Friends, we wish you the very best today, a joyful day of thanks. Kayla and I are thankful for our harvest, for this day of rest, and we are thankful for you, our friends, and your support of our farm. Here is a note about your turkey.
These turkeys came to us through the US Mail as day old chicks, back in August. It was far too hot, at 100-plus degrees, to put the turkeys in the commercial brooder in the barn. I dragged three cattle watering troughs into the living room and filled them with bedding material of oak leaves and sand, and waterers, feeders, and heat lamps. The turkey chicks were very happy in their modified brooders.
At the last minute, I remembered that I should send Kayla a message, to prepare her. I left her a text that there would be a wonderful surprise waiting for her when she walked into the house after work. Husbands, a word of advice: if you fill your living room with cattle troughs full of turkeys, don’t prepare your wife for a “wonderful surprise”. She will think of flowers, candy, or something even more romantic. The turkey chicks will be a guaranteed let-down, and the smell of urine will be another issue altogether. After hosting the turkeys in our house for the first three weeks of their fertilizer-making lives, we moved them to the garden.
We raised these turkeys on a Three Sisters garden surrounded by a poultry fence, to keep the turkeys in and the alligators and coyotes out. Three Sisters companion planting is the Native American Indian method for growing vegetables.
Turkeys are excellent foragers, and they meticulously worked through the blue Hopi Indian corn, the butternut and acorn squash, and the Mayflower beans. Mayflower beans are an heirloom variety that were brought over on the Mayflower, and have been in continuous production in America ever since. Mayflower beans were the chief source of protein for our turkeys. As the turkeys cleared the garden of vegetables and plant material, the weeds grew dense, and the turkeys ate that also, along with plenty of bugs. These turkeys ate very well.
Three Sisters gardens supplied all of the produce for the first Thanksgiving meal, and we wanted our turkeys to have a traditional meal, before they became a traditional meal.
An osprey flew into the garden, one morning at sunrise, and attacked one of the turkeys. Ospreys are majestic hunting birds, fearsome predators, much bigger than a red-shouldered hawk. The osprey landed on the turkey, and wrestled it down, his beak clamped to a wing, and the white turkey flapped his wings and tried to escape. Fortunately, Bando and I were walking out to the pen, and Bando scared the osprey away.
The wing of the turkey was cut and bleeding, but not broken. An injured turkey must be separated from the flock, because the other birds will pick at the wound and ultimately pick the injured turkey to death. I treated the damaged wing and put the hurt turkey with the pigs, to keep the turkey safe. Turkeys are very sociable, so I invited a couple of other turkeys to join him. The turkeys learned to drink from the pig watering nipple during their stay in the “turkey hospital”. After a week or so, the wing was healed, and the turkeys rejoined their flock.
Friends, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. If you are enjoying one of our birds, please know that your turkey was raised with the best of old-fashioned methods, to make a very happy Thanksgiving turkey.