Stepping out…

First out the door.

First out the door.

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.

He's got legs...knows how to use 'em.

He's got legs, knows how to use 'em.

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.”

Cute, or what...and he's pretty pleased with himself.

Cute, or what...and he's pretty pleased with himself.

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.



Filed under Animal issues, Politicking with predators, Sustainable Farming

5 responses to “Stepping out…

  1. Oh what fun! ;-)) I have that with our chicks…

    as they get older they are giving me the run around more and more. They are kept in a run in the Orchard for their own protection, as we have 4 cats who ALL think small chicks are fair game…( we have Pheasants in our wood and they have all hunted them !)

    so to be safe I keep the chicks penned in and only let them out into the paddock when I am there.

    THIS CANNOT go on, as the chicks are now big enough and sassy enough that they , like your turkeys, don’t want to be told what to do! Today I spent 15 mins trying to get a chick to sodding well GET BACK into the run with its siblings…I got a bit fed up as it was POURING down and I was getting wet, even with full waterproofs on!

    At least you have the future knowledge that you can eat the darned things if they tick you off…my chicks are pullets and a cock who will be kept for breeding so I don’t even have THAT satisfying thought as I fulminate against the antics…:-))

    herding cats…yep!

  2. Oh…Cougars, Bears…not really the same as me complaining about my felis domestris problems, is it?

    Seriously, hope you are all ok. :-0

  3. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that our turkeys will not be able to be out this year for any extended period of time. The cougar sightings are increasing and all of our turkeys are presold. Not to mention it isn’t cheap to get them even close to processing age and then have someone (predators) help themselves…

    Glad the girl with the bad crop is doing well!

  4. Yeah well, it’s all part of life here; you stay alert, have your early warning system with you at all times (aka the dog), and hope for the best!

  5. Dear Trapper,

    I wouldn’t say she is exactly doing well, but I think I’m more bothered by her look than she seems to be. I’m torn between trying what you suggested and/or just leaving well alone. I don’t like that it’s not changed now in days…not likely to rectify itself as I’d hoped at this stage eh.

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