Talkin’ Turkey

Whew.  Been a WHILE.  Sorry, it’s just too hot around here to even think straight.  But, I wanted to tell you a bit about our turkeys.

At the end of February, we brought home eight baby turkeys (AKA ‘poults’).  Cute little boogers they were!  Unfortunately for them, and, little did they know, their fate was a sealed deal from the get-go.  After all, Broad Breasted turkeys are really only good for one thing, and that’s putting on a bunch of muscle really fast (AKA ‘meat’).  So, fast forward to last month.  It’s June, and those cute little turkeys are now the size of a small sedan, with huge reptilian legs and the biggest bird eyeballs I’ve ever seen.  There’s just something about being stared at by a turkey that’s somewhat unnerving…..(do they know their fate???)

Anyway, so the turkeys are huge, lumbering, hungry critters.  Yes, they will barrel down upon you for food, and you’d just better have some handouts, that’s for sure.  One fine June day, I was in their pen (after feeding them, of course), and I discovered that their water bin had shifted and needed a little help.  Well, the turkeys had finished gulping down their meal, and now all eyes (*huge, huge, hungry eyes*) were upon me.  As I was fiddling with the stupid water pan and splashing turkey mess all over myself, the largest tom (with the largest eyeballs) snatches my glasses.  Yes, right offa my face.  And he runs. Fast.

Now, I’m not completely blind, but just enough so that I begin to panic when it hits my brain that a 25 pound bird is escaping with my eyewear. My expensive and delicate eyewear.  Why, oh why, did I ever think that rimless glasses would be a good idea?  After a few tense minutes and a few very naughty words, I managed to wrestle the glasses away from the tom.  I shot him a “Marked for Death” look.  He looked at me quizzically.  With his huge, unforgiving eyes.

Not long after the Glasses Incident of 2011, the toms decided it would be fun to learn to escape their pen.  If you think that a 25 pound bird can’t clear a good four foot fence, let me inform you of something.  You’re wrong.  So, little by little, they became more and more brave.  First, they were just pecking the grass by the pen.  Then it was walking on the driveway.  Then they discovered the fig tree. Then it was the watermelon patch.  There is a darn good reason that you build fences on a farm.  Sadly, the fig tree and watermelon patch are two things outside of our garden fence.  I didn’t mind the figs being eaten so much.  Well, except for one (little) thing.  It made their poop black liquid.  A lovely tarry shade in an unbelievably copious quantity.  More on this in a minute.

So, one day, I let my watermelon patch get a little dry.  Not really hard to do in a record drought, by the way.  The next morning, I noticed that it really looked bad.  Not just dry and crispy bad, but there was just something missing.  Yes, the leaves of the watermelon vines were….gone.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that turkeys adore watermelon leaves, since the next evening, there were 3 toms in my melon patch, one with a leaf still hanging out of his beak.

Now, I tried to count to ten and think calming thoughts.  But I’d worked hard on growing these melons despite a drought, and here was this passel of turkeys chowing down on my work.  I ran into the patch, waving my arms and screaming.  They looked at each other as if to say, “God, what’s HER problem today?” I (gently, yes, really) booted a turkey behind to get them into gear. Then they got the picture.  All three toms lumbered off as quickly as they could to the fig tree.  Now, our fig tree is about 20 foot in diameter.  The turkeys went one way, and I was right behind them, still waving and hollerin’ and now shaking a stick.  And, rather than continue towards their pen, they decided to keep going round the tree and…ended back up in the melon patch.  Now I was really hot and aggravated.  I tried again.  We ended back up in the melons.  Getting dizzy from circling the tree, I decided that playing “Whack the Turkeys ‘Round the Old Fig Tree” just wasn’t for me.  So, I had to enlist the help of Jason, a can of dog food, and my kids.  (Note:  No actual whacking of turkeys took place.  No harming of animals occured, unless you count the inevitable indigestion that the turkeys experienced after running around after engorging themselves on watermelon leaves)

So, fast forward a couple of weeks.  Remember the tarry fig poo?  Imagine that all over the floor of your workshop.  The turkeys are nuts about dog food.  They figured out that the dog food came from the shop, and helped themselves to a sack of it, all while pooping all over the concrete floor.  But, we weren’t only limited to black poo, we also had copious amounts of lovely red poo, which was from the turkeys ingesting some of our lovely red dirt when eating their food.  Nice, really nice.  So, the other day, after finding 2 turkeys in his ‘man cave’ and about 10 ‘turkey explosions’ on his floor, Jason went a little nuts on the turkeys.  I can’t tell you what happened since I was asleep, other than Jason threw his back out, and there were quite a few turkey feathers in the shop.

At any rate, it was high time to butcher the birds.  BB turkeys are usually butchered at 4 to 5 months, and we’re getting closer to 6 months.  I won’t go into too many details, but two troublesome toms equal about 9 pounds of breast meat, which is aging in my refrigerator as I type.

But don’t think that I dislike turkeys, because I don’t.  I actually love turkeys, and they’re just as friendly as can be.  The moral of this story is…higher fences.  Definitely higher fences.

One last story:

One afternoon we drove up into the driveway after a day of shopping.  There, sitting on our golf cart, on our seats, were two toms.  They didn’t budge.  Throw in a miniature set of golf clubs and a couple of hats, and I could have had a really nice picture to show you.