Problem turkeys

Turkeys, we’ve always said, are easy.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. The thing about plants and animals is that they’re never the same twice. Our first two years were quite different, but it happened that they were both easy. This year is trouble, trouble, trouble.

You know the saga. It started with sourcing problems, continued with hatching problems, was compounded by shipping problems, but we really thought we were finally on the right track when we had four healthy poults – the one older one and three younger.

Until a raccoon ate one.

Then we ate the raccoon (or we’re going to, tonight).

But the raccoon has friends, and we lost another one two nights ago, which left us with two: Big One and Little One. It’s a problem, because Big One hates to be confined, Little One needs to be confined, and they want to be together.

They can fly out of the pen (although they have trouble getting back in), and Little One spent the day yesterday tailing Big One all around the yard. By night, Little One was so tired she couldn’t even fly up a couple feet, let alone follow Big One high into the trees. She (or he, we’re not sure) wandered into the chicken run and went up the ladder into the coop. Kevin figured that was a safe place, as long as the chickens didn’t pose a threat, and he closed them up for the night.

And now, a shout out to our Barred Rock hen, who has a nasty disposition and has been borderline broody for weeks. That hen climbed into the nest box with the little turkey and nestled right up to her. They apparently stayed that way all night, because they were still there when I checked on them this morning.

I took Little One out and put her in the turkey pen with food and water, and eventually Big One joined her. But we still don’t know how to handle this. Big One is all but uncatchable, so putting the two in the treehouse together at night isn’t going to work. We can probably put Little One in the treehouse, but that may tempt Big One to hang around the pen as raccoon bait.

I’m liking the idea of putting Little One in the chicken coop at night, but that means we have to catch her before she flies up into the trees. If she’s too high for us to reach, we’re just going to have to leave her, which we don’t like to do.

In another couple of weeks, both birds will be big enough and strong enough flyers that it will be hard for a raccoon to take them, and we’ll worry less. But right now, we’re worrying plenty.

Turkeys are easy, right?

9 people are having a conversation about “Problem turkeys

  1. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost half your 2012 turkeys. I suppose you will be two times more thankful for the turkey you do have come Thanksgiving! I do think, however, ‘Goddamn Coon” would be a great title for a country song…

  2. Can you rig up a floodlight for the base of the tree? Perhaps one on each side. We have found light to be, so far, effective to deter “whatever” was biting chicken heads off inside the coop when mounted above the opening between the pen and coop. As we literally go to bed before the chickens this time of year and they are free range, the pen gate does not get closed before 2 AM. The predators learned this summer that the chicken buffet was open before 2 this year and we lost 2 before the light dawned so to speak.

  3. I’m eagerly waiting too, Laura. I’ve never eaten coon and not yet convinced I’ll try it.

    I’ve kept my ducks locked in a dog kennel for the last two nights because of raccoons. They’re a little traumatized by being caught and jailed but that’s better than being eaten. Racoons: 2 ducks Husband: 2 raccoons.

  4. The short answer on the raccoon is Raccoon Sauerbraten. And I promise I will get to the long answer …

  5. One of the lesser talked-about pleasures of keeping livestock is watching them break all rules and conventions, and then make allegiances and choices which, if you’d tried to force them on the animal, would seem crazy. I wouldn’t have thought to put a growing turkey poult with a broody chicken but, hey, who’s to argue with either the poult’s or the chicken’s life choices?

    If only people could be so inclusive and accepting, there’d probably be less Republicans.

    I’m glad it’s ultimtely worked out in your favour, and not the raccoon’s.

    • Silly? Anyone who thinks it’s silly is welcome to suggest an answer.

      The turkeys, as of now, tend to follow us around. If we had to catch them tomorrow, it wouldn’t be difficult. But we have no idea what it’ll be like in November. We do have a cage we use to catch the occasional chicken, and we might have to use that. Or we might have to go to — what are we up to now? — Plan Q, whatever that is.

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