The keets are here!!!! These little feathered cuties are crazy adorable. I mean, how do you not love a little baby anything? As with everything else on the ranch, there’s a reason we have them and it’s not all pretty.
Guineafowl (called keets when they are babies) are apparently terrible mothers. They’ll abandon their young, are very skittish, and can go wild. They also have a terrible habit of sounding a VERY LOUD alarm whenever a predator, the chickens, cows, horses, UPS truck, etc. come up. They like to roost in trees and pretty much do what they want. They’re basically that bratty kid you knew in elementary school that was convinced they would never get in trouble because their parents would protect them. Just kidding – sort of.
Anyway, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’ll always know when my delivery is here. PS – If you’re the UPS delivery person reading this, thanks! You’ve been delivering so many damn packages to our house we actually talked about leaving an ice cold glass of sweet iced tea and cookies for you. Only you know our obsession with Amazon Prime.
Guineas are also great at bullying snakes. Apparently, they’ll circle a snake or other small predator and herd them out of reach of their eggs. Or just peck them to death. They only breed in the spring so I might have a clutch or two of babies next year. Or I won’t. No big deal. They also like to eat insects of all kinds and are ravenous hunters of fleas and ticks. We don’t have fleas or ticks but this summer we were inundated with June bugs. June bugs are also the flying version of grubs. I hate grubs with a passion. They’ll eat up your grass in just one season and you’re left with a patch of brown circles. Really, I don’t like bugs much at all. Flies, flying ants, June bugs, moths, mosquitoes, grasshoppers – they’re all pesky problems out here. Which is why we are going the au natural route and including Guineas on the ranch. If all works out well, next spring will be glorious and the bugs will be kept to a bare minimum.
So here’s the funny part. We also have mice and rats. I’m not talking New York City size rats – that’s a whole species on its own. But I do mean the kind that are bigger than mice. There’s one right now under the cattle guard leading to the house. Grosses me out. I thought it was a dirty baby bunny when I walked across the cattle guard then realized nope – that is not the kind of cute furball I was expecting. Now, guineas, for all the good they do, don’t take care of rats and mice as well as they do snakes. But cats do. Without further delay, I’d like to introduce you to our cats. Plural. There’s 10 of these things in total. 7 kittens, 2 moms, and one Taco. We got Taco just before the 4th of July. We guess at this point, he’s about 10 weeks old. He was the only one left of a litter that was still with the owner and he was sooooooo sweet! I couldn’t leave him out on the ranch alone. So we made him the patio cat. He pretty much just lays around and waits for someone to pet him or feed him, but gosh he’s a sweetie. Totally useless in the snake department. There was a racer near the car and he just stepped over it to walk towards me. Meanwhile, I’m freaking out while our daughter and the dog run inside. The cat, no big deal. Just walks over it and towards me like “Girl, calm down. It’s just a snake.” Ridiculous. Anyway, he’s taken a liking to messing with our dog, Nacho. Nacho’s been around for almost 3 years and has learned how to leave the cats, the chickens, and sometimes the frogs, alone. Yes, my animals are named after Mexican food. Don’t judge.
Which leaves the other cats. I call them the Chila-kitties, named after Chilaquiles (pronounced chee-lah-kee-lehz). Again, don’t judge. You name yours after operas, conductors, train stations, and characters from your favorite TV shows; I go for food. Everyone’s happy. These furry critters were given to us on the 4th of July and are, to say the least, not friendly. The moms still growl at us and the dog but we feed their babies and them, so they can’t hate us too much. Right? Our hope is that they eventually migrate to the wood pile where my mother-in-law shot that rattler and where we know there’s an influx (or infestation) of rabbits. So far, everyone is getting along. The horses are nicer, the cows are eating grass, Nacho knows he can’t play with the squeaky toys (keets), the keets know they shouldn’t leave their current home, the chickens lay eggs and eat bugs, the cats know they could take the dog but prefer to “play” with the mice. If they can all get along, there’s hope for humanity.
For your viewing pleasure, here are pictures from the ranch/zoo. There are 2 pictures of the keets so that you can see how much they’ve grown in 2 weeks! They’re bigger and cute and still skittish but they’re getting the idea that I’m the one who feeds them, so they at least only stampede to the other side of their brooding box for a minute before they’re back out.