A Hidden Clutch of Guinea Eggs

The fir trees that line the north edge of our property are nothing spectacular, although they do provide a nice wind break for the house, especially during the colder winter months.

I would imagine the ground at the base of the trees is rife with juicy bugs, quite possibly a guinea's dream buffet.  They spend a significant portion of each day under these trees.  We often see deep divots in the dirt, which is evidence that armadillos love this spot too.

So look what I found earlier this week, tucked away in a deep corner of the trees.... a clutch of guinea eggs!  At first, only 4 eggs - then yesterday 6 eggs, and now today, 10 eggs!  Obviously one of our hens has a co-hort or two.  They will continue to add to this nest until there are between 30 and 40 eggs, then someone is going to go broody and set on the nest.

The spot our hen has picked is quite protected.  There is part of an old fence under the trees - you can see the heavy wire passing just to the left of her nest, and then to the right, you can see a portion of fence.  I have to duck under tree limbs to get close to the nest. 

When I first saw the 4 eggs earlier this week, I didn't think they would last - I thought for sure a predator (snake, armadillo, raccoon, opossum, you name it) would find the eggs and eat them. But they seem to be protected in this area and are prevailing.

And so I have been doing online research today for an incubator.  I would much rather hatch the eggs ourselves and keep our guineas safe in their coop at night.  And I really don't relish the thought of trying to move broody mama guinea with her eggs.  Our guineas are NOT overly fond of us, and I know it would become an endeavor in frustration, if not injury to us and/or her.

 Mama guinea (on right) and daddy guinea (on left)

So, we now have an opportunity to hatch our own keets and have a few tame guineas - how exciting is that?!  (Keets will not be tame unless you handle them from the very day they are born.)  I think it would be fun to have a few tame guineas with our current flock.  The rest of the keets that hatch will be sold to some local folk for $4 or $5 apiece.  We certainly don't have a coop large enough to hold that many guineas!

My research is leaning toward the Genesis Hova-Bator 1588 incubator. I've read pretty good reviews on this model at BackYard Chickens and other chicken websites.  My only dilemma is: should I buy the automatic egg turner, or not?  First, wouldn't the chicken egg turner be too large to hold guinea eggs - guinea eggs weigh about 1.4 oz compared to chicken eggs at about 2 oz.  And second, they cannot hatch in the egg turner, so I would have to take the egg turner out once we get to day 23, right? (Guinea eggs hatch between 23 and 28 days.)

Has anyone incubated and hatched their own eggs before, either guinea or chicken?  Any advice is heartily appreciated.  :-)

In the meantime, at the fast rate they are building that clutch, I need to order my Hova-Bator today or tomorrow so it arrives later this week!!!

Advice on incubators is also appreciated.  :-)

Three Roosters

Anyone want one?

They are now approaching 13 weeks old. 

We are beginning to hear some half-hearted
"cock-a-doodle-do's", kinda like a teenaged boy
going through puberty with a wavering voice.

Three roosters in a lot of 8 chickens is, well, um, not a good thing.  

The "books" recommend ONE rooster to every 10 hens.

So far, no fights, but I'm sure it's just around the corner that these three will start asserting their dominance over the hens.  So glad I didn't buy straight run - I actually bought all pullets and ONE panfry special, so I would have at least ONE rooster.

You see how that worked out.  Not so well.

Little Sempervivum Tectorum Flowers

The blooms are very small, but quite beautiful close-up.

An interesting plant, wouldn't you say?

Sempervivum tectorum

Commonly known as Hen 'n Chicks.  We're going to have a flower!!  How cool is that?

And this poor hen was neglected, left to fend for itself all winter in this pot.  Poor thang.  As you can see, it has bounced back and is doing surprisingly well.

I should have a flower update in a few days.   :-)

Pond Shrinks While Chickens Grow

We are rapidly losing the pond to our ongoing drought.

If it dries up completely, we may look into options for some
heavy equipment to expand the pond boundaries and depth.

You can see how high it has reached on the sides in the past,
and we have lost much at the northwest end.

 In the meantime, the chickens are growing like weeds!

Hard to believe they are only 10 weeks old!
Another 12 weeks and there might be eggs.