August 8, 2013 The call (voicemail) came at 6:31am on 8/8/13 from Mary at the Post Office stating "your birds are here". I called her back at 6:32am and she didn't hesitate to say "it doesn't matter that we aren't open, knock on the back door and I'll let you in", good small town customer service. The keets were safely home by 7:00am and their life in Maryland begins. We ordered 30 assorted straight run keets from Murray McMurray in Webster City Iowa and were guaranteed of at least three different colors. Upon opening the shoe-box size well designed shipping box we discovered that 2 of the keets didn't complete the journey but we had braced ourselves for some attrition and felt that a >90% survival rate in the middle of the summer is acceptable so we moved on to the 28 that now call themselves Marylanders. We had prepared ourselves well for their arrival. We ordered a keet starter kit from the hatchery and supplemented it with a 3 foot round and 8 inch deep children’s swimming pool. These are the details of our setup: We setup our brooder inside (on our pool table) for multiple reasons; it's easier to maintain a critical 95 degree F. temperature for the first week, it's easier to check-in and bond regularly and we like the sound of them chirping. The wading pool is surrounded by the cardboard brooder that came in the starter kit which raises the side walls to 12 inches. The pool is covered with 5 double-page newspaper sheets and then lightly covered with straw. The other items from the starter kit (feeder, waterer (with marbles to prevent drowning) and a thermometer) along with a paper towel with some feed were placed on the floor of the pool. The 250 watt heat lamp from the starter kit is hung from a hook in the ceiling directly above the brooder. We removed the clamp that came with the lamp and just use the bail that is well secured to the lamp. The bail is tied to a rope cord that is used to adjust the height which allows us to regulate the temperature at the bottom of the brooder. The keets were individually removed from the box, held for a moment, tipped into the waterer twice, held for a second under the heat lamp and then gently released into the brooder. It took almost 30 minutes but it gave us a chance for some quick bonding and examination time which we think is of great importance. The keets immediatly began pecking the floor looking for food and it wasn't long before they found the feed on the paper towel and sounded the alarm! We are pleased to report that their intake has produced output and that all systems appear to functioning normally. Folks this process is akin to bringing home a baby which is pretty much what we had expected. The checking is constant and this being our first flock of anything we had no experience other than what we learned raising two boys. We knew that if the basics of shelter, heat, food and water were accommodated then the rest was up to genetics and God. Each hour that passed our confidence grew and at about 2:00pm they all settled-down, stopped chirping and pecking to put their heads down and sleep. Witnessing that for the first time is like watching your own child being content; we knew we were doing something right. The first day watch ended at 11:00pm and everyone seemed happy and well. August 9, 2013 The second day watch started at 5:00am with a slow approach to the brooder not knowing what we were about to see. To our great surprise all 28 keets had survived overnight, we are thrilled! The temperature was perfect, the keets were eating and drinking and busy chasing each other around the brooder. Our general observation is that they seem very happy and healthy. So our research taught us that a key part of a keet being healthy is ensuring that enough water and feed are being taken-in to support proper urine and feces production. We are happy to report that they are healthy little keets and in need of a bedding change. The process we followed this morning with our setup is simple: fold in the top and bottom of a 12" x 12" USPS Priority Mail box so that the top and bottom are open move aside the newspaper from the side of the pool and slide the USPS box onto the floor of the pool move the keets one-by-one into the USPS box remove the waterer, feeder and thermometer discard the newspaper and straw reline the brooder with newspaper and straw and replace the feeder on the brooder floor wash the thermometer and waterer and refill with clean room temperature water and place on the brooder floor prepare a damp tissue to wipe any pasty-butt discovered during the examination take a keet from the USPS box and inspect it's eyes for clarity and it's butt for pasty-butt. If it's butt needs to be wiped then take care of that now Hold and bond with the keep for 20-30 seconds after the examination and gently place back into the brooder. Repeat this process for all keets. This morning the process took about 30-minutes and only 6 had pasty-butt. We are also happy to report that we think we have six different colors: 6 White, 5 Lavender, 3 Slate, 6 Pearl Gray, 4 Buff and 4 Chocolate. Deciding who has to leave the flock knowing that our coop can't hold 28 adult guineas is going to be difficult. We have a local home lined-up for three of the keeps but at least another dozen will need to find good homes before they become adults. We'll address and solve that problem another day, for now we are going to enjoy the time we have with the keets because we know how quickly it goes. More tips and observations tomorrow, Happy Trails.