The joy and the heartache of new life on the homestead

I have my camera back.

So I thought it was about time to share some pictures of our little adventure out here.

Especially since guinea keets are about the cutest thing there is when they’re newly hatched.

And it is particularly nice because this is a mama that disappeared about a month ago returning to the flock to show off her new babies.

After we oohed and aahed over the adorable babies, my husband said he was pretty sure he knew where the nest was. He saw a guinea hiding in the grasses when he moved the heifer. So off we went to search.

Except that’s not exactly what we found. What we actually found was a bit of an emergency. There was one dead keet and one who was quite cold as well as some eggs pipping. We gathered up the keet and the eggs that hadn’t hatched and put them in the incubator for the night, hoping the chilled baby would recover and that the rest of them hadn’t become too chilled to finish their hatching.

Mama bedded down for the night in the corner of the barn and I decided that was as safe a place as any for the proud mama and her ten little babies. Because even though I know guinea mama parenting isn’t that well suited to Nebraska, there is nothing sweeter than a mama and her babies. Especially to this mama who just couldn’t bring herself to take a baby away in the midst of mama’s joy.

Two of the eggs hatched overnight and the chilled keet recovered well. Three rescued from the abandoned nest!

Unfortunately, mama didn’t fare as well. When I checked on her in the morning, there were four dead little keets in the hole she slept in. Three other guineas were chasing each other around with another baby in their beaks. The other five were following behind mama and I decided there was only one thing I could do.

Wow can upset guinea mamas bite hard. But I could hardly be upset with her. I gathered up the surviving keets and united them with their siblings in the house.

Mama retured to the spot she slept in, called loudly and stared at her dead babies.

It broke my heart, but I wanted the others to live.

And they all knew they have a mama. They hatched under her and lived with her for a day. They called and called and called, trying to find her.

They broke my heart, too, but I wanted them to live.

And in a few days, I’m going to have to do it all over again.

Guinea hen on nest

Such is the joy and the heartache of raising animals and families in a world where all is not quite as it should be.

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