I sprinkled food in their open gate, leading out into the green grass yesterday morning. (They've eaten and trampled all the grass in their little enclosure.) It took them a long time to leave the open gate and wander into the grass itself, and they stayed in their little tight flock as they browsed.
Then we decided to take the dog outside. We've had Molly for just over a week, and we knew she liked trying to startle the guineas through the fence. We hoped she wouldn't bother them too much once they were free. We were very naive.
She ran at them, and they scattered. The three white ones flew into a tall tree in front of them. One lavender one flew up on top of the guinea enclosure. The other lavender one ran/flew into the long grass. Molly knew it was in there and was looking for it. It finally ran out of the really high (waist high) grass into some knee high grass and poison ivy under our redbud tree. It nestled down out of sight to hide.
Molly would NOT give up looking for it. We tried distracting her, to no avail. We should have taken her inside at that point, but we didn't. The lavender guinea on top of the guinea enclosure flew up into a different tree. Molly found the one in the grass and it ran out of the grass. Molly got a mouthful of tail feathers and pulled them out. The guinea ran back into the knee-high grass, and Molly trapped it. She had it between her front legs and chest, trapped. We finally managed to get Molly up, and the guinea ran out of the grass. We grabbed Molly's collar and it ran under one of the giant bushes near the house.
We took Molly inside and waited. After awhile the four treed guineas flew down and began to browse and peck together again. It took longer for the fifth guinea to join them.
For the rest of the day, we either walked Molly on her leash (which she really didn't enjoy) or we would shoo the guineas back into their enclosure and close the gate so Molly could be off-leash. Well, that can't continue forever. And Molly needs more exercise than she can really get on a leash ... not to mention she prefers not to do her business on a leash. So, we have to figure something out.
Steve's thoughts are that we walk Molly on a leash as far away from wherever the guineas are for several days. Then we try letting her off-leash again, and hope that she loses interest in them, and that the guineas get to be faster at flying up into trees to escape. Hmm. I guess that's the best we can do.
I'm not exactly sure how you train a dog not to chase the guineas, especially a dog who loves to chase after things like a sheltie. I don't want her killing or tormenting the guineas, but I'm glad she isn't chasing cars. Steve said I'd better figure out how to pluck a guinea, because if she kills it, we're eating it.
Hmm. I do NOT think we'll ever have free-range chickens on our property. The best we can hope for with that is a chicken tractor, I guess. I wonder how much a guinea or chicken can take before it dies of a heart attack? Molly may kill the guineas from shock and fear more than actual physical damage.
But here is one photo of our guineas, enjoying the green grass, but staying close to their safe enclosure.
And here is a photo of Molly trying to startle them from the outside of the fence, while they're safe inside.
Well, no one ever said country life was boring. My children found this very exciting, especially once they realized the guinea was okay. Of course, then we had some kids wanting to try letting Molly out off-leash again and others who were very protective of the guineas. That made for some interesting afternoon conversations, and some interesting insight into their characters and personalities.
We'll figure it out. And hopefully they'll come to a peaceful co-existence. Or maybe not. We're still hoping our Mama Persian cat and Molly will come to a peaceful co-existence. Although, in that instance, the Mama Persian is the instigator and aggressor.
Trusting in Him,