Flocking together

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I should have known what to expect. After all, we all know the adage: birds of different species, with different temperaments and dietary requirements, flock together.

The thing about animals is that they have their own ideas about how they want to spend their days. Because we humans have free will and opposable thumbs, we can do a certain amount of molding animals to our will, but sometimes we’re better off molding ourselves to theirs. It’s a lesson that’s come home to me before: the easiest thing to change is you.

It’s hard to change turkeys. They’re hard-wired with centuries-old instincts to do some things and not do others. Also, they can fly.

When it comes to this year’s turkeys, a monkey wrench is an understatement. We were thrown an entire Craftsman Seven-Piece Universal Wrench Set. We’ve agonized about what to do with our rapidly dwindling flock, and changed our minds from day to day.

Eventually, though, the two remaining turkeys decided for themselves. They seem happy, calm, and, for the most part, safe hanging out with the chickens. We put the turkey feed out where we give the chickens corn and, oddly, the chickens eat the corn and the turkeys eat the feed. The chickens don’t seem to notice that their new flock-mates are a little funny-looking, and the turkeys seem happy to have companionship. The only sign of hostility we’ve seen is when the big turkey, who is apparently male, tried to intimidate Blondie, who is borderline broody. No blood was shed.

The little turkey follows Kevin and me around, which makes it easy to put her in with the chickens at night. The big turkey spends nights roosted high in the trees, and the little one will probably join him soon, when she’s a better flyer.

So, this year’s turkeys have decided that they’re free-range, and who are we to contradict them? Opposable thumbs will take you only so far.

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Comments

  1. Tamar – I just read your piece in the Washington Post. It made me smile. I raised Tamworths for many years on a small farm in Delaware County, in upstate NY. I was never happier than when these Tams were on my property. I LOVE being around pigs. I find it impossible to be around them and not laugh and smile. My son raises them now on his farm. He’s a happy farmer. And we are happy recipients of the amazing pork. You will get attached to them, but as you say, you may be comforted in knowing what a happy life you are giving them. AND, as they grow and get large, they DO become less cute, and CAN be almost a nuisance. You’ll survive. And you’ll never in your life have better pork!!!!

    • Susan — I’m glad to hear from someone who has successfully been attached to pigs, and went on to happily eat them. A number of people have told me that they will be less cute as they get older, but I’m hoping the nuisance quotient doesn’t increase too much.

  2. I’m just glad they figured out a way for you.