I farmered-up nine days ago (July 14th, Bastille Day) and released my penned-up young turkeys and chickens to roam free during the daylight hours. In that short period there has been one serious incident with a neighborhood dog who wanted to score a turkey, but no fatalities or lasting trauma. Those birds rush out onto my lush green yard every morning as soon as I throw open the gate to their pen, and they remain in the yard until just a moment or two before total darkness in the evening when they gather at the gate of their pen and wait for me to come shoo them in. One evening when I was detained with another task, they grew tired of waiting and went in on their own, leaving the four turkeys to lay in the grass just outside of the pen until I finally arrived and ushered them in also.
The chickens and turkeys have roamed a little further each day, and have even come down to the front yard to see what is happening there. They have also spread out, with individual birds often charting their own course as they pursue bugs or especially nice looking clover.
The antics of those freshly released birds have been entertaining, at least from my point of view. However, my little guineas, now five weeks old, have not been so amused. The guineas have been stuck in the nursery - a large, completely enclosed pen - and have had to endure the humiliation of the free birds circling the nursery and peering in at them as if they were some speckled zoo exhibit. The guineas have been running and flying about their enclosure begging to be set free.
This morning I could take their pathetic pleas no longer. I opened the gate wide to the nursery and stood back to see what would happen. They rushed up to the opening, en masse, and stood on the edge of about two inches of wood shavings looking out across the yard. They very much resembled a group of penguins standing on the edge of the ice trying to decide which one to push in to see if there are any sharks in the water. Finally they began stepping off in small clumps, like little lemmings, and out into the green freedom
It has been several hours now since the guineas gained their freedom. They have remained tightly bunched up and have explored the area immediately on the outside of their old home. Like their big cousins, the little birds love the clover and have been practically clear-cutting it as they shuffle along in their compact little group. After an hour or two of not much overall movement, I finally shooed them over to where a large water dish was located, and they all had a grand time standing on the edge of the wide dish and drinking. When the break was over, they set off in a new direction, this time into the open chicken pen!
I have had guineas before, and I know from that past experience that they are herd birds. They will continue to travel in a pack as they grow and mature, though not shoulder-to-shoulder as they are doing today. My guineas at the farm in Noel had a set schedule and could generally be counted on to be at a particular place at a particular time - every day. And they will quickly develop a taste for ticks!
The only other important farm news is that yesterday evening, right at dusk as I was heading out to usher the turkeys and chickens into their pen, there were three deer, two adult does and a fawn, standing beneath the pear tree enjoying their supper.
Try to imagine how little I miss the hot sands and brown dust of Arizona!