Meet Chester, but don't get too attached. He will be going to Thanksgiving Camp next week.
We've raised our own meat before, but never in the form of a turkey — or three of them, to be more specific. There’s a first for everything, and they provide a significant amount of entertainment.
As a threesome, they hang together most of the time, and have a stealthy habit of following a farmer close behind, and quickly stopping, rubbernecking, acting as if they had only been innocently scanning for bugs, when said farmer turns to investigate.
Turkey: "Quick, follow her! She's on the move! Let's see what devilish treachery she's up to now. But remember, keep your cover AT ALL TIMES."
Farmer: Those crazy turkeys are following me again. They’re hoping I have food. (Turns to look.)
Turkey: "Look for bugs! Now! Keep your eyes to the side and whatever you do, DON'T look her in the eye."
Chester is the leader of the pack, and appears to be the only male. I’ve heard that turkeys carry high levels of testosterone, though I don’t know for sure (that will be a Google search at a later date), but if Chester does, he seems to be uncomfortably swimming in it.
Male turkeys demonstrate their maleness by puffing up their feathers. Surprisingly, they do look incredibly similar to your childhood hand-traced-on-brown-construction paper project, cut out and adorned with a beak and feathers. Feather balls with upright tails may be a dead on attraction to the ladies, but I think the blue face, red danglies, internal African drumming and nose boogers definitely seal the deal.
Chester starts out, at the only time of day — and not everyday — when testosterone is not coursing through his veins looking like this:
But approach a chicken, a dog, a person, a goat, a mouse or anything else and his maleness takes over: his feathers in full exposure, him holding his breath until his face turns blue, his pale neck dots turn into flame red dangling warts and the nose booger slithers out.
The nose booger starts its testosterone-free life as an elevated blip in the topside of the beak. But during the whole breath-holding episode, it grows to approximately 14 inches. And flaps. All over the place.
With every head turn, every gobble-gobble-gobble, every bite of bug or grain, it flaps, flops and surely attracts the ladies (or perhaps scares off predators?). And this entire physical transformation lasts for most of his waking hours. He should be the spokesman for the side effects warning of a Viagra commercial, “if it lasts more than 4 hours...” In the mean time, and only every so often, African drummers sound off a mating call from the depths of his being — as if he needed any more help getting a date.
Chester has attempted mating with turkeys and chickens – and even contemplated goats and dogs. He prances on the rooftops and sleeps atop the archway entrance to the chicken pen, requiring you to dodge his underside and explosive fecal bombs when entering to collect eggs. He has provided endless entertainment for both man and beast in his time here on the farm, and while nourishing our bodies, will remain in our memories.
Would you like to join us for Thanksgiving?
Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, a growing farm and soon-to-be creamery in southern Colorado. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.