The Turkeviction

It was time. The turkeys had to go.

I do admit it was fun having them in the basement, and certainly while they are growing from little chickees into young turkeys it is advantageous to keep them in a safe and confined environment. But they should have been moved outside anywhere up to a month ago. I’ve discovered why most people don’t keep farm animals in their houses for a long time – eventually the poop and fly ratio becomes way too high! But hey, that’s learning, and it’s nothing that a bit of hard work won’t clean up.

The question was, where to put the turkeys. I did not want to put them with my other farm animals, as I have chickens, and chickens can carry a disease called blackhead disease which is pretty lethal to turkeys. Even though my turkeys have medication against blackhead in their feed, I did not want to chance it. I had read that Jenna (of Cold Antler Farm) was met with some turkey losses and I was a bit paranoid, so the area needed to be fenced in and we will lock the guys in at night. Three of them are Christmas dinners and the other three are my future breeding stock, so losing even one will not be great for me. So if anything the theme of the day was overbuild. And I’m sure we did. Mostly thanks to my pops though!

Turkey House

You see this wooden frame? It was built by my dad, it acted as a roof for the pickup truck when we transported the sheep on Saturday. We needed to store it on the farm period. I was on the deck looking out at the garden, the barn, and the truck, when the thought hit me – why not use it as the turkey’s home! That way it is stored and also serves a secondary purpose.

We built the turkey’s pen inside our garden. It’s a bit of a risk, but I don’t think the turkeys care too much about eating my produce, so far they seem much more interested in exploring and sunning themselves. Secretly I am also hoping they will police the garden and eat some of the bugs. But the biggest benefit in doing this is that the garden is already double fenced in. Combined with the pre-built home, a good three quarters of the job was already done for us. This is my style of farming!

Building the Floor

We made the coop floor out of shipping pallets. These are free. I love them so much, I’ve used them everywhere and will continue to use them. Four of them, boarded together, inside the unfilled raised bed construction fit perfectly.

Chicken Wire siding

We then wrapped three of the four sides with chicken wire. This will prevent the dumb turkeys from getting caught in the slats. Yes, they really are that dumb. It will also prevent any predators from having an easy meal, although I haven’t seen any type of predator at all, no fox, no raccoon. Oh, there is a family of hawks or other large birds. But I don’t think they’ll have the cojones to come this close to the house.

Strawing it up

Then we covered the floor and area with straw.

Wing Clipping

The last step was to make sure the turkeys wouldn’t just fly over the 4.5 foot fences, and this was done by clipping their wing. Each bird had their right wing feathers clipped. It doesn’t hurt them, it’s just like a haircut for you and I, although it does make them off-balance. The little guys were stumbling around for a few minutes until they got the hang of their new selves.

Turkeys New Home

And here they are, in their new outdoor pen, enjoying a meal. I have yet to paint them up a little sign but I will, because this place deserves a name in recognition of the person who made the design possible: Poppy’s HaĆ¼s.

It’s only been half a day but I already miss their peeping sounds. The house is now so very quiet. That said, I do not miss the increase in fly population one bit. Next year, we already want to raise a much larger number of turkeys. Hopefully I will get a lot of the eggs from these very turkeys as well as purchasing some from local farmers.

Windwater Rolo and WillowGarden Macaroon

As many of you know, sheep are my primary passion here on the farm. They are the #1 reason why I moved out here, although now that I’m here I wouldn’t give this place up for the ducks or turkeys either. The chickens, well that’s another story, another blog post for a later time!

My mom and I went on a road trip this past Saturday. Where to? Down to Willow Garden Shetlands farm to pick up two breeding ewes. This is about an 8 hour round trip from my farm, 10 hours when you include heading out to Colborne to pick up some of their delicious preservative-free apple pies, which now that I’ve sampled them will be a mandatory visit when in the area.

Bills new Cormo Rams
Bills new Cormo Rams

While at Bill’s farm, we were able to see the two Cormo rams he recently imported for his CormoxShetland breeding program. Look at how adorable he is with his big Roman nose. I am very interested to see what the results of the cross will be. To the right is another Shetland he picked up along the way.

Packing up the Sheep

We loaded them up onto my dad’s pickup truck. He built a nice wooden addition to secure the sheep in and to keep them safe and as stress-free as possible. This worked very nicely if I do say so myself. It also let people look in and see the sheep, of which many people do. After all, it’s not everyday you hear a truck baa in the middle of the city! The two girls were pretty awesome on the drive home, Macaroon sat down for most of the way whereas Rolo was up and baaing more often, but no one caused any trouble at all which is the way I like it.

Macaroon and Rolo

Rolo

Interestingly enough, the two girls hung around each other back on Bill’s farm. They are doing the same here on my farm. Windwater Rolo, the darker one above, is 3 years old, and WillowGarden Macaroon is 2 years old. Since Shetlands regularly live to be 10 years or older, these girls will be producing a lot of my future flock.

My Shetland flock now consists of 1 mature ram, 1 ram-in-training, 2 wethers, 1 ewe lamb, 1 sterile ewe and 4 breeding ewes for a grand total of 10 sheep. As I am trying not to breed the ewe lamb this year, we should end up with anywhere from 4 to 8 lambs in 2011, and with other acquisitions of ewes and wethers I will probably be in excess of 20 by this time next year. I now have a large variety of Shetland colors: almost-pure-black, dark brown, medium brown, light brown, cream, grey, mottled grey & cream, and white. So my interest will probably move on to diversifying my genetics and adding interestingly patterned sheep to the mix.

I will also start looking for mills that can process the fine Shetland fleeces, as next year’s clip will end up being way too much for me to process on my own. In fact, I have enough of a backlog of fleeces as it is now, and that was with a clip of only 4 sheep (and one freebie fleece). At least my shearing skills will continue to improve. I bet I will be able to shear a lot of them all by myself next year… although help is always appreciated ;)