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LIFE ON THE FARM

By Staff | Jun 12, 2009

A turkey hen surrounded by her poults.

It’s been a marvelous spring – not too hot, not too cold. The crops were planted pretty much on time in soils that were in prime condition. Calm, dry days have allowed for fieldwork to continue getting things done when they needed to be done without a small work time frame period.

The garden has been supplying plenty of lettuce, spinach and asparagus. Tasty radishes must be addictive; they seem to be the food that just adds an extra touch to meals or a radish sandwich in between. Strawberries for dessert have now joined rhubarb.

The peas have been blooming long enough that we are checking daily for snow peas. The rain that is falling today should make peas just as rain makes grain.

Earlier this spring we had so many turkeys sitting on eggs that we imagined a turkey in every pot, but one by one the nests disappeared. Predators is partly to blame, as is turkeys’ natural scatterbrained activities. They seem to prefer showing off to good parenting skills.

A pair of turkey hens shared one nest. The one hen was a devoted mother, sitting on half the eggs like she should. The other hen was so sporadic in her egg care that we doubt she sat on them long enough to keep any alive. There were 50 eggs in the nest. One day Mrs. Bad Mother Hen stole Mrs. Good Mother Hen’s side of the nest. After a few days Mrs. Bad Mother Hen tired of it, left the eggs. Mrs. Good Mother Hen took over her former eggs. In the meantime we are wondering if all the eggs are bad now.

Another hen hatched nine eggs. She was sitting on a nest that had both turkey and chicken eggs. Owing to the fact that chicken eggs hatch one week earlier than turkey eggs, she may be a mother hen to chicks. She is only mother to seven of those turkey chicks now because a different turkey hen abandoned her nest stealing two from this hen; figuring that was an easier way to get a family.

These turkeys spend their days eating insects. They usually travel in packs, losing baby turkeys frequently. They even get lost themselves occasionally. They can fly, but seem to forget that. They will spend the whole day running back and forth along a fence until finally they remember how to get around it or else we help them out.

It is a wonder turkeys are not extinct. If it weren’t for modern turkey production, turkey on a dinner table would be a rarity.

A marvelous spring. It just has to be called that. Let me explain why. My children hate it when I tell them “You are marvelous or did a marvelous job.” As my youngest daughter explains it, “When mom calls you marvelous, watch out, it just gets you a another job.”

A marvelous spring, we hope it continues into a marvelous summer.

Vander Schaaf is a Farm News staff writer from northwest Iowa. Reach her by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com

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