Our first home was a lovely, little house in downtown Old Victoria. We lived on one side of downtown and Mimi and Popsy lived on the other side. We all enjoyed the eccentricities of living in an older, personality packed area of town. Thinking about downtown also made us remember the guineas that ruled the roost and traveled from yard to yard. While guineas make interesting yard art they also have love to eat insects.
The lightbulb went off and Mimi had a glorious thought. With the ability to get anything on the internet, Mimi’s fingers lead her to type one simple word in a Google search: guineas. After spying an interesting “chicken chalet” coop design in the Martha Stewart Living magazine and on a serious bug elimination quest, Mimi decided that guineas would do the trick. She read that they feast on all sorts of insects, especially hate rattlesnakes, peck at toenail polish, and have oodles of attitude. In fact, guineas sound pretty perfect, personality and all. They could certainly hold their own in our mix of dogs, cats, cows, and horses. Then Mimi had to get a little fancy on all of us. An order was placed for French guineas, because plain guineas just wouldn’t do.
Arriving in the mail all the way from Connecticut were 16 of the cutest, multi-colored, chirping, hungry, little bundles wrapped up tight in a pitiful cardboard box. Austin and Jamison, were immediately intrigued, and the newest ranch arrivals were certainly not shy. The boys checked on them daily in their wire cage which Mimi and Popsy kept in a detached garage complete with ceiling fans. After all, these were privileged French guineas and deserved every comfort. This garage was their birdhouse until their custom chalet was complete. Their palace was still in the construction phase and would make Martha herself very proud. The boys stroked their heads and proceeded to give them French names. Unable to tell the difference between male or female, the boys proceeded to name every keet Monique, Daphne, Chloe, Juliette, and Amelie. The boys took great pride in the fact that they could come up with several culturally prevalent names. “You made me watch that French movie with subtitles, ‘Amelie.’ Remember? See, I did pay attention.” Austin chided me.
We had to leave the keets for a week when we went to Virginia to visit John’s family. The boys swam, visited, perused the boardwalk, ate, shopped, and baked in the summer sun with their many cousins. Once a year they are exposed to being surrounded constantly by children their own age and they soak it all up. Waterparks, movies, cook-outs, and concerts are a welcomed respite from our dusty, hot, isolated ranch.
Arriving back home the boys immediately slipped on their boots and hightailed it to Mimi and Popsy’s house to visit the keets. As they walked into the garage, they took several steps in and slowly backed out. “Hmm, well, will you look at that?” Jamison asked with an alarmed pitch in his voice. The sweet, chirping keets had turned into rather large guineas seemingly overnight. The ringleader of the group had just figured out the whole roosting thing and showed all rest how it was to be done. On top of the wire enclosure they were each roosting, and looked down their now long beaks at the boys in a truly sophisticated, French way, daring them in invade their turf. Their sweet, soft chirps had disappeared into drawn-out squawks, and baby bird feet had progressed into menacing looking talons.
In wide-eyed, seriousness I heard a whisper, “Don’t they kind of remind you of the Pterosaurs.” Austin said in reference to seeing the new “Jurassic World” movie in Virginia. Jamison reminded Austin that the Pterosaurs “ate people, pecked them to death, and carried people through the air with their talons.” That description brought a satisfied smile to Austin’s face. “Oh, just look at those talons Jamison. Here comes Daphne and my, doesn’t she look hungry?” As the ringleader began making its way over to the boys with squawks and a rather annoyed look on her face. Jamison quickly closed the door and did his best walk / run into Mimi and Popsy’s house. Looking out their door, Jamison spied his older brother in his best slacking, teenage slow, strut up the sidewalk. All of the sudden Popsy came up behind Austin, let out a loud squawk, and grabbed his the back of his shorts.
I know that Austin is a fast. He participates in track, jogs daily, and boasts 0% body fat. There is nothing to weigh him down. Knowing all of this, I was still blown away. Medals could have been won with the speed he exhibited. He ran for his life and the safety of the house. At the safety of the open door he turned and saw Popsy hunched over laughing hysterically and pleased at the reaction that he got. My unamused teenager turned around to see his younger brother pointing his finger and laughing, “Yep, Daphne wanted you. She thought your skinny legs looked tasty.”
The guineas are now enjoying their Martha Stewart approved living arrangements and what started as a whim by Mimi and Popsy has now offered summer comedy for the boys. From John threatening to have some tasty guinea stew if they roast on his car, the boys bringing Popsy a mallet in a mockery of how hard their eggs are to crack, and Austin making Popsy promise to bring a guinea to his next track meet.