I haven't posted in awhile and I am sorry for coming back with a sad story, but I feel compelled to write about it. It's just something that happened in our life that a lot of people will never have to go through, yet a lot of others have "been there, done that."
You don't have to read, I won't be offended. If you do read, please don't give me any grief.
Let's begin at the beginning. Back in the summer I went to a chicken swap. I took 3 of our young roosters with hopes of coming home with some other egg laying birds. A lot of people don't want a rooster at all so I was skeptical about getting a good swap. But I wanted to try anyway. You see, a lot of places sell sexed chicks and that's what we started out with, little girl chicks. Our first rooster, Big Ed, I had to seek out. I thought maybe others had the same predicament. I think I've talked about this in a previous post. Yes, here and here.
|my sign to take along with my 3 roos|
(*hint* I'm discussing a low turkey population and the title includes sad)
|turkeys, meet chickens|
|full grown Red Bourbon turkey|
|here's the little guy on the loose|
Finally I get all three birds in the cage and set up with food and water. Shew, I'm tired, so is baby. I go inside for nap time and take a looong nap with with baby. I wake up once and it's thundering and raining hard. I smile and close my eyes, and think this is the best for napping. An hour or so later I pop up and think OH CRAP THE TURKEYS! I don't know what you've heard, but I've heard that turkeys are so dumb that they look up when it rains and drown themselves. Crap. It's raining hard, baby is still sleeping, crap. I get up and get an umbrella and run out there again. Umbrella is pointless. I grab the cage and run, quite clumsily back to the porch. These poor birds are soaked and shivering with their eyes closed.
By this time hubby is home and he brings in a small cat carrier and we get a heating pad hooked up and start drying them and holding them. They fit in my hand.
Oh yeah, one thing the turkey swapper man said to me starts to come back, he said "these birds are 8 weeks old, just about the age where they stop dying for no reason." I tried to use that line to make myself feel better, like this one died on it's own accord and not like it had anything to do with being stuck outside with no shelter in a rain storm.
Things are going great for some time. We like our pair of big birds, they are now very much larger than the chickens and no longer get picked on. Although they may get bumped out of the way when we feed the chickens treats such as kitchen scraps or mealworms.
(my mealworms are finally multiplying, red wigglers....not so much....I'll get back to the worm progress soon)
Occasionally the turkeys will be on the outside of the fence by the time we get out in the morning to feed, but they are super easy to herd back in. This proves to be very bad for their personal security.
|the 3 early birds|
Morning comes, check on turkey, no good. It's still very much alert, it has ate and drank, but it has zero use of it's legs so....we decide to end its life. What else really could we do? Hubby makes me do it. That's ok, I've wrang a sick chickens' neck or two. I've done this deed before. It doesn't make it easy though. B killed the birds that we processed and ate, but it was a completely different atmosphere. I kept saying "that's farm life." Sometimes this happens. Sometimes you have to eliminate sick or injured animals. These aren't pets, they're our food. I had to have a talk with the bird first, ya know. Tell it I'm sorry and that it didn't do anything wrong, that I wanted it to have a high quality of life and it didn't anymore, and it could have been in pain for all that we know. I talk to it awhile, and that really only makes it worse. Then I flash back to my childhood, jumping off bridges and rocks into the river. The longer you think about it, the harder it gets. You have to just do it. Stop thinking and just do it. Turn off your brain, stop all thoughts, and jump. Just jump.
The deed was done, and I just disposed of the bird. It wasn't really big enough to process, and we weren't really prepared to do that yet anyway. But now I think I'm going to ask for processing equipment for Christmas. Really just a sharp knife, a killing cone, and a lung scraper is all we need. In hindsight, it was only a week away from Thanksgiving, maybe we should have put forth the effort to process it. But like I said, this wasn't a planned event.
Down to one. One turkey. I call my dad and talk to him about it. He has had turkeys before, he's been there. He tells me that turkeys are hard. I look up turkey forums, other folks say turkeys are hard. They're dumb, they get lost, they "try to kill themselves." So turkeys are hard to raise. But we will try again. We will get some new poults in the spring and try again.
Sorry if this post is depressing, I know I laid my forehead on the table several times while typing this, but that's farm life. Not only were we depressed, but the rest of the flock mourned for about 3 days. It actually took me a day or two to be able to go in the back and hang out with the birds.
All is back to business as usual around here. B is building a new coop and we are going to move the chickens to a new place in the yard. Fencing is going up and preparations are under way for goats as well. Moving forward.