Friday, July 9, 2010
These are food. Let’s get that straight from the beginning. They are babies and they are cute, but they are food. That is why the hatchery inseminated their mother, incubated their eggs, and shipped them to us as hatchlings. That is why my friend kept them in with her batch of new turkeys while we were abroad. That is why they are in my yard now. Their destinies are Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Sylvester, and Easter.
But…They are not food yet. They’re not ready, so I have to take care of them. Furthermore, I don’t want them to become food for the fox, coyote, or raptors in the woods around my house, so I have to take care of them.
In some ways, they are like having four more chickens. They share the chicken coop, they eat from the same feeder and drink from the same water tank. Their instincts tell them to walk around and look for sustenance at their feet. In fact, these four are even better foragers than the chickens. The tom has already won several battles on our behalf in the War Against the Slugs. The chickens, though, came to us as adults, while these are still very young. At the farm that started them for us, they were in a pen in the garage with hay bales for sides, loose hay on the floor, and food and water in the corners. They ate and slept in this area. Here, though, they have to navigate the ramp of the Poultry Chalet to find safe sleep on the second story and good food on the first floor. They range free during the day and have to find their way back to the Chalet in the evening.
While the chickens tolerate their presence, the old biddies are in no way interested in fostering and caring for these young whipperschnappers. So, it falls to me. The first night they were here, they bedded down in a pile on the lower level of the Chalet, so husband and I fished them out and put them up top. The next morning, I had to nudge them down the ramp to find the food.
Generally, during the day, they are happy to wander and forage. They make a yippy cooey noise that helps them stay together, though the smallest female has a tendency to wander a bit from the group. Periodically, I hear a different noise. When I go to investigate this loud peeping, I find them standing together looking around rather than eating, often in the middle of the stone patio where there isn’t food anyway. I lead them back to a food source in the yard or back to the Chalet, and they are happy. As a break between other daily tasks, I mosey through the property listening for their soft music and looking for the way they make the tall grass sway until I find them, and sometimes they come looking for me. As I was beginning this post, they were particularly peepy and distressed, pulling me from the kitchen to the patio twice, so I brought the laptop out to the picnic table where they foraged at my feet for a bit before wandering off.
They are amazing creatures. They take good care of themselves, but, like all young, sometimes they just want to check in and make sure they are in the right place. Right now, their right place is here in my yard, foraging for their nourishment and peeping when they need a nurturing presence. Eventually, it will be their turn to nourish me and my family, and we will get back all the nurturing we have given them.