Birds of a feather don’t always stay flocked together

I wish I could say they flew away and that predators weren’t so darn smart.

Our handsome Bourbon Red Tom and one of his female companions have gone on to greener pastures. The hen (one of two) simply disappeared only leaving feathers behind after a very gusty day. Our Tom died 5 days later of either a broken heart, shock, or some internal injury.

We have a lot of predators around here so when we are not at the farm, we try to keep our poultry in a large fenced in area. Inside this area, we also have an interior coop that has a door for added protection. We do not close this door because nothing has penetrated the exterior fence… until two weeks ago on one very windy day.

Turkeys are large birds and not ideal for airborne predators – those types of predators like chicks, chickens and $15 turkey poults (ugh). We were never too concerned about something walking in and having a meal because we are pretty good about closing the gate. Our turkeys have roosted in the run outside for the last 15 months and they seem to love it. I can honestly say they live a good life here considering where they came from. We initially acquired our turkeys as a “breeding trio” and intended to raise their poults to cull and put in our freezer. Turkeys do not lay as frequent as chickens and ours definitely didn’t mate like our chickens either. The Tom just couldn’t quite connect with the hens successfully so we ended up with more than a handful of duds – good thing turkey eggs taste just as good as chicken eggs.

The turkey hens have a very pretty chirp and we enjoyed listening to them call each other. So much so, that between their beautiful chirps and the Tom’s good looks, we were okay with keeping our heritage breed turkeys as pets since they weren’t producing any offspring. They ate for free here. But when you declare a farm animal as a pet, you may as well curse them with a horrible death.

Fast forward to a very windy January day. The wind started blowing from the south with some crazy strong gusts. I noticed the gate had blown open early in the day, so I closed it. A few hours later, it blew open again and we had our son close it. Temperatures dropped and I personally forgot to check on the gate later in the evening. I was more concerned about our trampoline blowing into our house and crashing through the kitchen windows. That’s when, I think, a coyote took advantage of the situation.

There had a been a dead deer carcass on our neighbors pasture and it was drawing in a hungry coyote pack the previous week. I’m convinced that those coyotes figured the carcass was bait for a Thanksgiving feast not far away. They watched, waited, and jumped on the first opportunity that came. One hen disappeared, leaving only feathers behind, and our Tom was left limping, unsteady and sickly. I’m not sure what transpired but something tells me that our Tom tried to fight and was injured. He died about 5 days later.

This may sound silly but I think our remaining hen is lonely and missing her crew. Her and the other hen used to call each other if they were separated in the pasture and we’d watch them come running to each other like long lost sisters. The surviving hen made those same calls, albeit much louder, for about 2 weeks after her friends’ disappearance. It was quite sad. I’ll definitely miss hearing them. And, I will really miss seeing our Tom all puffed up, gobbling away at his refection in the truck bumper (you have check out our Instagram page to see that video).

Note to self: Don’t declare anything a pet and always check the gate.