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Guineas squeak
and squawk
and raise a ruckus
off and on.
A couple make their way
around the place
several times during the day.
Six are always together,
mostly in the alpaca and goat pens,
then are the last to go in the barn—
passing by the gate repeatedly—
before they give up
for the night.

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Chickens bolt from the barn
the moment we open the gate
and scurry about
in their family groups
(there’s still one group with rooster,
four hens and one guinea)
morning and evening,
spending the heat of the day
hunkered down in the barn.
Roosters—there are three now—
crow now and then.
I can make no sense
of why they crow
when they do
or what they’re saying.

 

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The older rooster
is not the alpha male
anymore.
A male guinea
is now the intimidator.
The two young roosters—
with their higher-pitched crows—
have a long way to go
to alpha.
This morning,
one climbed the back of a hen,
and another jumped up beside him
in a shoving match
until the first one fell off.
Five teenaged guineas
are still safely in an outside pen
in the barn. Soon,
they will be old enough
to move into the barn—
just about the time
the new batch emerges
from the incubator.

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During the day
spotting
a couple of tiny-headed,
black-and-white-polka-dotted
African birds chasing grasshoppers,
hearing a rooster crow,
noticing a hen
standing in the bird bath
in the front yard,
my heart
softens
around the country life.