Monday, January 24, 2005

What is a Guinea Hen?

Ah, my amazing Guinea Hens or Fowl as Elizabeth likes to call them are these hens that eat ticks and bugs. They are primarily in this area for the eating of the deer ticks, which cause Lyme disease. You are not supposed to feed them in the Summer at all because then they won't eat bugs. Supposedly, once you feed them, they stop bug eating. An alternative to chemicals. They are along some of the State roads, etc.

Last Spring the ticks were awful here and I had looked into getting some of the hens for myself. We live on about 2 acres and my daughter plays outside so I looked into the "natural" alternative.

I called the local feed store (yes, we have one) and inquired about them. For my property size, they claimed I needed twelve hens. They also said I had to raise them from chicks to keep them on my property. Now, I had to buy these chicks, which were "mailed" to me and then keep them in a large box (like a refrigerator box) with a heat lamp so they were at a temp of 98 degrees. I also would have to feed them specially formulated chick food, etc. Now, I love animals, but mucking hen poop and feeding 12 baby chicks for a period of 2 months was very unappealing to me. I had access to a heat lamp, but I knew it had to be precise or you could cook em. Then after two months, you can release them on your property for a few hours at a time and then box em up again, etc. Well, I don't have a barn and keeping hens in a box in the garage grossed me out completely.

The idea was shelved, Diazinone was sprayed and my daughter was kept in for a week after.

Now, fast forward to December. These four full grown hens showed up in my yard. They spent time in my neighbors, but mostly were here. The weather was mild here, so they were eating away at the bugs in the soil. We had a cold snap, I felt badly for them and went and bought 25 lbs of feed at the feed store. They made a house in an old doghouse on the property and in the abandoned caretaker's house on our property (we have a house that's about 140 years old). Anyway, I started feeding them daily and now they come to my kitchen door every morning whooping it up for food. They are noisy buggers, but I don't mind them.

I guess they left where ever they were or were "taken for a ride" and ended up here. All I know is they're named Nemo, Goldie, Lucky and Buzz by my daughter and they're mine now. They're about the size of a 10 lb chicken each. Very ugly (to me anyway), but basically harmless.

Hope this enlightened you! If you scroll down in some of my posts, there's a pic of them posted.


Natalie said...

Chickens are gross little things, but how neat to live on such old property and have them walking around! Do you think they'll eat the ticks in Spring or just keep begging?

Deneen said...

You know I do find most fowl pretty foul! They roam the property, so I don't have to clean a henhouse or anything. Hopefully, once the ground thaws, they will start eating a ton of bugs and I will cut back on the feeding, but once you start feeding them, I think I'm stuck~~

Hunny said...

LOL!! Thanks for the great story! I would like to see them better (with out the snow) :) but I can wait! They sound like cool pets!

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