The thick, gray fog matched our heavy hearts as Cadence and I drove the turkeys to the processor at dawn this morning. Hilltop Poultry is at the crest of this long, steep hill. Everybody is very friendly there, but after delivering our turkeys and the last few roosters today, we will be glad to not have to return for almost a year.
The big challenge was figuring out how to transport these big birds (the toms are about 40 pounds.) We ended up lining the walls of our little 4 x 8 trailer with scrap plywood, stretching plastic garden fencing across the top (covered by a tarp held down by bungees) and closing up the back end by screwing on a wood pallet. It was a Beverly-hillbilly-ish construction, but it did the job. Cadence put in some straw bedding and then she and Rog put the turkeys in the trailer last night.
Turkeys are very sweet, gentle, ungainly birds when they are walking around, but when you try to lift them they panic - they are amazingly strong and a whop in the face with a wing is very painful (speaking from experience!) You could easily wind up with a broken nose, but nobody did.
We had to wait a bit before we could unload the turkeys- here they are in the trailer. They were very calm, just wanting their breakfast, I am sure. It is probably not very professional for a farmer, but we cried a bit.
None if us ever expected to grow so fond of the turkeys. They turned out to be such easy-going, trusting creatures. They are very beautiful in a kind of homely way--and awesome when the toms turn all blue in the face and their wattles and snoods flush bright red. They followed us everywhere. They were curious and funny, but much smarter than everyone says, just easily baffled. When we arrived back home the farmyard looked so empty and quiet.
We are now officially done with all our harvesting of animals and garden veggies--other than gathering a few eggs, we won't have to harvest anything else until the sap starts running in the maple trees next spring. Whew! This has been truly the hardest aspect of farming.