Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surprise!

We had resigned ourselves to no homegrown turkeys this year after several clutches failed to hatch. The many calls looking for pasture raised turkeys we've received have been turned away for lack of poults. We were even suspecting our Tom had gone sterile and were contemplating turkey sausage. (YUM!)

Two weeks ago, our "slate" hen (Bourbon Red x Eastern Wild) hatched two poults, and still has one living. This morning when we were feeding sheep and piglets, I was watching the slate hen with her one offspring and heard baby bird peeping from another direction! Lo and behold, one of the Bourbon Red hens had some yellow fluffballs scampering around her legs. I didn't even know she was setting! As I watched her with her brood, I saw more and more poults emerge from under leaves, between grass clumps and behind the compost pile. My quick count was FIFTEEN! YES! Fifteen poults are worth protecting!

We dug out the chicken tractor, feeders and waterers, bought some turkey starter, and proceeded to set it up in the backyard. Then after some stalking, herding, and coaxing, all fifteen puffballs and mom were safely closed in the chicken tractor in the yard. I hope 3 months is enough time for them to grow up!

This is a peek into the chicken tractor after the poults went to bed under Mom.

Turkey is back on the menu!

Of course, yesterday I'd finally ordered broiler chicks. We'll have 50 Red Broilers from Phinney Hatchery coming the second week in September. That should be enough time to set up another tractor.

- Franna

6 comments:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

What? The momma turkey with the singleton doesn't get to share the quarters and be protected, too?

Kathy said...

Just when you think they are a dumb bird...they go and prove you wrong. heeheehee
We haven't raised Bourbons, but did raise Blue Slates - and some of the best turkey we ever had was the one tom I slaughtered and brined for a T-Day dinner.

Way to go...

Franna said...

Michelle, there is logic in there. The turkeys would rather be out and about, and they do their job of eating bugs better that way, too. Single poults tend to be well enough protected with Mom, and sometimes duos, but more than that tend to disappear quickly with the aerial predators and small ground predators. We found that if we can get them to about 4 weeks of age, when they can fly pretty well, their survivability goes way up. That and the chicken tractor is pretty small for even one turkey hen, we thought there might be mayhem with two in there!

Franna said...

Oh, Kathy, they can be pretty dumb! We think that every time they manage to get OVER the fence, but pace back and forth (sometimes for days!) trying to get back in. They're good moms, though, very protective of their poults.
We're trading a wether lamb for three more - a new Tom, another Bourbon hen and a Royal Palm hen. The Blue Slates are pretty, too.
- Franna

Dave said...

I'm still trying to figure out where all fifteen babies are under mom...

Kathy said...

Tell Dave it's a "Mom-Thing"! LOL!