• stacy

Snow Turkeys



We’ve had quite a spell of wild weather here at the farm recently. It started out the Monday before Christmas with a big windstorm that blew down lots of nearby trees and knocked out our power for 63 hours. We all survived that just fine thanks to our wood stove and our generator which kept us warm and with lights and enough power to operate our electronic devices and keep us from going stir crazy. We woke up Christmas Eve morning to find that our power had been restored and that 2 inches of snow had fallen. It was the perfect beginning to Christmas, although I had a feeling that the turkeys would not be quite as excited as I was to see the snow. Most of our chickens have become accustomed to snow over the years, but the first time a chicken sees snow it is typically very wary of setting foot on this mysterious white stuff covering the ground. Fortunately for our chickens, when they peer out of the coop door to see their first snow, they can choose to stay inside the coop and have their morning food and water in the comfort of the coop without having to venture out into the snow. Eventually they get brave and tentatively step into the snow and realize it’s not going to hurt them, and then all is well in their chicken world again.

The turkeys, however, do not have the same luxury of staying in the coop to avoid the snow. That’s because despite my many attempts to convince the turkeys to sleep inside the chicken coop, they prefer to sleep outside on their high roost no matter what the weather. On this particular morning they woke up to not only snow covering the ground but also covering them! They would need to fly down off of their roost in order to get food and water and also to preen and dry out their feathers since they had been getting snowed on for several hours before sunrise. But they were hesitant to fly down onto the snow-covered ground having never seen snow before. Almost every morning when I go out to feed the chickens and turkeys, the turkeys are already foraging and roaming the pasture, but the morning of their first snow the turkeys were still on their roost when I came out to feed everyone. I looked up at them on the roost, and I saw that Ringo’s feathers on his breast and underside were soaking wet and he was shivering a bit. Prudence and Eleanor looked like they were ready to get out of the snow too. I felt sorry for them and thought that they would be happier if they were down off their roost and on the covered chicken coop porch where they could get a respite from the snow.

The turkey roost is six feet off the ground, so I had to get a step stool from the garage so I could reach them and try to get them down off the roost. It was pretty awkward trying to wrangle the turkeys down from their roost onto the ground since they are big and heavy and when they flap their wings it’s pretty easy to get smacked in the face! I managed to coax Prudence and Ringo to step onto my arm so that I was able to bring them down off the roost, but I had to grab Eleanor since she is less tame. I finally got them all down and onto the coop porch for breakfast. Prudence and Eleanor spent much of the day on the porch while Ringo explored the snowy pasture. I hoped that the snow would encourage the turkeys to spend the night in the coop, but by the afternoon Prudence and Eleanor had begun exploring the snow, and the turkeys spent the night on their outdoor roost as usual. The next morning there was still snow on the ground, but this time the turkeys flew down off their roost and ran to great me for breakfast as usual.

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