I don’t have the best hearing in the world, so when I watch TV after Chareva and the girls go to bed, I wear headphones.  The advantage is that I can hear dialog, gunshots, explosions and other important parts of the story without straining.  The disadvantage is that I don’t hear much of anything else.

Last night I finished watching a movie called Freelancers around midnight, then took off the headphones.  As soon as I did, I was aware of what sounded like several coyotes having one hell of a fight in either our front yard or front pasture.  Lots of what sounded like yelps of pain.  I looked out the window but couldn’t see anything — when it’s dark in the country, it’s DARK.

When Chareva went to tend to the chickens today, she found that something had dug a hole under the fence that surrounds the chicken barn.  Then she noticed a couple of feathers.  Then she noticed that our last remaining guinea fowl, which we moved to the chicken yard after coyotes killed its nine flock-mates, was nowhere to be seen.

Later she found what remained of the guinea fowl:

She found those in the front yard.  I took a picture from our front porch to show the distance from the house.  The circle is where Chareva found the feathers.  It’s also probably where coyote rumble occurred.

So I’m pretty sure a coyote got into the chicken yard and snatched the guinea fowl, then a small pack of coyotes fought over the booty.

We bought guinea fowl — one flock of 10, then another when the first flock disappeared — because we’d read that they’re tough, almost prehistoric fighters.  They’ll swarm predators, according to articles on the internet.  They’ll eat ticks.  They’ll roost in the trees.

Well, not the ones we bought.  They were, I’m sorry to say, quite obviously rather stupid.  Not one managed to fly away from coyotes.  The last remaining guinea fowl apparently didn’t even have the good sense to roost up high in the chicken barn, away from danger.  The chickens did.  They’re all still alive and well.

No more guinea fowl for us.  I’m not buying birds to feed the local coyotes.

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24 Responses to “The Farm Report: Last Guinea Gone”
  1. Kathy says:

    When my step-daughter and her family lived on 7 acres in a rural area, they tried the guineas for the same reason you did…..with the same results. Their most willing fighters were the barn cats. They had some great pictures of the cats and rattle snakes dancing in the front yard. They also had goats and a miniature donkey named Cowboy. He was quite the guard dog, too. Their biggest problem was a pack of wild dogs that attacked the goats, seemingly just for sport. She had to call a neighbor to come put the goats down – they were beyond saving. We bought them a rifle the next Christmas.

    The coyotes only seem to come out at night, and I’m not crazy about the idea of shooting in the dark.

  2. Mary D says:

    Good post, Tom. Living in the country is sometimes not the glorious thing it’s often made out to be. Losing a flock to coyotes (or raccoons!) can be a heart-breaking lesson in animal husbandry.

    It’s good to reminded now and then that there are dangerous predators nearby.

  3. labrat says:

    Maybe you need an “assault rifle”? :P
    Around here that coyote would be shot.

    I was thinking of finding something made by ACME to kill them.

  4. Galina L. says:

    I am sorry. It is a form of natural selection – what survives stays. It is what grows in my backyard – surviving plants.
    I was very impressed by feral chickens who live on a Key West, probably, there are no coyotes there.

    I figure any bird that doesn’t bother to roost up high at night when the coyotes come out is too stupid to live anyway.

  5. Dave Wilson says:

    I wonder what the old lady would have swallowed to catch a coyote? Maybe a nice, friendly couple of rottweilers in the yard at night would convince the coyotes that the roadrunner went into your neighbor’s back 40.

    The Rottweilers won’t have the run of the land until we get it all fenced in.

  6. Troy Wynn says:

    Tom, pen raised birds don’t act the same as the wild ones. Bobwhite quail are an example. Release a bunch in the wild and they are eaten in no time. To’ bad, Tennessee used to have good numbers of Bobs, until fescue extirpated them.

    If you shoot a few coyotes they will soon figure out that your area means danger and may give your place a rest. Until you instill danger in their hearts, expect them to hang around your chickens. They are smart animals, let them know you mean business. Remember YOU are the ULTIMATE predator, not them.

    Good Luck!

    If I get a chance to shoot one, I will.

  7. Kathy says:

    I think my comment about the rifle may have been unclear. It was for putting down any animal that had been attacked, but not killed. I’m a gun owner. I do not shoot in the dark!

    Ah, gotcha. Well, if I had a chance to draw a bead on a coyote and was sure of my line of fire (i.e., what would I hit if the shot is a little high, a little right, etc.), I’d pull the trigger.

  8. Jolly says:

    Please note that chickens will take care of ticks, too.
    We started with 22 chickens ( with 1 rooster ) about 10 months ago. BUT, we didn’t have a proper coop for them until October.
    We’re down to 16 now ( no rooster ), but have only lost one since the coop. That was probably because nobody closed it that night.
    We’re getting about a dozen eggs / day now, but the hens are becoming a bit of a nuisance at the front door. We’re looking at temporary fencing as they peck the area around the door all the way to the dirt.
    BUT, no ticks or bugs of any kind, either. And, the eggs are fabulous.

    The eggs are terrific. We’re looking at temporary fencing as a means to let the chickens wander more of the pasture during the day.

  9. j says:

    The stupidity of a guinea is rivaled only by that of the domestic turkey.

  10. j says:

    My parents’ guineas were roosting in some tall ever greens and got taken out by an owl. Lots of critters looking for an easy meal.

  11. NM says:

    Can’t you just hire a dietician to scare the Coyotes away with tales of how that protein and fowl-saturated-fat excess will destroy their kidneys and clog their arteries? Then the Coyotes will nibble on some wild HeartHealthyWholegrains instead, and leave your birds alone.

