Tuesday, June 4, 2013

not with their elders

In years past, if a gentle sort of insult was wanted, a person was referred to as a turkey. 

Not until becoming a grower of turkeys did I give this much thought. For years we have grown heritage breed turkeys to be delivered fresh for Thanksgiving. We don't offer a lot: 150 usually, at the most. We take a deposit and usually all deposits are in by October, and the week just before Thanksgiving is an incredibly busy time. 

We grow the bronze turkey. They arrived at the farm as day old peepers a couple of months ago. They go into the brooder, which over the years has had many modifications: hard cloth wire so little can get in, lights into a hover, inedible ground cover, special feed mixes and more. 

We grow without antibiotics or growth hormones. No arsenic either. No extra goo in their water, with long lists of unpronounceable ingredients to "ensure polt health". So we lose a lot right in the beginning. After a while we put them out in the field pens and we lose some more. They get bigger as the months go by, and the largest ones will fight with each other and we lose a few more. 

The hatchery will provide replacements for the ones that are lost in shipment, or within the first 24 hours. It is inevitable that we need some replaced. 

The replacement flock went onto the field the other day. They have had their own brooder and now their own pen. If we mixed flocks the older ones would kill the younger ones. In the last flock still in the brooder are the replacements to our replacements. 

That's how, at Thanksgiving, we have birds that weigh 5 pounds. Birds that weigh 35 pounds. And everything in between. 

And maybe how the term turkey became the gentle insult that it used to be. Because they are not too bright, sensitive to every fluctuation in temperature and rain, cost a small fortune and flat keel over dead over nothing. 


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