Friday, June 29, 2012

Found A Nest Amoungst the Nettles

Roaming around the many acres of Cricket Creek Farm are the guinea hens. In France, les pintades are commonly domesticated for their wonderfully flavored meat and very rich eggs. Guineas are amazing grazers and ours live entirely free-range and farrol on grass, bugs, and grubs, and they roost about 15 feet high in the maple tree overlooking the creek just south of our house. Guinea eggs, having such a rich yellow yolk and very little white, is something that I have wanted to try to some time, especially after working at Dancing Cow Farm in Prineville, Oregon where they kept a flock rotated on pasture and had a market for their eggs. However, when we were there, the guinea hens were not laying. Guineas hens have a short laying cycle and are not vigorous layers, which is why there eggs are so praised.

Last week I got to thinking a lot about their eggs and I started to become more aware of their alarm calls. All birds squawk when they retreat from their nest after they have laid an egg to ward off predators and attract attention to them instead of the nest. So, I have been listening to their squawks, and watching the hens move about the land around the creek. My awareness led me right to a nest, and I was so excited when I found it amongst the stinging nettles. The stings were worth it! I took a half dozen and looked up a recipe.


I Poached guinea eggs with lots of sauteed vegetables and butter from the farm. These eggs are so delicious.  And I have continued to enjoy them. I needed to know whether or not I wanted to raise them in the future, and I certainly will for both meat and eggs. Guinea fowl also keep tick and mosquito populations down, all the more reason to have their presence. I didn't mention how loud they are.......but it fits in well with all the pigs, cows, and chicken sounds at the farm. Its just better if they live aways away from your bedroom window. Its worth it. Yum!

And on another note, the guinea hens have continued to lay in the same nest. I was unsure if my disturbance caused them to find a new area, but I think they were okay with sharing a little. We don't have a tom on the property, so even if these girls wanted to be broody, there will be no chicks hatching at this farm. So if you ever get the chance, try a guinea egg. They are the best eggs I have ever had, and I have had chicken, duck, and guinea. I here good things about turkey eggs though, and I have not tried those yet!

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