One Man's Ruminations About Faith, Family, and Livin' The Good Life
Getting Started With Turkeys
We bought twelve, day-old turkeys back in May. They are five weeks old. We are raising them for meat. We have raised chickens for meat for several years, but not turkeys. So this is something new for us.
One turkey will go to our good neighbor who lets us use some of his land (at no charge) for our agrarian pursuits. We may barter one or two birds with friends who raise beef. We’ve done this, pound for pound, with our chickens in the past. We hope to have land to raise a beef or two someday. But we’re doing what we can with what little we have now.
I’ve heard that turkeys are harder to raise than chickens because they are more stupid. Being more stupid than a chicken is really stupid. Now, I’ll bet there are people out there who love chickens and will assert that chickens are actually very intelligent animals. Well, I happen to enjoy and appreciate chickens myself, but I maintain that they are still stupid. Or, to put it more nicely, how about this: they are “brain deficient.” It’s a proven fact that chickens don’t have a brain in their head.
As evidence of this fact, I present the famous Wyandotte rooster, Mike, of Fruita, Colorado.If you haven’t yet heard the story of Mike the headless chicken, prepare to be amazed.
Back in 1945, Mike’s owner, a farmer named Lloyd Olsen, decided to make a meal of Mike. He chopped his head off in the back yard. The bird didn’t die. It walked around like it still had a head. What would you do if you had a headless chicken strutting around your barnyard?
Yes, Mr. Olsen took the bird on tour. He charged people a quarter to see his famous chicken. He made a lot of money off that bird. Mike even made it into Life magazine. He lived for 18 months without his head before accidentally dying in a hotel room in Phoenix. You can learn more about Mike the headless chicken here.
Anyway, I can tell you that young turkeys have a different “personality” than young chickens. For one thing, they are more curious, and stupid. Did I mention that turkeys are stupid?
The top edge of the cart is about 29” off the ground (or, in this instance, the floor of my shop). The turkey chicks were about 5” high at the time. So they were jumping over the edge and falling a distance six time their height. That’s the equivalent of you or me jumping off a three-story building. Of course, turkeys have wings and we don’t. But at a week old, their wings don’t work very well. They do not land very gracefully. The point is, it’s a stupid thing to do, especially more than once. Somehow, though, they survived.
After a week, I moved the ugly little darlings to a larger enclosure with taller sides inside my shop. We fed them turkey chick starter and made sure they had clean water at all times. In addition to that, we made a point, right from the start, of feeding them comfrey leaves. I was surprised that, at two days old, they eagerly took to the green leaves (I’ll admit, this was an indication of some intelligence on their part).
At first, we cut the leaves into little slivers with scissors. As the birds have grown, I’ve cut the leaves larger. Now that they are out in a chicken tractor, I take whole stalks of comfrey and start at the stalk end cutting chunks off with pruning shears. I switch to scissors when I get to the leafy top. I do this comfrey feeding twice a day and the turkeys swarm over the forage like feathered pigs, gobbling it all down.
And speaking of pigs, we adopted a pig-raising technique from Northern Farmer, Tom Scepaniak. In his Plain Talk interview with Rick Saenz. Tom tells how he introduces soil to newborn piglets in the barn. They can smell it, play with it, and even eat it.
With that thought in mind, I used a shovel to chop out a circle of sod, with long grass and weeds on the top, and I put it in the brooder with the turkeys. They were too yound and weak to peck and eat the greens but they had a lot of fun trying. Every day, I put in a fresh piece of sod and it was a big attraction to the little critters.
When the time came to put them out on “pasture” (otherwise known as our lawn, as seen in the beginning photo) the turkeys were no stranger to the greens and have become good grass eaters.
I’m not an expert on raising turkeys but I’m learning. And, so far, I’m doing pretty good at it. All twelve turkeys are healthy and growing. I really do think comfrey leaves and sod have contributed significantly to this success. It’s something to keep in mind the next time you get some turkey chicks.
P.S. If you have not yet read my other poultry-related essays, I invite you to do so. Here are the links...
