We are constantly entertained
by the company of fowl.
Six chickens—young adults—
are now feasting daily
in the high tunnel.
Despite this utopia of greens,
they come running to us
the minute we enter.

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Six young Guinea Fowl Keets
have been under a heat lamp
less than a week.
Twenty-some hen eggs,
including a few laid here
but several gifted from a friend
who raises heirloom breeds,
are in the incubator.

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The rooster and three hens
and the six guineas
have found their way out
the big barn
through a Dutch door we open
in the morning.
It affords the fowl freedom
and the rabbits who free-range in the barn
(relative) security.
There are young roosters
in the high tunnel,
but the rooster in the barn
is fully matured
and is having a heckuva time
looking after the hens,
now that they’re free-ranging.
This morning,
two hens were out first thing
scratching for bugs
while one was still on the nest
in the coop in the barn.
He rushed back-and-forth
trying to keep his eye
on all—
and he looked
stressed.
When the egg-laying is done for the day,
they move as a family
around the barnyard and beyond,
rooster leading the way out,
keeping alert for every danger,
shepherding them back home.

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The Guineas,
who have historically had trouble
keeping track of each other
and all getting together
to get back home
at the end of the day,
have successfully found their way
back and forth through the Dutch door,
over fences and back into the goat pen,
and they gather outside a ground-level barn door
to be let in as sun is disappearing.
We are grateful
for their scratching, pecking,
wandering.
Besides being delightful company,
producing lovely eggs,
cleaning up goat manure,
they are already making a dent
in the grasshopper and tick population—
still strong after
another
mild winter.