Friday, May 31, 2013

and then I melted

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heritage turkey poults from Porters Heritage Turkeys

I dialed the number for the post office of our tiny town, population 532, hoping they were open. The post mistress answered, and I asked, "Has a shipment of birds arrived  for me today?" Then held my breath for her answer.

"Why yes, they have!"

"Can I come and pick them up?"

"You surely may!"

I hung up the phone, giddy as a young child on Christmas morning. I hurried to grab my wallet and keys then ran out to the SUV.

A short 1.5 mile drive later, I was walking into the little post office, greeted by the unmistakable peeping of baby bids - turkey poults to be exact - a shipment of 15, a mixture of rare breeds from Porter's Heritage Turkeys.

The cardboard box holding them seemed unbelievably small and light. It was peppered with air holes which emitted a constant stream of peeping {peep holes!} and through which I could catch glimpses of baby fluff.

Jersey Buff turkey poult and others from Porters Heritage Turkeys

These young babies had traveled two days by post already, living only off of the nourishment absorbed from the yolk as they hatched. They would be hungry and thirsty when I unpacked them.

I set the box gingerly in the passenger seat then drove the short distance home.  The three house cats lolling on the back step watched me with curiosity as I carefully carried the peeping box inside.

A small brooder had been set up in the kitchen, a temporary house in order to observe the poults frequently during their first day, watching for any signs of weakness or illness.

Carefully I cut the masking tape holding the top on the box and held my breath as I lifted the lid.

Tiger Bronze and other turkey poults from Porters Heritage Turkeys

Seventeen pairs of eyes gazed up at me from a sea of colored fluff.  Several birds from four different breeds made up this "grab bag" mix - chosen both because I didn't know which heritage breeds I'd like to raise, and also because if I wanted specific breeds I would have had to wait an additional 2-3 months for the hatchery to ship them (they sell out fast!)

Tiger Bronze, Chocolate Pencilled Palm, Sweetgrass, and Jersey Buff babies with varying plumage {and various red and green and purple marks on their foreheads to indicate which breed was which} milled around in the box, watching me and waiting to see what would happen next.

I gently lifted out one baby at a time, saying to each: "Welcome to our farm.  We are very happy to have you here. Here is where you drink (dipping their beak into the water) and here is where you eat (dipping them into the food).  We love turkeys and we hope you like living here!"

Jersey Buff and Tiger Bronze turkey poult

{Yes, I'm that kind of turkey-lady}

I watched as the colorful flock swarmed around the small brooder, drinking and pecking at the food and anything else that caught their eye.  They all seemed healthy. They would not have to stay long in the small brooder, probably only a few hours.

I left the room, heading for my home office. A chorus of loud peeps followed me. Turkey babies, even more so than chicken babies, have a tendency to prefer to keep their human "mamas" within eyesight.

But I had work to do, webinars to run, a farm to check on. 

Well, maybe just a few more minutes.

Cheers -


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