I leave the purple one behind (that one seems to be the ring-leader!) and herd the other two along.

So, a very LONG time later, we’re back to the neighbor’s yard who doesn’t like chickens.  I ask mom to send my son over because he’s small enough to get under the windbreak and heard them my way so I can send them through the larger holes in the fence.  He performs admirably and then heads back to the van.  At this point, mom realizes that she has inadvertently hit the lock button on the van and locked both her and Orion OUT of the van and my two younger ones IN the van.  It’s also starting to rain on this already chilly morning. 

No big whoop, here, because our van has a keyless entry.  Except it takes me a few minutes to track down the code in my very preoccupied with herding the guineas mind.  I finally shout it out to here and send the guineas through the neighbor’s pasture and back towards ours.  The dog is waiting anxiously.  Thinking that the cavalry will be there any moment and knowing that the dog wants to help even though he doesn’t have a clue how, I trust that we can handle this together and send the birds on into our yard.  Tidus keeps them cornered against a fence too small for them to get through.  I wait a bit for the van to return.  Nothing.  Getting desperate now (we’re SO CLOSE) I tell Tidus to back off and send the guineas towards the barn.  Tidus listens until they flap to close to him.  Then instinct takes over and he ends up sending BOTH of them flying.  One into a tree in our yard, the other into a different neighbor’s yard. 

At this point I give up.  Either they come home tonight, or they don’t.  I walk all the way back to where I left the van.  Orion and Mom are still standing in the drizzling rain with two howling children in the van.  What’s going on?? The code won’t work.  I must not have remembered it accurately? 

Orion and I walk back again and arrive about the time Matt’s alarm goes off.  He gives me the code.. I was one digit off.  Leaving my freezing son in the warmth of the house, I jump in mom’s car and go back to where my frozen mother stands at the van.  Correct code.  Drive home.  Watch her burrow under blankets for the rest of the morning trying to warm up. 

At some point the two undesirable, evil birds come back to our yard.  I lure Tidus inside, and herd them towards the barn.  They let me think I’m winning and then run to the south.  It is the last we’ve seen of them.  When feral guinea flocks start terrorizing Ames, you’ll know why.

Later that day after wrestling the three of my children to sleep at the same time while mom takes a nap (which succeeds in allowing her to warm up) with the goal of taking a well-earned break from both the guinea and the child-induced disasters of the day (there seemed to be an AWFUL lot of these this morning.. innocent ones, but disasters none-the-less), I hear a guinea.  What happens next is probably the most humorous part of the story, but the story being long enough as it is, we’ll fast forward one hour.  After much prayer, planning, and numerous idiot mistakes, Our guinea population went from one lonely, left-behind jail bird to that bird plus the purple one that caused the problems to begin with. 

I hear they taste like pheasant.  Am tempted to find out.

We’re also spending the days trying to convince the cows that I am not evil or harmful.  Why they figured this out about my dog already but refuse to let me touch them unless they are bribed, I don’t know.  The vet can’t come check them out until they can be handled or contained.  We don’t have a way to contain them and they’re too big to handle without training, especially since they are NOT halter trained.

And so (despite my joy at having such sweet bovine and despite my rejoicing that we have at least TWO guineas) I return to my previous conviction: No adult animals of any kind shall ever step foot on this property again.  Exceptions may be made for the equine variety.   The rest of our acquisitions shall be made when they are still young enough to be manhandled and trained the way we want them trained with a minimum of effort.

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