Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turkey News - babies!

Well, my female turkey has been laying, and she sometimes sits on an egg for short periods, but I always find them cold by the end of the day.  It turns out, turkey eggs are fine for eating, so I've used them for baking.  In the meantime, I've had one broody hen laying on a chicken egg for many weeks.  A couple of days ago, I found that egg left untended and stone cold.  The hen had moved to a different spot, so I slipped a warm turkey egg under her.  She has been tending it for a few days.  I opened the egg she had been sitting on to find a dead chicken fetus inside, nearly full term.  Who knows why she suddenly abandoned it? 

Last Thursday, our order of turkey chicks arrived.  There were 15, to be shared among 3 families.  They are hatched and shipped the same day, and I'm finally getting used to picking up a box of live creatures from my local post office.  However, it seems so strange, and I really hope that we will begin to raise our own turkeys so they don't start their lives bumping around in a box.  In previous years, I've opened the box to find at least one dead, and it seems brutal.  This year, all were alive and well, except that one had a malformed foot.  It seemed otherwise healthy, so I kept an eye on it.  Over the weekend, its legs became weaker, and on Sunday, it slowly died.  It was painful to watch and Anouk sobbed, wailing, "It's only a baby!  It's not fair!"  I have no idea what was wrong with it.  Possibly a nerve disorder?  Or maybe its gimpy foot made it too difficult to get sufficient food and water.  Whatever the reason, Anouk and I held a modest funeral, burying it in the kitchen garden and planting the grave with a columbine.

We bury a lot of animals.

Anouk's class incubated chicken eggs this spring, tracking fetal development with charts and photos.  They hatched last week, and she won a lottery allowing her to bring two home (with permission, of course.)  So on Friday, I put them in with the turkeys under a heat lamp in our bathroom.  As a rule, chickens and turkeys are not supposed to be kept together, but I can't figure out another arrangement with our limited space.  There is one disease that chickens can carry that is fatal to turkeys.  However, we've been taking that chance for years with no problems.

So, it seems that our attempts to breed our adult turkeys hasn't worked this year.  We will cull the adult male turkey and try again in a year.  It is my theory that they need to relearn long lost instincts, so I feel we need to give our female more time.  In the meantime, I'll start trying to steal her eggs before they get cold and either incubate them or get a chicken to do it for me.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about your farming experiences. It'll be nice to be rid of that nasty Tom!