February 25, 2008

What To Do With Amazing Grace

It all started last June, but who could possibly have known then the adventures to come for those day-old turkey poults? If you've never seen baby turkeys, they are fluffy and fun to watch, a cute stage they quickly outgrow. Although we usually raise the bronze turkeys, last spring we got white ones instead as they are more placid, easier, to raise. Now if it sounds as though we're running a major operation here, not so! We had gotten only eight birds.

They had a nice open pen next to the chickens and seemed to enjoy occasionally being allowed out to free-range in the yard for bugs and such. Many people think turkeys are not the brightest birds in the barnyard, and those folks just may be right. But the turkeys grew quickly and started looking pretty tasty as the weather turned fallish. Thanksgiving was looming.

Now for those of you who think turkeys - and other meats - just magically appear in the supermarket in neat plastic bags or on clean foam trays, well, this might be a good time for you to go see what's on tv. Even though I do not eat poultry myself, when you are raising meat birds, you have a mindset from day one about the realities of their eventual demise.

And so, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving it was time for the eight turkeys, all of whom had plumped up nicely, to go to slaughter. Bert and his friend Warren gathered the birds, one at a time and set them in the back of the truck, then with the cover down and the tailgate firmly closed, men and birds set off for the Hutchings' farm where the turkeys would be "processed." It's about a fifteen mile trip and the guys talked away as they bumped over country roads.

BUT, when they got to the Hutchings there were only six birds! And, of course the workers wondered what kind of fools would bring their turkeys in a truck with the tailgate open...

After leaving the six turkeys, Bert and Warren retraced their steps looking left and right along the roadside for any sign of the two escapees. Almost back home, they spied a pile of white feathers and screeched to a halt. Circling the neighborhood, they found one very scared turkey on someone's doorstep. Although it had fallen from the truck at probably 20-25 mph, it was not too much the worse for its adventure.

But, search as they did, they could not find any sign of Turkey Two. Back to the Hutchings to drop off they one they'd found. Now, we've had trouble with dogs and foxes going after the turkeys right in our backyard so we knew Turkey Two didn't have a chance in that fairly rural area where even coyotes are often heard at night.

But, even so, Warren let the local police know there was one white turkey on the loose. Of course one of our neighbors could just see the headlines in our local paper, "Turkey on the Lam!"
And luckily we always raise an extra so we had enough for the friends we promised birds to for their holiday dinners.

Twelve days later, in early December, the call came: Your turkey's been spotted. It had survived! Bert went right off to find it and sure enough, there it was, cowering under some pine trees at the edge of someone's backyard. He was able to capture it and brought it home. First off, it was unbelievably hungry, but then after it had eaten and drank its fill, it started pacing back and forth in the pen, obviously lonely for its long-since-eaten friends. What to do, what to do.

Turkey Two had now become Amazing Grace and we finally moved Grace in with our laying hens, into their nice warm house with its nice large pen. Usually it's wiser not to put turkeys and chickens together, but well, Grace was sooo sad...

And so here we are, months later, with an incredibly fat turkey living the good life with our dozen egg-laying girls. But, it really seems as though Grace should be...well, ...dispatched. She's too big and eats too much to just keep as a pet and she's really getting too waddle-y to be comfortable. But it's a tough decision...

What to do, what to do with Amazing Grace??


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Mary.
Have missed you. We are getting ready for a blast of winter again up here.
My son used your pizza recipe and it turned out just great.
Today I think I will make some Bakewell Cream biscuits. Should be so nice with the stormy weather.
Alice Goldsmith