Guineas not welcome to roost at Bob's by Bob Karolevitz I suggested to Phyllis that we should get a small flock of guineas � and she was quick to deliver a negative vote.
�No way!� she said vehemently. �You foisted a half dozen motley chickens on me, but I draw the line when it comes to those dumb birds.�
�But, gee!� I argued. �Besides giving our farm a cosmopolitan look, they also make good watch dogs.�
�Why, you can hear them squawking a mile away when somebody strange drives into the yard,� I went on. �They�re a lot better than those store-bought alarm systems � and you don�t need an electrician to hook them up.�
My pleading fell on deaf ears, of course. I could tell right away that she was adamantly opposed to the idea.
She didn�t relent at all when I told her that guineas were natives of Africa and that they would give our place an international air.
�The chickens are ?air� enough,� she declared. �And I don�t want all that harsh screeching each time the UPS truck comes down our drive.�
Needless to say, there is no use arguing when that Norwegian mind is made up, so I contented myself with doing a bit of research on guinea keets � which is what they were once called.
I discovered that the reason they are known as guineas is because that�s the country they came from when they were introduced into Europe. Before that, they were known to the Romans, who probably had a Latin name for them, but I don�t� know what it was.
Apparently there are lots of varieties, although most of them are in Africa where we don�t see them much. The kind I wanted were the �pearly� ones, with purplish-grey feathers dotted with white. I�m told they�re most common in the United State.
As for sex, I�m not too sure because the males and females are mostly alike. However, the guineas work that out amongst themselves.
(I�ve often wondered why we always hear of guinea hens but never about guinea roosters.)
Anyway, I learned that the lady birds lay lots of eggs in nests which are not much more than slight depressions on the ground. I also learned that they are poor setters because they tend to be restless and often wander away when they should be setting on their clutch.
When they do set, an agricultural encyclopedia says, they are likely to take off from their nests after a few chicks are borne, leaving the rest of the eggs unhatched.
You didn�t know that, did you?
But guineas are not as dumb as they look with their tiny unfeathered heads. And they have a pugnacious disposition which can get them in trouble with chickens which are not so combative.
(I should have used that argument with Phyllis, but I
didn�t think of it at the time. I also could have told her that they are good eating, but then she�d have to clean and cook them, so that wouldn�t have had much appeal.)
At any rate, I�m not going to get my guineas, which is not surprising since my vote
doesn�t count for much.
I probably won�t get any ostriches either, but that�s another story.
� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz