Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chickens and The Golden Rule

Our chickens have had a few eventful weeks.  It began a couple Saturdays ago, when Byron called me on his way home from a Big Box Farm Supply Store.

Byron: I saw some guinea fowl for sale in the parking lot!
Me: Did you buy them???
Byron: No, they wanted too much for them.  Do you want to go try to talk them down?
Me: Not really. You're better at that than I am.
Byron: Well, I'm almost home.  If you feel like it after you run your errands, it might be worth a try.

Being that I couldn't resist the thought of having guineas on hand for squash bug season next year, I stopped by and easily haggled down to a more reasonable price (I don't enjoy haggling but enjoy paying full price even less).  When we arrived home, we put the three new guineas in with the Rhode Island Reds, who are about the same age (four months).  How did they like their new friends?  Not so much.

Pecking ensued.  Chasing the newcomers became a favorite pastime.  And then - after all these months - a hawk swooped down on the flock, sending the guinea trio flying over the electric fence and into the unknown.

We search.  We prayed.  And at dusk, the guineas reappeared by the electric fence, too upset and confused to know what to do.

The next day, we enacted Plan B.  Our older chickens - the five Barred Rocks and the Partridge Rock rooster - had their own little portable house.  We decided since the Rhode Island Reds were almost as big as the older chickens, we'd give their little house to the guineas and try to combine the two flocks of chickens.

Let's just say what goes around, comes around.

The older hens and their pretty boy rooster quickly took over the flock, which included pecking and not allowing the Rhode Island Reds to eat.  I put out an additional feeder, thinking the older chickens would keep to one feeder, and the Rhode Island Reds, to another.  And then the Barred Rocks employed the divide and conquer technique, successfully taking over both feeders.  Oh, the woes of farming!

So now we're back to Plan A.  The old Barred Rocks and their man are back in the small house and happily free-range around the yard, catching bugs and pooping on our front porch.  The guineas are back in with the Rhode Island Reds.  I don't think either are very happy with the arrangement, but the guineas easily fly over the electric fence and free-range around the yard, catching bugs and pooping on our front porch.  Oh, the joys of farming. 

So...have any of you chicken owners had a better time of combining flocks?

(By the way, we have a new computer!  But it's not set up yet...though I promise it's first on my to-do list today after baking, homeschooling, publishing this post, and preparing for tutoring tomorrow.  I love you all for bearing with me!)


  1. We didn't have too much trouble when we integrated 4 teens in w/ our hens this summer, but it did take them a while to start going in the coop at night. Now they're one big happy family. But our mystery chick is going to need integrating when we process all the Freedom Rangers this weekend!

  2. Are guineas good for squash bug control? We had a big issue this year with squash bugs. I'd love to find a way to control them without using a pesticide.

  3. Lisa - we still have to physically carry the guineas into the coop! They are supremely stupid! LMK how the Freedom Rangers turn out - I'll be looking for a post! Carrie - I just visited your lovely blog, and yes, guineas are supposed to help, as well as trelissing. Let's hope for better squash for both of us next year!