March 31, 2012

Lesson Learned

Tuesday evening, Jeremy came back from a round of animal feeding and said "We need to be careful feeding the turkeys. One tried to fly right out of the brooder." Then he wrote on the white board to-do list "cover brooder."

Fast forward to last night. Jordan and I got home from our Friday night tradition of getting fudge, for Jordan, and wine, for me, at Battle Ground Produce Market. Then we headed out to visit all the animals. First stop was the turkeys.

We are keeping the turkeys, four of them, in the garage, in an empty horse-water-trough. We hung a heat lamp from a 2x4 and set it across the top. At one end we put the water and at the other the food. When one of us reaches in to retrieve the food or water the turkeys run to the other side like we are wielding knives at them. As the cute, fluffy turkeys have grown real feathers, their run has become more like flapping attempt at take off.

I opened the garage door, Jordan walked in and said "Why are there only three turkeys?" "What?!" I looked in an there were only three. "Jordan, stand still." And I shut the garage door. We started quietly looking around and listening. Nothing. Then I got to thinking, what if the turkey ran out of the garage when I opened it?! Crap! We opened the door again, just high enough for us to get out, and quickly shut it. We looked all around the cars in the driveway, the side of the house, behind the house - no turkey. It dawned on me that the others could probably fly out too. One escaped turkey is bad enough.

The previous owners of our house had five dogs and used wire fencing and cages to corral the dogs. They left all the fencing and cages (and lots of other stuff) when they moved. It turned out to be a blessing because we've used the fencing for all kinds of keeping-an-animal-where-it-is-suppose-to-be activities. And now to cover the brooder.

As I was walking back up with some fencing, Jeremy came home and Jordan explained the last 15 minutes. All of us went back into the garage to look around. Jeremy used a flashlight to check behind all the boxes, the garbage cans, the work bench. No turkey. Of course when any animal is scared it uses huddles up and makes as little noise as possible. So we decided to give it a break and come back after dinner.

Later, Jeremy spent another 20 minutes just sitting quietly in the garage listening and hoping the turkey would get lonely and start calling for the others. But no sounds and no luck.

Then this morning I woke up early worrying about the little guy (or girl - we can't tell yet). Our bed room is above the garage. And I heard peeping. Maybe!!!! I threw on sweatpants and a t-shirt, grabbed a flashlight and went outside.

My first thought was that if the turkey was right by the brooder and I opened the garage door it could get scared and run off again. So I laid down on the driveway, cracked the door just a bit, and looked under to see if I could see the turkey - just to confirm that it was in fact alive. But I didn't see anything and my face got cold on the concrete. I could hear the peeping still. Next I very slowly opened the garage door just enough so that I could scoot under making no sound. The peeping stopped. Stealthily I tiptoed to look in the brooder - the other three turkeys were fast asleep. That meant the peeping had to be from the forth turkey. I craned my neck to look over the brooder to the other side and there he was!!!!

The poor thing was shivering. Very quietly I walked over and squatted down. It didn't move. I gently picked it up. It tried to run, but ran at me so it was easy to catch. I put him right back in the brooder and put the cover back on. The other turkeys woke up and came over to say hi. The now-returned turkey went directly under the heat lamp and one of the others moved over and leaned against him. Love.

Lesson 1: Turkeys can fly.
Lesson 2: When you think to yourself, self, you should cover the brooder. Don't wait. Just go cover it.

Update - I just checked them. It's been about 2 hours since the escapee was returned. All are doing great. Moving around, eating, drinking. Whew!

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