We keep guineas here on the farm to act as a natural pesticide. They love to eat bugs, but do not like the plant or fruit itself, so they feast on the crops without feasting on the crops. Our guineas were the first creatures we added to the farm. They are wild birds and travel as a group. It is rare to see a lone guinea.
We have trained the guineas to come into their coop at sunset. Steve brings in their treat of corn scratch and they typically follow behind. For the past two and a half years it has been our nightly routine. Steve brings the scratch and I chase stragglers towards the coop. For the most part, it is a seamless operation.
Last week we had a predator get into the turkey coop and chicken yard. Death toll: two turkeys eaten. It also killed The Other Guy (our secondary rooster). We fortified the structures and no more deaths, but the entire farmyard remained tense for the next couple of days. The guineas, in particular, are sensitive to change. They are wild so they are very attuned to nature. They sensed death, making them skittish.
When a guinea senses danger their immediate instinct is to head up into the trees. Once in the trees, it is impossible to coax them down. Our flock of guineas did just that. They would come down during the day, but as soon as the sun began to set, they headed to the treetop as a unit. Well, the trees are not a safe place at night, but how do you tell a wild bird that they are doing it all wrong? Their coop is the safest haven at night.
It was a domino effect: every night they headed to the trees and every night there were more killed, resulting in them sensing danger, resulting in them heading for the trees, resulting in them being open to predators, resulting in more being attacked, resulting in them sensing danger.
So in a few short days Happy Earth Farm went from an army of 12 guineas to 2. It was pitiful to watch the remaining two wander the pasture looking shell-shocked. We were able to corner the remaining two and coax them into their coop where they will remain until they recalibrate.
It is, at times, hard to live this close to nature. I appreciate the rhythm and my place in the ecosystem, but being this attached to the land opens me up to experiencing nature on a more primal level and it can be confusing. I felt violated even though I know that this is nature and the coyote or whatever predator killed my birds needs to eat too. This whole “circle of life” concept is complete and utter bullshit.