Thatís right, Pearl singular, not Pearl plural. No, we donít have a crystal clear lagoon on the
farm where I entertain tourist and farm animals by diving into the pure clean water to bring
up pearls. I could try it in our creek, but the couple inches deep water would cut short any
spectacular dives. And, the crawdads discourage any type of exposed skin. Heaven forbid,
me in a bathing suit. I decided years ago that the designers and manufacturers of bathing
suits were all out to get me. Now, I could be put in a bathing suit and hire out to be used in
clearing out overcrowded swimming areas. But, thatís another business scheme to think
about later. What I want to talk about now is Pearl.
Pearl is a three-year-old guinea. The lone guinea on the farm. I swore I would never again
get guineas, but she was the exception. Years ago we read all the wonderful things about
guineas being great watch birds, screaming if anyone new came on the place. That they also
ate ticks. You wouldnít have a tick on the place if you had guineas. Sold us, so we got a
small flock to add to our chicken house.
At the time we had laying chickens, White Leghorns. Best little girls in the world. They
would free range and then come back to the chicken house to lay their eggs. We used the
eggs, plus we sold them.
Our guineas had a whole different idea about these Leghorns. Any time a hen would go into
the chicken house to lay, our "hit squad", as they became known, would go in and beat the
crap out of that poor hen and chase her out. True, they did tell us if anything or anyone
came on the place that didnít belong, but they were destroying our egg selling business. And,
I never saw any ticks on the place, but as soon as someone expressed an interest in the
guineas, off they went to their new home. I swore Iíd never get another guinea again.
Then came Pearl. A friend of ours had guineas and loved them. This one guinea decided to
sit in September and hatched out a bunch of baby guineas. Our friend knew these baby
guineas would not survive the northern winter and was adopting them out to good homes.
Taking pity on the little cute snookums (the guinea, not our friend), we brought one home
and named her Pearl. No, we didnít know if it was a boy or girl, we just liked the name
Pearl. And if it were a boy, heíd just grow up tougher with a name like Pearl.
We were not set up out in the chicken house to keep a lone little guinea warm all winter. We
decided that the wise thing to do was to raise her in a box in the house. And, so she
wouldnít be lonely, we decided she should be raised in the box in the living room. We are
kind people, after all.
We were not expecting the guinea to become addicted to TV. It wasnít long until she
insisted on getting out of her box and sitting on our arm or shoulder to better see the TV.
Throw a paper towel under her and we all were happy.
During the long winter months a couple of hours out of the box every day kept Pearl happy.
She assisted in putting up the Christmas tree and helped in taking it down much faster then I
had planned. The guinea grew big, healthy, and strong. By early spring we were ready to
put her out in a cage in the chicken house with a light bulb to keep her warm. It wasnít long
before the guinea became boss of the chicken house and all the chickens in her domain. But,
that wasnít enough.
She took an interest in our kid goats. She insisted on keeping watch over our weaning pen.
Pearl also insisted that the baby goats get their daily exercise by chasing them from one end
of the pen to the other. A couple of times a day I was in that weaning pen, catching Pearl,
and carrying her out of the pen. Oh, she always found a way to get back in, but the kids got
a short rest break.
Finally she decided that the kids were hers. She was there to protect them. She would
proudly walk among them, supervising their activities, jumping into the feed trough and
walking around while they tried to eat. She would steal a small bite of grain every now and
then, but mainly she was making sure everyone was eating properly.
Our barn cats were getting old so Lee and I picked up two cute kittens from the humane
society. The kittens had a wonderful time in the barn and then one day their eyes strayed to
the weaning pen. They had to go and investigate. Pearl was horrified that we would bring
home anything as dangerous as those two kittens (both could have sat in your hat with room
to spare). She saw them in her kidding pen and immediately went on the attack. Feathers
and kittens were flying everywhere. Pearl would latch onto the backs of those kittens with
her toes and go to flogging, rolling end over end in a flogging, kitten screaming ball down the
I just about tore the gate off its hinges to get in there and snatch Pearl off the kittens. The
kittens had a second to get their bearings and streaked to the house. Pearl was still in battle
fever and latched onto my thumb with her beak. She was quarreling and cussing in guinea
language bad enough to make me blush. She refused to turn loose of my thumb. Keeping
her in the hand that her beak was imbedded in my thumb, I drew back my arm and threw.
Fortunately, the force was strong enough to make her lose her grip on my thumb and she
went quarreling as she sailed over the fence. Minutes later she was back checking every
crook and cranny of the pen and shed, hunting for those dangerous kittens with the mean
You would think that the kittens would be terrified of birds in general after that day, but
they had a hate in their hearts now. I started noticing chickens walking around without tail
feathers. I pondered on it and knew they all couldnít be molting now and just in that one
area. Then I saw what was going on. My kittens were stalking my chickens, attacking, and
plucking tail feathers. They had been innocent before the Pearl incident, now they had an
obsession. They werenít stupid. They left Pearl alone, but the chickens were fair game. I
had to keep a bucket of small rocks by the door to whiz at a kitten stalking a chicken every
day. Pearl had created monsters.
Pearl will go out and check on her older goats she has raised, looking them over, pecking
them to move aside. They politely listen to momma Pearl. We did have a small problem
when we got the two livestock guard dogs to protect the goats from coyotes. To them, Pearl
was a tasty, walking doggie treat. They had to be trained to not eat Pearl or the chickens.
Pearl doesnít even take into consideration that these huge dogs could swallow her in one
small gulp. We caught her the other day following one of the livestock guard dogs around
pecking her on the hind legs, fussing at the dog, and herding her around. The dog was
definitely mad, saying threatening things to the strange bird, but was controlling herself
admirably until we could go get Pearl and put her someplace else to boss.
It seems like a lot of Pearlís life is spent me catching her and putting her some place safer,
for either her or the animal. But, she doesnít hold a grudge. She takes her duties of boss of
the weanlings and supervisor of the farm very seriously. She comes to the house daily and
makes sure the backyard dogs are behaving properly and looks in through the patio screen
to make sure Iím not sleeping on the job. If she catches me zonked out on the couch in a
really good nap, she screeches, in her excessively loud guinea screech, to quit being a bum
and get back to work.
There are many blessings living on a farm. I am just so thankful we have but one Pearl.