Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time to Talk Turkey

It is that time of year again!  Our flock of turkeys are getting excited about the prospect of being the guest of honor at Thanksgiving dinners in our area.  Tammy can call out "Thaaaaanksgiving Dinnnerrrrrrrrrr!" and they will respond with a "crowd gobble."  Thus far, we have just over 20 reservations and can take another 20 for these wonderful treats.  The trip to the park will occur on the 22nd/23rd of this month.  Contact us if you are interested.

As a warm up to this post, we'd like to point you to some of our previous turkey related posts:
And now...
Stages of Turkeyness!

Turklets (also known as BEEPS)
We do not hatch turkeys at our farm.  We have enough going on without having to maintain a year-round flock.  So, it is a big event when we pick up the little birds.  Of course, people should remember that when you deal with us on our farm, we do not necessarily bow to convention when it comes to names.

We initially called the baby turkeys "Beeps" in reference to the call they make when they are chicks.  Baby chickens "peep", baby ducks "queep" and baby turkeys "beep."  That's all there is to it.

Three Beeps in the hand is worth... three beeps in the hand.
On the other hand, we recognize that "Beep" sounds terribly unprofessional.  Since we want you all to think highly of us and we want to perpetuate the feeling that we might actually know what we are doing, we revised our reference to baby turkeys to "Turklet."  Yep, that sounds more professional!

Turklets do NOT drink coffee.
Of course, other people might refer to baby turkeys as "chicks" or "poults" or

Now wait for it.... this one REALLY sounds professional.


Well, most people who take turkeys seriously will stick with "poults."  We like "turklet" and we're sticking to it!  Hey, the Urban Dictionary lets us get away with it?  Why not?  And no, we didn't look it up before we started using it.  That's just how we do things at the Genuine Faux Farm.

Turkle (We're still just kids!  Really!)

As the birds grow up, they exhibit a good deal of curiosity.  They can be like a younger child that keeps asking "What's that?"  "What's that?"  The biggest difference is that their retention is MUCH shorter than most human children.

But, it is clear that these are no longer babies, so the designation as a "Turklet" no longer applies.  At our farm, they graduate to being 'turkles.'

You may ask us why and we'll make something up.  But, the most obvious reason is that by the time they get to this size, we are getting busier on the farm.  Tired farmers save their breath by removing the second "t."   That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

What are you doing?  What's that?  Why?
It is about this time that we try to get the birds outside.  They have decent feather coverage and can moderate their body temperature reasonably well.  The biggest issue is keeping them dry.  A wet cold turke often becomes a wet, cold and dead turkle.
Turkles learn to respect electric fences - usually without touching them!
Turkles see their diet gain much more variety as we let them forage and we start sending produce we won't be selling or eating their way.  Favorites are typically cucumbers, melons and tomatoes.  But, we can send a good number of things their way and they'll get to it eventually.

Turkles know they should eat their greens!
Turk (That's a good sized bird.)

Once our birds get close to full size, they graduate to "turk" status.  Yes, the farmers are tired enough that they can't include the "le" any more. 

We're thinking about fanning - but maybe not at this moment.
Male turkeys are generically called "jakes" and the dominant male is called a "tom."  Some people might call the males "gobblers."  The females are called "jennies," but less creative people might call them "hens."

You might be able to see it in the picture above, but it may not be clear enough.  The females usually have much shorter legs than the males and typically are smaller, with a rounder body, slightly shorter neck and/or less 'shoulder.'  Once you've been around them, you can easily see the difference.  It's just less easy to put it into words sometimes.

This IS my good side.
The red flap of skin under the chin is called a "wattle" and the flap that is on the forehead is called a "snood."  No, we are not making this up.  Honest.  Look it up.


At some point after the birds approach adult size, they change from "Turks" to "Knuckleheads."  In this case, the farmers find new energy for extra syllables because the birds sometimes find ways to elicit extra energy from the farmers. 
Muck and Myra were very good at getting the farmer's attention.
 Usually, the turks are pretty good about going back to their room on their own once it gets dark.  But, they have an annoying habit of deciding, every so often, that the farmers need to remind them to go in.  This usually happens on days when the farmers are stressed out.  The temptation to use words other than "knucklehead" increases at those times.

Jake is not entirely serious about fanning in this picture.
When male turkeys fan their feathers, they also drop their wings to the side, fanning those feathers out as well.  And, if you look closer, the feathers on the birds back also stand up.  The wattle and the snood expand and get redder and the color in their faces gets brighter.  The whole purpose is to try to look as big and impressive as they possibly can.

The funny thing about fanning is that we see three week old turklets trying to fan.  We try not to wound their pride by laughing too much.

We have noticed that the males will fan and gobble more when there are visitors on the farm.  Essentially, you have been identified as a rival flock.  So, they're trying to impress you (and show you who is boss).

Tuurrrkeeeeeeeeey Dinnnnnnerrrrrrrrrrrr!
The Final Stage - YUMMY!
Ok, ok.  I realize some of you don't like seeing the birds go from cute to impressive and then have us talk about eating them.  But, that is the reality of it.  We do enjoy raising these birds (most of the time) which is why we keep coming back to it every season.  We are also glad we can give them a decent place to live and be turkeys.

Now, excuse me, I have to go put the knuckleheads back into their room.

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