Let’s Talk Turkey
While I’m awaiting the results of my mite treatments, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the turkeys I mentioned last week. Sure, they’re not chickens, but they’re poultry, and they’re interesting to me, so here we are. Here we are, surrounded by turkeys.
We thought that we had one family of turkeys with 15 poults (which are baby turkeys, if you’ve forgotten) living in our yard and trees, but some of the theories about our large neighbors have recently changed. Last week I came home from work, and saw two turkeys with a lot of babies across the street, heading into the cornfield, which may or may not be good news for the farmer. Then about 10 minutes later, I looked out the window, and there were two turkeys, but only with about six babies in tow. “Where’d all the babies go?” my wife asked, and then we realized we probably knew, but maybe didn’t want to think about it. But then I thought about it. I had seen the big family that morning, spread out across two lawns next door. I had seen the big family across the street a few minutes earlier. Then it hit me. “I’m not sure these are the same turkeys,” I said. “There may be two sets of families working this area.” Then we got to thinking. When we used to see turkeys, they would be further down the road, and it was a flock of 10 to 20 birds. Turkey moms tend to lay their eggs and then pair up with another female to raise the poults. The tom turkeys are basically deadbeat dads in this scenario. If the big flock down the road was all ladies, and they all had babies, then that was 5 to 10 pairs of turkeys with babies. That’s a lot of turkeys. I’m pretty sure the second set of turkeys we saw that day was a totally different family, and the ones I had seen in the cornfield were still in there when these others arrived.
As we watched them walk across the front yard, we were struck by how hilarious it is when the poults run. Those little legs go a mile a minute, but the bodies don’t seem to move that fast. Then a mother and a few babies all lined up, and made the classic Partridge Family logo, or in this case, Turkey Family, which I found out meant that I would have the Partridge Family theme song stuck in my head for days. Then I caught one of the adults looking at my car. In Boston, there are quite a few wild turkeys, and I am convinced that turkeys are the next wave of gentrifiers. The stories you hear about the city turkeys is how aggressive they are, and they often attack cars. It turns out that what they’re actually doing is attacking their reflections in the sides of the cars, thinking it’s another turkey. This would be the males during mating season, and this would be another reason that tom turkeys are probably best avoided. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver talks about how incredibly aggressive her turkeys were, and that the males even tried to mate with her if she turned her back to them. So all these thoughts were going through my head as the turkey looked at my car, and I mumbled aloud, “you leave my car alone.” It seemed to work, and the turkey slowly made her way across the yard, over the stone wall into the neighbor’s yard, and eventually out of sight. It probably also helped that she was not a tom looking for a mate.
Poults will stay with their families for the first year of their lives, so in a few months, or however long it takes them to reach regular turkey size, we are going to have a ton of turkeys milling around. I’m sure some will fall to predators, but then next year they’ll all lay eggs again, and soon there may be even more turkeys. Too Many Chickens(!) may soon turn into Buried By Turkeys. But if they eat ticks, I welcome our new turkey overlords.
(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music bed: Tiger Rag-One Step by Original Dixieland Jazz Band)