Turkeys

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When we last looked in the turkey pen Chocolate, the lone male, was in exile to another location for his bad behavior as a father-to-be. He had been stomping around the eggs before they were hatched by the five turkey hens and annoying everyone with his constant gobbling.

chocolate in exile

In short, he was being a lousy dad. True, it was kind of hard to tell whether Chocolate was just boasting about his new paternal status or being loud and obnoxious–you know the type.

In any event, Louisa, the turkey maven, was having none of it, so off he went to a distant pen full of chickens.

Well, the poults hatched–18 of them–and Chocolate’s been reinstated into the turkey community. Fatherhood can do funny things to a guy and apparently Chocolate is no different than most proud papas. Louisa says she looked in the turkey house a couple of days ago and there, peeping out from under Chocolate’s wing, was a turkey baby. The next day there were two poults nestled under the tom. And when the youngsters venture out of the turkey house there is Chocolate standing guard.

Now, wonder of wonders, Chocolate is taking an occasional turn with the hens, sitting on a new clutch of turkey eggs. Is this normal or has fatherhood rattled the old tom’s marbles?

The drama continues.

Persephone

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As the late Cosmo editor, Helen Gurley Brown, used to say, “Sex sells.”

And here you are, reading, right?

Louisa named our new Tom turkey “Chocolate”. She found him on Craigslist and he arrived at Persephone Farm last week looking big, brown and very randy.

Chocolate is a strutter, all right. He did a lot of huffing and puffing when we put him into the turkey yard, pretty much ignoring his audience of Louisa, Rebecca and Mondrian. Then he headed straight for the five lonely turkey hens.

Those hens hadn’t seen a male turkey since Thanksgiving, and they were ready for some serious action. They preened and clustered around Chocolate, rubbed his neck with their necks and cast coy turkey glances in his direction. Then they lined up—one, two, three, four, five—squatted down, and that was the end of any coyness. Chocolate hopped to it, and after a few minutes he was one tired Tom.

Watching something like that can be, um, distracting. We never did get a chance to run back to the farmhouse and grab a camera. (Chocolate’s turkey orgy would certainly have been good for a couple of hundred thousand YouTube views.) We’ll just have to leave it your imagination, and Mondrian’s description.

Observing turkeys doing what turkeys do speaks volumes about the sexual drive that seems to be rampant around here these days. From Louisa’s turkey yard, to the swallows in the barn rafters, to the 50 new chicks that we just installed in our homemade brooder in the barn bathroom, there’s a whole lot of shaking going on. Dylan Thomas, the wonderful Welsh poet, called this mysterious power, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower”.

We don’t spend much time these days quoting Welsh poets around Persephone Farm—or watching turkeys at play either, for that matter. The to-do list of startup chores Rebecca posts each morning in the packing shed gets longer every day and time is precious. But sometimes at this early point in the season it seems like the whole place is a little like Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale.

Take the greenhouse. It would be hard to imagine a less sexy spot—nothing but pea shoots and tomato plants sitting in pots, right? Ah, but if you look closely you’ll see that same force at work in there.

From cotyledons in greenhouse flats, to Chocolate in the turkey pen, the farm is alive with an awful lot of prurient activity at this time of year. We love to have people come visit Persephone Farm, especially with their kids, so we can show them around and explain where their food comes from and how things work in the natural world. But perhaps at this time of year we ought to put a note on our sign at the front gate: “Warning, this farm is x-rated.”

Persephone