NABLOPOMO – Charging in for seconds! (and thirds… and fourths)

 A great flailing of gangly turkey wings and legs followed…

I don’t know why anyone thinks that calling someone a ‘bird brain’ is an insult. I have a lot of birds around (turkeys, ducks, chickens, and a cute little cockatiel up at the house) and I can tell you they know exactly which end is up.

Hen at Large

The farm birds range from a group of laying hens procured as pullets to fancy light Brahmas I raised here. We have a few spare roosters, a flock of fancy bantams, and some gorgeous Black Orpington hens. Our Muscovy ducks produce some lovely ducklings each year and the Ridley Bronze turkey flock is made up of a mix of those we grow out for holiday table birds and our breeding flock (the Ridley Bronze birds are a Canadian heritage breed that has been teetering on the edge of extinction for a number of years).

Most of the time, the birds do their own thing, roaming around hunting, pecking, posturing, and procreating. They never go far first thing in the morning because that’s when they get their major meal. Then, they scatter, scavenging lost morsels the hogs might have missed, making trouble in the hog water (if they are ducks), and sneaking off to lay eggs if they are chickens.

The turkeys have the worst case of wanderlust of all of them. They make their rounds to various neighbours (thank goodness the neighbours don’t mind too much!) and all over our property, gleefully hopping over fences and leaping from branch to branch in the trees. They know where the best bramble patches are (late, sweet blackberries are a favourite!), the plumpest seed heads on the tall grasses growing along the edges of the fields and ditches by the road, and have memorized every place where I might ever spill a few grains of feed on my rounds.

The ducks have also figured out what time the sheep get fed...

The ducks have also figured out what time the sheep get fed…

The turkeys are totally in synch with the hog feeding schedule.

The turkeys are totally in synch with the hog feeding schedule.

The ducks are particularly fond of the the manure mountain and pick through the recent deposits in search of red wigglers. The pile is full of worms turning it into rich compost, so the ducks have a field day feasting.

They also do a round of the areas of the vegetable garden I’ve opened up for them – they, along with a few of the chickens, are on weed-pulling and slug-annihilation detail. The ducks are also marvelous for trimming the grass paths between the beds, a task they eagerly look forward to each autumn.

Weed Patrol

No matter how busy they have been or what treats they have managed to find during the day, every free-ranging bird on the place knows when it’s three o’clock: time for seconds (thirds, and fourths)! I will head down the hill to do the afternoon hog feed and be met at the feed room door by a sea of bird beaks and beady eyes.  The turkeys and drakes are the pushiest, literally crashing over the stacks of feed buckets in their haste to beat me to the feed bin when I enter the barn.

Yesterday, a young Tom turkey launched himself into the air at the same moment I opened the lid of the plywood feed bin. A great flailing of gangly turkey wings and legs followed and there was much thrashing and indignant complaining (from both of us!) until I could haul the bird out of the bin and send him on his way.

The birds are such a menace, the only way to get them out from under foot is to throw a bit of feed down outside. As I was doing this today it occurred to me the birds have totally won this round of farmer vs livestock (why would I think otherwise? I’m still way behind in the game of ‘Put the Turkeys To Bed’). They have very efficiently trained me to start the hog and horse feeding rounds in the afternoon by tossing bonus grub to the birds!

Afternoon Tea

Doubt my word about bird intelligence? Watch this Ted talk about crows, the way they have adapted to life with humans, and their cool vending machine… Intelligence of Crows

Sigh. I don’t have a hope if my motley flocks start talking to their wild cousins.

Theme_Large_Nov_2013_0 nablopomo

17 responses to “NABLOPOMO – Charging in for seconds! (and thirds… and fourths)

  1. I’m here to help you with those tasty,… I mean, UNRULY birds if you need me…. Any time… Really….. I really CAN help….

    Shrimp

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  2. I love seeing how they all get along! Great post!

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  3. Have just put this on Twitter for my friend to see. Something for her to aspire to! 🙂

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  4. I loved this so much – really made me laugh! Only problem is I’m now thinking perhaps I should give nut roast a try for Christmas dinner – not sure I want to eat something that clever!

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  5. I envy the picture of the hens in the leaves, I’ve been trying to get a picture of my hens in the leaves for weeks, because I love how beautifully camouflaged they are. I have never doubted about who does the training in farmer/animal relationships. I’m typing this at 7 am with a cup of tea precisely because I’m so well trained that the dog already had me out for our walk and to do the chickens, AND I had supervision from the cat…

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    • You are so right about the hens and leaves! I have so many blurry, really terrible shots – they move too quickly and a bit of blur and the matching colours makes them impossible to see! This shot isn’t brilliant either, but I was getting impatient! Sounds like your creatures do, indeed, have you well trained. The cats are eery, the way they seem to know where you are likely to be at any given point in the day…

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  6. Such a delightful post! I’m reminded of when I raised geese as a child. Those birds could be very demanding, and pushy, when it was time for to be fed. Our chickens don’t worry me too much, but these days if I go into the goat pasture with anything that might look like a treat to them, I’m liable to get stampeded!
    Your post further encourages me to consider raising some turkeys. I’ve heard they can have fun personalities.
    Thanks again for sharing a little bit of your day with us. 🙂

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    • The turkeys are a lot of fun – go for it! And yes, you are right about having to be careful around the goats! The hogs, too, can be… somewhat forward… when it comes to chow time. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. You’re right, chickens are smart! Tough too as they stay out hunting and pecking in rain, snow, sleet when all the other animals are tucked away inside.

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  8. So glad you came by to visit me. I have spent far too long here this morning and need to get busy! However, I will be clicking the follow button before I leave. Love your writing and your farming style. 🙂

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