Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Turkeys

OK -it's really, like four or five turkeys when it's all said and done, but that is not a great story title.

So about those turkeys...

At Thanksgiving last year, Turkey Lan went to the Lan family and we ate one of the three remaining Black Spanish birds. That left us with the following:

Turkey Lean: Turkey Lan's gimpy friend who had a goat step on her foot as a poult, leaving her with a permanent limp. She never gained enough weight to even consider eating, so she became a pet.

Shadrach & Abednego: The other two Black Spanish survivors that, it turns out, ended up pets, too. Both females and both of lovely disposition.

So by Spring, we had three pet turkeys. And then one started acting weird. Really weird.

One of the black turkeys started following us around on tours. When we got out to the field with the goats, she would lay down and, we later realized, "present herself". The poor dear was looking for a boyfriend.

Lacking any male turkeys, she happily accepted the attentions of anyone who would give her the time of day. And that's how we found her the first time we freaked out: slightly catatonic in the lap of a tween girl who was petting her & hugging her. Things that a normal, healthy turkey would never allow.

We were sure the turkey was at death's door. This, based on the fact that the EXACT scenario happened on a tour a couple years ago with an elderly chicken we owned. Someone said, "Oh! How sweet this chicken is," while holding her in their arms. She died the next day, quietly, in her sleep, on a cushy bed of hay.

So yeah, we asked the girl to put the turkey down and let her rest. And we both said a little poultry prayer.

Well, after she was fine in the morning, we realized what that behavior was, and so we went through months of this. A tame pet turkey who asked for and received the love of many tour guests. (Light petting. Not any kind of pervy "turkey love")

A little over a month ago, we found our first egg. Well, Nightshift found it and brought it to us in her mouth. But we never found a nest. ...Until one of the girls went AWOL. I finally found her, in a broody trance, on a high tack cabinet sitting on 10 eggs.

Poor, sweet, turkey was trying to hatch out babies. :( I gently removed the unfertilized eggs to break the trance and sent her on her way. But I felt incredibly guilty for not giving her the opportunity to be a mom. I began to hound Christian relentlessly about our need for a male. Having had bad experiences with Dory, he resisted.

After a week, I switched tack and tried to convince him we could just BORROW a male. He gave in. We were brought a big, strapping Bourbon Red tom by our friends at Swede Farm. We set him loose from his cardboard transport box and the dude bonked all of the ladies in his first 10 minutes here. Incredible. He stayed for a few more days for good measure.

I am excited to report that We have one mama on a nest in the barn with an expected hatch date in a little over a week. The other two females have gone AWOL, but I sight them every couple of days, which means they, too, likely have nests somewhere.

I am looking forward to an explosion of poults. ..fingers crossed. If they hatch out, we'll lock them up with mama in the coop for a while and then just hope for the best. Like we always do. Knowing we may not get a single one to adulthood. Sigh.

But at least we satisfied the three we do have. And that is something.

Proud Papa-to-Be


Clair said...

Loved the post! Keep us "posted."

Kate said...

This post made me laugh my ass off. I'm talking uninhibited snort laughter. Kyle just shook his head from the room next door.

Thanks for the good chicken raising karma! I love our little peep peeps.