Turkey Tuesday

There’s been so much going on around here!  Which is a good thing, it keeps us busy and out of trouble… well, it keeps us busy.

The kids are back in 4H this year and Nik is raising turkeys to take to market.  He tried Broilers last year.  They were quite tasty but definitely have an expiration date.  We had to take time out during the fair to slaughter because they couldn’t walk anymore.  Not a pleasant thing.  Since he’s planning on raising heritage breed Chocolate Turkeys next year, he figured this would be good practice.

We have heard that turkeys have a high fatality rate and the birds aren’t very bright.  He has to have at least one turkey to sell at auction and he can have two birds in his pen.  So we decided to get 6 turkey poults so that maybe we can have a nice home-raised Thanksgiving turkey on the table this year.  Cover your ears, little turkey babies!!

Nik did some research and learned that if you raise turkey poults with baby chicks that the chicks will teach the poults how to eat and drink on their own.  I thought it made the turkeys sound really dumb, I mean how can a bird not know how to eat or drink?  But we went ahead and bought 6 Partridge Rock chicks to raise along with them.  We’ll be butchering the chickens this fall to put in the freezer.

Turkey Poults

At first the chicks were afraid of the poults, but they all warmed up to each other.  Good thing too.  Turkeys are STUPID.  We brought these cute little yellow balls of fluff home and put them in the brooder and showed them where the water was.  Yep.  Turkeys darn near drowned themselves.  This one little bird ran to the water and stuck his whole head under the water.  Then was sort of sputtering and making weird noises, I thought I was going to have to do turkey CPR.  Then the brain-dead bird did it again and again!  So, we filled the water bowl with small stones (not small enough that they might be able to eat them, cuz they would) so that they could only get little sips of water at a time.  They fared only a little better at the food.  They’d pick up pieces of food and drop them back down.  Pretty soon they were taking after the chickens and learned all they needed to know.  You’d even catch them scratching the ground trying to dig up treats!

Pretty soon they were big enough to move into a larger brooder to give them some running room.

Turkey teens

We ended up losing two turkeys.  One we’re just not quite sure what happened, Nik thinks it might have choked on his food (I can see that happening) and the other broke his legs trying to fly into the side of the metal brooder.  They seem to be getting smarter with age (yay!! still keeping our fingers crossed) and are looking more and more like turkeys.

Turkey teen 2

They are all feathered out now and doing great.  We moved them into the chicken coop with the enclosure since they no longer need a heat lamp for warmth.

Big Turkeys

I know some people say you shouldn’t raise turkeys with chickens because of Black Head and other diseases that can spread between them.  We haven’t had any issues (knocking on wood!) and we supplement them with vitamins and apple cider vinegar.  We give them fresh greens and will eventually move them into the main pasture and yard once they get too big to fit through the coop door.

Big Turkey 2

They are definitely getting smarter (double yay!!) or maybe the chickens are just teaching them a thing or two.  Every evening before nightfall, the chickens and turkeys go into the coop and roost for the night.  And to think that a couple weeks ago they didn’t even know how to get in the door!

Turkey Roosting

Fair isn’t until August, so we’ll see what the summer brings us with the turkeys.  We know that turkeys don’t tolerate the heat well so we put a large tarp over the enclosure to provide them with shade.  Even though there’s a giant fir tree right by the coop, duh. 

Pretty soon they will look like our neighbor’s turkey which we call Tom.  They call him Roger.  Oh well.

Tom Turkey


A Fairly Good Week


We actually made it through fair week!  Let me just say to all the parents out there with kids in 4H and jobs to work and homes to keep in order… you amaze me!  Todd took the week off of work so we could both support the kids at the fair for their first year of 4H.  We weren’t sure that we would make it – I had no idea how much work goes into the whole production.  WHEW!  Now that I think that I’ve finally recovered, I’ll fill you in on the highlights.  What a week!

After months of preparation (okay, taking care of little ducks and chickens – we pretty much do that here everyday!) it was time to load up the truck with Lexie’s 2 ducks and Nik’s 4 chickens along with food, bowls, tubs, soap, bedding, and all the other little things that they would need for the week.  Ducks and chickens in truck We delivered the animals on Saturday.  It was a whole day of work.  The kids had to help decorate their 4H group booth, weigh their animals in, get them tagged, and prepare the animal pens.

