August 23rd, 2013

In addition to growing lots and lots of fresh organic vegetables, Sugar Creek Farm also raises turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Our turkey chicks were born at a hatchery in Missouri on July 8th and that same day, they were grouped together and mailed to us in a special divided box via second day air delivery!  I realize this seems weird but hatcheries have been using the mail service to delivery chicks since 1940's.  In nature, a mother bird will sit on her nest of eggs and it may take a couple of days for them all to hatch.  During this couple of days, the birds have evolved to go without food and water since their belly still technically contains the egg yolk.  On July 10th, the Advance post office gave me a call around 6:30am letting me know my chicks had arrived.  I could hear them chirping in the background of our brief conversation!

Once they arrived, I kept them in a brooder that I made a few years back which provides warmth through 2 heat lamps.  This year we decided to keep the chicks up at the house so that we could keep a better eye on them and also because the shade of our front porch offers a cool open air place that keeps the chicks dry.   After a couple of weeks the chicks were getting too big for the brooder, so moved them to an area outside in the grass of my lawn.  I used a 10x10 chain link dog pen which has a roof and in the middle I placed a very large box.  This box offered more room than the brooder and after a week or so, I could begin to move the box to a new location within the pen which introduced the chicks to fresh grass.  The dog pen serves 2 roles at this point: 1) offering sun/rain protection with the roof, 2) keeps predators (feral cats, raccoons, coyotes) out.  Recently, we have enclosed an area of my lawn with a portable electric netting.  From now on, I keep the dog pen in the center of the netted area and let the chicks roam around free during the day.  At night, I herd the turkeys inside the pen for protection (nighttime is typically when the predators strike).  The turkey chicks will mow down the grass in 2-3 weeks so when the grass gets short, I will just moved the netting, turkeys, and pen to a new location! 

Below, I've included a few pictures of the turkey chicks from this year.  Also, there is a YouTube video of they turkeys I raised last year.  Like last year, I am raising broad breasted bronze turkeys.  Also, in the next few weeks I will send a few details to you by email in case you are interested in having a Sugar Creek turkey on your Thanksgiving table!

Special Delivery!  Riding home from the post office!
A close up

The chicks are getting used to their new brooder

I've found a new way to weed
 the garden beside my house
The new pointer puppies really enjoy
watching the birds!

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