Our builder has lost his daughter in a car crash at 6am, just down the road from here. She was a kid, a young woman in her twenties….The bloke we buy the chicken grain from told me yesterday. We are a small community where everyone knows everyone and news travel fast. Gerard was going to build a wooden platform for us. We need to shift where we store the hay and straw to make space for our housing project. Building materials are getting scarce and prices are shooting up. The Chinese are buying it all offering high prices, I hear. We must order the wood fast if we want a chance to have this made in time for June.
And yet what is all this when someone has just lost a dear child?
One of our guineas had died too. Her little body was squashed and stiff against the door this morning. I had the thought the previous day to get her out and ask Yves to kill her for us to stop her suffering.( I say « her » because in French the word « pintade » is a feminine word) I had noticed her inflated and wet and dirty backside a couple of days after she’d arrived and thought something wasn’t quite right. But not being an expert with guineas I just kept an eye on her. She was lively and feeding ok for a few days but then yesterday she suddenly lost her appetite and was mostly motionless. A few hours later she was gone. When I inspected her this morning, half her back side was open and gungy….poor thing.
My dad did this thing with pheasants, Philippe said to me last night in town, he used to cut the very tip of their beaks. It didn’t hurt them but stopped the damage caused to other birds. Dominant birds can create incredibly deadly wounds in weaker birds’ backsides. The shape of their beaks allows them to rip and tear….
I told him I could never do that to the guineas in our flock of now 4 birds, even though one of them is very aggressive with another such that the poor one being chased is for ever perched with no food nor water. They love dandelion leaves and I hand fed her some yesterday. She was so hungry that she overcame her fear of me to feed.
After the death of their mate, there was a kind of cease-fire in the pen this morning and I will give them a bit longer before deciding on freeing the one being bullied. I must act fast if the bullying starts again.
If I was ever going to have another little flock of Guineas I would house them differently: I would build a much bigger enclosure outside in which they could fly and perch easily. An enclosure big enough such that the birds would have plenty of space without feeling trapped and at the mercy of a bully…
The birds pecking at each other, I am questioning myself, could be the result of the way we keep them for our benefit, in small and crowded spaces: it doesn’t serve them and therefore their behaviour is a direct result from their imprisonment. They go mad.
My intention is to free them in a couple of weeks but what is going to happen from now on till then….?