The Case of The Terrified Chooks - Part I

In Australia they call live chickens chooks. Once it hits the killing cone, however, it becomes chicken. For whatever reason, I enjoy referring to the chickens as chooks.

Thus, The Case of the Terrified Chooks, which all started one night when I failed to complete a critical chore on the farm. Closing the chicken coop door. You see, the chicken-brained chooks aren’t exactly quiet in their coop. Nor are they very cleanly. Both of which completely give them away to predators. Until now we haven’t had an issue with predators and the coop. I’ve forgotten to close the door on a few occasions (sorry chooks!), but luckily nothing happened.

Elvis and his lady, Sassafras. Winona dust bathing under the swing. She's the queen

Then one day last week we were awoken to all the guineas in the tree outside our window “raisin’ Cain”, as our neighbor says. The G-Unit raisin’ Cain is no anomaly, so we mostly thought nothing of it and Sweetbreads yelled at them to shut up, and they didn’t. Par for the course.

Later that day I went to get the eggs and saw feathers all around the coop. Uh oh, wonder what happened? I looked inside the coop and more feathers covered the floor. Oh crap. Had we seen ALL of the chooks today? I don’t usually do a headcount, so I wasn’t sure. If there’s a bunch of birds running around making bird noises I generally accept that as life being good. A quick look at the feathers indicated two likely candidates for attack. Elvis and Lady Guinea. Guinea feathers are easily identifiable and Lady Guinea is the weakest and easiest to catch. The Silkie chooks are prime targets because they’re timid. Elvis and his new GF Sassafras are little fluffballs that were raised in a barn and are still adapting to survival in the wild at Little Seed Farm.

So I started the hunt. When I turned to leave the coop area I saw poor little Elvis trapped by the fence and the gate door. The chicken coop is surrounded by chicken wire and we leave the gate open all the time. Somehow Elvis got behind the part of the fence that the gate was shut against. He was soaking wet and clearly frightened. Our theory is that he was out protecting the flock like a valiant hero. I let him go and he took off toward the barn, happy he was alive. We are low enough on males around here, no need to lose one.

But what about Lady Guinea? Nowhere to be found. Guinea-Cent, her mate, was running around with the three keets, which is rare. Normally the keets are off by themselves and Guinea-Cent and Lady Guinea cruise around looking for bugs together. They’re a happy couple.

She was definitely gone. It was sad. She was a the matriarch of the G-Unit.

As the day went on we kept expecting her to pop up out of nowhere. I looked in her old nest area and took the bike out into the fields. When I was out riding in the fields I saw a tuft of guinea feathers. Could one of our dogs have gotten out of the perimeter fence, into the coop, chased Lady Guinea inside the perimeter fence and then tracked her down the path before finally getting her? I suppose it’s possible. I think it’s highly unlikely, but I guess we’ll never know. I followed the feathers around in a circle for while but couldn’t find a path to where she might remain. I gave up and proceeded with the day’s duties.

Then around 5pm we went out to get the goats for milking and there she was! Running up and down the gate, hollering at Guinea-Cent, who was on the other side. I let her in and they scurried along, happy to be back together. Her butt is missing quite a few feathers and is bare in certain spots, but she’s alive and happy, and so are we.