November 24, 2010 – On the Dreadful Side of Miserable

31 degrees. 32 degrees. 33 degrees. Rain. Sleet. Ice Pellets. Thunder. 30 mph wind. Repeat. Today was an absolutely miserable day to butcher turkeys.

Ice covered everything – from the propane tank.

To the hog barn that caught the overspray from the plucker. Working with water on such a day leads to very difficult conditions. A couple of changes of clothes down to the undies. 13 turkeys and 8 chickens later, the job was done.

one year ago…”Lemons at High Hopes”

September 26, 2009 – Foraging Turkeys

It’s about time for a turkey update.  After the skunk in the brooder house, we were left with 12 turkeys.  One them had a badly damaged leg from the skunk and wasn’t moving around too well, so now that they are about big chicken size, we threw it in with the chicken butchering.

turkeys ofraging

The rest of them are happily about, foraging and being turkeys, starting to gobble and puff up at any hint of danger.  Back from my days at the county conservation board, I learned that turkeys don’t like owls, so if you make an owl hoot, the turkeys send out an alarm that spreads through the flock.

one year ago…”Stainless Steel Milk Cans”

July 21, 2009 – Turkeys Arrive

Today the turkeys arrived, just in time to mature by Thanksgiving.


Here’s a two-day old turkey poult (baby turkey). They’ll be inside and under a heat lamp until they are strong/big enough to survive outside.

baby turkeys

A group of poults gets used to their new home. We’re thinking of butchering our own poultry this year, after we try some chickens we’ll know if we want to attempt the turkeys!

one year ago…”Red Green Alive and Well at High Hopes”

November 25, 2008 – Waiting for Turkeys

I was up at 5 am to bring the turkeys to Milo, about 30 miles south of Des Moines.  It’s first-come first serve and my turkeys got in about 11:00.  Then it was about a three hour wait until they chilled in ice water so they could be transported.  After dropping some off in Ames, it was home about 6:30.  In the three hour wait, I visited a park close by the locker, Lake Ahquabi State Park.

There was a unique structure out at the end of a dock.

Inside the structure was an opening that went to the lake.  It was an indoor fishing shack.  Could be handy on a wet or hot day!

one year ago…”Last Lambs of the Season”.

November 24, 2008 – Loading Turkeys

Thanks to Martin, the turkeys look good and are ready to go.  The second day we had the turkeys, Martin sheepishly asked us if he could take care of the turkeys.  We anointed him primary turkey feeder and waterer.  About a week or so into the turkey care, we went to bed one night, but Martin had snuck a note on our pillow thanking us for letting him take care of the turkeys.  Evidently, it was important for him to have a significant chore, and so he did.

The turkeys will be fresh for Thanksgiving, heading to the locker tomorrow.

one year ago…”Change of Season”.

October 13, 2008 – Pastured Turkeys

Our pastured turkeys are now out living the good turkey life.  These are the regular old commercial turkeys but we’ve trained them some new tricks.

We move this old hay wagon around the pasture with their feeder connected to it.  If it’s not raining they roost on top of the wagon at night.  We’ve got some electric netting around their area to keep predators out.  They get water in a different place from a 55 gallon bucket that fills from the gutters off an old outbuilding.  We leave the door open in the brooding shed and they can seek shelter in there if the weather turns nasty (and they have).

one year ago…”Teotihuacán Ruins”.

August 9, 2008 – Poults Arrive

Our poults (baby turkeys) arrived this week.

Here they are in the brooding area. (Knock on wood) they’ve all survived the transport and first few days.  Martin has stepped up and has taken primary chore responsibility for the turkeys, so is the first one to feed and water them every day.  We have 16 this year.  Last year many died in transport, so this year is already better.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #83″

November 20, 2007 – Wholesome Winter Meals

We brought the turkeys into the locker this morning.  They dressed out a good size for us – 15-23 pounds.

We took five of them and cut them up into one-meal sized packages.  Emma is turning into an accomplished poultry cutter and works side by side with her mother here, cutting up the turkeys.

one year ago…

November 19, 2007 – The Turkeys

Success this year.  We raised 10 turkeys this year and all 10 are still alive. They are now living out in the pasture and use an old hay rack for shelter/roosting.  Even at 20+ pounds, they are still strong enough to fly up to the top rail of the hay rack. 

These turkeys seemed particularly happy – one morning we were late getting out to feed them and we were surprised they en masse found a way to get to the back door of the house to announce breakfast was late!

one year ago…

September 29, 2007 – More Folks Poking Around the Farm

Today we had some students from a livestock class tour the farm. It sounds like a fun class – the students tour dairy, elk, goat, and a wide range of common and uncommon livestock farms.

We fit into the small and diversified category. Here, I am getting ready to demonstrate how owl hoots get the turkeys to gobble and fluff up their feathers.

I still remember when I learned this trick from a turkey hunter when I had a summer job at the Story County Conservation Board. I didn’t believe “Joe” when he said, he could make wild turkeys gobble. So one day when we drove down a gravel road into a small timbered valley, he stopped the truck, stuck his head out the window and gave some owl hoots, and out of the woods, came the turkey alarms. I didn’t think there were any wild turkeys living there, let alone that he could get them to talk. It even works on domestic turkeys. I guess the owls are one of the turkey’s enemies and if they hear an owl, they set out the alarm.

one year ago…