turkey love, fall garden starts (july 2012)

turkey love

The 45 Thanksgiving turkey babies moved to the big pasture today. A week ago, their heads were still fuzzy, they looked just like little chickens and would easily have been able to scoot right through the big pasture fence. But today they were ready. Their heads and necks were about to become naked, and that is a good sign for “big enough to be out in the great outdoors.”

The turkey babies have been living outdoors for about a month in chicken tractors which we moved to fresh grass each day. The success with their early training about greens-eating was very apparent, as they raced to the new turf with excited peep whistles each morning, preferring the greens even over their organic grain mix. Suddenly the tractors with the baby turkeys inside, needed to be moved twice a day! We even rolled the tractors into the brushy under growth around the oak tree and they ate every morsel of green. Voracious little veloci-raptors!

Sometimes with all the stuff going on here, it’s easy to forget the simple enjoyments. And that’s no good! I find immense joy in hanging out with our animals, watching them exploring & interacting with each other. After the turkey babes were moved, I went in there and just sat with the turkeys for awhile. They’d merged with the 8 Summer turkeys, who were not so keen on these youngsters raining on their parade of a private, giant, lush woodland pasture. However, after the initiation period, the group acted like family. Turkeys are not vindictive jerks like chickens are. The giant summer turkeys are now peacefully wandering the area with the tinies underfoot, like it’s just yesterday’s news.

What do I love about turkeys? What’s not to love?! They make wonderful calls, are so in-tune with what you are doing, they are serene, beautiful, so efficient in their growth. Domestic turkeys are also more closer to the native turkeys than one might think- and naturally hardy. And they have such a joy and love for foraging. Right before I left the peaceful shady browsing spot, I watched a youngster racing through the brambles with a giant dandelion leaf in his beak- with one of the big Summer turkeys on his tail. Turkeys do suffer from the “what you have is mine” syndrome. But this little peeper ran to me and hid under my leg, gulping down his leaf like a penguin chick swallowing a whole fish. Absolutely adorable.

the animal

Feeling a little shee-rah. I tackled the broccoli bed and I won. Each mongoid plant had to be pulled out, and all the weeds and grass encroaching, so the tiller can wizz down the soil and fluff it up for the next round of fall garden fun. I want more rutabagas, daikon radish, winter radishes and i still have baby cabbages ready to transplant as well. So I pulled, hauled and dragged all that stuff out of the bed. The ducks were most pleased to be given broccoli trunks, as were the goats! I wonder if the milk tonight will taste slightly sulfuric?

Then, after clearing the bed, I started hauling compost over. I dreaded this part. Doing everything by hand is tiring! And the compost pile Andrew had moved from the goat shed clean out this spring was loaded with massive healthy weeds. But I did it, forking black gold into wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.

Andrew and his Dad worked on the sheetrocking of our new official “egg handling” room. Woot woot!

Lunch was absolutely delicious -BLTs with purchased bread, (no way are we baking bread these hot days!) our own lettuce, tomatoes and home grown and cured and smoked bacon from Rosie the magnificent pig.

After a slug of coffee, I tackled blanching and freezing over 20 gallons worth of veggies. Kale, broccoli florets and green beans. Broccoli had a tough time this year, with the super hot days it just responded with bolting and not making nice fat heads. All our CSA shares got some, and in between those deliveries, I picked the side shoots for our own use. This helped the plants respond with more side shoots, aka bite-sized broccoli.

For about 4 hours I cut, colandered, blanched, chilled and bagged veggies. Bringing 21 quart sized bags of veggies down into the basement cube freezer: priceless.

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