Why Did the Hen Cross the Road

Every year, my turkey hens are determined to nest. Across the road. My 20 acres is apparently not big enough for them to find a perfect spot. Try as I might, I’ve not been able to deter them even with weeks of confining them to the coop waiting for nesting season to pass.

Unfortunately, with roads, come hazards. One of the girls was hit by a car last week trying to cross back over. Thank you to the St. George fireman who came to tell me after spotting feathers littering the street. We found her in a flowerbed where he care-takes for some summer folks, she was still alive. We tried a rescue, to no avail. Her legs were not injured and she was able to scurry into the woods before we could capture her. Turkeys are clever and fast when they don’t want to be caught.

For days, I would spot her lingering just along the edge. At 5 am, when I begin my day, I would walk over to try to bring her back across to the safety of the coop. At 5 am, there’s not much traffic. By then, the lobstermen are well on their way out to haul. My retired neighbors and summer visitors are still tucked up in bed. At 5 am, it’s safer, relatively. But even with no traffic, she would turn and tuck herself back into the woods. I determined she knew best. 

4 days passed. 4 days of watching, monitoring. When I’d take my 5 am walk, I started taking a bit of food with me. My theory was at least I could supply her with a little energy, in case she changed her mind. Which she did. On day 5. 

At 4:50 pm, as I was scooping feed into buckets, calling the girls in for milking, wrangling chickens to the back for their nightly roundup, there she was. She had already walked across as far as the yellow center line and was headed towards me and the sound of feed rattling in the bucket. Please don’t let there be any cars, please don’t let there be any cars! I called to her and she quickened her pace until, at last, she was at the end of the driveway, headed toward the barn. 

It’s not easy getting a turkey to go where you want them. But, I slowly kept throwing bits of grain ahead of me. She responded by hurrying up to peck at each morsel. Step by step, we made it to the safety of the coop and she was inside with the others.

After checking her over, making sure there was nothing life threatening from the accident, I left her with the flock and shut the coop door. With the ewes now hollering, and the milking does standing with their legs practically crossed, I headed back to continue with evening chores.

In the morning, with everyone happily munching on fresh cut hay, I headed again to the coop. My turkey girl seemed to be rested and calm. She stared at me from a nest box, one she’s hijacked from a bantam hen, along with her eggs, or somebody’s eggs. I had made an attempt a few days ago, to check the nest and see what Little Ms. Nasty Feathers, as I’ve named her, had tucked under her. Little Ms. Nasty Feathers one, Farmer Dyan, zero. 

But, it seems, Little Ms. Nasty Feathers was no match for a broody turkey Mom, who is determined to set some eggs this year, even if they’re not hers.

I’m steering clear for now, grateful my girl is home, safe and sound....until whatever’s under her hatches. Then I’ll be busy corralling Mama along with a clutch of adopted chicks, to safe spots, on this side of the double yellow line. Maybe Ms. Nasty Feathers will even help.

 

 

 

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