I (Herrick KImball) have been blogging here about Faith, Family & Livin' The Good Life since 2005. Browse down this column and you will discover a rich resource of contra-industrial thought, down-to-earth inspiration & useful how-to information.
CLICK HEREto view the archive of links to past Deliberate Agrarian monthly "blogazines."
My Stewardculture Magazine Interview (Part 1)
Click The Picture For Details
Delmar Ain't So Stupid...
Click on Delmar and read why I think he's the smartest of the three characters in the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" movie
Aphorisms Of The Fathers...
And The Mothers (click the picture)
My New York Times Op-Ed Article
The Jeffersonian Solution (click the man and read the article)
Check Out My New Whizbang Gardening Facebook Page...
(click the picture to get there)
Reestablishing The Family Economy—Part 1
It's A Biblical Imperative (click the picture)
Reestablishing The Family Economy—Part 2
We Are Not Called To Be Slaves (click the picture)
Reestablishing The Family Economy—Part 3
Profile of a Free Man (click the picture)
Reestablishing The Family Economy—Part 4
Sage Advice For Would-Be Farmers (click the picture)
Corporationism vs Independent Patriarchal Units
Lyberty Hyde Bailey (1927) Read it and weep. (click the picture)
Read The Book— Writings Of A Deliberate Agrarian
…Now available as a PDF download for only $4.50 (click the picture for details)
Farming 1.5 Acres...
…And Making A Good Living. (click the picture)
Goodness, Beauty & Loving The Earth
A Christian-Agrarian Missive on God's Creation
We can learn a lot from the old agricultural writings (Click the picture for more details)
This Man, Now Deceased, Predicted The Economic Decline of America Back in The 1950's.
Click the picture to read about Professor Walter Prescott Webb's Boom Hypothesis of Modern History, and where we are headed from here
Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense...
I posted this to the internet in early 2008. It is still the most practical advice you'll get for dealing with the harsh economic realities that we face now and will face even more in the years ahead. (click the picture to read the essay)
Modern Banking is An Evil System of Economic Oppression
Click the picture for details
The Coming Pension Crisis...
...And what you can do about it. (click the picture)
How To Get Through The Coming Hyperinflation
click the picture to read the 6-part series
Have You Considered Deflation?
Martin Armstrong seems pretty sure of himself (click the sign for details)
The Christian Doctrine of Work
Something's Missing in The 10 Commandmants as it is commonly known. (click the picture)
Scott Nearing's "Horse Chow"
A Four Part Series (click on any of the raisins in the bowl)
Mr. Tesoro's Story
(click the picture)
Blessed is the Man...
Reflections on "tax day." (click the old paper)
Some Thoughts on Christian-Agrarian Community (click the picture)
A Herod Nation
Is that What America Has Become? (click the picture)
How To Remember (And Teach Your Children) The 10 Commandments
click the sad bath
Light in Our Dwellings...
Christianity + Agrarianism = Hope In the midst of a dying industrial culture (click the light)
Have You Seen My Whizbang Gardening Book?
5 stars at Amazon. Click the cover to learn more.
New From Planet Whizbang... The Old-Timer's Poultry Library
A rare and fascinating resource for the poultry lover (click the picture for details)
Take A Short Tour Of My Garden...
Strawberries From My Garden!
Grown the "E.P. Roe Way" (click the picture to learn more)
Rural Americans: Cannon Fodder For The New World Order
Click on Sergeant York to read the story.
Freedom Isn't Free (And Other Propoganda)
(click the picture)
Esther Stermer Was A Conspiracy Theorist!
Obviously the woman was a little crazy.… Right? (click the picture for the story)
How Free Men Become Slaves...
A Contra-Industrial Parable From The Okefenokee Swamp (click the pigs)
I Make Classic American Clothespins
click the clothespin and learn all about them.
Have You been to The Agrarian Foundation Article Archives?
(click the picture and go)
What Would an Agrarian Monetary System Look Like?
Well, for one thing, it would NOT be based on paper money. Click Andy Jackson for some details.
