Bonafide Farm

“Farmer’s watchdog” defined

March 13th, 2011 § 1

Yesterday I had the guineas out of their house while I worked in the yard and made some minor coop modifications in response to last week’s entrapment:


I was taking a break on the front porch and enjoying some light weekend reading (The Basics of Shotgun Shooting) when I heard an unholy racket of screaming, alarm-sounding guineas. Because the birds were near the woods at the back of the property, out of eyesight, I figured Mr. Fox had returned to claim his lunch. I pulled my boots on and shot off the porch and toward the commotion.

When I arrived at the scene of the expected crime, I saw this:


The birds had discovered the final resting place of last week’s gold star balloon. And boy were they concerned to find something so amiss on their territory. They were hilarious to watch as they approached in a squawking clump, necks extended to shout at the offending piece of mylar. Then the balloon would move in the wind and the birds would jump back in fright before approaching again. This went on for a good ten minutes until I shooed them back up the hill toward the house. I am very proud of my birds for being such vigilant watchdogs. I hope they display the same reaction to snakes!

But the guinea excitement didn’t end there. Around four I tried to put the guineas in their coop so I could go into town. An overzealous relative was trying to help herd them but succeeded only in panicking the flock and creating the worst round-up experience I’ve had since last summer. We eventually got all but one guinea into the coop, and that holdout was so distressed she flew deep in the woods. After a half an hour of sprinting around the pastures and crawling through barbed-wire fence lines, I said let her go. So we did, and it was with heavy hearts that we went into town to cry in our beer.

I knew the odds weren’t good that at sundown the bird would make her way out of the woods alive. When it gets dark guineas can’t see and just hunker down wherever they are becoming, well, sitting ducks. So I left on all the lights outside of my house, and turned on the light in the coop in hopes that she’d be attracted toward the light and be lured out of the woods, and I also hoped that the birds in the coop would stay awake to help call her out with their cries. That was the best I could do.

But lo and behold, I got home after midnight and the missing guinea was perched outside of the coop window, pressed up against the wire to get as close to her family as possible. In the light of my car’s headlights I very slowly and calmly opened the outside coop door and walked around the coop with her in circles until she jumped in. Then I closed that door behind us, opened the interior door, and she quickly rejoined her flock. I shut off their light and went to bed.

There’s never a dull moment around here with these entertaining, beautiful, exasperating birds.

§ One Response to ““Farmer’s watchdog” defined”

  • Wow, your guineas are far better watchdogs than my actual watchdog. Although to be fair, my dog is more of a herding dog than a watchdog. And lately she’s been herding golf balls. I don’t feel so bad, though, knowing your creatures are raising the alarm about a balloon — got to keep those pesky mandmade thingamabobs in line, you know!

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