Father Hen

Happy Father’s Day to all the GGs today!  I hope you get your golf game or breakfast in bed or bar-b-que or all of the above.

My GG Mark got five more babies for Father’s Day.  Here they are:


Do you know what keets are?  I didn’t either until a few days ago.  Keets are guinea fowl babies.  Guineas are an exotic bird similar to peacocks but smaller like a chicken.  I won’t show you a picture of an adult because the head will freak you out a bit.  They look, to me, like a cross between a dinosaur and a vulture.  But the feather colors are gorgeous.  We are having fun trying to determine what colors these little guys will become after their molt.  So far, we’ve identified royal purple and lavender.  Two of the keets have us stumped.

Mark started this project about 4 weeks ago with an incubator and twelve eggs.  The incubator is just this little styrofoam jobby-do.


Mark set it up a day or two before the eggs arrived.  They came by mail and the post office called about 6:00 one morning to tell us they were waiting to be picked up.  Who knew eggs come from the post office?  A whole new birds and bees scenario.

The temperature and humidity have to be just so.  Mark  kept a log and recorded the stats each day.

Incubator set up

Guinea eggs take about 28 days to hatch versus 21 for chicken eggs.  The automatic egg turner continuously and very slowly turns the eggs.

Guinea Eggs

On or about day 18, we “candled” the eggs.  Jess is practiced at this.  Her class hatched chickens this spring so she showed us how to do it.  You shine a light through the egg so you can see what, if anything, is growing.  We had three empty eggs.  The rest were full and Mark and Jess even saw the some of the babies move inside the egg.

Monday morning Mark got his first baby.  The big guy in the center:

First Keet

Actually, we don’t know their sex.  When they feather out we should be able to tell.  Or when the keets start calling.  Right now they peep.  As adults the hens make a sound like “buck-wheat, buck-wheat”.  The boys make a call like peacocks.  Yes, the neighbors will love us.

Tuesday brought another keet.  We thought that was going to be it but then Wednesday two more hatched.  Thursday morning Mark found one hatching in progress but the little thing was struggling.  Mark had to make a decision between losing it or helping it.  All the books say don’t interfere with the hatching process.  There is a membrane that is attached to the shell and keet that  is difficult to separate.  Mark went online to see if he could find a way to rescue it.  He painstakingly worked about 15 minutes very carefully removing the shell bit by bit.  The baby was very weak and we were worried we were going to lose it but, miraculously, it survived and is doing well.  It’s the little cutie in the front:

Keet 5

Mark paced like a new father all week.  He hatched five keets out of twelve eggs.  Actually, not a bad success rate for fertilized eggs in the mail.  They are all living in the brooder box for the next six weeks until they get feathers and can live outside in a coop.

Brooder Box

Don’t worry.  The one on the left is just fine.  It’s a little disturbing how they look when they are asleep.  Sometimes they have their legs stretched out behind them.  I still have to tap on the box to wake them up to convince myself they are alive.  Kind of like Shirley McClaine in Terms of Endearment when she pinches the baby.

And why guineas you ask?  They supposedly keep your property free of rodents, snakes and cut down on the insect population.  If they can reduce the deer flies I will be one happy camper.  (I will have to post a picture of my dog-walking outfit.  It’s basically deer fly armor.)

But why guineas for Mark?  I think he just likes being a dad.