Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Heritage Turkeys

The turkeys arrived on the 25th of April with a note from the hatchery telling us that they would be 'lively, husky and' some other adjective that has since been forgotten because the word husky was so preoccupying. Husky? At any rate, three of the 21 perished within a day or so of getting here, which is on par with other poultry we've raised. 

It seems that the world is full of conflicting reports about turkeys and their ability to survive even the simplest events in life. For instance, after praising their stamina, the hatchery insisted that baby turkeys never be let out in the rain and that they even prevent their mature birds from getting wet throughout their adulthood. What? We'll need to be hustling turkeys in from the pasture when a cloud blows over? Garth read that Joel Salatin doesn't shelter his turkeys from weather events at all, while I hear people locally tell us about turkeys that stand in the rain with their heads up and drown.

Well, so far they have been much more sophisticated than we feared. We began letting them out to range around a week or two ago. There have been a couple fast moving storms that worried me, but the birds have put themselves inside or under burdock leaves and have suffered no harm. Their personalities are fairly ideal. They are curious, friendly, and seem to be free of the constant stress and terror that consume chickens from the inside out. They love being in the grass and they make a wide variety of calls to each other, none of which affront the ears the way a goose or a hen call might. They are lovely. They are almost big enough now that stray cats or clever skunks have ceased to pose a mortal threat. With a little care they should continue to flourish from here on out.

- Alanna