The Guinea Syndrome
We have fifteen guineas. Birds, that is. Guniea fowl are birds who make a tremendous amount of racket. They don’t cluck or chuurrr. They don’t tweet or peep. They don’t sing or coo. They kind of honk – REPEATEDLY. I don’t think I can even spell the sound they make! Keeck Chuck Keeck Chuck Keeck Chuck Ratttatttatttattta Keeck Chuck without pause, very loudly.
Their sound is horrific but none the less, they eat ticks and other bugs and scare off things that we don’t want around the place. They are covered in beautiful purplish/gray feathers with spots. On the birds, the feathers are beautiful. Skittering across the ground, they can look kind of snaky. I have screamed and done my snaky dance more than once only to calm down and find that I nearly beat a guinea feather to death.
The birds are about the size of a chicken and look like chickens in a way, BUT they have bumps on top of their bald heads. They do lay eggs and are great to forage for their own food. They are out and about during the day but I like to put my guineas (and chickens) in at night. Some nights, however, one or two get left out in the open. RAAttttattatttttatttt Keeck Chuck Rrrrraaaaaaaattttt, all night long. I go out and try to run the lone one into the pen but he is so dumb that he runs alongside the side of the fence screaming “Help Me! Help Me! Rrrraaaaaaaaarrraaaa.”
As the lone guinea runs alongside the fence calling for help, the others are calling right back, “Here we are! Here we are! KEECK CHUCK, KEEEEEECKKKKK CHUUUUCKKKKK.” The Lone guinea is now frantic as he can see the others inside the pen. With each step he stops to poke his head through the opening in the chicken wire. Run, poke, Run, poke, Run, poke, Scream for help! run, poke, run, poke. Unfortunately, they usually zip along back and forth, back and forth running and poking, and will never turn the corner to where the gate stands open and ready to usher them into the pen
I catch myself taking time each day to stand around and watch the guineas. Much like us, they mill about in groups talking about this and that. Someone will get offended and hop straight up into the air and flap their wings at someone else. They chase and peck at each other. They hog the food when possible. They love to raid the cat’s food pan and eat all of his food. They twist their spindly necks sideways and upwards to see if I am watching them.
Guineas do some crazy things, but one thing guineas do is stay in touch with each other. When they roam and eat, one is assigned to keep his head up and CHUCCCKKK the entire time as if to say, “Clear, clear, clear, clear…” ad nauseum. If one gets lost, they holler back and forth until the group is complete again. No matter if he acted up during the day or stole the last bite of cat food, if one is away from the group, they ALL honk until he is back to safety.
The guineas can be annoying, but we can all learn something from their behavior. When one is out of the pen and can’t find their way, they squawk them back. Most of us know someone wishing to belong again. Wishing to be restored to the group. Perhaps it is time to use The Guinea Syndrome and squawk them back with a call or a text. Maybe just a simple prayer, a thought, or a gift.
What my guineas give each other is grace. “Come on back to the pen. Yes, you were stupid, but you are part of us. Without you, we are incomplete.” They don’t peck anyone to death or ostracize them. They squawk them back.