RAISING WHITE TURKEYS
I am not sure what started us raising turkeys on the farm. We never had very many at a time and I know we sold most of them. But it was always an exciting adventure. Turkeys are not the smartest of birds, they are dumb!
We started in the spring with the little baby turkeys. About 15 I think. They were more of a cream color rather then the pretty yellow a baby chicken was. They also had a longer neck. They really were kind of ugly for a baby! And they took more care then a baby chicken. So we had a large box, like one a TV would come in, newspaper all over the bottom of the box, with a light bulb hanging over it. We kept this on our back porch until they were large enough to be let outside to live on their own. It was interesting when we fed them. We mixed up this powdery chicken mash with cottage cheese! They loved this food and would gobble it up so fast that they were climbing on top of each other.
Once they were old enough to be left outside they had shelter in the barn. The rest of the time they were able to roam where ever they wanted on the farm. We had to chase them into the barn each evening. When ever it started to rain or storm we would have to go chase them into the barn because otherwise they would stand out in it and get all wet. Then they could catch a cold and die. They wouldn’t go into the barn on their own. Dumb birds!
You would have to check our cow tank several times a day too because they would try to sit on the side of the tank and many times would fall in. Since they didn’t know how to swim they would drown. We never had trouble with chickens doing that but there were always turkeys ending up in the tank. Mama would drag them out of the tank and take them into the house to dry them off. Sometimes I remember her lighting the oven of our gas stove to sit them on the lid to keep them warm while she dried them off. Dumb birds!
When someone drove into the farm yard we had to go out and shoo the turkeys away. They always wanted to fly onto the top of the cars. Of course company was not very happy with scratches on their cars.
But after all of this, these bright white large birds were so pretty and fun to watch when they displayed their feathers. They would puff up and love to strut around dragging their wings on the ground. Several males would march around each other trying to see who was the biggest and the toughest.
Then in early fall it was time to sell them. Mama put an ad in the Anthony Republican, our city newspaper. We also had a large metal stand that daddy made that was put out by the highway at the end of our driveway. “Live Turkeys For Sale”. Mama would pick out two or three to keep for ourselves. These she killed, cleaned and put in the freezer for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When it came time to eat one of these large turkeys all of the work was forgotten. Turkey and dressing was one of the favorite meals in our family. It seemed they weren’t so dumb anymore.