How The Hen House Turns: First Days Of Turkey One

How The Hen House Turns
The First Days Of Turkey One

It’s June 2-4, sometime in the mid-1970s. We called our surviving turkey poult Dee-dum, but the name didn’t stick. She (we hoped) was called Turkey. She is now known in this column as Turkey One.

The young fuzzball insisted on a cuddle every evening at dusk. The rocking chair worked for both of us. After one half-hour, she was sleepy enough to settle down with the chicken chicks on an old ski hat under a piece of pale green blanket. They all slept through the night, quietly, if the box was closed.

On June 5, daughter Shawne and I built a wire enclosure around the elm tree in the back yard, so all the baby birds could run and hunt. Turkey still moved in slow motion compared to the chicks, and she was growing a longer neck. Her eyes were double-ringed and almond shaped.

She liked to be held and would call us with a deep “peep peep,” but she no longer needed to be cuddled to go to sleep. By June 7 she had grown a new set of red-brown feathers. They came out behind her shoulder blades. Her wings had four layers.

She was a smart hunter, much smarter than her chicken nest-mates. She pointed like a Pointer dog, when she spotted a fly on the chicken wire. Then she snatched the fly down her gullet before the chicks could see the delicious snack. In contrast, when the chicks saw a fly, they grabbed it and ran, which alerted the whole flock—and the chase was on.

When the sprinkler was on, turkey was the only one to watch the drops fly though the sky. I remember watching her watch an airplane fly overhead—a rarity in Los Alamos at that time.

Turkey got a lot of attention. The chicken chicks pecked at the red dot above her beak. Her head and neck were still fuzzy, and she was always happy to be held against a warm body, as long as she could stretch her elongating neck up to look around.

My notes use the hopeful word she, but we wouldn’t have a clue, just what gender Turkey would be, until maturity set in. Bird lovers take a large risk raising “pet” turkey poults.


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