I feel bad that I have not been putting many pictures on lately, and you poor readers just get to stare at a bunch of words. I promise…next post, more pictures, OK?
Now, let me tell you about guinea fowl. Last year I purchased 4 guinea chicks (called ‘keets’) from the feed store. My friend, Rachel, was quick to inform me how much she couldn’t stand guineas. So I thought, how bad could they really be? Well, I found out.
At first, guineas are fairly quiet birds as they are maturing. However, as they age, they begin to make a sound which only increases in decibels incrementally until it is the same decibel level as, oh, 30 jet engines being turned on simultaneously. At first, they do not make the noise much, but as they age and get used to their environment, they will sound their alarm at….pretty much everything.
For those of you new to guineas, let me tell you what they do not like. Guineas do not like things with wheels, children, dogs, cats, strangers, buzzards overhead, moving leaves, and falling pine needles. They do not like it when you walk quickly, are carrying something in your hands, clouds, fences, shrubs, and I am pretty sure they don’t like the air, either. You will know they are displeased when they all collectively shriek like a horde of banshees: “ACKAKAKAKAKAAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAACCCCCK”!!!!!!!!!!
We had visitors this weekend, and since they drove up in a car (thing with wheels), brought children, and were strangers, the guineas immediately voiced their unhappiness with an hour long tirade of intermittent screaming and shrieking. They are so loud (and I only had 4), that my guest covered her ears and said, “What IS that?”, to which I replied, “Something that will be going in the freezer tomorrow.” Which was actually true.
For a few weeks the guineas (who are unproductive and do not contribute to anything around the farm), had been mercilessly chasing my chickens. Now, the chickens produce, the guineas do not. Rule #1 of the Farm is that everyone must serve a purpose. You can see where I’m going with this. So, one day, the guineas got after our beautiful Silkie rooster and pulled out some tail feathers. Jason happened to be watching with me, and when I turned around to say something, he was already in the coop. He screamed at the guineas, “You’re not going to chase MY DAMN SILKIE!” I tried not to laugh. I really did. But the image of this six foot tall, linebacker of a man defending a 2 pound chicken that looks like a stack of pompoms was just too much. I’m really considering making a T-shirt with Jason’s face and a Silkie, with his quote right above the pictures.
He snatched up the offending guinea, looked right in his eyes, and I wasn’t quite sure the guinea was going to make it out of that one alive. SO! We set a date for the end of the guineas.
Thus, this past Sunday was designated Butchering Day. It actually went extremely well. I have never butchered a whole bird before, so it was a whole new thing to me. First, you kill them and ‘bleed them out’, that is, you hang them upside down and let the blood drain out (we beheaded them, actually). Then I ran them over to a stockpot which was preheated with 150 degree water. You have to add a little bit of dish soap to the water to break the surface tension, so that the feathers get wet. Then you swish around the bird for about 10 seconds, and I took a little piece of pipe and ran it against the feathers on the leg. When the feathers just fall right off, you must immediately snatch the bird out of the hot water (or it will burn off the skin), and dunk it in a bucket of ice water to stop the cooking process. Then you just pluck the bird, and the feathers literally slide out just like magic. SO easy. Then comes evisceration (gutting) and that was actually really not too messy and wasn’t gross at all to me. Surprisingly all of the innards, with exception of the lungs, come out in one easy motion. It sure was an interesting experience! I watched a video of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms on YouTube to ‘see’ the whole process. He can completely gut a chicken in 20 seconds! So, now I have guinea in the freezer, and none in my yard. From this day forward, this is how it shall always be.
Oh, you’ll read articles which tell you how great guineas are at keeping away snakes and ticks. The only thing my guineas managed to chase away was my sanity. Give me a chicken or a duck any day of the week, thank you very much!