Back when Sue and I used to do a lot of travel, we spent one eventful summer holiday travelling around West Africa in a truck. All along the roadsides and among the huts in the villages would be foraging groups of guineafowl, which were referred to as West African Chickens.
And very tasty they were too.
The best word for a group of guineafowl has to be a gang. And a gang of guineafowl are supposed to provide an extremely good predator alarm system. Our pair are certainly noisy enough and the male, G'nea G'nea, despite his dashing good looks and delicate appearance, is most definitely fearless. Occasionally I engage in a rather comical chase around the chicken pen, just to keep him in his place and show him who is boss. His clockwork legs move him at amazing speed!
In the old French vegetable gardens guineafowl were much valued helpers, for they do an excellent job clearing insects and do not share the destructive habits of chickens, save the odd dust bath.
Anyway, to the point of this post. We would like a gang of guineafowl to roam around our smallholding warding off all evil and providing the occasional tasty treat for us. Lady Guinea has sporadically laid eggs this year. To start with, when she still thought she was a chicken, we would find her small, fat eggs in the nest boxes with the other chickens' eggs. But more recently we have been finding them sitting in hidden depressions on the ground all around the garden. Most of them the crows have found too.
But I suspect Lady Guinea has found somewhere else to lay her eggs at the moment, as every morning when I go through the orchard I get heckled and charged at by G'nea G'nea himself. This is since I took the decision to allow the guineafowl to roost outside. They are always up and about when I turn up to watch the sun break the horizon.
I don't really expect to see a gang of mini guineafowl appear any time soon, but maybe when she is a bit older and more experienced.
|Thursday 12th July 2012|
And as for that guineafowl tale...
Well, it concerns a friend whose mother had a pair of guineafowl. No-one had realised that their lady guineafowl was laying eggs until one day they came upon, nestled in the undergrowth, their own shallow depression in the ground...
...complete with 93 (yes, ninety-three!) eggs!!
They blew the eggs and decorated them. They now sit in a basket on the hearth as a permanent reminder of the day they realised their West African Chicken had secretly been laying eggs!