Martha is a Mama

A country garden is not a silent garden. Very early, as dawn breaks, the birds begin a symphony. Who knew there were so many? From the sounds of it, they are all happy to be alive. From the chicken pen we can hear contented clucking. The evening closes with an intense chorus of frogs. Recent rains have restored their pond and they are delighted. They're telling everyone in a volume so loud, you can still hear them inside with the windows closed. But until recently there was a sound that was missing.

A frilly peony is a delight to behold.

We hadn't heard the distinctive call of our guinea, Martha, for weeks. Or seen her either, for that matter. There were two possibilities. She could be dead. Yes, amid all the happy chirping in the garden, life can be brutal and can end quickly due a variety of factors such as natural or domestic predators. Apparently this is what happened to her short-lived mate, Brownie. One day he was palling around with Martha and the next he was gone. Frankly, it's remarkable that Martha has lived as long as she has.

Or she could be sitting on a nest of eggs. Guineas have a strong instinct to brood.  Several times a year Martha lays her daily egg in  a secluded spot and when there are twenty or so, she settles in for a four week stint of fruitless waiting (you can read about prior times here  or here).

Look closely, by Martha's right leg--that ball of fluff is her baby.

And then one morning we heard it. The distinctive guinea call. Martha was alive! And what's more, she was a mama! One determined, tiny keet followed her through grass nearly as tall as itself.

Martha's pride and joy. Wish you could see its bright orange legs.
Photographing the pair was a challenge.

"Stay away from my baby!"
Neither Martha nor her keet would cooperate.  The keet would dart under shrubs or behind Martha whenever I tried to approach. And Martha went on the attack! The photo above was taken while making a quick retreat. Yikes! That was scary! But eventually I was able to get a few photos.

Allium with their lollipop flower heads add interest to the garden.

I'm sure you join me is wishing Martha the best of luck in raising this young one. It won't be easy. The success rate is not high. Martha, however, has demonstrated some topnotch survival skills. I hope she has a good student.

This is Martha's abandoned nest under the juniper shrub. Over twenty eggs and only one hatched. Most were probably not fertile.


  1. wow that's a lot of eggs. Could you cook those abandoned eggs? or have they all gone bad

    1. They are not good to eat at this point. Martha sat on them for four weeks and they would have been laid in the days and weeks preceding that. I have actually never eaten a guinea egg. Have you?


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