Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lost and Found Poultry

Well, I somehow managed to lose one of our slate blue turkey poults.

You see, It was so hot, the worst of our four-day heat wave, and the poults were so miserable, gasping and gaping and lying as prone as a turkey can get. We are talking about 101 degrees here... crazy for early June. Crazy for anytime! I thought I'd try to move our turkey flock into the cooler air of the barn. So, taking a tip from Sugar Mountain Farm, I built a sort of "turkey chute" of green garden netting, a sheep crate, a wooden pallet and various other farmy brick-a-brac to funnel the critters into the barn. This went pretty well for the most part. The giant white turkeys and broad breasted bronze turkeys were as calm (though not nearly as cool) as cucumbers, and I herded them along the chute and into the barn where there was a nice new waterer waiting for them full of cool water. They were happy, as happy as turkeys can be in 101 degree heat anyway.

Now, the slate blue heritage turkeys were a cagier bunch. They did not want to be herded or lured. They did not want to leave their oven of a coop at all. No problem. I caught one at a time and carried them to safety.... all except one little poult who panicked and flew over the chute into the grass as soon as I scooped up one of his brethren. As I had an armful of turkey at the time, I made note of his location and finished the transport. This took about half a minute. When I returned, the little poult was gone, seriously gone. Maggie and I hunted around in the weeds and the sheep barn and everywhere else but the little guy had simply vanished.

All that hot, hot, hot day, I returned to search. Nothing. It was really pretty sad. Did the little fella light out for the deep woods? Was it picked off by a crow or hawk? Did it jam itself into a brush pile and hunker down only to die of heat stroke? Or perhaps, Maggie found it on her own later that day and thought she'd have herself an early Thanksgiving. (She has a slight problem with guinea chicks after all...) We'll never know.

I've been told by more experienced farmers than I that "Where there's livestock, there's deadstock." But that doesn't really help much. We try to do our best by all our animals and when we lose one-- not euphemistically but actually LOSE one-- well.... I'm a little blue about this little blue poult.

And Super-psycho hen, Java, seems to have lost her chick as well! I hunted for THAT ONE too, when I came home from work yesterday and found it missing. Not a sign. Java doesn't seem to "get" that her chick is gone, she's fluffing up and calling and hanging close to Chicklee and her hardy brood. Maybe she aims to steal herself a replacement.

AND, lastly, we've GAINED a guinea somehow. A fifth guinea appeared on the farm yesterday. I thought I was seeing things or miscounting but, no! There is indeed an extra guinea hanging around the place.

Lost a poult and a chick. Gained a guinea. Perhaps this is some sort of wacko poultry equilibrium?


Christy said...

Strange to gain a guinea. How do you like them? Do they give eggs or just eat ticks?

P said...

Hi Christy,

Guineas are strange strange birds, noisy (VERY noisy!) and sort of alien. They do give eggs, smallish ones, and all over the place. For a while ours were laying in the herb garden but now they've moved on to some more mysterious location. People say they eat ticks, and I'm sure they do. But it seems to me that you'd have to have a heck of a lot of guineas to impact a tick population....

But as Skep said in an earlier post, they are good eatin' and very little trouble once grown (If you can take the noise and the midnight rescues).

As for our extra guinea: We lost a bunch in the early fall last year, perhaps it survived the winter in the woods and returned???? Or maybe it belongs to a distant neighbor. (I've asked around with no luck.)

Anonymous said...

We once lost a Muscovy duck in the same, instant manner. We were housing some newly acquired (that is, passed-on-to-people-who-live-in-the-country) full-grown, laying Muscovies. We let two loose in the duck yard. Went to get the next two, an interval of about 93 seconds, and returned to find one. ONE. Wherever she went, she never did return. I suspected she had scuttled under the building against which their fenced yard backed, but she was nowhere to be found. Vanished. Beamed up (they do look sort of like Klingons, you know...).


woolies said...

That's crazy talk. where do the vanishing poultry go?? Check with a far off neighbor, or a nearby coyote? (we have a lot of those, and bobcat, they steal house-cats)

Anonymous said...

Well... if we knew where she went, we'd have taken her back! Crazy or not, she stayed vanished. Or, as a friend of mine once said, "There it was, gone."