"I took Le Béte's eggs away from her.
Now she's sitting on a big rock. What kind of monster am I?"
That was the text I sent to a friend last night. The guinea has been sitting on a nest of unfertile eggs for months. In May she started laying under a little bush, an egg a day until she had about a dozen. She gladly accepted a few chicken eggs that I offered her in hopes that she would hatch a baby or two for us. I took the still warm eggs from the nest box in the coop and set them down near the nesting guinea hen who eagerly reached out with her sinewy neck and delicately rolled my offerings toward and underneath her. It takes 21 days for an egg to hatch and she's been tending her nest for twice that long, at least.
She's a very good mama bird. Two years back she did hatch a chicken egg for us. She was very protective of the fuzzy black chicklet that emerged until it got too brave and boldly wandered away never to come back. I loved seeing her as a mama. I heard a completely new vocabulary come out of her; A gently quiet trilling that she would make just for her baby. Remembering that, I felt terrible knowing that I had to remove her eggs last night. It's 100° during the day with no end in sight. In other words, it's midsummer in Austin. It's too hot for her to forego water and food to tend barren eggs.
I'd been waiting for one of her infrequent trips to the feeder, and when I saw her in the coop I scurried down the steps with a bag to collect her eggs. There is no way to remove them if she is sitting on them. She'll hiss and bite as she should. I collected six eggs, not one of them a chicken egg. I don't know what became of the eggs that I gave her. The half dozen eggs were her own.
They were beautiful. They had developed a waxy patina and had been buffed smooth from rolling gently under her feathery skirt for months. When she returned to her nest she looked confused and searched a little under some newly cut branches I had piled nearby. I couldn't bear to watch her for long, but when I peeked again an hour later, she was back in place sitting on what looked like a large rock.
I checked her again first thing this morning. She was still on her nest but this time the rock looked too perfect. Her rock looked a lot like an egg. I stepped out on the porch to get a better look. I could clearly see an egg in her nest.
I don't know how she managed to find it. The only thing that makes sense to me is that Pip, the Sicilian Buttercup, discovering that Le Bétes empty nest was available, decided to lay her own egg there. It is undoubtably Pip's egg, large and white. Or, Le Béte could have found it in the coop and rolled it to her nest. It's a mystery and there is part of me that is convinced that Betty (our affectionate nickname for her) could have quite simply willed the egg into existence, summoning it from thin air.