Exciting day for me today. I am expecting the arrival by mail of fifteen Royal Palm Turkey chicks. These are the beautiful white turkeys (if a turkey can be deemed ‘beautiful’) dressed up in naval Cracker Jack uniforms like swabbies on a frigate. Hopefully, this won’t be the USS Dismal Failure we are launching! Captain Mike is headed to town this morning after feeding to pick up another heat lamp, a waterer and a food trough for the new crew. We would not want them mingling with the natives before their time.
Having never seen a Royal chick, I wonder too what they will look like. Will they be snowy white on arrival, or some camouflage color chosen by Mother Nature? Will they be smaller on arrival than the Bronzes? Will they grow as quickly? Some of the Bronzes now are a good six inches tall. I have to wait to find out and I feel like a kid at Christmas. C’mon post office!
Mike seems less excited about these little guys. Maybe I am reading him wrong, but his normal laid-back attitude towards the livestock appears almost, er, dare I say it, apathetic. It is almost as though he thinks the Royal Palms will be Royal Pains. I hope not. When they are fattened for Thanksgiving, my hope is that their somewhat smaller size will be an option for buyers who do not want 50 lb turkeys. Besides, I wanted these long before our friend gave him the Bronzes. (Shhhh…I want some Bourbon reds too…but not this year.) But maybe Mike is just feeling overwhelmed right now and their arrival signals just one more set of things that must be done. Good thing some neighbors kids want to earn some extra money today and will muck out the calf stalls. He’ll just have to haul the fertilizer away with the tractor.
Fertilizer is one reason we decided to eventually let the turkeys free range. They will also eat bugs, small sprouts, and wayward worms on their way to achieving their best size. I can’t wait until I can look out the window and see twenty birds happily munching away in the pasture near the happily grazing calves. Of course, that means we need a large fenced-in area to keep out predators. One more thing on the list of things to do. Poor Mike.
We have a frost warning out tonight. That is rather shocking considering the 80+ temps last week. Wisely, Mike refused to set out any plants, regardless of the optimism of some of our neighbors and I. I expect there will be a lot of make-do plant coverings in the area around us as cabin fever took hold of many and the heat mesmerized them into thinking it was late, not early, Spring. It is only March, folks, not May. Nevertheless, with the plastic up on the greenhouse we will be starting plants there soon. Seed potatoes for the field have already arrived and we will be planting purple skinned, rose fleshed, and blue flesed varieties. Surprisingly, the cilantro he sowed last Fall made it all the way through winter and we had some with our burrito dinner a couple of nights ago. The field of kale is also still going, though perhaps a bit stronger in its cabbage-ish flavor. I look forward to the addition of the new cooler weather crops like onions, snow peas, spinach, lettuce, and other greens. There really is nothing like deciding what you want for dinner, then walking out to the garden and picking it. You can’t get it any fresher than that!
So things will be active here this morning. Mike and I feeding the calves, installing the new turkeys, the kids mucking out the stalls, the tractor running, the lawn mower going (if it does not rain), and the arrival of any unexpected guests to join us in the activities. I used to think farm life was boring. Some days, I wish it was.
A quick addendum here: We spent three hours after feeding trying to get Belle, the blind Holstein heifer, back into her pen. She managed to hit the barn door hard enough for it to swing open sometime in the night or wee morning hours.
Belle is not a tame calf and was not hand-raised like our calves. We got her from a farmer who had her in the field with the rest of the herd and never noticed she had Pink Eye. Untreated the disease left her blind in both eyes, although I am fairly certain she sees light and dark. So you can imagine what it was like trying to keep her calm so she would not run the opposite direction of our voices or bolt when she hit the electric fence wire she could not see. Freaking thing is, when Mike finally gave up and went to get help. I spoke gently to her and told her if she ran fast through the wire, it would only give her a little shock and she could get a drink of water. She did exactly that!
I was amazed and thought, “Let’s try that again.” I told her to go into her room and I would give her some sweet feed. She stood still. I told her “Giddup and go to your room.” She stood still. I told her, “Whoa.” She moved away from me. Guess it was a fluke when she obeyed the first time, huh? It took four of us and three cattle gates to finally get her into her pen. But she is happy now, eating the promised sweet feed and occasionally spinning in circles to remind herself of the size of her pen.
Me on the otherhand… I’m drained and want a bath more than I can ever remember.