After a week of each member of the family sequentially suffering through a 24-hour stomach bug, I woke up from my second nap Monday afternoon to check on the animals. It was eerily quiet outside. Not a squawk in the air. If you’ve encountered guinea fowl, you know how rare such an occasion is. I called out my routine, “Guinea! Guinea! Guinea!” which usually starts them squawking and running over to my position. But I heard no answer. The barn was empty and the yard was littered with a few cats and dogs.
Then I saw the pile of feathers on the ground. So many feathers that I can only assume one guinea didn’t make it.
As I mentioned on Instagram, Guinea #7 had already survived a hawk attack and the rejection of her peers. She was slowly reintegrating into the group, but always lagging behind as they roamed the grasslands to ensure her own safety from the pecking of the rasp.
Where to look?
A voice inside me told me to go down the road toward the neighbor’s house. I’d heard his dog yapping up a storm and that could mean he encountered the guineas on his property. After grabbing my pellet gun and machete, I checked the pastures first (my head was wrong on this one). Then I consented and walked the opposite direction toward the neighbor. Halfway down the path, I heard familiar squawking. They were close!
I arrived at my neighbor’s property to discover the yappy dog had chased the guineas up the hill and into the trees, where they were roosting for safety. The neighbor came out (he’s a great guy, btw) and grabbed yappy dog to put him inside. With the noise gone, the birds were willing to come down out of the trees, but were too shaken up to follow my voice as usual.
A New Plan
With the sun going down within the hour, I decided to walk back to the house to grab some feed and try to bribe them to follow me home. It wasn’t a comforting plan, but it was something. Guineas won’t come down from their roost willingly after dark. Thankfully, I didn’t have to execute. As I walked toward the house, I heard them running and squawking along the ridge toward the house. They ran along the top and then crossed over the creek onto our property and made it back before I did!
Sadly, one guinea was missing. Guinea #7 was nowhere to be found. Without a body or remnants around to see, I can only assume it was a hawk, as no land animal we’ve encountered so far has disposed of a large bird so thoroughly within the span of a few hours.
Trust… No One. Suspect Everyone.
Still, I looked around at our dogs and cats (and Gigi’s visiting gigantor cat Maxwell) and wondered whether one or several of our own animals were responsible. The dogs are still so young that they don’t have a firm grasp on appropriate play. The cats occasionally assume hunter mode and chase the guineas around, though I’ve never seen them do any harm.
Our orange inappropriately named cat, Ginger (who is, in fact, a male), kept trying to creep up on the guineas just after they made it back safely to the barn. I tried to wing him with my pellet gun to teach him a lesson and I apparently suck because five shots later he never registered pain or concern. So I did the only responsible thing to make him stop – I threw my pellet rifle at him. It landed square on his back, scaring the buhjeezers out of him. He ran off and I knew the guineas would be unmolested for awhile.
Investments Take Time
We’ve lost one rooster and two guineas now. We bought our two English Shepherds to protect the rasp and future animals from such a fate, but like many investments, they will take some time to mature. For now, we must be more vigilant, though we obviously cannot afford the time to stand outside with weapons at the ready all day long.