Sunday was a fairly (hee! hee!) easy day. We checked on the animals in the morning, afternoon, and evening and helped out in the poultry barn by sweeping.  Everyone was getting nervous/excited for the showmanship and poultry judging the next morning.  We bathed the chickens (Chickens do not like baths!) and the ducks so that they would be clean and pretty for the judging.

                 Washing a chicken 

On Monday, we arrived at the fair by 8 in the morning.  Pens needed to be cleaned out and waters filled.  The kids had removed the food from the animals the night before to reduce any chances of “accidents” on the judging tables.  Showmanship was first.  They were called up and quizzed on their knowledge and handling of their animals.  Lexie came in 3rd place and Nik received a ribbon for participation.

Judging was held after showmanship.  This is when the animals are judged for their quality, appearance, and amount of meat on the bird.  The kids were able to help each other out since they had to show all of their animals.  Lexie was up first with her ducks.  She was definitely in her element.  The girl loves ducks.  She ended up winning first place in her class!  Which meant she had to go back in for judging at the end to compete against the other first place winners for the Championship.       

4H poultry judging for ducks

She won Reserve Champion!! Second place out of all the ducks! 

Reserve Champion for 4H Poultry judging


4H Reserve Champion duck pen   


Which also meant that she got to     move her duck pen into Champion Row!




Nik was up for judging of his chickens and it was Lexie’s turn to help out. 

4H Poultry judging for chickens

Nik won 5th place in his chicken class.  Not bad at all!  Proud Momma Moment!!!

To celebrate, the kids took a ride on “Top Gun”.  It’s one of those rides that spins you upside down and back and forth and has a hose handy for “spills”.  I almost “spilled” watching them!

Richland County Fair ride

Judging/Showmanship Day was an all day affair.  We didn’t get home till almost 10 and then we had to rush to put all our ducks at home away. 

Typical fair days on Tuesday and Wednesday – early morning pen check and feeding, early evening pen check and feeding.  We probably spent a lot of unnecessary time there but we had fun meeting all kinds of new people and checking out all the other exhibits at the fair.

Thursday was Barnyard Olympics and Auction day.  Lexie teamed up with our neighbor and 4H group member to compete against other kids doing things like jumping hay bales, tire rolling, sack races, and an egg toss.  The Olympics started at 1 and we were warned that she would get dirty.  Oh no!  Judging starts at 5 and she has to be presentable!  We brought extra clothes and shower supplies just in case.   

Richland County Fair 2013 Barnyard Olympics

  The auction started at 5 in the evening and we finally finished up around 9.  The kids handled it all very well and will get a nice check each come September.

Richland County Fair 2013 Poultry Auction Richland County Fair 2013Poultry Auction






   Making big bucks for all their hard work!


Friday turned out to be the last day for us.  The animals were sold at auction and the meat processor came to pick them up early on Friday morning.  We slept in (ha ha) and arrived at the fair in the afternoon.  The kids were scheduled to work at the fair Dairy Bar with their 4H group.  They spent 3 hours serving up ice cream (and eating a bit too) while Todd and I went and cleaned up the empty pens in the Poultry Barn.  After their shift was over we stopped in at Family Fun night and socialized with the other 4H families.  Our fair week was over and it was a little sad to see it go.  Just a little, I was overdue for a nap!

We had a fun, busy week and the kids are already making plans for next year.  I wish we had gotten them into 4H a couple of years ago.  They really do learn a lot and meet lots of other kids with similar interests.  By next spring I will be all rested up and ready to do it all over again!  Fairs do kind of make you feel like a kid again… until you get home and chores are waiting, work piling up, and everyone wants to be fed.  Yep.  Counting down until the next one.

Don’t even get me started on fair food.  Maybe somebody should think about starting a smoothie vendor.  Or salad bar.  Or… okay, I give.  A lot of people go to the fair just for the food.  Greasy fries, corn dogs, deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos.  No kidding.  Unfortunately there’s not much food there for someone who is intolerant to corn, soy, sugar, gluten, and artificial colors and flavors.

But that’s a story for a different day!