The Call Again Farm Journal

  (East Aurora, New York)
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Not Cut Out For CSI

It's sort of ironic.  Big Guy died last night probably right around the same time the first of his babies this year made its first peck at its egg shell and began the process of hatching.  The circle of life in one hour.

No poults (baby turkeys) have hatched yet.  There's the one early one, who began the hatching process last night, has a little "peephole" pecked in its shell.  No other egg has begun hatching yet.  This is okay, because they're not supposed to be hatched until tomorrow.  I'm worried about that one egg, though, because I've been through enough hatches to know that the poult that begins hatching first, way before all the others, rarely actually makes it out of the shell.  It ends up getting too tired and dying in there.

We found Big Guy's body this morning.  Last night, we sort of could tell the feather trail led towards the foxes' den, but it was too dark to find a body.  This morning Dianna and I followed the feather trail.  At times it we'd lose it, but then we'd find it again.  At one point, there was corn from the turkey feed on the ground, suggesting that Big Guy's crop got ripped open.  At another point, the trail along which he had been dragged was quite obvious, because you could see where dirt had been worn away by his thrashing.  He didn't go down without a fight.  We finally find his body, intact except for a missing head.  We didn't get it moved and buried until this evening, by which time someone had snacked on the body some more.  It's nice to find the body of a turkey lost to predators and bury it, but still, I know from these experiences that I could not be a crime scene investigator.

We kept a close eye on the hens today, checking on them any time they made a noise or one got out of our view.  Two-Tone, Big Guy's favorite, seems very lost.  They know what happened, and they've been acting pretty scared today.

It's rather interesting that this year we've lost the first chicken we lost to predators this year was the rooster, and the first turkey we lost to predators this year was the tom.  It suggests that all the displaying they do to "protect" their hens from me isn't just show.  They're actually willing die to save their hens, and do.

I've lost turkeys to predators before.  Every year I do, but never like this.  Several times, a hen has a nest we don't know about, she goes broody on it, and stays out all night...until the fox/raccoon/owl finds her.  The other times I've lost turkeys in the past to predators, a young turkey will get freaked out when being herded and run off into the woods, never to be seen or head from again.  (Although one time, I found one such escapee's bones and feathers a couple of months after it's grand escape.)  Never before has it been before dark that we've lost a turkey, and such a big tom at that.  That's what the big deal is.

I suppose many farmers would not allow the turkeys to continue to roam, or would try to kill the foxes.  I won't do either.  I won't do the latter because I realize hunting is just what foxes are meant to do.  I was an environmentalist and animal lover long before I was a farmer, and still am an environmentalist and animal lover.  I won't do the former because without being able to roam and fly, my turkeys are so unhappy the might as well be dead.  We're just going to have to do a better job keeping them safe. 

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