Wasn’t I saying something before this whole mess went down? Ah, yes.
I rather left you hanging on The Man’s Capitulation and Grand Scheme, didn’t I? Here’s the short version: I wanted to raise a few turkeys, and let them breed and range and some of them would be dinner. Not for me, of course, but for someone. The Man saw something different, something much larger.
He saw us choosing one breed of endangered heritage turkeys, and becoming breeders invested in reviving and refining the breed. As things stand for many of these breeds, there have been so few of them that issues of size, type, colour, and breeding true have fallen by the wayside. There is no standard yet for many of these breeds.
His thinking is that we should pick six poults of one breed right off the bat (I had though to have two breeds and make a decision which way to go in the fall), see how they develop, choose the best tom and two hens to keep through the winter, and have the other three processed as meat birds.
Now, my very, very dear friend Gail is completely convinced that I will never send any of my birds to the butcher. She’s so sure that she has issued a dare, and given her permission for me to make it public here. She wrote:
“If you send turkeys to the slaughterhouse in November, I will do a dance around my pond wearing nothing but the wild turkey feathers I’ve collected over the years.
I love you, Nina, and I KNOW that you have a rational plan regarding these birds and the wonderful lives they will have before becoming Thanksgiving dinners. But I’m a gamblin’ gal, and my money’s on the birds living a long and happy life on your property. If they fall over cuz their breasts are too heavy, you will dress them in special bras and buy them teeny little walkers. C’mon, let’s put some money down on this. It’ll send me to Vegas.”
I have been promised video, people. Let’s make it happen. I find it amusing that my gamblin’ friend, Gail (and she’s not kidding about that part), neglected to illicit from me what I would do if I lost the bet. Heh, heh.
In the spring, the three breeding birds would have reached maturity, the hens would begin to lay, the tom would dance and do the manly, and we would have our own poults, beginning the cycle again. He sees this as a conservation effort, yes, but also as a business, a business in eating eggs, hatching eggs, poults, adolescents, and meat. It seems we’re to have a farm.
The Man thinks big, there’s no arguing. It’s all much more than I can fully grasp, but I’m willing to jump on The Turkey Train, even if it’s veering in a direction I didn’t foresee when I started it. Our worst case scenario is that we hate raising turkeys, so they all go to be processed in the fall. No harm, no fowl.
Oh, god, I’m really sorry. It couldn’t be helped. I do beg your forgiveness.
But which breed? That part was easy. The rarest one that is pretty to my eye, the Blue Slate:
I have a thing for blue colouration; my first Great Dane was a blue.
Now, I have no idea how to shepherd the development of a breed. NONE. This is going to be done on gut instinct and as much reading as I can find. My initial reaction is that I will choose breeding birds by vigor, colour, size, and temperament, in that order of priority. This is going to be a long game.
We have debated naming schemes. Rock stars of the 60s and 70s? A tom named Mick Jagger would be cool (and would have the right strut), as would a Freddie Mercury and a Janis Joplin. I couldn’t kill John Lennon, though. Not a chance.
Maybe not real people, then. The girls have been watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies lately, and they would like a Captain Jack (he’d be Captain Jack Sparrow to them, and Captain Jack Harkness to me and The Man). So…fictional characters, then?
And, on the subject of names, we have named all the chicks. Bad girls (Australorps): Scarlet, Jezebel, and Delilah. Good girls (Silver Laced Wyandottes): Dorothy, Alice, and Gidget.
The babies arrive April 20.