    Dietician as scarecrow. That’s worked for lots of humans, after all ;-)

    I love that idea! A dietitian tied to a stick, squawking on and on in the front pasture … scaring away the predators, and also acting as a target for my driver when I play disc golf.

  12. Whew! When you said you had parted with your last Guinea, I thought you meant you went broke!

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_%28British_coin%29

    No, I parted with all those Guineas when I made Fat Head. For a couple of years I thought they were gone forever — many were gobbled up by predators known as “distributors.” Fortunately, the Guineas started coming back after Netflix put the film on the radar.

  13. LisaW says:

    Have you considered a Mammoth Jack and Jenny? As I understand it, they are fierce home protectors against, up to and including, humans. And don’t worry about hearing them, if they are galloping in the field next to your house you will probably be able to feel it! (info according to a friend who lives in the country with a Mammoth Jack and Jenny).

    One caveat; they usually don’t like dogs and you would have to train them to accept yours.

    We considered that, but I’m not willing to take the risk that they’ll kick the dogs to death. I’ve read that’s not uncommon, and we’d all be traumatized if Coco and Misha were killed.

  14. Q says:

    You need a big Airedale. Our local coyote hunter uses rescued greyhounds to chase down and harass Mr. Wile E. But his Airedale does the close in work. Think of what a terrier does to a rat. Then scale up.

    The damage a pack of coyotes can do around calving season is heartbreaking.

    Once we get the land fenced in, I suspect our Rottweilers will be a sufficient deterrent.

  15. cTo says:

    Sorry to hear about the guineas :( I grew up raising show chickens for 4H, and sadly many of my birds ended their life in just such a feathery circle on the lawn.

    I too have heard for years that guineas are nigh-indestructible. It’s possible that the guineas of our grandparents generation *were,* but years of domestic breeding have softened the birds somewhat.

    That could be. Either way, I’m giving up on them.

  16. Brianna says:

    The people who I know who have birds of any sort have a cage and a coop…..but yeah if the chickens are doing fine I too would just not get any more guineas…

    Coyotes sound really weird when they are consuming prey….Just do not gets any cats there whatever you do…..they all escape the house at some point and where you are would also be dinner to the heartbreak of your daughters…

    We had coyotes wandering the neighborhood at night when we lived in the hills of Burbank, CA. I used to see them during my late-night walks. Lots of people in the area lost cats or small dogs.

  17. Dave says:

    Hey – Guineas are from Africa. How they supposed to know what a coyote is..!?

    But no, they’re not very bright.

  18. Elenor says:

    “Mammoth Jack and Jenny”

    Okay, I had never heard of these — and got an immediate visualization of actual mammoths… (they clone them nowadays right? {wink}). I ‘saw’ a couple of hairy, furry, tusked, HUGE mammoths, clomping across the pastures to stomp a coyote into a furry red patch in the mud… Now THAT would be some protection!!

  19. Elenor says:

    (p.s., you could make all your Fathead money back by giving kiddie rides!)

    I understand a pair of llamas will give you real farm-critter protection too.

    We’d certainly stand out around here with llamas.

  20. Tim Wieneke says:

    Hello Tom. I just found your site through a friend and love it! Anyway, I wanted to pass along a quick tip here I learned from some farmers down in Missouri. If you keep a couple emus on your land, they will literally kill the coyotes. They look like small ostriches, run very fast and will literally kick the coyotes to death. The recommendations I heard was to get 3-4 of them so they’ll work as a team. They also kill snakes. Good luck!

    I like that idea. We’d better get the land fenced in first, though.

  21. ngyoung says:

    So the dogs sleep through all the noise too? As long as my dog knows I’m still up she will bark at something if it sounds like it is close to the house.

    They were out back, the coyote rumble was in the front. They may have howled early in the ruckus, when I wasn’t aware of it because of the headphones.

  22. hausfrau says:

    Tom, I got this one. I live out in Oregon where coyotes are so common that even the greeny regulators up here took them off the list of fur bearing animals and now list them as vermin. I talked to the ag department trapper and he told me to just shoot them on site if I could.
    Get yourself a few coyote snares or even two snap traps if you have someone to show you how to arrange them (they require some technique to be effective). I think your article mentioned that the coyotes had dug under the fence in a few places. Perfect. You have fresh coyote runs. You can tell how fresh by looking for fur snagged in the fence and fresh prints. Arrange your snare like this:
    http://mdc.mo.gov/landwater-care/wildlife-management/nuisance-animal-management/nuisance-coyotes/guide-snaring-nuisanc
    Set a chicken in the yard at night and wait. You can use fish fertilizer as a lure too. The snare will take up slack and hold the animal, maybe even choking it to death if it struggles a lot. This is not usually the case with dogs, as they are used to being restrained, though I would lock the mutts up before dark.
    here’s a trapping supply website. Make sure the swivel on the noose is free to move.
    http://mountainmantraps.com/snares.htm#
    I must include a disclaimer….I have only managed to catch my german sheperd so far but at least I know the snare works. Coyotes are not regular visitors to my yard.
    More good info: http://mdc.mo.gov/search/google-appliance/coyote%20snare

    I wouldn’t mind trapping or snaring them, but unless they choke themselves in the snares, I assume I’d have to shoot them afterwards.

  23. Underground says:

    Hopefully they’ll reclassify them in TN too, they’re a serious pest. Shooting at night is what night vision and suppressors are for. You’ll see them during the day sometimes, but they’re just a lot more active at night since humans aren’t.

    I wouldn’t mind having the night-vision goggles, but I’m guessing they’re not cheap.

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