Thomas Jefferson's Warnings About Government Debt (Then and Now)
Read it and weep (click the president)
How Farmers Became Slaves To The Corporate Masters
Click on the mostly forgotton 1937 book by Professor Walter Prescott Webb and learn the sad story
A Christian-Agrarian perspective (click the picture to read the essay)
The Puritan Theology of Suffering...
An excellent treatise on a difficult subject. (click the picture to learn more)
A Missive On The Prosperity-Driven Life
"The desire to be rich, to have an abundance of possessions and money, is the keystone of our modern, neo-Babylonian culture." (click the picture for my perspective)
Prosperity Gospel/ Prosperity Idolatry
Click the picture to hear John Piper's powerful 2.5 minute condemnation of the modern prosperity gospel
... And Me (click the trap)
Another of my online projects (click the picture)
Have You Been To Planet Whizbang?
It's my deliberate agrarian home business. Click the beet and check it out.
NEW…. Whizbang Notes
These delightful little notebooks are a great down-to-earth tool. Click the beet to learn more.
Have You Seen The Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe I Invented?
Click The Picture For Details about the hoe and the inexpensive wheel hoe kits I sell
I Invite You To Read My Online Gardening Essays
Click on that beautiful handful of sifted compost.
The Wife Of My Youth...
A Blessed Man's Reflections on Young Love (click the happy faces)
Eulogy For Evelyn
She was my mother-in-law. (click the picture)
Ken Badman's Good Example
Actions Speak Louder Than Words. (click the picture)
We make our own maple syrup. Click on the picture for complete how-to details.
Have You Seen Leo Sprauer's Handcrafted Hop Hoe?
Click the picture to learn more.
Learn About Whizbang Bucket Irrigation...
(click the trickle valve)
Have You Read Roe?
E.P. Roe, that is. Click on his picture to read some excerpts from this remarkable Christian-agrarian author of the 1800s.
Yeomen don't buy furniture. They make their own. (click the picture)
Yeoman Furniture (Part 2)
Waste Not, Want Not (click the picture for the story)
My Amazing Whizbang Apple Grinder
You can make awesome apple mash, ready for pressing, in no time with this homemade device. Click on the picture to learn more
We Make Apple Cider
You can too (click on the picture to learn how)
Twelve Years Old Today
He's actually 22 now, but my prayer is the same
This is William Kimball (Him An Me Is Kin)
Click on the picture for William's Story
Click on the picture and I'll show you how to butcher a chicken
The Lovely Marlene With A Homemade Whizbang Garden Cart
Anyone can make a Whizbang Garden Cart. Click on the picture to learn how.
My Whizbang Row Cover Hoop System
Finally Online as of 1/29/10 (click the pic)
Have You Seen Jax Hamlin's Chickens?
Click The Chicken!
This Blog Promotes Personal Responsibility And Traditional Concepts of American Liberty
"If a community, or a section, or a race, or an age, is groaning under industrialism, and well aware that it is an evil dispensation, it must find a way to throw it off. To think that this cannot be done is pusillanimous. And if the whole community, section, race, or age thinks it cannot be done, then... it has doomed itself to impotence."
The Christian-Agrarian Exodus of 1620
The Pligrims did NOT come to America for religious freedom. (click the picture)
Vacuum Bottle Thermos Cooking
Learn how to prepare and cook simple, inexpensive, wholesome meals (click the thermos bottle to read)
The Sermon I'll Never Forget
Pastor West was at Iwo Jima (click Mt. Suribachi)
Planting Potatoes With A Little Girl
"I must admit that four year old girls were once something like aliens to me." (click the pic)
Boys Will Be…. Warriors
Swinging homemade maces at each other can be great fun! (click the warriors)
Benny's Grandfather Was A Ditch Digger
And He Grew Tomatoes (click the Big Boy)
Backyard Poultry Processing With My 11-Year-Old Son
If he can do it, so can you. (click on the smiley face)
Another Summer Evening's Meal
This is the kind of food we dream about in the depths of winter. (click on the picture)
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Click on the silly boy's nose for a pickled scape tutorial
"Every Bean's A Blessing, Boys"
Dried beans present an opportunity to teach important things to my children (click the beans)
I bought my sons hay hooks, and they have gotten a lot of use since I wrote this essay