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. :-)