Sunday, 2 June 2013

Stag Party

It's 2nd June and I'm still watching what was supposed to be our 2012 holiday dinners wandering about the place. Our three hen turkeys got a free pass based on personality (I never met the goose we ate for Christmas). Person-ability and the fact that they have consistently laid turkey eggs, which turn out to be delicious and sell for a premium, made them a good addition to our poultry stock.

When spring came they started acting weird (from a non-turkey perspective) - laying down and hissing. If you'd walked close by a turkey hen, she would instantly "decompress", and arch her neck. This was the best poultry party trick ever. When people stopped by I would insist they come and see the turkeys that I'd trained to lie down like a dog. I'd walk close to a turkey hen, put out my hand and give the command "Lie Down Turkey!".

I wish I had photos of the looks on people's faces.

When no one was around, I'd walk up to a turkey and say "The power of Christ compels you!" a la The Exorcist movie, and then giggle like crazy when they flopped down. If I had those myotonic (fainting) goats I would never get any work done at all.

It seemed that this squatting was in preparation for mating, but we were short a stag turkey. Underkeeper Ian went to the poultry auction this morning and purchased one for the princely sum of £5 (plus 75 pence buyer's fee).

Meet Trevor -

Trevor is a large Norfolk Black stag turkey. I don't know his age, or anything about his background. For a fiver, he was worth taking a chance on.

Trevor rode home loose in the back of Ian's Land Rover, with an old camouflage coat for a bed. When I placed him on the lawn next to a hen turkey and he immediately started showing off -

And the hen's response? She just walked off to sit under a hedge. Who knew turkeys could be so fickle? 

I'm sure Trevor will settle in. He's only been here for an hour and he's already introducing himself to the others in the garden. The pups seem impressed with him.

"That's the biggest chicken I've ever seen...."

Most of the Buff Orpington hens are sitting on small clutches of eggs, and one turkey has commandeered a clutch of chicken eggs for herself. I'll leave them all broody for now. I'm expecting my annual delivery of 30 day-old meat chicken chicks when I return from Spain. I plan to divide them between these hens. It saves me rearing them under a light and gives the chicks a healthier, less stressful start on life. 

The rest of the flock is happy simply to enjoy the sunshine and free-range amenities. 


Robin said...

Judging by his spurs and beard he's three or four, still fertile.

I laughed out loud with the turkey tricks. Can't wait to try them on my visitors next year.

Jennifer Montero said...

Robin - I'm so thankful for you guys out there in the internets! Thanks for ageing him and verifying that he's still able to do the job. How long do stags remain fertile?

He's settling in quickly, is in full display now with tail up tilting it back and forth, showing off to anything that will look at him.

Do you keep turkeys? Any vital health and well-being info about them is always welcome.

megan said...

you crack me up.

and - Spain? Where to? Nosey armchair travelers want to know.

Anonymous said...


Poppy Cottage said...

How long till your riding holiday? will the pups have gone? Can I see them before you go? Sooooo many questions.

If I don't see you before hand have wonderful time xx

Hazel said...

I want a hen turkey now, just so I can do those tricks! Barbara Kingsolver wrote about her first turkey hen going broody; she thought it was on it's way out...

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

God I love Stupid Poultry Tricks. We like to persuade visitors to leave their car doors or trunks open because we know George, our investigating hen, will go in.

We decided not to do turkeys this year, after last year's free-range havoc, but when I saw the poults at the feed store I was thisclose.

Good luck with the flock!

Jennifer Montero said...

Megan - To a small village about an hour's drive outside Barcelona. I'll know more after I've been, and will give armchair travellers a full report with photos.

I'm ashamed at how bad both my Spanish and my knowledge of Spain's geography are. I hope this trip will help. I leave tomorrow, and I'll be back Monday.

Jennifer Montero said...

PC - If your time allows come next week. I'll be back from Spain on Monday.

Jennifer Montero said...

Hazel - That's exactly what I though when the first hen did it. I wormed her!