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  • Emily Gold

Chickens are my spirit animal, part 1


A few years, I got really concerned about the number of Lyme disease cases that were popping up in our area. Since my daughter enjoyed playing outside, I researched the best ways to keep the tick population at bay. It seemed the most effective solution was to have guinea fowl. There were lots of benefits to keeping these birds: an alarm system, eggs, and of course, tick control. I contacted our local feed store and placed an order for the minimum amount---six.


The birds arrived later in the summer than they were supposed to. It was July when we picked up seven (they threw in an extra) little fluffy chicks. I cared for them in the basement and shed until they were finally big enough to set loose outside to start doing their job. Even though I had carefully researched guinea fowl, I had never actually owned poultry before, or spent any time with live guinea fowl. One of the problems that I encountered in my research was that these birds were loud. I read this and took note, but I figured we didn't have close neighbors, and there was plenty of room for them to make noise. The point that I did not take from the articles was that the loud was an ear-splitting, constant yell that started from early in the morning and didn't end until they were tucked away in their house....if they decided to grace me with their presence in the evening. This noise could be heard with the windows closed. They yelled when a car drove by, they yelled when one got separated from the pack, they yelled just because they felt like it. Oddly, they didn't yell when one was being attacked by a hawk.


Even though I had raised these birds from chicks, I wasn't prepared for how undomesticated they were. Every morning when I went out with their food, one would peck me....hard. Every evening when I tried to get them in their house, one would rebel and cause an uprising amongst the others, sometimes causing them to roost in the trees all night. This was not a good survival skill, and they were picked off, one by one, or some nights two at a time. The yelling started to diminish in volume.


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