Today is probably going to be the last nice day for a week or so according to the forecast. The weather for the next week or so is going to suck, and the snow is beginning to encroach. Not that we’ve had any yet, but I can smell it coming. If the turkeys are going to see the light of day before they are completely grown, then today is the last chance they will have for a while. Turkeys, unlike baby chickens, are not very hardy and cannot tolerate the cold or wet. You have to be much more careful with their temperature and be sure to keep them from getting wet, especially when young.
I go down to the barn and open their door, their passage to freedom. They step out into the world hesitantly, like the curious but cautious little creatures that they are. First a head, then a toe, then an overachiever from the back of the line pushes her way through the crowd and bursts onto the outdoor scene with a flourish. It is a sight to behold and I am glad to be witnessing it. I quietly thank the ‘other half’ (or as he likes to think of himself, the other ‘two-thirds’) for going off to work to make the living wage that supports me and these animals, and the scene that is presently unfolding before me.
It isn’t long before they were all outside, clicking and clucking their way around their little world. While I am taking some photos, Mike shows up and joins the stepping out party. The turkeys all run over to him and one by one introduce themselves. Obviously, he has a way with animals. As we stand talking the turkeys gather round and listen attentively. Then another friend shows up at the gate but doesn’t come in. When Mike and I go out to meet him the entourage follows, more like a bunch of eager puppies than turkeys.
Clarence (of the Ozette potato and learning to hunt fame) has arrived to let me know there was another cougar spotted in the area yesterday. Clarence makes it his business to keep on top of the big predator doings in the valley, and I count on him to advise me about their comings and goings. He has been our cougar hunter for more than 40 years so when he says ‘watch out’ I listen. Today he is less than happy with my free-range ways, worries it will invite trouble. He’s given me a bigger gun and taught me how to shoot it, just in case. “Why just yesterday, your neighbour was chased off her tractor by a grizzly,” he announces casually and, turning to leave, adds, “Be careful with those turkeys. Don’t let them get wet.”
He’s like still having my grandfather around. Well, a grandfather that knows about hunting, shooting, fishing–and I love him for it. Within minutes of Clarence’s departure, it begins raining. I rush to shuffle the turkeys back into their barn but it is a bit like herding cats. I eventually got them in to safety, in other words, the dry room in the new barn that we call the nursery. The day goes from wet to dry to wet and dry again, and the turkeys are shuffled in and out and in and out again. They have fun, I get exercise, the dog becomes confused, and finally it is time for bed.