The turkeys on the Art Farm are Narragansetts – a heritage breed built for strolling around a farmyard, a little sleeker and more old-fashioned than the broad-breasted birds produced by the industrial facilities for our supermarkets.
Right now we’ve got Tompkins, Cameo, and Honey. (And two of the three American Buff geese – looks like Murphy and O’Hara.)
Tommy will be a year old in June. But he’s already quite certain that he’s a very big deal. Before I had turkeys, I thought that people always took photos of the toms displaying because it was a picturesque opportunity. Actually he spends most of the day strutting.
Not to diminish the ladies - they tend to be a little more clever and agile.
They’ve all been enjoying the newly-bare earth cleared of snow. Throughout the entire winter, they didn’t get to enjoy a dust bath. Now they’re mad for it. So it was no surprise to see the girls rolling and fluffing in the dirt. But oddly, one looked a funny color through the kitchen window. Wait – there’s an extra hen.
A wild visitor had dropped in. She hung out all day.
…and appeared again, the next day.
That evening, there was a loud commotion. A lot more gobbling than usual. That’s saying something. A leaf falls, Tommy gobbles. I tune it out. But this was ongoing. Only the males gobble. The hens talk, but the gobble is a boy thing. And I was hearing quite a bit of it.
Wouldn’t you know it? Her ex came looking for her.
A wild tom! A mature guy – see the hairy ponytail sticking out of his chest? His beard. It’s a trophy thing that turkey hunters keep. Like an antler growing out of his chest. Very masculine. It’s Steven Seagal’s ponytail. made of chest hair, growing out of the chest of a creature that isn’t even a mammal.
Nevertheless… Miss Wild Thing wanted to hang with her domesticated buddies. She was roosting in a nearby tree overnight, and hanging out all day.
Turkeybro didn’t like it.
He and Tommy have been kicking it up. Yesterday both wild turks were inside the fence, and the boys took it up again in the afternoon. I didn’t see it, but there were a lot of bronze feathers on the ground. Turkey guy ran from me, but couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t walk through the fence. Turkeys don’t get fences. They can fly to roost on stuff, but the complexity of flying over a 48″ fence for the purpose of getting to the other side is apparently beyond their capacity.
The wild tom paced the fence on the far side of the pond, but the hen was living it up hanging out with her girlfriends.
It’s odd to me that she’s been so persistent in hanging around. She’s not getting fed. The birds have to squeeze through a (goat and horse-excluding) gate to enter their overnight pen, and that’s the only place where they have access to feed. I’m quite certain she’s not going into the pen, it’s very enclosed and very near to the house.
It’s not legal to raise wild turkeys in captivity, in MA. They’re as common as whitetail deer, and seem to acclimate to human proximity quite readily. I imagine she’ll move on when she feels like nesting, or when a new band of wild birds comes through.
But in the meantime… they’re playing. Digging holes.
Really fascinating, if you’re a turkey, apparently!
If we didn’t enjoy the neighbors, we’d have picked somewhere else to live.