Duck, Duck, Goose…Guinea?

february-20-2017-90
A taste of Spring

Last week we have very warm weather, with temperatures reaching into the 50s and even low 60s. Almost all of our snow melted. I shed my coat and boots and wore a hoodie and shoes.

Back to Winter
Back to Winter

Since it’s only February, I knew it was completely unrealistic to believe that the spring-like weather would continue so I wasn’t surprised when winter weather returned on Friday. We had a “wintry mix” with freezing rain, hail, and several inches of snow. It snowed so hard that we even had thunder-snow. It has been snowing today as well, and a strong wind keeps blowing the snow into snow-nadoes that are fun to see.

With the days growing longer and the warmer temperatures, the chickens and ducks have been spending more time outside. My poultry don’t seem to like wintry weather all that much so they stay in their coop when it’s cold and snowy.  The chickens have begun laying eggs again which is a delight!

I’ve been researching geese with the strong probability of buying a couple. Geese are very good for home security. As one article I found said,

Geese can make excellent “watchdogs” or guards. In fact, geese are used to guard businesses such as whiskey warehouses in Scotland and military facilities in Europe. Geese are loud and quick to respond when they hear the slightest questionable noise. Geese naturally understand, without any training, that any people and animals living on the property are part of their flock. They tend to have no fear of challenging a human or animal that intrudes on “their” property or that threatens “their” people and animals. A flock of geese may be an unusual method of home security, but they can be effective without any special training.

I do not know if geese would scare off the deer and wild turkeys, which would make me sad, but I like the idea of having guardian geese protect the ducks and chickens from predators and warn us of strangers. I hear that some people find geese more scary than dogs–maybe because they are not as familiar. Hmmm. I wouldn’t want the geese to scare off the UPS or Fed Ex delivery guys though.

African Geese
African Geese

There are many different breeds to choose from, but I am considering African Geese. I’ve learned that they are very good guardians, are very fertile, are good mothers, and are excellent at weeding. I also read in an article, “African geese are more likely than the other two heavy breeds to be interested in having a relationship with humans. ‘Even though I don’t spend a lot of time with them, they stay pretty tame. Africans stand out as the friendliest.’” I like the idea of a friendly goose who is a good guard against predators.

We are considering getting two geese–one male and one female. I told my guys that I would name one “Dragon” and the other something like “Ogre.” Guards ought to have strong, scary names, a and since I call our property our “Enchanted Forest,” I think our guardians should have fairy tale names. Besides, I like the thought of putting up a sign warning trespassers to turn around or I will release the Dragon and Ogre.

I was all set to call one of the local farm markets this morning to see if we could order goslings from them when EJ told me that guinea hens go after ticks. I read that with all the warm weather we’ve had, there might be more ticks than usual in Michigan this summer. I hate ticks. Ticks are like spiders only they dig in so you can’t just brush them off.

Guinea HenSo I researched guinea hens and I learned that they also go after potato bugs, moths, slugs, aphids, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers and other creepy-crawlers. “Other creepy-crawlers” might include giant spiders? Guinea hens also, I read, kill snakes, and chase robins and other birds away from cherry trees and strawberry patches.

The problem with guinea hens is that they aren’t as tame as other poultry. An article I read at Countryside website said,

“Unlike chickens, guinea fowl can run faster, fly higher, range further, and “sing” louder than most poultry. Guinea fowl can be very difficult to catch unless they are trained. They can fly up onto the roof of a house or high up into a tree. Although they are not as loud as peafowl, they are more “talkative”, especially during that first year of life when everything they see and hear is new and unusual to them.

If guineas are not trained to roost inside a poultry shed at night, they will take to the trees and have all night slumber parties, talking into the wee hours – especially during a full moon.

Noisy? Mostly when there’s a good reason – such as a hawk or other predator, or a human stranger.

Our neighbor told EJ that a previous owner had had a flock of guinea hens. She let them free-range and couldn’t ever get them to return to their coop. The coyotes picked them off one by one. So although I love that they would provide pest control, I’m indecisive about the wisdom of getting them. We might get a few and try them out.

Chicken Math
Chicken Math

Since I have bought my first chickens and ducks, I learned of something called “Chicken Math.” Chicken Math occurs when a person starts out with the intention of just buying a couple chickens. The next thing they know, their small flock has increased to four, ten, twenty, or more chickens as well as including a few ducks, geese, guinea hens, turkeys….I have fallen prey to Chicken Math.

 

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2 Comments on “Duck, Duck, Goose…Guinea?

  1. Regular chickens also eat ticks. My mother raised 500 fryer chickens each summer, and I didn’t even know what a tick was until I was married and had children and we went to church camp.

    Like

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